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The Beginner's Guide to Understand Algorithms and How they Affect SEO

Jul 10, 2018, 15:57 PM | Published under Search Engine Optimization by Michael Hodgdon

search algorithm's

Understanding algorithms is essential for SEO success. Follow this guide to learn more about how Google's algorithm works and what you can do to make it work in your favor.

With Amazon's Alexa alone set to account for a $10 billion business by the end of 2020, the way people are engaging with and searching online is changing. The variety of devices and styles still rely on some pretty common algorithms. If you can devote time to understanding algorithms, you can ensure that your site is set up for SEO success.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you want to get to understand search algorithms and SEO.

How Do Search Engines Find Me?

search engine spiders

Search engines rely on a tool called web crawlers to find information about every site on the net. Web crawlers go through every site on the internet to index them for keywords, reputability, broken links, and mobile optimization. That's how search engines can return so many results so quickly.

Search providers have discovered that when people are using search engines, they're looking for either a specific product or the answer to a question. They take that into account when they're indexing sites. If your site shows a high level of reputability you'll be ranked higher in the results than a site that is less reputable.

Because the internet is still seen as a community-based tool, reputation matters. How you engage with the rest of the internet, the quality of your links, and the organization of your content reflect on your usefulness to other internet users.

The algorithms of search engines do more than just count keywords. They measure your intention and even where keywords appear in site descriptions and metadata.

What Is SEO?

SEO or Search Engine Optimization is your response to what search engines to do rank sites. It's how you prepare every element of your site for what the algorithms are looking for. If you put keywords in the right places, take care to organize your code, and map out your site clearly, you'll set yourself up for success with search engines.

One of the hottest developments in SEO is "local SEO". Using local SEO, you can better target the audience of consumers and customers that are located closest to where you are.

If you're looking to expand your audience in the Detroit, Michigan area, you might want to mention "Detroit" and "Michigan" several times on your site. Because search engines comb through user data, previous searches, and GPS to figure out where clients are located, they will tell them if you're nearby. As so many people using search engines are looking for something that's close by, search engines can help lead customers to your doorstep.

How Can I Improve My SEO?

seo improvments for ranking

Thankfully SEO rankings aren't written in stone. You can take efforts to improve or expand your SEO ranking using by improving or expanding elements on your site.

As mentioned above, when users enter a search, they're often looking for a specific product or the answer to a concern. Writing a blog lets you capture both types of search engine users. You can write posts that center around those frequently asked questions and then name your products and services as the answer to those questions.

Blogging also helps your ranking by showing that you're constantly updating your site. A site that hasn't been updated in a year or more could be of questionable value to search engines. They may think it's uncared-for because there's little interest and they'll drop its ranking down considerably.

You can also improve your SEO by expanding how you're using your keywords and local SEO terms. You can include terms in your tags across your sites. Use phrases, neighborhood names, and even competitors' product names to help you to compete.

When you upload photos, they don't have to be named "IMG_123.JPG". You can use your image titles to improve your search ranking by changing them to something like "kids-orthodontist-detroit-michigan.JPG". You'll be sharing valuable information about who you are and what you do with search engines, all while helping to organize your site a little better.

The Future of SEO

The future of SEO lies in voice search and mobile. Since mobile internet usage has definitively surpassed desktop browsing, there's no turning back. People are engaging with the internet in ways never before thought imaginable.

As smart home devices become as standard as the television was 50 years ago, more people are relying on voice commands and voice searches. When people have a question, they ask a smart device. If you take advantage of the way that people are asking questions, you'll be able to rank highly in all of these searches.

As more people are traveling and browsing on the go, search engines are ranking sites for how well they display on mobile devices. If your images take forever to load or look warped when they do, search engines are taking notes. They've calculated into their algorithms a way to detect whether or not mobile users stick around or whether they leave in search of a mobile-friendlier site.

If you're not prepared for the changing of the guard in terms of devices, you're at risk of being left behind. You need to future-proof your site by designing it with this kind of scalability in mind.

Keeping up on Algorithms

While Google used to update people in the industry when they were about to change their algorithm, they are doing it less and less. Because it is harder then ever before to stay on top of sources that track algorithm updates. If you're not well connected to what's going on, you might miss out. It helps to be prepared for the changes that come.

If you take the time to understand algorithms and what they're meant to look for, you can ensure that your site will be ranked highly in future results.

If you want to take advantage of even your failures for the purpose of SEO, check out our guide to understand errors on your site.

About the Author

Mike is the Marketing & SEO Director at Infront Webworks. An online entrepreneur since 1997, he has owned or run website design / SEO, online marketing and internet advertising companies for over 15 years. Featured in Entrepreneur Magazine, Colorado Springs Business Journal and with projects featured in N.Y. Times, L.A. Times, he has a solid track record of successful online undertakings. He is a certified Yext Partner, Google Certified in Analytics, Tag Manager, AdWords, Online Display Advertising, Shopping and Video Advertising.

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