Google is the search engine of choice for billions of active internet users across the globe. It is used by everyday users as well as large organizations and enterprises. Google’s ability to provide its users with the most accurate and relevant results that match their queries has made it one of the most popular and widely used search engines in the world. 

Google uses software known as web crawlers that explore the web and scan the content of the websites they find on the internet so that the entries can be created for a search engine index. Google has complex algorithms that analyse web pages for their relevance to the end-user. Google rates web pages based on its opinion of their authority and usefulness to searchers. So, if a web page shows up higher in search results when searching something on Google, this means it is the most authoritative and accurate result for the given search query according to Google. 

In the search result pages, you find answers to the search queries that consist of keywords. Google’s AI understands the intention and meaning behind every search query and then processes it in concepts. There are more than 210 known factors that influence which websites will rank on the search result page for a particular search query. 

Now, the most important thing you need to know here is that many of the ranking factors are created by Google’s AI algorithms themselves. So, understanding how Google decides which websites to rank when searching may seem difficult. But luckily, there are certain strategies that you can implement to improve the search engine rankings of your websites. Also, Google often shares news on their latest algorithm updates. You can take a look at them to better understand how Google ranks websites. 

In this blog, we will discuss some important things that will give you a clear idea of how Google ranks websites and what you can do to improve your site’s rankings on Google. So, let’s get started. 

Does Google Change Its Ranking Algorithm?

Google releases algorithmic updates on a regular basis. These can either be minor updates or bigger ones. The goal of the algorithmic updates by Google is to improve the search results and provide the most relevant results for searchers that match their search queries. 

Google usually releases bigger algorithmic updates every 3-6 months and they affect millions of websites and web pages at a time. However, it can’t be predicted exactly when Google will release an update. You may lose your search engine rankings after a major Google update. If you notice that your search engine rankings have dropped dramatically, you will need to use SEO processes that consist of recovering strategies. That said, websites that are well-maintained may not get much affected from a Google update. 

Types of Google Algorithm Updates

Google releases minor algorithm updates as well as bigger changes that are known as “Broad Core Algorithm Updates”. Minor updates occur 5-9 times every day. In 2018, Google announced more than 3200 updates (About 9 updates per day). These changes may result in a change in ranking positions. You can estimate how big the updates are based on the spike in rank fluctuations. 

You can expect a “Broad Core Algorithm Update” from Google every 3-4 months. This means bigger Google algorithm updates can occur 4-5 times a year. Some of the biggest Google algorithm updates till now include Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird, RankBrain, Medic, BERT, etc. 

How Does Google Decide When To Update The Ranking Algorithm?

Google focuses on both user signals and webmaster signals to decide when to update the ranking algorithms. Google analyses user behaviour to find out whether or not users are satisfied with the search results. They also monitor what webmasters do with their websites. If Google finds that a webmaster is doing something wrong to get his website to the top of Google search results or users are dissatisfied with the results, you can expect Google to take action about it.

Google Ranking Factors 

The three major contributing factors in the Google search engine ranking algorithm include:

  • How unique, useful, and relevant your content is,
  • How well-rounded and attractive your web pages are to the end-user, and 
  • How authoritative your website is based on backlinks. 

Let’s take a closer look at the most important Google rankings factors:

On-Page Factors

There are several on-page factors that can influence your website’s rankings on search engine result pages. Here are the measurements that google considers when analysing the content of a website:

1. Is The Content Unique?

Is the content that you have published on your blog or website your original work? Have you added something new to the subject? Then chances are that Google will rank your website higher for relevant search queries. 

2. Is Your Content Helpful?

Google wants to provide as much value as possible to its users. So, if your content is genuinely helpful, you can expect Google to rank your website or blog higher in search results. 

Now, the question is, how Google determines whether or not a piece of content is helpful?

Google makes the decision based on various user signals. The most important ones include:

  • Do Most visitors stay on your website for long or bounce back to the search results immediately after landing on your website?
  • Do visitors click on the internal links and explore other pages on your website?
  • Do visitors actively engage with your content?
  • Does the content really answer the queries of the visitors? Or, is it just keyword-stuffed?

These are all crucial factors that tell Google where to rank a website in the search results for a given search query. 

3. Does Your Content Cover The Topic In-Depth?

Long-form content that covers a topic in-depth always has a better chance of ranking higher in search results. So, if you want to improve your rankings, make sure you publish in-depth content. 

4. Other On-Page Factors 

Other on-page factors that Google takes into consideration when deciding which websites to rank on search results when searching include:

  • Title Tag
  • Meta Description
  • Click-Through Rate or CTR
  • Page Speed
  • The Overall Appearance of A Website, etc.

Off-Page Factors

Here are the off-page factors that Google looks at closely when ranking a website in search engine results:

1. Is Your Website Authoritative?

Your website authority is a major factor that directly contributes to the rankings of your website. 

Does your website have backlinks from authoritative websites? Are those websites relevant to your industry? These are the things that Google considers when determining how authoritative a website is.

2. What is Your Page Authority? 

Page Authority is another important off-page factor for determining the position of a specific web page in search results. Here’s what Google considers to determine how authoritative a particular web page is:

  • How many inbound links are pointing to that specific web page?
  • Are those links coming from relevant and authoritative websites?
  • Is the page linked with relevant anchor texts?

3. How Authoritative and Relevant Your Competitors’ Websites Are?

You need to check the backlinks and on-page content of your competitors’ websites to know how authoritative and relevant they are. 

What Makes A Page Bad According To Google’s Algorithm

Here are the things that make pages bad according to Google’s algorithm:

  • Pages with A High Bounce Rate

Suppose a user types his query in the Google search bar and hits enter. He sees a web page on the search results page and clicks on it to visit the website. Now, if the user returns back to the results page immediately after landing on the website, then it will be counted as a “bounce”. If a website’s bounce rate is high, Google assumes that the page is not providing searchers with what they are searching for and that’s why they are leaving the site unsatisfied. This can make a negative impact on the site’s search engine rankings.

  • Low Page Speed  

If your pages are too slow to load, it can negatively impact your Google rankings. Studies show that most people leave a website if it takes more than 3 seconds to load. There can be several reasons why a web page takes longer to load. These include large web assets like videos, images, scripts, and more. So, if you want better rankings, you must consider optimising your page load speed.  

Ranking Factors That You Can Improve To Rank Higher In Search Results

Here are some of the ranking factors that you can improve:

  • Content Quality
  • Your Website’s Performance
  • Backlinks 
  • The Usability Of Your Website

Listed below are some of the questions you need to answer first if you want to achieve a higher ranking in Google search results:

  • Does your website look fresh and well-organised?
  • Is the text easy to read?
  • Is the content on the page unique, helpful, and relevant?
  • Are you targeting the right keywords?

Here are some strategies that can help you rank higher on Google:

Step 1: Keyword Optimization

Finding the right keywords and placing them at the right place in your content is important. 

Step 2: Competitor Analysis

See what your competitors are doing to rank on Google, and then work to improve your site based on your findings. 

Step 3: On-Page Optimization

As mentioned earlier, on-page signals are crucial when it comes to Google ranking. Consider making text and visual improvements on your site to make it look more attractive. 

Step 4: Backlink Building

Authority websites always rank higher on Google. And to build authority, you must get backlinks from authoritative websites.  I hope these tips will help you achieve higher positions on Google search result pages. Please go through other online resources to know more about how Google ranks websites.