Search Algorithms

Search engines have complex search algorithms which are used to ensure they are able to display the most relevant and useful results to their users. While algorithm changes are common and won’t usually affect a site’s ranking, search engines such as Google will occasionally introduce a major update which may impact search results. Our Hangout Notes cover insights from Google around these algorithms with best practice advice.

Useful Text on Category Pages Helps Google

March 20, 2020 Source

Some useful and topical text on category page is useful as it helps Google to understand them a little better, but make sure that Google can still recognise the page’s intent as a shopping page, not an informational page.

Google Tests New Pages for Relevance to Search Terms

March 20, 2020 Source

Google tries displaying new pages, without a lot of signals, higher up in the search results to understand where the pages are most relevant to show. This will settle down over time as they collect more signals.

Algorithm Changes May Result in Changes to Crawl Rate

February 21, 2020 Source

The number of pages which Google wants to crawl may change during algorithm changes, which may be due to some pages being considered less important to show in search results, or from crawling optimization improvements.

Google Discover Visibility Can be Affected by Algorithm Updates

February 7, 2020 Source

John confirmed that core algorithm updates can affect Google Discover visibility.

Google Display The Most Accurate Results Based on Query Intent

December 27, 2019 Source

Google will try to understand the intent of a query in order to display the most accurate page in search results. For example, if they view the search query to be more transactional they will show a product page instead of an informational page. John recommends reviewing real queries that users are making and ensuring the intent is accurate for the page that is being displayed.

BERT is Used To Determine Which Pages Are Most Relevant for Different Queries

November 29, 2019 Source

BERT is being used by Google to help them to understand both user queries and the content on websites, in order to serve the most relevant results to users. John reiterated that, besides ensuring you are creating content that is easily understandable for users, there is nothing specific that needs to be done to websites to make them work better for BERT. Google are constantly expanding and testing their understanding of queries in order to apply it for different languages.

Numerous Algorithms Used to Determine Which Search Results Features to Display

November 29, 2019 Source

Google has a number of algorithms that are used to determine which of the search result feature blocks (e.g. videos, images and news results) to show above others, based on what is deemed relevant for individual queries. These algorithms are being used to understand what is being searched for specifically with the query.

Unnatural Links Can Hurt a Site Regardless of Algorithm Updates

November 26, 2019 Source

If you believe your site is suffering from poor link-building schemes, John recommends focusing on removing these unnatural links, regardless of any algorithmic updates. This can be done in a number of ways, including using the disavow file or removing links from the source site.

BERT is Currently Just Used For English Content

November 15, 2019 Source

Google currently just use BERT for English content, this is because most Natural Language Processing models are very language-dependent. It is therefore important to understand how things work in one language first, before generalising them for other languages.

Related Topics

Voice Search Search Queries Rich Snippets Featured Snippets Penalties Search Console PageRank