General

How SEARCH ENGINES Work: CRAWLING INDEXING, and RANKING

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First, be on time.
In chapter 1 Search engines are answering machines. They’re there to help you discover how to comprehend, organize, and understand the web’s contents in order to give the most relevant outcomes to the queries that users are asking.
To be able to appear in the results of a search, your site must first be accessible in search results. This is perhaps the most crucial part in the SEO puzzle If your website can’t be discovered in search results, you’re unlikely to be able to appear in SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).
How do search engines function?
Search engines perform three main purposes:
Crawling Explore through the Internet looking for relevant content and and then look over the content and code for every URL they come across.

indexingStore and arrange the information discovered in the process of crawling. Once a page has been added to the index it’s running process to display it in the event of relevant queries.

ranking:Provide the pieces of content that are most likely to answer the query of a user, which means that the results are sorted according to the most pertinent to the least relevant.
What exactly is crawling a search engine?
Crawling is the process of discovery where search engines send out a group consisting of robotics (known as spiders or crawlers) to search for new and fresh content. The content can be different in its format — it could be an image, a website page or video or PDF. Regardless which format you choose, it is discovered through hyperlinks.

What does that word mean?
Have trouble understanding one of the definitions listed in this section? The SEO glossary includes specific definitions for each chapter that will keep you up-to-date.
Refer to the Chapter 2 definitions

Googlebot starts by retrieving several web pages and then scans the hyperlinks on those pages to search for new URLs. As it travels along this set of links, the crawler will be capable of finding new content to add to their index, which is known as Caffeine which is which is a huge database of recently URLs discovered — to later be found when a user searches for information for which the content on the page is a good match.
What exactly is a Search Engine index?
Search engines store and process the information they discover within an index. It’s which is a vast database of all the information they’ve stumbled across and judge adequate enough to offer to people searching.
Ranking of search engines
When a person conducts a Google search, search engines search their databases for relevant content , and then they arrange the content with the aim of resolving the query. This sorting of search results according to relevance is called ranking. In general, it is possible to think that the more an internet site is ranked and the more relevant that search engines believe the site is to the search query.
It is possible to prevent crawlers of search engines from a portion or the entire site or even instruct search engines not to store specific sites in their index. There are many motives for this, if you’d like to see your website to be indexed by search engines it is essential to ensure that it is accessible to crawlers, and also indexable. If not, it’s as invisibility.
At the end of this chapter you’ll know the background you’ll need to use the search engine instead of in opposition to it!

When it comes to SEO, there are many different engines are alike.
Many people wonder about the importance of specific search engines. Everyone knows that Google is the most popular and has the biggest part of the market. But what is the important is it to optimize your site for Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines? In reality, despite the fact that there are over 30 major search engines however, the SEO community is only paying focus on Google. Whyis that? The simple reason is Google is the place where majority of people use to search the internet. If we add Google Images, Google Maps and YouTube (a Google property), more than 90 percent of searches on the internet occur on Google — which is about 20 times more than Bing and Yahoo together.
Crawling Does search engines locate your websites?
As you’ve learned, making sure that your website is searched and indexes is an essential step to show up in SERPs. In the event that you have already created a site you’re considering, it’s an excellent idea to begin by checking how many of your sites are included in the index. This will provide you with some valuable insight into how Google can crawl and discovering every page you’d like you to see, as well as not finding any that you do not.
One way to check your indexed pages is “site:yourdomain.com”, an advanced search operator. Head to Google and type “site:yourdomain.com” into the search bar. The results will be returned Google includes in their indexes for the website that are:

The amount of results Google provides (see “About XX results” above) isn’t exactly exact, however, it gives an idea of the pages indexable on your site and the way they’re currently appearing on search result pages.
For more precise results, keep track of and make use of for more accurate results, monitor and use the Index Coverage report in Google Search Console. You can register for a free Google Search Console account in the event that you don’t have one. This tool can upload sitemaps to your website and track the number of pages submitted to Google and how many have been included in Google’s index, in addition to other things.
If you’re not appearing anywhere in the results There are several possible reasons:
Your website is fresh and hasn’t even been crawled as of yet.

