Your website’s ranking for different search terms and keywords is determined by Google’s algorithm, which takes hundreds of different factors into account. Most people with a basic understanding of SEO know the main factors of the algorithm, such as content quality, presence of links, presence of keywords, and site organization. However, there are many less known factors that can also affect search engine page results. We’ve compiled a list of some of the lesser-known Google algorithm rules that can affect the results of organic search.
1. Query Freshness
Google wants to keep search results fresh to provide the most useful results for users. For this reason, Google will often give newer pages a boost for certain searches, placing them higher on search results even though they are not well established. However, this boost only applies to certain searches, and it is difficult to know which searches these are. Therefore, Google’s attempts to keep queries fresh can affect search results, but you can’t count on them.
2. Query Diversity
Often times, Google users search ambiguous terms that can have multiple meanings. To provide meaningful results for these ambiguous terms, Google adds diversity to the SERP. This means that it will try to provide results that address every possible meaning of the search. Search results will therefore include websites covering completely different topics in order to ensure every possible meaning of the search has been covered. For this reason, only the very top websites will be featured on the SERP of ambiguous searches.
3. User History
Google users the browser history of the searcher to create its search results. Sites that are frequently visited by the searcher are given a boost. Google also gives a boost to sites that are relevant to users’ previous searches. Google looks for patterns in users’ search history and uses these patterns to determine the most valuable sites for the user. For this reason, each individual user can have different organic results for the same search.
4. Rich Answers
One of the newer features of Google that is changing the way we think about search is the rich answer box. When searchers enter a question into the Google search box, Google selects an excerpt from a web page that it feels best answers the searcher’s question. This excerpt is featured in its rich answer box along with a link to the web page. The advantage of this rich answer box is that it appears at the very top of the search results, before any of the web pages or even the paid ads. The rich answer box provides an added opportunity for your site to show up at the top of search results. Because of rich answers, it’s important to focus your web content on answering questions your potential customers might ask.
5. Local Search
Another fairly recent addition to Google that impacts ranking is local search. Local search is especially important on mobile searches, which make up more than half of the total searches on Google. When searchers are looking for businesses, products, or services, Google will rank the businesses close to their location first. In addition to the changes on mobile, Google also has a local search box for both mobile and desktop searches. Before its search results, Google will present location-specific searches with a local search box, including a map of the searcher’s location and businesses nearby that fit the criteria. Because of this added feature, websites must be sure to properly optimize their sites for local search to take advantage of this added opportunity for a top ranking.
6. Safe Search
SafeSearch is a feature that is automatically turned on for Google users, but can be turned off. Safe search filters out search results with curse words or adult content. Although sites can slip through, for the most part, pages with adult content will be filtered out of organic results for users with SafeSearch turned on. If your page features adult content, it can hurt your search results with certain users.
7. Top Stories
Certain keywords can trigger Google’s “Top Stories” box at the top of the search engine results page. The Top Stories box typically relates to news and trending topics on the Internet. If your content relates to a trending topic, it might be featured in the Top Stories box. However, this box only appears when certain keywords are entered, as it’s triggered by keywords related to trending topics.
8. Shopping Results
When users search for products and pricing of products, Google will sometimes show “shopping results” at the top of the organic search results page. These results will feature products being sold on different websites along with their price and a link to the website on which you can purchase the product. If your websites features products to be sold to users, the Shopping Results section of Google can be very useful to increase traffic and cause more sales.
ImageWorks, LLC | CT Search Engine Optimization
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