Google Algorithm – What do we know?

I am currently in the process of searching for a new job having just moved to Brighton from London. I recently had an interview with one of the questions regarding the Google algorithm. This got me thinking, how much do we really know about what factors go into the latest Google algorithm in 2017? I’ve done some extra research and try to explain below!

Top Three Google Algorithm Elements

According to a somewhat recent Google Q&A, Andrey Lipattsev – Search Quality Strategist at Google confirmed there were two key ranking factors;

  1. Content
  2. Links pointing to your site

Neither of these should be a huge surprise to anybody who works within the digital marketing space. The first google Panda update in 2011 taught us that having quality content on your website would increase your SERP’s. Ultimately this is a good thing for the web. Google penalises spam and in return provides content that is interesting. Link importance for SEO has been around longer than I have existed. This is hardly new information but at least nice to receive confirmation from Google themselves. The third largest ranking element was confirmed by Editor Steven Levy in a Machine Learning article on Google ranking;

“It went online in April 2015. Google is characteristically fuzzy on exactly how it improves search but Dean (Google Brain Lead) says that RankBrain is ‘involved in every query,’ and affects the actual rankings “probably not in every query but in a lot of queries.”

RankBrain is Google’s attempt to use artificial intelligence to best organise search rankings. As it affects all queries it’s understandable that optimisers are fearful. If I could put my money on which ranking factor is to increase in the next few years this would be it. Content and links can still largely be manipulated to an extent. In Google’s quest to fight spam RankBrain could be it’s shiny new saviour.

More Algorithm Factors

Google Plus Social

The Google algorithm supposedly has 200+ ranking factors overall but we can assume the above three are the most prominent based on insider knowledge. Other notable mentions are social interactions, CTR and bounce rate. Social is now understood to be largely similar to that of links, with high authority social shares being helpful. Just received a social share from the BBC? Good job!  Many people seem to think this is why Google Plus has been around so long. It may seem like a failed attempt of a social network but it may actually assist in Google ranking more than people suspect and shouldn’t be ignored.

Traffic CTR & bounce rates are essentially telling Google if your content is interesting enough to make people choose your content and continue to read / watch it. A higher bounce rate will tell Google your page just isn’t all that great. Try to aim for 40% or below, although this will vary depending on what industry you’re in (blogs will be much higher).

Google’s algorithm is it’s single greatest USP, it is to Google what the recipe is to Coca Cola. Even if RankBrain does become the full ranking factor we still won’t know how it fully works for sure so keep researching!

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