Your website is not linked from any other websites.

The navigation of your site makes it difficult for robots to crawl your site effectively.

Your site has a simple code known as crawler directives. It block the search engines.

Your website has been disqualified by Google for using spammy techniques.
Inform search engines about how they can crawl your site
If you’ve used Google Search Console or the “site:domain.com” advanced search operator and noticed that your most important pages are not in the index, or that some of your pages that aren’t important have been wrongly indexed, there’s several optimizations that you can apply to control Googlebot to how you’d like your website content to be to be crawled. Informing search engines about how to crawl your site will help you control the content that is included in the index.
Check out the pages GOOGLE can use to crawl with MOZ PRO

Moz Pro can identify issues that affect your website’s crawlability, from issues with crawlers which block Google to issues with content that affect ranking. Try it for free and begin fixing problems today:
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Many people focus on the need to ensure that Google is able to find their key pages, but it’s very easy to forget there are likely to be pages that you don’t would like Googlebot to locate. They could be old URLs with very little content or multiple URLs (such as filters and sorting parameters for E-commerce) or promo codes for specific pages as well as test or staging pages, and so on.
To redirect Googlebot away from specific pages or areas of your site, you can use robots.txt.
Robots.txt
Robots.txt files can be found within the root directories of web pages (ex. yourdomain.com/robots.txt) and suggest which parts of your site search engines should and shouldn’t crawl, as well as the speed at which they crawl your site, via specific robots.txt directives.
How Googlebot responds to robots.txt files
If Googlebot cannot find an robots.txt files for any particular site and continues to search the site.

If Googlebot detects the robots.txt file on a website and it follows the suggestions, it’ll usually by the suggestions and continue to explore the website.

If Googlebot experiences an error while trying to access a website’s robots.txt file and cannot determine whether it exists or not, it’s not able to browse the site.

Make sure you optimize your budget for crawl!
Crawl budget refers to the average amount of web pages Googlebot will go through to your website prior to leaving the site, and optimizing your crawl budget will ensure that Googlebot doesn’t waste time sifting through irrelevant pages at risk of overlooking your more important pages. Crawl budget is crucial for extremely large websites with hundreds of hundreds of thousands of pages However, it’s never good to stop crawlers from accessing pages you don’t really care about. Be sure to not hinder crawlers’ access to pages that you’ve put other instructions on for example, noindex or canonical tags. When Googlebot cannot access accessing a page that it isn’t able to access the information on the page.
Some web robots don’t follow robots.txt. Criminals (e.g. E-mail address scrapers) create bots that don’t adhere to this standard. In reality, some malicious hackers use robots.txt files to discover the exact location of your private data. It may sound like a good idea to prevent crawlers from accessing private pages like administration and login pages, so that they do not appear within the index. However, including the URLs’ addresses in a publically accessible robots.txt file is also a sign that those with malicious intentions will be able to locate them. It is better to block these pages and then hide the access behind an login page rather than putting them into the robots.txt file.
More details on this topic in our robots.txt part in our Learning Center.
Define the parameters of URLs in GSC
Some websites (most popular with the e-commerce industry) offer the same content accessible on several different URLs, by adding some parameters with URLs. If you’ve ever bought something online you’ve probably narrowed your search using filters. For instance, you can look up “shoes” on Amazon, and then narrow your search based on color, size, and design. Every time you refine your search the search, the URL may change:
https://www.example.com/products/women/dresses/green.htmhttps://www.example.com/products/women?category=dresses&color=greenhttps://example.com/shopindex.php?product_id=32&highlight=green+dress&cat_id=1&sessionid=123$affid=43
How do Google decide which URL it will serve to users? Google does a good job of determining the appropriate URL by itself however, you can also use the feature URL Parameters within Google Search Console in order to inform Google precisely how you’d like to be treated by them. If you utilize this feature to inform Googlebot “crawl no URLs with ____ parameter,” then you’re effectively asking Googlebot to remove the information from Googlebot that can result in the removal of these pages from the search results. This is what you’re looking for to avoid if these parameters cause duplicate pages, however it’s isn’t the ideal solution if you wish for the pages to be indexable.
Can crawlers locate the most important content?
Once you’ve learned a few strategies to ensure that search engine crawlers aren’t diverted from irrelevant content and other irrelevant content, let’s discuss the ways to optimize your content so that Googlebot locate your most important pages.
Sometimes, search engines will be able find certain sections of your website by crawling, however, different pages or sections may be hidden due to reasons of one kind or another. It’s crucial to ensure that search engines can find all the information that you would like to index, not only your homepage.
Consider this: Will the robot crawl across your site but not only to it?

