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What if you knew Google’s Algorithm?

Mike Essex

by Mike Essex on 3rd May 2011

Google LogoFor Digital Marketing Agencies around the world, it is the one document everyone wants to get hold of – The complete list of ranking factors and associated weighting within Google Algorithm.

Should such a document exist, and were you able to get hold of it, just what would change? Would you be able to dominate the web or would the holy grail of SEO prove to generate more problems than solutions?

First a quick summary of the algorithm: Google themselves claim they receive over 200 signals in ranking the web. Many of these have been identified or have been researched, in fact there have even been some very good attempts to discover the 200 parameters in Google’s algorithm (Such as at Search Engine Journal and Webmaster World). Still no one really knows for sure, and therefore if Google were mad enough to leak a list of all 200 ranking algorithms it presents a few interesting questions:

Would you understand it?
Even the most well trained SEO Professional will occasionally read an article or blog and be stunned by something. Whether it be complex code, a radical viewpoint, or something they plain don’t understand, there are many SEO components that at first glance don’t make sense. So it isn’t a stretch to imagine that the Google algorithm, written by the people who do nothing but write code for search, would be a very complex beast.

Could you integrate it all?
Even if you could understand the algorithm, would you have the resources to execute it? If it turned out content was king, would you then be able to scale to write enough content to improve your rankings? If canonical issues were vital, could you support them with your CMS? Knowing the answers wouldn’t be enough and you’d need a dedicated team of people to follow the ideas through.

Would it be clear you had it?
It stands to reason that Google probably have parts of their algorithm that are traps. Following the algorithm to the letter may alert Google that you had their document and that you knew too much. If elements were there to catch people out, you’d be penalised very heavily for being caught by them.

It would change
Google update their algorithm frequently with daily tweaks, so having a complete algorithm one day could be rendered almost entirely worthless the next. Worse still major changes occur throughout the year, meaning the steps you put in place by reading the algorithm may actually be penalised in the next update.

Conclusion
Sure it would be great if you knew how everything worked, but like Lost wouldn’t answers lead to more questions? The current system leads to speculation from Digital Marketing Blogs around the world on what each component could be, a sharing of best practice and general collaboration on what is best for the industry. Even knowing the inner workings of Google wouldn’t be a guarantee of success.

As SEO’s we shouldn’t be looking just at how to make algorithmic numbers line up in the right way, we should be promoting good content, building strong links and developing websites that convert customers. Sure it’s fun to try and understand the algorithm, but the Maths will only get a site so far.

Mike Essex

Mike Essex

Mike Essex specialises in digital marketing and everything search. A recent project of Mike’s was featured on BBC News, Radio 5Live and the Times here in the UK, whilst also featuring on USA Today and ABC News in the US. He will be writing throughout the month about digital marketing and much more...

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