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Google Updates Its Organic Results Algorithm

When a query is entered in Google, the query can be related to hundreds of thousands of web pages.  In order to provide useful information, Google must be able to sort these pages by how relevant they are and by the quality of the information that they contain.  Google uses a variety of techniques to do this.  The final algorithm, which remains a secret, takes into account the length of time that the page has been up, the density of keywords in the page, the number of links leading to the page, the quality of the pages that these links come from, and other factors.

The importance of being high on Google’s and other search engines’ results lists has led to the search engine optimization industry.  In their effort to design webpages that score highly in Google’s algorithm, search engine optimizers often try to create links leading back to the page that they hope to optimize.  As a response to this trend, Google has introduced Penguin, an update to the search algorithm designed to identify pages creating lots of links to themselves that boost their rank.  Penguin penalizes the pages that it determines unfairly create lots of links to themselves by lowering their final page rank.

Search engine optimizers have already responded to Google’s newest development.  They have determined the types of links that Google’s algorithm identifies as attempts to influence page rank, and have found a way to maintain many links without receiving the penalty from penguin.  When Google observes the link structure surrounding a page, Penguin only flags links with certain types of anchor text.  Many companies that provide help with search engine optimization have found that if web page designers ensure that links to their page come from a variety of sources in a variety of formats, the page will not incur the penalty.  One piece of advice offered by search engine optimizers provides some evidence that Google’s updates are working towards getting the best results first: optimizers say that making a well-organized site with high-quality content will help the page score higher.

The organic results section is so important because it represents a way for companies to essentially get free advertising.  If they are clever enough with their webpage design to be near the top of Google’s organic results, they can get the same value of a good advertising spot on Google without having to pay.  This undermines Google’s business: potential customers should not have a way to get the same value of an advertising slot out of Google without paying Google.  Google and the companies operating webpages have conflicting interests.  Google hopes to design a search that comes up with the most relevant and high-quality results first, and to make money off its advertising slots, while companies want to make sure that their results turn up first in the search.



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November 2012