Do you have your information locked behind log-in forms?
If you ask users to sign in or fill out forms or complete surveys prior to accessing specific web pages, search engines will not view those protected pages. A crawler is not going to sign up.
Do you rely on search results?
Search forms are not available to robots. Certain people are of the opinion that when they add the search box on their website that search engines will be capable of finding everything the users search for.
Does text get hidden in non-text content?
Non-text media forms (images, video, GIFs, etc.) are not allowed to display text you want to index. Although search engines are becoming faster at understanding images there’s no guarantee that they’ll be capable of reading and comprehending the text yet. It is always best to include text to the markup on your website.
Search engines can follow the navigation of your website?
As a crawler has to locate your site through links from other websites in order to find your site, it requires a network of links on your website to lead it from page to. If you have a page you’d like search engines discover, but it’s not linked to by other pages that’s as good as being inaccessible. A lot of websites make the error of arranging their navigation in ways that make them unaccessible for search engines and which hinders their ability to appear in results of searches.

Common navigation errors which can prevent crawlers from navigating to all of your website:
A mobile navigation system that gives different results than your desktop navigation

Any kind of navigation in which the menu items aren’t within the HTML like JavaScript-enabled navigations. Google has improved in crawling and comprehending Javascript however this is still not a flawless method. The best method to make sure that something is recognized, understood and then indexed by Google is to put it in HTML.

Personalization, or displaying distinct navigation options to a particular category of visitors compared to others may look like cloaking an engine crawler

Inadvertently linking to the primary page of your site through navigation — rememberthat hyperlinks are the routes crawlers use to navigate for new pages!
This is the reason it’s crucial to ensure that your site has an easy navigation system and useful URL folder structure.
Do you have a clean information architecture?
It is the method of organizing and labeling the content on websites to improve the efficiency and accessibility of users. The most effective information architecture is easy to understand, which means that visitors shouldn’t need to think long and difficult to navigate your site or find things.
Are you utilizing sitemaps?
A sitemap is what it says is A list of URLs on your website that crawlers could use to locate and index your website’s content. One of the most efficient methods to make sure Google can find your top important webpages is to make a file that is compliant with Google’s guidelines and submit it via Google Search Console. Although submitting a sitemap does not substitute for the necessity of good navigation of your website, it can definitely help crawlers navigate the right path to all your pages that are important to you.

Make sure you’ve included only URLs you would like to be indexed by search engines. Additionally, make sure that you provide crawlers with constant guidelines. For instance, don’t include a URL on your sitemap if you’ve blocked the URL using robots.txt or included URLs within your sitemap that are duplicates, rather than the canonical version that you prefer (we’ll provide more information about canonicalization later in Chapter 5!! ).
Find out More about XML sitemaps
If your site isn’t linked to any other websites linking with it, then you may be able to make it more visible by sending your XML sitemap to Google Search Console. There’s no guarantee that Google will include a URL submitted within their search results, but definitely worth to give it a shot!
Are crawlers receiving errors when trying to connect to your website’s URL?
When searching the URLs on your website the crawler could run into errors. There is a Google’s the Search Console’s “Crawl Errors” report to identify URLs where it could be happening. the report will highlight errors on servers and not-found errors. Log files from servers can reveal this and the plethora of data, including crawl frequency. However, since getting access to and dissecting server logs is more sophisticated and requires more expertise, we will not discuss in detail inside this Beginner’s Guide, although you are able to get more details in this article.
Before you do anything relevant using an error crawl report it’s essential to know the difference between server errors and “not found” errors.
4xx Codes: If crawlers from search engines are unable to access your website because of a client error
4xx errors are caused by client error and mean that the requested URL has a wrong syntax or does not meet the requirements. One of the most frequent 4xx-related errors can be the “404 – not found” error. This could be due to an URL error, a deleted pages, or a broken redirects, just to mention a few of the possibilities. When search engines come across the 404 page, they cannot access the website. If users encounter the 404 page, they could be frustrated and quit.
5xx Codes: If crawlers of search engines can’t access your site because of a server error
5xx errors are server-related errors, which means that the server that the page is hosted on did not meet the searcher’s or engine’s request for access to the page. Within Google’s “Crawl Error” report, there is a tab devoted to errors like these. They typically occur because the request to the URL ran out of time, so Googlebot stopped the request. Read Google’s manual for more information on fixing issues with server connectivity.
Fortunately, there’s an effective method to notify users and search engines that your website has changed by a redirect 301 (permanent) redirect.

