The history of Google Search & how it impacts SEO

Nov 29, 2022

Ancient statue in a suit using Google Search to find apartments in Constantinople

Did you know that Google Search processes over 8.5 billion search queries every day? This is more than double the number of searches per day (3.3 billion, if you’re interested) that Google processed a decade ago.

This growth in search queries is not the only thing that’s changed in the last 10 years. The Google Search algorithm has become increasingly advanced in order to best answer searchers’ questions, and with that has come changes in how we optimize our websites to best appear in results pages.

As a marketer, you’re probably at least somewhat familiar with search engine optimization (or maybe you’re new to this, in which case check out this guide to mulitfamily SEO). It’s important to remember that the purpose of SEO is to cater to Google’s algorithm, not your own personal preferences.

To have the best understanding of this critical part of your marketing strategy, let’s go back to the basics. Explore the history of Google Search and how it’s developed over the last decade.

How does Google Search work?

You’re putting work into your SEO strategy, but how does the process of appearing organically on results pages even work? Google and other search engines have digital crawlers that follow links and read webpages. You can think of these as computerized spiders that “crawl” all over the web to find new pages.

From there, the crawlers add these pages to the Google index, which is what Google pulls from when someone puts in a search query.

This is why, historically, backlinking has been an important part of SEO. Crawlers follow different links to find new pages.

However, while backlinks are still an important search signal, this component of SEO has become less prominent over time. In fact, there have been many developments in Google’s algorithm as more search queries are answered, and this digital evolution continues today.

Searching on Google: Then & now

Let’s flashback to 10 years ago: London was hosting the summer Olympics, “Gangnam Style” was playing on every radio station, and you were probably searching online.

At that time, Google relied on something called lexical search, which means search results were determined by the phrase you entered into the search bar.

Lexical search meant that Google was looking for literal matches to queries and placing a lot of weight on backlinks. This led to downsides like keyword stuffing and attempts to “game the system” by boosting SEO through processes like link farming.

In order to combat this, starting with the Hummingbird update in 2013, Google Search began focusing on the finding the meaning behind search queries.

This is called semantic search, and it focuses on the context behind search phrases. Semantic search uses AI to find the relationship between words. This type of search continues developing to this day.

What does semantic search mean for your website?

As the Google Search algorithm shifts, so too should your website. Nowadays, operating under semantic search, it’s more important than ever to have rich content on your websites.

While things like backlinks still play a role in your SEO strategy, it’s important to focus holistically on a term Google refers to as EAT: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.

This concept was published in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines. Keeping these terms in mind while creating content for your website is a great way to send good search signals to Google.

At the end of the day “Google cares about providing its users with the best answers possible,” says Kyle Jones, agency manager at REACH by RentCafe.

Google isn’t interested your website’s aesthetics or how unique your brand may be (although it’s still pretty cool!). Instead, it cares about whether the content of your site could be the best possible answer to a searcher’s query.

To increase Google’s confidence in your site, Jones recommends using “robust, natural-language content that helps Google contextualize” who you are and what you do, which will in turn boost your ranking on the search results page.

REACH your SEO goals

Partnering with an agency like REACH is a reliable way to ensure that you’re optimizing your website to align with Google Search expectations. Experts at REACH live and breathe SEO, so they’re familiar with how the Google algorithm works and skilled at making sure the content on your website creates good search signals.

When talking about the unique value proposition of working with REACH, Jones points out that while others may be focusing on what works today, REACH focuses on “the best approach for long-term success.”

View the REACH by RentCafe SEO brochure.

Elle Schantz

Elle Schantz is a valued intern at REACH by RentCafe. She is currently a student at Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in Marketing and Global Studies.

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