Good Question: “How Do Search Engines Determine Search Result Orders?”

Saturday, March 1 2014, 10:38 AM MST

Good Question: “How Do Search Engines Determine Search Result Orders?” (KUTV) Search, for example, Shauna Lake on the search engine and you will find that there is no shortage of results. In fact there are more than 2.8 million google hits for the KUTV anchor.

The search results listed in order are:
1 – Images of Shauna;
2 – Her bio on;
3 – Her Facebook page;
4 – Her Twitter account;
5 – A newspaper article;
6 – A blog.

The list goes on and on “About 2,850,000” times, according to Google.

But with the millions of options, how did the search engine determine which pages should win? It’s a good question.

We took your good question Brandon Doyle who owns the online marketing company Walaroo Media, based in Provo. Getting companies high on search engine results is a big part of what businesses hire Walaroo to do.

Doyle says it’s not a simple process and search engines don’t make it any easier.

“Google has a massive algorithm with over 500 different signals on how they rank websites, and they’ve never made that public,” he said.

Doyle says various computer people and companies have done studies and have figured out some of what goes into the algorithm. Exploiting that information is a process called search engine optimization.

According to Doyle, the biggest factor seems to be popularity. The more people that visit a website, the more relevant search engines will recognize the website as being. And the more relevant the website, the higher it will show up in a search.

The trick is getting people to a website in the first place. And that is where businesses like Walaroo Media have found a demand.

“We want to create quality content that people are going to care about,” Doyle said.

Doyle says that creating things like informative blog posts or videos and then working to make that content seen and shared is the best way to make a website show up high in a search engine search.

After that, Doyle says search engines look at lots of things, including key words on websites, online reviews of the business a website may represent and even how many other websites post links back to the website in question.

“There’s no one answer [when it comes to search engine optimization],” Doyle said. “These days you have to do a little bit of everything and do it well.”

Doyle says that Google has taken a stance against what the industry calls, “black hat” search engine optimization. “Black hat” relies on a lot of spam or bogus websites that do nothing but link back and forth to each other all day to try and bump them up the search engine charts. Doyle said that “black hat” often does work in the short term but that when Google catches a website doing it, the website is blacklisted and kicked out of search results all together.

Thanks for the Good Question. If you have one you can email or call (801) 839-1250.

By Matt Gephardt

(Copyright 2014 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)
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