How the Google Search Algorithm Works and Decides Rankings

Now for fellow webmasters and writers, that is indeed a catchy title. Unfortunately, it is also a true title. In fact, maybe the title of this article should be, The Google Algorithm and the Future of Online Writing - It's Not Pretty. This has especially become applicable since my latest update.

Obviously Google uses several parameters for determining the search ranking of a website or article when displaying results. I shall not belabor those, plenty of other websites already do that. This page will only cover the main, overriding factor that Google uses when the algorithm makes its "decisions". Other search engines no doubt do the same.

Writers and web designers are not going to like this and as far as I know, there is not a thing we can do about it nor a way we can circumvent it.

Description of Google's Main Parameter Used by its Algorithm

There are two websites. Both websites are identical in all parameters such as keywords, quality, quantity, HTML design, navigation design, format design, font size, average bounce rate, average duration of visits, incoming links, keeping content updated, compatibility with mobile devices, and every and all other factors that Google uses (both known and unknown). However, the two sites have one very significant and devastating difference.

Site "A" is owned by a real world, brick and mortar, physical entity with name recognition that is associated with and dedicated to a specific field or topic of endeavor and/or interest. Such sites are automatically bestowed much more credibility than sites not meeting this criteria. The credibility factor is paramount to Google and other search engines. It is the main factor enabling an article or website to be ranked on the front page of the listed search results. There's that old Q&A: "Where is the best place to hide a body? The second page of Google." Credibility makes or breaks a website, no matter how good all the other rating factors may be.

Site "B" is just an unknown website competing with the other billion unknown websites. Due to the site's anonymity, credibility is basically non-existent; not positive or negative, just non-existent. In other words, even though your Site-B, relevant article is much better than the corresponding Site-A article; your Site-B article will have the lesser ranking.

There are still plenty of exceptions to the above, but the number of exceptions will continue to dwindle over time as more and more site "A" websites come into existence and/or expand their presence.

There Are Some Silver Linings

Successful niche hobby "Site B" websites can eventually be bought and absorbed by the "Site A" websites. Along with the exorbitant purchase price, the Site "B" owner might even be offered a full-time job to maintain the site.

There are millions of successful small business websites. Needless to say, a lot more is required than just the website.

Non-business websites specializing in specific topics can have some degree of success. However when one does the math, the compensation usually is significantly below the minimum wage.

General topic websites are usually given a lesser search ranking than the others. As for this general topic site you are now reading, it is forever doomed to obscurity and poverty; as are most of the other general topic websites. I'm fine with that. This site still gets plenty of search engine traffic to accomplish its stated goal mentioned on the homepage. A general topic site can gain credibility over time, but it usually takes years.

Some Final Thoughts

Do only get involved with website design and article writing if you enjoy it. If your main motivation is making lots of money, you have about the same odds as buying a lottery ticket. And if you want to get any visitor traffic, you will have to learn about SEO and all the other factors and parameters previously mentioned.

May 2019 Update

Writing any sort of medical or medical-related article is generally a lost cause, even when the article clearly states it is from the patient's point of view. Google and the other search engines invariably put the .gov sites on the front page when it comes to anything medical. These are then followed by medical research centers and other actual brick and mortar medical facilities. Articles written by patients and other individuals are then always buried in the secondary search results where the searchers seldom visit. Basically, Google and the other search engines are adamant in the classifying  of medical articles by non-medical entities as having zero or very low low credibility. Forgo your time and labor on writing anything medical. Google is intractable on this and it is not going to change.

June 2019 Update

Google is beginning the process of pretty much dealing a death blow to many how-to and other explanatory text articles. Google is now presenting their YouTube videos above the text version of the same topic in the search results for many subjects. So if one is considering writing a how-to or explanatory article, it would be wise to see what YouTube videos you will be competing against. Depending on the topic, doing a well-written article on particular subjects may be a lost cause. Which do the searchers generally prefer, a text article or a relevant video? At minimum, the competing and above-ranking video will severely reduce the amount of visitor traffic and the resulting earnings your written article should be receiving.

In other words: what text did to cursive and what calculators/converters did to math, videos will and are beginning to do to text articles.

August 2019 Update

Beware the topic-over-saturation syndrome. This is happening with more and more topics. You can literally write the best article in Internet Land for a given topic; but if Google is already buried in articles for that topic, yours will never see the light of day. It's not fair and it's not right; but it's the way it is.


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