How Google Indexes Webpages & Judges Quality in 2024

If you want to grow a business in 2024, it’s likely you’ll rely on Google to find your next customers. Even if you’re running a brick-and-mortar store, the internet is the main way customers scout products, services, and businesses. Following March 2024’s update to content guidelines, Google has explained its indexing processes in even more detail.

Google’s New Quality Guidelines

An SEO expert’s job is never done, as guidelines change several times a year. These updates aim to make search results more helpful, by predicting the intent behind their search. Previously introduced E-E-A-T guidelines are vital for this. They use experience, expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness to determine page quality.

This is done in context of the search. For example, news articles and reviews rely on experience more than other searches. For online industries like iGaming, a customer might search for slot games online at Paddy Power, and are looking for visual entertainment rather than long-form text. When they search this, Google brings up the iGaming provider directly without screening its pages for experience. Instead, the provider is pre-established as a trustworthy source of online casino content. By using these guidelines in their proper context, Google has a way to root out uninformed review content.

Of course, indexing is the only reason Google knows what sites are, and what kind of content is displayed on them. The affectionately named Googlebot is responsible for crawling the internet, logging every page it comes across. It also does this for already indexed websites, to implement changes on their pages.

Google’s Page Indexing Process

This new insight into Google’s indexing process comes courtesy of Gary Illyes, engineer and analyst for the giant’s dedicated search team. Illyes hosted episode three of How Search Works, which focused on indexing in light of Google’s ever-shifting updates. He begins by explaining how indexing analyzes a page’s HTML coding, title tags, textual content for keywords, and any visual content like images and videos attached to the page.

He goes on to explain canonical pages and how they are determined, so Google knows which page to display if duplicates/outdated copies of the page have been indexed. After March’s core update, many SEO experts had pages de-indexed or stricken by penalties due to outdated content practices. Using this video, online businesses can re-spec pages to become the best possible candidate for indexing. Getting a page indexed is only the start of its journey through the web, so businesses should implement many other SEO practices discussed here at MarkMeets.

How Google Rewards Quality

Illyes adds that the last indexing step is index selection. This is where Google accepts or rejects a page, during which quality is an important determining factor. This means that even if you meet every technical requirement, quality can hold your pages back from ranking highly in Google search results.

Elsewhere on the internet, Illyes made a LinkedIn post all about indexing. In it, he explained how Google should pursue ways of reducing crawling without “sacrificing crawl-quality” by “focusing on URLs that more likely deserve crawling.” Per Google’s recent guidelines, those pages are the ones with the best content and a competent technical SEO strategy. Getting crawled more often isn’t a direct ranking factor, though it’s likely to invite more traffic than pages that aren’t scanned by the Googlebot as much.

Understanding SEO fundamentals like this are key to knowing how Google works and will work for the foreseeable future. There’s no doubt that Google will drop more updates later this year, and keeping tabs on any changes will help SEO experts stay ahead of the competition.

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Michael P
Los Angeles based finance writer covering everything from crypto to the markets.

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