Google Ranking Factor: Progressive Chunking
As a website administrator you may have noticed that it takes Google ages to assign any rank to your website, even though you might have had the whole site’s content complete from the day you launched it. You didn’t change the content, but eventually, and over a time-span of about 6 months, it climbed through the ranks and made it to be on page 2 in Google search. After that, it stayed there stable for another 6 months. Your website might be totally awesome, miles better than many of your online competitors’ websites, yet you start off ranking way down after page 10 or somewhere so deep into search results you gave up looking for it. Why is it that your website only gains rank gradually? Google might well have their own name for it, but I call it ‘chunking’.
Google will progressively index content in your website and starts with the largest and simplest ‘chunks’ first. Elements like Domain and URLs are crawled and identified in very early steps of indexing. In fact, the URL is the first critical element and is usually indexed within hours of launch – assuming you invited Google to call in and check it out – read about how to do that on my page about Google Search Console.
The complete text and images come next, but as far as text is concerned (which will form the core part of how you gain rank), the Google algorithm only has time to process snapshots of your website. It starts with the entire text as a single element. You might think this seems like it’s starting with a very large element and that I’ve clearly got it all mixed up, but here’s why I’m starting with this point: Every body of text falls into certain categories. There are pages, paragraphs, sentences, clauses, phrases and words. In an example page there is: 1 page of text, maybe 10 paragraphs, maybe 200 sentences, 1500 clauses, 3500 phrases and maybe 5000 words. Notice the pattern? The smaller the element, the more of them there are, and consequently the greater volume of data is required to map all of it.
I’ll use the adjectives ‘morphological’ and ‘semantic’ a few times in the following text, and they are important to understand because they are a big part of the science behind language processing – and also Google ranking. Morphological matches are words that match in general shape or form to a search phrase. A morphological match to [accountant] is either [accountant], [accountants], [accountant’s] or [accountants’]. A Semantic match is when a word matches some part of the meaning in the search phrase, such as [accountant] matches to [accounting], [accounts], [accountancy] and even [bean counter]. I threw in that last one because I want to make a point: a [bean counter] is a metaphor for [accountant]. Google is becoming intelligent enough to make this connection. To optimise for [accountant] you don’t always have to repeat the word [accountant]. You’ve got plenty of other choices to create matches and still keep the text interesting or creative.
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