For marketers, the Google search algorithm is often a source of intrigue. Although some articles attempt to explain the inner workings of this system. Many of these articles rely on speculation and subjective opinions.

How does the Google search algorithm work, and what steps can you take to ensure your content is aligned with it?

What is the Google algorithm?

Google’s search algorithm refers to the proprietary process that the company uses to rank web content. It evaluates several factors, such as relevance and quality, against a particular search query when determining rankings. 

While it’s important to understand the nuances of each factor. It is also important to see the bigger picture and recognize how they all work together.

The stages involved in the process are as follows.


The first step in Google search engine optimization is for Google’s bots to crawl the web, looking for new or updated web pages. Once a page has been crawled and indexed by Google, it can begin to appear in search results.


Google examines the content, images, and other media on each page to determine what that page is about. It stores this information in a database called the Google index. Technical SEO (the configuration of your site’s sitemap, headers, and tags) is vital during these first two stages of the search process.


The final step is to determine which of these pages are most pertinent and helpful for a particular search query. It is known as the ranking stage, and it’s where the Google search algorithm comes into play.

How Does the Google Search Algorithm Work? 

Google’s search engine returns results based on the number of times keywords appear on a Web page and several other factors, including how often keyword combinations appear. 

The search ranking algorithm combines multiple algorithms that consider various factors. Such as the quality of content on a page, the relevancy of that page to a query, and how usable that page is.

Search algorithms have several basic principles

Google’s search engine goes through several stages when generating a results page:

  • The selection of appropriate pages
  • Analysis of words, phrases, and expressions
  • Ranking of materials by relevance to a search
  • The collection of user information
  • Display only the most relevant results.

An overview of Google’s search algorithms

Google constantly tries to improve its search results. Google’s search algorithms are complex, and there are many of them. Each algorithm is responsible for different variables, assessments, or training.

Google has undergone several major updates to its search algorithm. The most significant of them have been named after animals: Penguin, Panda, and Hummingbird. Major updates usually address a specific issue that is meant to solve. Therefore, many SEO specialists divide search results into pre-update and post-update periods.

Panda Algorithm (2011)

Over the years, Google Panda has evolved into a significant ranking factor for pages. It deals with duplicate content, spam, and keyword abuse. The main focus on fighting plagiarism has been maintained and is still an integral part of Google’s root algorithm.

Penguin Algorithm (2012) 

Google’s Penguin algorithm penalizes sites with unnatural link profiles to limit spam and artificial links. The update affects sites that are excessively optimized with keyword-stuffed anchor text. A healthy backlink profile consists of diverse sources with relevant anchor texts without suspicious or spammy links.

Hummingbird (2013) 

This update to the algorithm included a transition from processing individual keywords to determining the user’s search intentions. Instead of guessing the keyword that would get the best results, Google began to focus on the information itself. The importance of synonyms, similar topics, and semantically similar searches has increased when processing and ranking pages.

RankBrain Algorithm (2015) 

RainBrain is Google’s Hummingbird update. It is an algorithm that brings improved quality to search results. It is done by evaluating user requests and comparing them to indexed pages. It is one of the key factors underpinning effective ranking in the search results.

Medic Algorithm (2018) 

Since the launch of the updated algorithm, the Medic took into account YMYL (Your Money or Your Life), and E-A-T (Expertise-Authority-Trust) signals when evaluating web pages. This update primarily affects websites that provide information about healthcare services. The main target of the new algorithm is an online resource containing information that affects significant aspects of users’ lives. Experts from each industry are now taken into account when evaluating page content.

BERT Algorithm (2018) 

Panda, Hummingbird, and RankBrain are three algorithms that work together to identify low-quality content. Google’s latest advances in natural language processing are used to evaluate text content and style i.e When ranking a page, the lack of context, clear subject matter, and style have become important signals.

Algorithms and their Ranking strategies

The algorithm used to assess a page’s importance works by evaluating its content according to criteria such as relevance and quality. Here are some important guidelines to help you rank well in search results.

Three main ranking parameters that affect a page’s performance in search results: 

Quality, Value, and Authority.

To find out the quality of a page, you should consider several technical aspects. Some easy checks include checking the title and meta description of the page and its structure. More elaborate checks include examining the presence of external and internal links, secure communication protocols, and the absence of redirect chains. Google guidelines state that success depends on how useful and friendly a page is to end-users.

The time it takes a page to load on a particular device can be affected by image optimization, correct use of external scripts, and style sheets. The quality of the content on the page also plays an important role. As your content’s structure, layout, and location are central to your site’s usability. Page-load times will affect bounce rates.  While effective mobile optimization can increase the time spent per visit.

Backlinks provide a measure of your site’s importance, popularity, and relevance. The more sites that link to you, the more credible your content is considered by search engines.


Google provides some general suggestions and guidelines for how web pages are ranked in search results.  Though it is difficult to anticipate what will or will not be rewarded by the search algorithm. Regardless of any core changes and updates, Google looks for content that is:

  • High-quality content is especially important when it meets the guidelines established by E-A-T.
  • Using search terms as the basis for your content
  • Relevant to the keyword you are targeting
  • Optimized for use with multiple devices and platforms.

Above are the key factors you can control when creating and publishing content. Toolkits help you ensure that your content incorporates these factors for a higher quality, better performing online presence.

For more information, Contact us on Ahbiv Digital Agency; we are here to help you further with our SEO Services.

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