Write a blog on Algorithms they said.
What ARE algorithms? I asked?
And, with a heartfelt, ‘sorry it’s a tough one’ …research them, they said.
So, I did, and this is what I came up with.
Now, if like me, you are a complete computer algorithms virgin, but you want to find out about what exactly algorithms are, it will be worth reading on.
Algorithms are basically the computer science steps employed by data scientists to solving a puzzle, and they can be applied to, get this, any puzzle!
For each puzzle you solve, there is a different process, therefore a different mathematical algorithm.
There, nothing complicated, and you are using algorithms probably unknowingly; they’re just simple instructions you use every single day!
Sorry to disappoint all those tech wizards who think it’s something way more complex, it isn’t, and I have this on very good authority. You really don’t have to be Alan Turing to understand this!
Somebody I know, who happens to be a Doctor in Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, (but don’t let that put you off), put it in to these simple terms, think of solving a Rubik’s cube.
There are methods, it doesn’t just happen by magic, and each step of solving the Rubik’s cube, using whichever method, forms an algorithm. It is basically a problem-solving process.
What, is that it? I said.
Basically, yes. He said.
So, feeling a teeny bit empowered, and thinking about problem solving processes, I suggested, what about if you had two tangled necklaces? (Which I regularly have), yes, it’s the same thing, he replied. Each step of untangling those necklaces is part of a process, which in turn, forms an algorithm. For each different entanglement, (lets not forget, knots are a mathematical concept!)
Wow, thanks! I said.
Feeling curious by this point, I did start to google algorithms. I wanted to know how long algorithms had been around, what they could be used for, and crucially, how they fitted in to 21st Century technology.
Because apparently everything, and I mean everything, that Google does for SEO, is basically down to algorithms.
A Bit of Algorithm History
Algorithms are not a new concept. Here’s the history bit.
Euclid was a bit of a clever guy somewhere around the time of 300BC, (I’m not even joking), and was, amongst other things, the founder of Geometry. Now before you look away, this bit is relevant. Geometry is basically solving mathematical problems in a certain way, and Euclid wanted to solve these problems in the most efficient way possible. He came up with Euclid’s Algorithm, (which is the equivalent of computing by the ancient Greeks).
The word algorithm comes from the ancient Latin Algorismus and was first indicated in the English language in the 17th century, so as you can see, algorithms have been around for quite a while!
Bringing this bang up to date, (well relatively speaking), the first computers were invented as quite simply a method of solving problems using algorithm codes in the most efficient way possible. In other words, computer programming…..
Which brings me on to Google.
But What are Google Algorithms?
Google. Google Translate. Google Maps. Google Mail. Google Docs. Google Photos… and the list goes on.
At some point we have all used at least one of the many packages this multinational, internet based, technologically advanced company has to offer. And we are all used to using Google in its most primary function, as a search engine when we want to find something on the internet, and the bright letters and ‘google doodles’ are brands probably as familiar now in daily life as that first cup of coffee in the morning, or that wee night cap before bed.
But what about when somebody is searching for YOUR company? Your brand? How do you stand out from the billions of companies worldwide when somebody does a search related to you?
Well here is where the algorithms come in.
Google uses algorithms, (or processes don’t forget), to tell it how authoritative a site is, what the most searched for words are, where there are naturally occurring organic links, how a website is performing, (including on mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets), and these algorithms are personalised by you, the user.
For example, somebody searching for the local weather updates, wants something totally different to somebody searching for football scores, or cute animal pictures or whatever.
The algorithm is adjusted for every search and can even be affected by – and detect – different spellings and word order.
Google also uses Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in the way it understands data, but fundementally, it’s the algorithms it’s created that pull all the big data elements together.
Google Algorithms in SEO
The first one, Pagerank, is a little more self-explanatory than Panda, Penguin or Hummingbird.
It’s basically what Google uses to determine the importance of a page and ranks it accordingly. The more keywords, the better meta descriptions, the more organic links and way heyyy, up you go to the top of the rankings.
Google Panda has a different task. This algorithm was first introduced back in 2011 and spots the best quality websites and pushes them to the top of the list. So, if you have great, original, (emphasis on original there), content, you are on to a winner in the rankings war.
Google Penguin, (first introduced in 2012), does the same thing but works in the opposite way, by decreasing the rankings of websites that violate the webmaster guidelines or basically those sites that are maybe deceptive in some way or if it’s not a safe site to visit for some reason.
Hummingbird was introduced in 2013 by Google, and focusses on what questions customers might ask, rather than just keyword content. In other words, your content must be relevant to what people are searching for, rather than just be overloaded with keywords; in fact, evidence suggests that your keyword only needs to be mentioned once on a page and the algorithm will pick it up. Which kind of makes sense, because when you are looking for a web site, it’s usually in relation to something specific you want to find, rather than just generic ideas.
It Doesn’t Just Stop There.
Google update their algorithms up to 600 times per year. That’s 600 times your website might fall outside of these algorithms and suddenly take a dip in the rankings. Google does advise the industry when it is going to carry out a major update, but sometimes there are smaller refinements that need taking notice of too, just to ensure minimum variations in where your web site can be found and stays where it should be, at the top of the page.
So, these algorithms are massively important in SEO, because without them, how would you find the best web sites, with the most informative content and the ones that offer the best deals to the customer?
If it’s your website people are searching for, how are you going to differentiate from other businesses so that yours appears at the top of the rankings in a Google search?
The simple answer is, by recognising that the Google search engine functions on a series of algorithms made up by coded puzzles that customers want answers to. What you must do to ensure a top-ranking site, is understand what is required by these puzzles to push your web site to the top of the page.
Don’t Worry About Algorithms
That’s where Grow Traffic can help. Our team spend hours researching Google updates and understanding the analytics of a web site, so you don’t have to. There are various ways we can help you with the algorithm dilemmas.
Firstly, we can show you how to maximise the potential of your web site, and crucially, maintain it. Or, we can manage your web site for you and take the pressure off. We can write your content so it matches the Google searches, we can analyse the data from your website. We can do as much or as little as you require to ensure your website is at the top of the page. It’s your call.
So, if you want to find out more about the importance of algorithms – like I did, (and I’m so glad I did!) – you can contact the team here or phone 0161 706 0012.
We would be more than happy to answer your algorithm queries! (Yes, even me!)