Create custom 404 pages!
Modify your 404 page by adding hyperlinks to other pages on your website, a search function, and contact details. This will make it less likely that users bounce off your website when they come across an error page.
Find out more information about customized pages for 404

Say you move a page from example.com/young-dogs/ to example.com/puppies/. Users and search engines need an intermediary to connect previous URLs to new. The bridge that they need is the redirect to 301.
This 301 status number indicates that the page is moved permanently to a different site, so don’t redirect URLs to pages that aren’t relevant -URLs that aren’t relevant to the original URL’s content hasn’t been updated. If a page is ranked for a particular query, and you redirect it to a URL that has other content, it may fall in ranking position due to the content that was relevant to the query no longer exists. The 301s can be very effective and can be used to move URLs in a responsible manner!
You can also make use of redirecting a webpage using 302 however it should be reserved for short-term changes and in situations where the transfer of link equity isn’t as important as it sounds. 302s can be thought of as a detour from the road. They temporarily divert traffic along the route you’ve chosen however it’s not going to stay for ever.

Beware of redirect chains!
It may be difficult to Googlebot to get to your site when it must traverse several redirects. Google refers to these “redirect chains” and they advise limiting them as much as is possible. In the event that the redirection is from example.com/1 to example.com/2 but later choose to change it back to example.com/3 It is best to get rid of the middleman and redirect example.com/1 towards example.com/3.
Find out More about the redirect chain
After you’ve verified that your site is crawl-friendly The next step in business is to ensure that it is indexable.
Indexing: What do search engines understand and store your web pages?
After you’ve verified that your site has been crawledby a search engine, the next step is to ensure that it’s found. This is correct — even if your website is able to be crawled and found through a web search engine does not necessarily mean it will be included within their database. In the previous article about crawling, we talked about how search engines locate your website’s pages. The index is the place where your found pages are kept. When a crawler discovers an article it renders it in the same way as it would a browser. While doing this, the engine scrutinizes the contents of the page. The entire information it gathers is saved inside its index.

Learn more about the process of indexing and how to ensure your site is included it into this vital database.
What can I do to see how the Googlebot crawler perceives my site?
Yes that cached copy of your website will reflect the version of the page as it was the previous date that Googlebot visited it.
Google searches and stores pages on various times. More established, well-known sites that post frequently like https://www.nytimes.com will be crawled more frequently than the much-less-famous website for Roger the Mozbot’s side hustle, http://www.rogerlovescupcakes…. (if only it were real…)
You can check out the cached version of the page appears when you click the drop-down menu right next to the URL on the SERP and then selecting “Cached”:

You can also check out the version that is text-only of your website to see whether your content is crawled and effectively cached.
Are there ever any pages deleted from indexes?
Yes, websites may be removed from the index! The most common reasons for a URL to be removed are:
The page is returning an “not found” error (4XX) or server error (5XX) It may be an accident (the site was relocated, and an 301 redirect was not created) or it could be intentional (the page was removed and then 404ed to remove it out of index)

The URL was marked with the meta tag “noindex” added This tag may be placed by the site’s owners to tell the search engine not to exclude the site in its search index.

The URL was manually penalized for not complying with Search Engine’s Webmaster Guidelines and, as the result, was taken out of the search results.

