Many people think “the algorithm” is a singular algorithm. It’s actually a combination of many different patented ideas.
The ranking system uses (in no particular order):
- Quality scoring algorithms
- External data NOT about Websites (e.g., “query deserves freshness”, “geo-location search”, user location, etc.)
- Website data collected from crawls
- Listing construction algorithms (e.g., to extract & insert rich markup, videos, etc.)
- External data about Websites (collected from crawls)
- Filters (algorithms) that attempt to detect and punish spam
- Relevance scoring algorithms
- External data about Websites (collected from logged in user behavior)
- Selection algorithms (for pulling data from up to 1,000 fragments per query)
- External data about Websites (collected from Google’s historical data, including manual actions)
- Filters (algorithms) that attempt to normalize listings included in SERPs (e.g., eliminate duplicate listings)
- Many other factords
Google tells us that they use 200+ ranking signals that are spread among these various algorithms and data sets.
Remember that a signal can be something as simple as a video getting lots of views. A Pinterest pin getting shared across the Internet. A reddit thread getting turned into a topic on Buzzfeed. When thinking about how Google evaluates the “Things of the Internet” it’s always looking for quality.
How can quality be define algorithmically?
You guessed it – activity.
Even if you somehow get links from every important influencer in your industry, if the audience they cultivate isn’t sharing/liking/commenting/etc on that content, Google will see no reason to rank your new stuff against some older information that has been around longer.
Google doesn’t care personally in some verticals on who has the top rankings, and honestly with the variety of topics, websites and ways to share information online, why would they get hung up and not rank your site?
The real reason is that your content just wasn’t good enough.
Long gone are the days when a “little guy” could realistically complete on the web. Big brands dominate since they can afford to hire the best writers/photographers/marketers to squash any upstart.
Not all is lost however. Because of these factors constantly are in flux, it provides one way for the less encumbered to make it in – through speed of acting on new trends, small businesses can quickly lock up those niche areas to attract the audience that resides there.
So, the next time someone says to get ranked all you need is “content and links”, pleas tell them that 2008 was a long time ago and today’s algorithm is much more complex than that.