Do you wonder HOW Google knows the keyword phrases in your website? I mean, keyword phrases are just words, right? Yes, technically, they are just words. What makes them keyword phrases is the deliberate choice of words and the strategic order in which they are strung together.
Google sends a program commonly referred to as Googlebot to each website. The bot is programmed to look for SEO indicators. One of those indicators is the keyword phrases representing a person/entity and the work they do.
To determine the keyword phrases of a website, Google looks in 1.) specific locations and 2.) at how words are decorated.
For example, one of the locations is the content that appears in the body of a blog post (and webpage). So, let’s consider the content of your blog post or webpage first. In that context…
Google looks for tags
Tags are the behind-the-scenes indicators that a word has been “decorated”. Examples of decoration are designating words as headings of sections, subsections, and chapters, bolding of words, italicization of words, linking of words. [Learn the details about the most common HTML Tags]
Google looks for headings
Headings add structure to content and help readers as well as Google understand the flow of the article and importance of each section. Words that are designated with a heading tag (h1-h6) are considered the most important words in the blog content (or any webpage, actually).
Words that are designated as H2 level headings are more important than words that are designated as H3 level. H3 headings are more important than H4 headings, and so on until H6 is reached.
Google looks for highlighted words
Words that are highlighted with bold are next in SEO importance, and bolding is followed by italicization of words.
Regular, typed words have the least amount of value—with a couple of exceptions. The most common exceptions are: the location of the words and whether the words are linked.
Google looks for the location of words
The first words of a section (subsection, chapter, paragraph, sentence) are the most important words of the section, and, the order of those words matter. Whenever appropriate to context, keywords phrases aligned with the work you most want to be doing should occupy this location.
Words that come first in a heading tag have more importance than words that come later in the same heading.
Google looks for text links inside your posts and page content
Plain (undecorated) words that are linked (like Googlebot above) have more value than plain old text on a screen. Also, in addition to the text that is linked, “link” tags accept additional indicators that provide more SEO info to Google.
Other website locations Google checks
Google checks words in locations in addition to the body of content on a page. For example, Google also checks:
- The Title of the blog post (Page)
- The Title that displays in the browser tab
- The image alt tags
- and more…
How Google knows your keyword phrases
In summary, Google understands article structure, word decoration via tags, and the meaning of individual and grouped words.
It knows what it wants to check and sends the Googlebot out to each website to gather that info. Google uses the info gathered to determine the SEO position a website earns in the SERP.
Oh, and Google maintains its own huge, dictionary-like list of related words and phrases so when the bot runs into familiar phrases, it understands which other words and phrases are commonly used with them and looks for those on a website in order to validate the website and its own understanding of the content on the website.
When Google is not satisfied with the information that it gathers from a website, it decides on a main theme and fills in the blanks using information from its dictionary and other websites in the same genre.
Many of my private SEO clients came to me because they experienced this second scenario where despite doing all the right things that they read about on the Internet, Google is not understanding their specific niche and target audience, and, so is filling in the blanks with generic info.
If you feel that you are being misunderstood by Google, I’m here to train you or add SEO for you.
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