Algorithms for Dummies
23 January 2013 04:24:06 PM | by Nicola Scruby
Any business trying to build a website and wanting to drive traffic to their site would most likely have come across the terms Google Panda or Google Penguin. Throw in Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), web spam algorithm, website syndication and you’re probably just about ready to stop reading this post.
For those who don’t study mathematics or computer science, in layman’s terms an algorithm is a method used by Google to ensure the quality and content of search results produced is up to scratch.
All search engines use a specific algorithm to generate search results and each year Google changes its search algorithm up to 600 times.
Although most of these are small changes, every few months Google rolls out a “major” algorithmic update that can affect search results in significant ways - enter Google Panda and Google Penguin.
So, how does it work?
Let’s just assume you want to search for dog racing. You would type ‘dog racing’ into Google’s search bar and the algorithm would locate web pages that contain the keyword you used to search. It then assigns a rank to each page based on several factors – keyword density, i.e. How many times ‘dog racing’ appears on a websites page, hyperlinks, the title of the web page and the quality of content.
Note – Google will recognise if you have typed ‘dog racing’ a thousand times to increase traffic to your site and will most likely erase you from Google altogether for violating Google’s content quality guidelines (this was the purpose of Google Penguin).
Higher ranked pages obviously appear further up on Google’s Search Engine Results Page (SERP), meaning the best results are theoretically the first listed.
Some say the whole Penguin and Panda update is Orwellian in nature but whether it’s a good thing or bad thing is up to conjecture. If it’s helping your website stay on top and eliminating spam, it’s probably a good thing.