The Search Engine Algorithm Equation Explained
When I started Blogging, I assumed the success of my Blog would depend mainly on Social Media interaction.
A large part of this assumption was based on the fact that the Blog had started as a Facebook Page, and in my view, a Website would simply be an extension of my Facebook presence.
After building a Facebook following of over 40 000 Followers and promoting Blog Posts using Facebook Ads together with Facebook Groups and other sharing Platforms like Reddit, in a rollercoaster year, I reached a ceiling of about 12 000 Page Views per month.
I could not exceed this ceiling without constantly being on the Social Media Treadmill, and I realized that if I was going to surpass what I had managed to achieve with some level of consistency, then I needed to start thinking of a different strategy that was not based primarily on Social Media.
A focus on Search seemed to be required if I was going to go anywhere with my Blog, and so I decided to be more intensely focused on search.
Why Search Is Important
I had flirted with Search throughout the entire year I was focused on Social Media, even hiring an SEO ‘expert’ with little results.
Spending more money on Facebook Ads did not seem like a viable long term option, and after realizing that I would be probably be stuck at 10 000 Page views per month if I didn’t take search more seriously, I doubled down.
Simply stated, Search differs from Social Media in that it is designed to satisfy a different User Intent.
On Social Media, the User Intent is to simply scroll the Newsfeed for Entertainment, and Clicks to your Blog are reliant on the off-chance that someone scrolling their Newsfeed comes across your Blog post and finds it interesting.
Social Media Users do not perform Searches for Content or information because they are not there for that, and the Platform isnt designed for that.
Add to this the fact that Facebook’s Algorithm does not prioritize Publisher Content, the chances of success on Social Media using promoted Posts become less each day.
Search on the other hand is designed to satisfy the User’s Intent to find information, and users on Search Platforms are specifically there to look for information.
Secondly, information available via Search continues to be available for the User without extra effort from the Creator/Contributor/Blogger.
Therefore Search offers a good opportunity to grow your Blog passively as a Contributor if your information is deemed valuable by Search Engines and satisfies the User Intent Search Engines are meant to satisfy.
In short, you don’t have to put yourself in front of potential readers all the time through Social Media campaigns and promotions in order to get reliable consistent traffic to your Blog.
The Problem Search Engines Need To Solve
Now that we’ve established the importance of Search for your Blog, the next question is how do you achieve success in Search?
I would describe most of the SEO strategies I’ve come across over the last two years as generic and panicky.
The bottom line is that the use of Search Algorithms presents a challenge that everyone is trying to solve…Some are more adept than others at it, but no-one has the ‘secret sauce’ that you can simply apply to your Blog and experience guaranteed overnight success.
Search Algorithm updates also induce a sense of panic and speculation that stems from one basic issue in my view…Bloggers are Creators not Data Scientists.
However, I believe we have to adopt some of the basic thinking of Data Scientists if we are to succeed as Bloggers because its important to understand the problem Search Engines are trying to solve from THEIR perspective and not from ours as Creators.
Search Engines are not designed to solve the problem of Creativity but to compute the relevance of information.
This is what makes them useful and why we use them.
Given the sheer amount of information on the Internet, this is a huge problem which is solved by the use of Algorithms.
The Algorithm is the new Holy Grail of our Culture and its capacity to create fear, insecurity, dread and panic is well documented.
In reality though, once you spend some time looking at it, there is nothing mysterious or new about Algorithms because they rely on long standing basic mathematical principles which have just been applied to the problem of finding relevant data in a pool of massive data like the internet.
In order to do this Algorithms employ Equations as a means of sifting through the Internet to find relevant information.
Equations have existed since the days of Archimedes, and in order to take the dread out of Algorithms, all we need to do is spend some time understanding the basic principles in the Equations embedded in Algorithms.
The Search Algorithm Equation
The Search Engine Equation is the actual basis of the Algorithm used on a specific Search Engine and what most SEO advice attempts to figure out and give advice on.
Simply put, the Search Algorithm Equation used on any Search Engine can be summed up as follows:
Data (Content) ∑ Criteria = ∫Relevance
SEO advice and opinions are essentially attempting to explain the Criteria a particular Search Engine uses in order to deem your Content Relevant.
Furthermore, all the panic about ‘Core Algorithm Updates’ is essentially about changes to the Criteria element of this Equation.
It stands to reason that once you familiarise yourself with the Criteria used by a particular Search Engine, then you are in a better position to make your Content relevant to Search Engines.
The Relevance Criteria used by Search Engines like Keywords forms the bedrock of SEO debates but it was also interesting to see that some Search Engines like Pinterest have made the Algorithmic Equations used by their Search Engine which you can view here publicly available.
Once you take some time to read through the short paper and the Equations, its easier to understand how the Algorithm works.
The Blogging Equation
Our Content as Bloggers represents Data, so an Algorithmic Equation needs to sift through it as Data in order to return the most relevant Data/Content to the User.
Therefore its important to appreciate from the outset that your Content needs to consist of relevant data.
Secondly, whilst Social Media is not Search oriented, there is still some value in promoting your Content on Social Media.
However, its important to appreciate the limited utility of Social Media for this purpose since its based on a limited unprioritized presence in the Newsfeed on Social Media Platforms that are not designed to provide information but to entertain Users.
For this reason, an Equation that will optimise the chances of success for your Blog should also take into account the limited positive benefits of Social Media.
On this basis, I have come up with the following Equation which you can use as a guideline for achieving success for your Blog that is rooted in a Search based strategy:
Content ∑ Search Relevance x (10% Social) = ∫Traffic
Utilising this formula, I have managed to increase my Page views from 12 000 to 20 000 views per month in one month as well as to boost my Pinterest Profile to 2.9 Million Monthly Viewers and 4000 Followers.
Your Search relevance will depend on which Search Platform you choose to focus on…I have focused primarily on Pinterest and Google.
My increase in traffic has come from focusing primarily on adapting Google SEO strategies to the Relevance Criteria used by the Pinterest Algorithm on Pinterest.
Its important to appreciate the nature of the problems Search and Social Media Platforms are designed to solve in order to derive the most benefit for your Blog.
What this means is we need to take a step back and understand the larger informational Ecosystem in which we operate as Bloggers in order to understand the perspective of other role players like Search Engines and Social Media Platforms.
This well help us understand their own objectives from their unique perspective, and provide us as Bloggers with better ways of incorporating these Platforms in our own individual Blogging strategies for better results.
Its a tough road and one hell of a ride, but I believe we can figure this thing out.
The video also gives some great tips on how to master Pinterest SEO.