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How do Search Engines Interpret Relevancy

Posted: May 25, 2015

So far in the past we have posted a few SEO articles.  For today's post we want to discuss how search engines interpret relevancy for a given page. Below is an example of a site with it's normal formatting as it might appear to a user.

Interpreting Relevancy - Magic Hour Guides Normal

From the image above we can see that the important parts of the page are the images.  Each image also have an important title that describes what it is.  Also towards the top of the page is a prominent button that should stand out to the user. Below is an image of the same website,, however in this new image we used the google cache tool to see what the googlebot interprets.

Interpreting Relevancy - Magic Hour Guides Cached

As you can see an imagine, the results are very different.  We get no sense for the images, we see nothing about the button and in essence have a hard time figuring out what the important parts of this webpage are. How then do search engines interpret relevancy for a given page?  When the formatting information is gone, what do search engines have available to them to interpret the relevant aspects of your content. The answer is that search engines actually have a lot of possible ways to interpret relevancy or importance of data.  It is up to us as webmasters and programmers to ensure that we are giving them the data they need.

Proper SEO Techniques for Keyword Placement

One of the most common ways that we can give the right data to search engines is to ensure that we are following industry standards in terms of our keyword usage and placement.  What this means is that we focus on one or two primary keywords and ensure that they are in the following locations:
  • Title tag
  • Description meta tag
  • H1 tag
  • Alt attribute for images
  • 3-5 occurences in the body content
When we engage in keyword stuffing tactics (such as creating arbitrary text with our keywords inserted) or keyword fighting (where we have too many keywords on a single page) then we actually do more damage then good.  Rather if we focus in on the 1-2 keywords we want to dominate a page, we can help that page gain in the search engine ranks.

Proper Markup (especially custom)

This might seem obvious - but this is so often overlooked.  It is very enticing to create a custom title class that you then apply to a paragraph of text.  Or maybe you put your title text for the page in a div element that is then styled the way you want it to.  The problem with this approach is that google does not interpret the styles. Instead always ensure that you put your prominent title text into an H1 tag.  You can always format and stylize that H1 tag to your hearts content -- just make sure that it is within an H1. You should always have only a single H1 tag on a page.  If you have multiple H1 tags then they will be fighting for each other in terms of relevancy.  You can have multiple H2 and smaller tags.  Just ensure that each page only has a single H1 tag.

Lack of Images

Google does take images into account when determining the content of your webpage.  Always include at least one image.  This gives you a valuable opportunity to include an alt attribute as well.  The alt attribute is critical to any image included on your website as it tells google what the image is about. Ensure that each page on your site has at least one image on it that has your desired keywords within the alt tag for the image.  This will help google determine the relevancy of that keyword as it will see the image reference.

Incoming Link Management

Incoming links are crucial to the growth of your website.  Other sites linking to yours tells google that these other sites consider your site as authoritative and important.  However these links may all link to different areas and even be linking different text.  Believe it or not but this can have varied results in determining your relevancy. Include some kind of easy to copy code on your website that allows people to link to your page.  This offers several advantages. First is that the code is already created for them, which makes it easier for them to link to you. Second is that it standardizes the link format, text and destination.  In turn this increases the relevancy of authority of the content being linked to. Third is that it gives you the control over the desired keyword that you want included in the link data.

Other Thoughts

There are lots of other things as well that search engines do to determine relevancy.  Above are some of the most critical that every webmaster or SEO consultant should master.
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