Google’s algorithm is a lot like gravity: we can’t see it, and we can only make inferences about it based on its effects on other things, but it controls the universe and keeps everything in place. Despite this secrecy, most experts are aware of the ways that Google analyzes and ranks web content.


We all know that keywords, good structure, proper headers, and links are key ingredients to great SEO soup, but most are not aware of the secret ways that Google analyzes their content; in fact, there are many ways that Google ranks web content that many are not aware of or taking advantage of. Want to get ahead of the competition? Then keep reading.


Google examines search intent


It might sound a bit scary, but Google’s algorithm is getting intelligent enough to match intent. This means that when someone searches, the algorithm not only goes for direct matches, but also seeks out synonyms, common word uses, or even the intent of search. Take this example:


When someone searches for “the best bars in Toronto”, Google not only looks for bars, but it also examines search tendencies to determine what it is you are looking for. This could mean the craziest, trendiest, cheapest, or even least known bars in the bustling Canadian metropolis. In essence, it tries to guess at what you mean by “best bar” (some of us have vastly different ideas about that). Here are just a few of the results from page 1:


  • The best NEW bars
  • The ten best pubs
  • 10 swank lounges in Toronto
  • The best bars in downtown Toronto


When examining your content, be sure to know the intent of your users, and include as many words related to the intent of the search as possible.


Google ranks content based on reading level


The good folks at Google don’t care if you read like a 3rd grader or 3rd-year PhD candidate. What they do care about is whether or not your content is readable for your intended audience. Of course, that should be your responsibility, but there are a few things you might not know about how Google sees it. Some little known factors for web content ranking are:


  • Length
  • Reading level
  • Paragraph format
  • And comprehensiveness


People Googling “5 worst celeb breakups” don’t want to hear words like ardour, liaison, dalliance, or any other such words. Likewise, detailed tech junkie articles should be written by someone who sounds like an expert. Short lists should be broken down into short paragraphs with images and simple words, while long-form can be more technical.

The world of SEO is a battle toward the top of the search engine results page, and simply knowing the basic ranking factors behind Google’s elusive algorithm is not enough. Taking advantage of these secret ways that Google ranks your content will help you rank above your competition and offer the best experience on the web.