The URL is blocked from crawling by the introduction of a password to be able to access it.
If you suspect that the page on your site that was once included in Google’s index isn’t appearing and you want to know why, make use of this Tool for URL Inspection to find out the status of the webpage or you can make use of the Fetch tool as Google that has an “Request Indexing” feature to add individual URLs to Google’s index. (Bonus that GSC’s “fetch” tool also has an “render” option that allows users to check the if there is any issue regarding how Google interprets your site).
Let search engines know what they need to do to index your site
Robots meta directives
Meta directives (or “meta tags”) are the guidelines you can provide search engines about the way you would like your web site to be considered.
You can inform crawlers from search engines that you want to “do not index this page in search results” or “don’t pass any link equity to any on-page links”. These directives are implemented by using Robots Meta Tags that are placed in the content of pages HTML pages (most often employed) or by using the X-Robots Tag within your HTTP header.
Meta tag Robots
This meta-tag could be included in the HTML code of your site. It may be used to exclude all or certain search engines. Here are the most commonly used meta directives and the situations that you could use them in.
index/noindex informs search engines if the site should be crawled or kept in index of search engines to be retrieved. If you select “noindex,” you’re communicating to crawlers that you wish to have the page removed from the search results. As a default setting, the search engine believe they are able to index all pages thus making use of the “index” value is unnecessary.
If you’re using: You might opt to mark a webpage as “noindex” if you’re trying to eliminate small pages from the index of Google for your website (ex the user-generated profiles) however, you would like them to be accessible to your visitors.
follow/nofollow tells search engines which the hyperlinks on the page need to be followed or not. “Follow” results in bots following hyperlinks on your page and passing link equity to the URLs. If you decide to utilize “nofollow,” the search engines won’t follow or transfer any link equity to the pages’ links. By default all pages are presumed to possess”follow” attribute “follow” attribute.
If you’re using: nofollow is often combined with noindex when trying to stop a webpage from being crawled and also stop the crawler from clicking on links to the page.
Noarchive can be used to prevent websites from saving cached copies of the webpage. By default, engines keep visible copies of every page they index, and make them available to users via the cached link that appears in results of the search.
If you are considering using: If you run an online shop and your prices are constantly changing it is possible to use the noarchive tag to stop people from seeing old prices.
This is an illustration of meta-robots noindex Nofollow tag:

This code block the search engines of all kinds from indexing the site as well as from following any page hyperlinks. If you wish to exclude several crawlers, like Googlebot and Bing, for example, it’s acceptable to make use of different robotic exclusion tags.
Meta directives impact crawling but not indexing
Googlebot has to go through your website to find its meta directives. So should you try to stop crawlers from visiting certain pages Meta directives aren’t the right way to accomplish this. The robots’ tags have to be crawled in order to be respected.
X-Robots-Tag
The x-robots tag can be utilized within your HTTP headers of the URL. It provides greater flexibility and performance than meta tags when you wish to stop search engines in a larger scale. Because you can make use of regular expressions or block files that are not HTML and use noindex tags across the entire site.
For example, you could easily exclude entire folders or file types (like moz.com/no-bake/old-recipes-to-noindex):
Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”

The derivatives that are used in the meta tag for robots can also be used to create an X-Robots-Tag.
Or specific file types (like PDFs):
Header set X-Robots-Tag “noindex, nofollow”
For more details on Meta Robot Tags check out the Google Robots Meta Tag Specifications .

WordPress tip:
In the Dashboard Settings > Reading make sure that the “Search Engine Visibility” box isn’t unchecked. This stops the search engines from navigating to your website via the robots.txt file!
Understanding the various ways to influence crawling and indexing can help you avoid common mistakes which can stop your crucial web pages from being found.
Ranking What is the way that search engines rank URLs?
What can search engines do to make sure that when a user enters a query in the bar for searching, they receive relevant results? This process can be described as ranking or the order of results from most relevant to the least relevant to a specific query.

