In case you missed it, there was an interesting article in Sunday’s New York Times by Times reporter Saul Hansell who was recently granted access to one of the Google search quality team meetings. While a large part of what Saul heard was strictly off-the-record, there were some interesting revelations about the methods that Google uses to improve the quality of their search results.
Without getting into too much detail, a quick read-through of the article makes very clear that providing the most relevant and unique search results possible continues to be Google’s primary focus. Hansell revealed that Google’s search quality engineers make around a “half-dozen major and minor changes a week” to the search algorithm. These tweaks allow Google to make changes on an as-needed basis. Whenever an engineer detects that the results are skewed, a change is made, tested and the results improve.
The article also uncovers the Google ranking algorithm’s increasing complexity. Amit Singhal, Google’s search ranking manager, mentioned that the algorithm currently uses over 200 informational signals to determine how web pages should rank. Some of the information is taken directly from web pages (text, images, links) while other information analyzes statistical trends to try to understand what exactly a search may be looking for. In total, the continuous quality improvements to Google’s search algorithm are exactly why Google is the most used search engine on the Internet.
The tweaks, informational signals and other topics from the article provide rare insight into the future of search engine optimization. In fact, without explicitly saying it, the article does point out that the single most important factor in search engine optimization. Providing unique and relevant content on your website.
Google’s search engineers are constantly tweaking and refining their software to find the best content for a particular search. If you aren’t actively creating some of the best content for your website’s topic then you aren’t optimizing for what Google is looking for. After all, if you want your website to be found, you’ve got to make your site worth being found first.