The Mysteries of Google’s Search Algorithm: How Google’s Patents Can Help Us Understand SEO

For an SEO-oriented business, there is no bigger mystery than Google’s algorithm. It is an ever-changing set of rules and regulations that is often kept secret by Google. In fact, Google releases around 500-600 algorithm updates every year. This means that there can be two or more algorithm updates per day. Most of these updates go completely unnoticed, as the changes are often minor. However, some algorithm updates, such as the dreaded Mobilegeddon, change the way marketers approach their searches forever.

After an update, there is often a mad dash to discover the new changes and make any needed corrections to your advertising system. SEOs will look at analytics, rankings, and scores to see what these changes impacted and how any potential damage can be corrected. While marketers can typically get a pretty good idea of what happened to their results, most theories are left up to speculation or trial and error processes. However, there is another place to look when trying to discover the mysteries of the algorithm: Google’s patents. If you can comprehend the dense legalese, these patents can reveal big hints into what Google’s algorithm is actually targeting. This insight can eliminate a lot of trial and error and can make your SEO strategy even stronger. Luckily, some SEO analysts have become experts in regard to Google’s patents and published their findings. Here are some of the biggest discoveries found in Google’s patents when it comes to search optimization.

You Must be an Expert in Your Field

Google wants to provide its searchers with the best possible answers to their queries. That is why blogs and content are subject to heavy vetting by Google’s crawlers. For example, Google would much rather send searchers to blog posts written by an actual professional or expert rather than a blogger who is simply re-stating previously published information. In that same vein, it is important to ensure that your content is unique. Do some research and learn that information doesn’t already exist on competitors’ content pages. Then, write about those topics and answer those questions in a unique way. This will minimize your competition in Google and show that you are truly an authoritative expert on your subject.

Citations are the Backlinks of Local Search

An important discovery found in Google’s patents reveals how Google’s local search behaves differently than standard searches in Google. Bill Slawski, one of the few experts in Google patents, found that NAP (name, address, phone number) citations are just as important as backlinks for organic rankings. SEOs will typically optimize these businesses for organic search as well as local SEO. Since they are what will help to rank these businesses higher in local search, it is important to focus on citations in the same way an SEO would focus on backlinks in an organic search.

Semantics Matter  

Google is now using semantics to answer search queries. It is no longer just looking for specific phrases on blog posts. That is why you are able to input complicated queries such as, “Kate Winslet movie I’ll never let go, Jack” and find YouTube videos from Titanic. Reading through patents allows you to discover all the routes, from videos to featured snippets to maps that Google is using to answer queries.

This advancement means that simple keywords are less important in organic search. Google is now able to recognize phrases and context, which means ontologies are more important. According to Single Grain , ontology is “a set of concepts within a domain and the relationships between those concepts.” Within SEO, this means that building a website that is an authority in its niche means creating a web of links, producing relevant content, cultivating relationships. Many websites do this without realizing it, simply by creating blogs and content around their niche and naturally building links and relationships.

Not All Patents are Affecting SEO

Things get tricky when you realize that not all patents are affecting SEO. Matt Cutts at Google stated in 2013 that many of the patent materials were not live in their search ranking algorithm. In fact, many of their patents aren’t being used at all. This has led some SEOs to believe that Google is releasing patents just to throw off their perceived SEO strategy. While that might be an exaggeration, it is important to understand that just because there is a patent, doesn’t mean it is necessarily affecting your business’s search rankings.

However, Slawski states that there are some signs that a patent is being used by Google. One of the major signs, he says, is that the patent is being updated. If Google is taking the time to update a patent, there is a good chance it is because that patent is currently being used or that it will be used in the near future. That is why staying current on what Google is publishing is the key in enhancing your SEO strategy.

SEO is a mysterious field that can change overnight. With the help of Google’s patents (and the aid of the analysts who can understand them) we have a chance to stay ahead of the ever-changing digital marketing game and keep an incredibly valuable stream of organic traffic coming to our websites.