To determine the relevance of a search, engines make use of algorithms, a procedure or formula through which stored data is found and organized in sensible ways. The algorithms have experienced numerous changes over time to enhance the quality of the results of searches. Google for instance, adjusts its algorithm every day Some of these changes are minor tweaks to quality, and others are more fundamental or broad algorithm updates that are designed to address certain issues, such as Penguin to combat spammy websites. Take a look at the Google Algorithm Change History for an overview of both confirmed and not confirmed Google updates that date through the year 2000.
What is the reason why the algorithm changes frequently? Are Google doing its best to keep us on alert? Although Google isn’t always forthcoming with the reasons the reason they are doing, we know that the goal of Google when it comes to algorithm updates is to enhance the overall quality of search results. In response to queries regarding algorithm updates, Google will answer with something like: “We’re making quality updates all the time.” This implies that, should your website has suffered from an algorithm update, check it to the Google Quality Guidelines or Search Quality Rater Guidelines These two guidelines are highly informative in terms to what the engines expect.
What are search engines need?
SEO has always sought exactly the same goal: offer relevant answers to queries of searchers in the most efficient formats. If this is the case, then what’s the reason SEO is different from the in the past?
Imagine it in terms of trying to learn the language of their choice.
Initial knowledge about the culture is basic — “See Spot Run.” With time the understanding begins to increase, and they are able to understand semantics, which is the reason behind language and the relation between phrases and words. With enough time and time, they will be able to master the language sufficiently to be able to comprehend the nuance of the language, and can give responses to even the most obscure or unanswered questions.
As search engines were only beginning to master how to speak our language, they were more simple to manipulate the system with strategies and tricks that violate quality standards. For instance, keyword stuffing is an instance. If you were hoping to rank for a specific phrase, such as “funny jokes,” you could add the phrase “funny jokes” a bunch of times to your website and then add it in bold type, to increase your rank for the term:
This strategy led to horrible user experiences. And instead of making fun of hilarious jokes, users were bombarded with a stuttering, difficult-to-read and annoying text. It might be effective in past times, however it was never the way that search engines want to be.
CHECK YOUR WEBSITE’S RANKING IN MOZ PRO

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Links play a role in SEO
When we speak of links it could refer to two things. Backlinks, also known as “inbound links” are links from other websites which point to your site, whereas internal links are hyperlinks to your website that link to other pages (on the same website). ).

Links have always played an important part in SEO. From the beginning the search engines required help to determine which websites are more reliable than others , so they could determine the best way to rank the results of their search. Knowing the number of hyperlinks that point to a particular website was a helpful way to determine this.
Backlinks function in a similar way to the real-world WoM (Word-of-Mouth) referrals. Let’s use an imaginary coffee shop, Jenny’s Coffee, as an example.
Refrains coming from other sources are a good indication that you are an authority
Examples: Many different people have said about how Jenny’s Coffee is the best in town.
Referrals to yourself is biased, not a great sign that you are an authority
Example: Jenny affirms she believes that Jenny’s Coffee is the best in town.
References to irrelevant or poor quality sources are not a positive signal of authority. It may result in you being reported for spam.
Examples: Jenny paid for people who’ve never even visited her coffee shop to tell other people about how great it is.
No referrals = unclear authority
Examples: Jenny’s Coffee could be great however, you’ve been unable to locate anyone with an opinion on the matter, so you cannot be certain.
This is the reason PageRank was developed. PageRank (part of Google’s primary algorithm) is an algorithm to analyze links that was named in honor of one of the Google’s founders, Larry Page. PageRank evaluates the value of a website by evaluating its quality and number of links directed to it. The idea is the greater important, relevant and reliable the web page’s content is, the more links it has gained.
More natural links that you have from trusted (trusted) websites higher your chances are of ranking higher in the results of a search.
The role that content plays in SEO.
There’s no reason linking if they didn’t guide users to something. Content! Content isn’t just words. It’s everything that is designed to be made available by people searching There’s video content, images as well as, of course the text. When search engines function as answering machines, then content is the way they provide answers.
When someone conducts the search and enters a query, it is possible to find thousands of potential results. So what is the process that search engines use to decide what pages the user will find useful? One of the most important factors in the process of determining how your site will rank in a particular search is how well the content of your site is in line with the intent of the query. Also is this page in accordance with the search terms and aid in completing the task the user was trying to achieve?
With this focus on the satisfaction of users and the accomplishment of tasks, there’s no set of standards for the length of your content that it should be, the number of times it should include the word “keyword” or the content you include in the header tags. All of these are factors that affect how well your site performs in terms of search results, but the primary focus should be those who will be taking the time to read the material.
Today with hundreds, or thousand of rankings signals The top three ranking signals remain fairly constant that is, links to your site (which act as third-party credibility signal) and page-specific information (quality content that is able to satisfy the searcher’s requirements) along with RankBrain.
What’s RankBrain?
RankBrain is the machine-learning part of Google’s algorithm. It is program in a computer that continuously improves its predictions with time by incorporating new data and observations. Also, it’s constantly learning. Because it’s constantly learning, the results of searches should always improve.
For instance If RankBrain detects a lower-ranked URL that provides a better experience for users than the more popular URLs it is likely that RankBrain will alter the result, rendering the most relevant results higher, and lowering the less relevant ones as a result.

