Search engines are answer machines. They exist to discover, understand, and organize the internet’s content to offer the most relevant results to the questions searchers are asking. First, your content must be visible to search engines to appear in search results. Most processes run to find out your website, and the last one of them is ranking. It is arguably the most vital piece of the SEO puzzle: If your site can’t be found, there’s no way you’ll ever show up in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
Firstly, How do search engines work?
Search engines work through three primary functions:
Scour the internet for content, looking over the code/content for each URL they find.
What Is The Meaning Of Crawling?
Store and organize the content found during the crawling process. Once a page is in the index, it’s in the running to show up for relevant queries.
What Is The Meaning Of Indexing?
Provide the pieces of content that will best answer a searcher’s query, which means that results are ordered from most relevant to least relevant.
Search engine ranking:
When someone performs a search, search engines scour their index for highly relevant content and then order that content in the hopes of solving the searcher’s query. This ordering of search results by relevance is known as ranking. In general, you can assume that the higher a website is ranked, the more relevant the search engine believes that site is to the query.
It’s possible to block search engine crawlers from part or all of your site or instruct search engines to avoid storing certain pages in their index. There can be reasons for doing this. If you want your content found by searchers, you have to make sure it’s accessible to crawlers and is indexable. Otherwise, it’s as good as invisible.
Ranking: How do search engines rank URLs?
How do search engines ensure that when someone types a query into the search bar, they get relevant results in return? That process is known as ranking, or the ordering of search results from most relevant to least relevant to a particular query.
To determine relevance, search engines use algorithms, a process or formula by which stored information is retrieved and ordered in meaningful ways. These algorithms have gone through many changes over the years to improve the quality of search results. Google, for example, makes algorithm adjustments every day — some of these updates are minor quality tweaks, whereas others are core/broad algorithm updates deployed to tackle a specific issue, like Penguin to tackle link spam.
Why does the algorithm change so often? Is Google just trying to keep us on our toes?
While Google doesn’t always reveal specifics as to why they do what they do, we do know that Google’s aim when making algorithm adjustments is to improve overall search quality. That’s why, in response to algorithm update questions, Google will answer with something along the lines of: “We’re making quality updates all the time.” This indicates that, if your site suffered after an algorithm adjustment, compare it against Google’s Quality Guidelines or Search Quality Rater Guidelines, both are very telling in terms of what search engines want.
What do search engines want?
Search engines have always wanted the same thing: to provide useful answers to searchers’ questions in the most helpful formats. If that’s true, then why does it appear that SEO is different now than in years past?
Think about it in terms of someone learning a new language. At first, their understanding of the language is very rudimentary — “See Spot Run.” Over time, their understanding starts to deepen, and they learn semantics — the meaning behind language and the relationship between words and phrases. Eventually, with enough practice, the student knows the language well enough to even understand nuance and can provide answers to even vague or incomplete questions.
When search engines were just beginning to learn our language, it was much easier to game the system by using tricks and tactics that go against quality guidelines. Take keyword stuffing, for example. If you wanted to rank for a particular keyword like “funny jokes,” you might add the words “funny jokes” a bunch of times onto your page, and make it bold, in hopes of boosting your ranking for that term:
Welcome to funny jokes! We tell the funniest jokes in the world. Funny jokes are fun and crazy. Your funny joke awaits. Sit back and read funny jokes because funny jokes can make you happy and funnier. Some funny favorite funny jokes.
This tactic made for terrible user experiences, and instead of laughing at funny jokes, people were bombarded by annoying, hard-to-read text. It may have worked in the past, but this is never what search engines wanted.
What is RankBrain?
RankBrain is the machine learning component of Google’s core algorithm. Machine learning is a computer program that continues to improve its predictions over time through new observations and training data. In other words, it’s always learning, and because it’s always learning, search results should be constantly improving.
For example, if RankBrain notices a lower ranking URL providing a better result to users than the higher ranking URLs, you can bet that RankBrain will adjust those results, moving the more relevant result higher and demoting the lesser relevant pages as a byproduct.
Like most things with the search engine, we don’t know exactly what comprises RankBrain, but apparently, neither do the folks at Google.