How Google Works: Search Results Explained

 

Organic Results

In computer science, algorithms are the processes that turn input to output. Google’s algorithm takes your query (input) and returns your search result (output). What goes on in between is not entirely understood, but through experience, digital marketing experts can determine the factors that play a role in generating the right results for even the most obscure keyword.

Here is a list of the most influential ‘ranking factors’ that Google uses to determine the relevancy of a website to your search query:

  • Links – The quality and quantity of links to one website from other websites.
  • On-Site – The titles, data markup and other technical aspects, such as speed of the site.
  • Social Signals – The amount of likes, shares, and chatter surrounding the website on FaceBook, Twitter and elsewhere.
  • Engagement and Traffic – How often visitors arrive on the site and what they do when they are there.
  • Brand recognition – How often the brand is mentioned offline and in the news.
  • Keyword usage – Quantity and quality of content relating to the search query

 

Local Results (Businesses and Maps)

Local search is playing a bigger part in the results pages, where Google Maps now makes an appearance for a lot of different keywords.

Here is a list of the most influential ‘ranking factors’ for local search results:

  • On-Page – Titles and the address of the business on the page the same way it appears on other websites.
  • Google My Business – Business category, business title, keywords in profile. For example, our company appears at the top of local results for SEO Thailand related keywords, partly because we have included ‘SEO Company Bangkok’ in our My Business listing. It’s a small change to make but can have a big effect.
  • Links – The quality and quantity of links to one website from other websites, as well as the number of citations.
  • Engagement – Click through rates for local results.
  • Social Signals – The amount of likes, shares, and chatter surrounding the website.
  • Reviews – Quality and quantity of reviews on Google Plus

 

Image Results

Image results are also appearing at the top of the web results page, and some marketing experts believe that as Google evolves, there will be a merging of normal results and image results (when Google is smart enough!).

Here is a list of the most influential ‘ranking factors’ for image results:

  • Unique images – If your image is unique and hasn’t been indexed before, there is a higher chance it will rank well.
  • Image title – The relevancy of the title of the image to the search query.
  • Alt text – This text, sometimes used by visually impaired web users, describes what’s in the image. The relevancy of this text to the search query also plays a part in ranking.