Like many things in google, we’re not sure the exact nature of RankBrain however we don’t know either those people who work at Google .
What does this mean for SEOs?
Since Google will continue to use RankBrain to help promote the most relevant and useful content, we have to be focused on satisfying searcher’s intent more than ever. Offer the best information and experience for those who may visit your website and you’ve taken the first step towards being successful in the RankBrain-driven world.
Engagement metrics: correlation, causation, or both?
with Google rankings engagement metrics are likely to be a part of a correlation, and possibly a part of the cause.
When we refer to Engagement metrics refer to information that shows how users interact with your site based on the results of their searches. This could include:
Clicks (visits from searches)
The time on the page (amount of time that a user spent on a page prior to going off)
Bounce Rate (the percent of all web sessions in which users only saw the one web page)
“Pogosticking (clicking at an organic results, and then swiftly going back to the search results to select another one)
Many studies including Moz’s own ranking factor survey have found that engagement metrics are linked to better ranking, however the causation is a subject of heated debate. Are high engagement metrics only the result of high-ranked websites? Are sites ranked high because they have good engagement metrics?
What does Google have to say about HTML0? Google has declared
While they’ve not employed”direct ranking signal” or “direct ranking signal,” Google has stated that they do utilize click data to alter the SERPs for specific queries.
As per the former Chief of Google’s Search Quality , Udi Manber:
A different comment by the former Google engineer Edmond Lau corroborates this:
Since Google must maintain and improve the quality of its search results It is likely that engagement metrics will be more than correlation. However, it appears that Google does not consider engagement metrics an “ranking signal” because those metrics are utilized to enhance quality of search and rank of each URL is an effect of this.
Which tests proved it?
Different tests have shown that Google will alter SERP order in response involvement:
Rand Fishkin’s 2014 study yielded a number 7 result, moving to the top spot after attracting more than 200 people to click the link from the SERP. It was interesting to note that the improvement in ranking appeared to be dependent on the region of people who visited the URL. The rank position jumped up in the US which is where the majority of users resided, however, it remained at a lower position on the page for Google Canada, Google Australia and Google Australia.
Larry Kim’s analysis between the most popular pages and their time of stay prior to and post-RankBrain appeared to suggest that the machine learning component of Google’s algorithm lowers the rank of websites that users don’t devote more time on.
Darren Shaw’s research is revealed the impact of user behavior on the local search and maps pack results too.
Because metrics of user engagement can be used to modify the SERPs to improve quality, and rank position changes are result, it’s reasonable to conclude that SEOs must be able to optimize their websites for engagement. Engagement does not affect the overall quality of your website however it does increase the worth to the searchers in comparison to other results related to that question. So, even if you haven’t made any modifications to your website or backlinks to it your site could be slowed down in search results if users’ behaviours suggest they prefer other websites more.
When it comes to ranking websites engagement metrics function as an independent fact-checker. Factors that are objective like content and links first rank the page first, and then the engagement metrics assist Google adapt if they don’t do it the right way.
The development in search result
In the past, when search engines were not equipped with much of the advanced features they enjoy nowadays, the phrase “10 blue links” was invented to refer to the flat structure that the SERP. Every time you typed in a query, Google would return a page that contained 10 organic results with the same layout.

