What Is An Algorithm?

Adam Steele
Nov 7, 2021

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Search engines have the seemingly impossible task of analyzing, assessing, categorizing, and presenting web content to searchers.

As more content floods the internet, computer science programmers who work for search engine companies have constantly needed to update the decision-making processes of their tools.

To do this, they create computer algorithms that assess content and then rank that content in their search engine results pages.

In this article, we look at “what is an algorithm” in terms of SEO, why algorithms are so important to our daily lives, and how you can make the algorithms benefit you and your online business.

What is an Algorithm?

An algorithm is a list of instructions or a set of rules that are intended to deal with a specific type of problem. Computer programming experts create a set of instructions or a series of unambiguous steps in order to achieve a desired, repeatable outcome. In terms of search engine optimization, an algorithm tells search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, and Ecosia, how relevant the content is on a particular webpage.

These search engines need some way of knowing which content they should present to their searchers when they ask a question.

Importantly, due to the billions of web pages on the internet and the exponential growth of online material, this process needs to be rapid, an automation like problem-solving process that gives searchers the best possible material in the shortest amount of time possible.

One of the best examples of an algorithm is your Youtube suggestion feed. Using your past viewing habits, computer scientists have designed data structures in Youtube’s algorithm that recommend more content to you. Using step-by-step analysis of your individual behavior, Youtube suggests algorithmic content using artificial intelligence and machine learning techniques.

These computer programs are exceptionally advanced and staying on top of updates, and SEO KPIs is an essential task for an SEO manager.

Why are Algorithms Important?

Algorithms are important because they essentially control what people see on the internet. SEO management depends on algorithmic updates.

In fact, algorithms are so central to our daily lives that search algorithms and sorting algorithms are responsible for the polarization of people, particularly over social media and while looking at the political affiliations of a population.

Political parties and propagandists have been leveraging different algorithms for years to help divide and conquer populations to achieve their own agendas.

Many people don’t realize how much algorithms play a part in their daily existence. Netflix uses algorithms to suggest personalized viewing content. Spotify uses algorithms to suggest new music you’ll like. Google uses algorithms to make sure you get a relevant answer to the question you ask it. Algorithms determine how we interact with the digital world.

What is an Algorithm FAQ

How do algorithms affect SEO?

Algorithms are critical to search engine optimization. It’s essential to understand how search engines work. Google is constantly tweaking its algorithms to provide the most relevant results possible so that users can find what they’re looking for as quickly and easily as possible.

Search engine algorithms use many factors, but there are two main ones: authority and relevance. Relevance is based on the content of a webpage’s backlinks (link relevance), and also topical relevance of the content. In contrast, authority is based on your website’s popularity across the web as a whole.

So, to satisfy Google’s algorithm and rank highly in its SERPs, you need to ensure you publish high-quality content and get backlinks from relevant, high-quality websites, which pushes your link equity higher.

What algorithm does Google use for SEO?

Since 2007, Google has been using an algorithm called Panda to determine relevance. In 2011, they updated this algorithm to create a new version called Panda 2.0. The most recent update to this algorithm is called the Panda 3.0 update, which took place in October 2015.

Panda takes into account review websites (those that rank websites based on the number and quality of reviews) and social media — Google facts the importance of these two factors highly when ranking search results for a user’s query.

How many types of SEO algorithms are there?

While Google has released several updates to the Panda algorithm, other algorithms include Penguin and Hummingbird.

There’s also a way to adversely affect your search engine rankings without an official named algorithm — Google is constantly tweaking its search engine results pages in order to provide users with the most relevant information. If you don’t keep up with the latest changes and updates that Google makes to its ranking system, it can seriously impact your SEO efforts.

Don’t forget: check out the other definitions (over 200) in our growing SEO glossary.


Hopefully, this article has given you a better understanding of search algorithms as they relate to search engine optimization.

Understanding how Google ranks content and deciding what to present to users is imperative in getting your website noticed. This is why staying on top of SEO updates, particularly from the Google algorithm, is essential as a webmaster. There are SEO monitoring tools that can help you do this.

At Loganix, we do this whole process for you. Our SEO services are updated and constantly in sync with everything you need to keep up with.

Hand off the toughest tasks in SEO, PPC, and content without compromising quality

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Written by Adam Steele on November 7, 2021

COO and Product Director at Loganix. Recovering SEO, now focused on the understanding how Loganix can make the work-lives of SEO and agency folks more enjoyable, and profitable. Writing from beautiful Vancouver, British Columbia.