In the current landscape of search having the number one spot was the ultimate goal of SEO. However, something changed. Google began to add results with new formats to their search results pages, also known as SERP features. A few the SERP options are:
Paid advertisements
Featured snippets
The People also Ask Boxes
Local (map) pack
Knowledge panel
Sitelinks
And Google adds new SERPs constantly. They’ve even played with “zero-result SERPs,” a phenomenon in which just one outcome from the Knowledge Graph was displayed on the SERP and there were none below, with the exception of the choice of “view more results.”
The introduction of these features triggered initial anxiety due to two primary reasons. One reason is that the majority of these features caused organic results to slide further down on the SERP. A second result is that fewer people are clicking on organic results because more queries are answered by the SERP.
Then why do Google to do this? This all comes back to the experience of searching. The user behavior suggests that certain types of queries are better met with different content formats. Note how the various types of SERP features are compatible with the various types of query intentions.

 

 

We’ll go into more detail about intention within Chapter 3 however, at this point, it’s crucial to understand that the answers can be provided to users in a myriad of formats. Additionally, the way you organize your content could affect the way in which it is displayed in search results.
Localized search
Search engines similar to Google has its own exclusive directory of listings for local businesses from which it generates local results for searches.
If you’re doing local SEO for a company that has an actual location that customers are able to visit (ex dental clinic) or for a company which travels to visit its customers (ex plumber) Make sure you have claimed, verified and optimize a FREE Google My Business listing.
In the case of localized results in search results, Google employs three major factors to determine its ranking:
Relevance
Distance
Prominence
Relevance
Relevance refers to how well the local business’s information matches what the user is searching for. To make sure that the company is doing all it can to make itself relevant to potential customers, ensure the information of the business is accurately and thoroughly completed.
Distance
Google uses your geo-location data to improve the quality of local results. Search results for local areas are highly dependent on proximity, which is where the person searching or the address of your query (if the query contained a ).
Organic results from search engines are sensitive to the searcher’s geographical location, but not so prominent as local results.
Prominence
In addition to the fact that it is a popular factor, Google is looking to give businesses a boost that is popular in the real world. Alongside a company’s’s offline fame, Google also looks to certain online factors that determine the local rank, including:
Reviews
The amount of Google reviews that a local business gets, and the quality of these reviews, can have a an influence on how they get a place in the local search results.
Citations
“Business citation” or “business listing,” also known as “business citation” or “business listing” is a website-based reference to a local company’ “NAP” (name, address, telephone number) on the locally-based platform (Yelp, Acxiom, YP, Infogroup, Localeze, and so on. ).
Local rankings are influenced by quantity and consistency of local business the citations. Google draws information from a variety of sources to make the Local Business Index. If Google discovers multiple reliable references to a company’s location, name as well as phone number, it increases the Google’s “trust” in the validity of that information. This results in Google being able to present the company with a greater amount of confidence. Google additionally uses data from other websites including articles and links.
Organic ranking
Best practices for SEO can be applied to local SEO as Google takes into consideration the rank of a site’s website in search results that are organic in determining local rankings.
in the following chapter, you’ll be taught the best practices for on-page that will aid Google and other users to better comprehend the content you publish.
[Bonus! Local engagement
While not listed by Google as the primary factor in local rankings Engagement is a key factor, and its importance will only increase with time. Google continues to enhance local results by incorporating actual-world information like the most popular times of a visit as well as the average length of visits that …

Are you curious about a specific local business’s accuracy in citing? Moz offers a tool for free that can assist by providing a Check Listing.
Check listing accuracy

…and also provides users with the capability to ask business-related questions!

More than ever before, local search results are driven by data from the real world. Interactivity is the way that searchers interact and react towards local companies, as opposed to simply static (and game-playable) information such as hyperlinks and citations.
Since Google is determined to offer the most relevant, top-quality local businesses to its users it is logical for them to make use of real-time engagement metrics to measure quality and relevancy.

 

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