Search Relevance: What Is It and Why You Need It?

folder_openSearch Engine Optimization
young designer looking at search results on a computer

If you have an online presence for your business, search relevance is perhaps one of the most important factors for your success. Today there are over 1.7 billion known websites, and that number continues to grow as more and more people take their business digital. With most users relying on search engines such as Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo to look for what they need on the internet, search relevancy is becoming increasingly important if you want to be seen.

What Is Search Relevance?

Search relevance is the measurement of how relevant a user’s search query is to the content of your website. By comparing the searcher’s keywords or search phrases, search engines can determine what results to show the user. For businesses, this means you should aim to have your website recommended to the right audience when they are searching for your products or services.

What Makes A Source Relevant?

A website with good relevancy to the keyword will provide information to the users that will satisfy their questions or request. Meanwhile, a website with lousy relevance will either not be shown at all or have visitors bounce off the site before exploring the rest of the web page. Another consequence of having bad relevancy is that your web page will not show up on the first page of the results and, therefore, lose much traffic.

Search engines are getting smarter by the day. Advanced AI gives them the ability to review the content. They will check for grammar and spelling mistakes in your articles. Having good web copy is important because it adds to the user experience, so it’s crucial that an article is easily readable and not filled with fluff.

A source is relevant to the user if it answers what the user is looking for. Many factors contribute to how a search engine’s algorithm checks for relevancy. Google has guidelines but is secretive about how they measure them, but they offer some guidelines.

Why Does Search Relevance Matter?

Many people who have a website or are planning to create one have come across Search Engine Optimization or SEO. Digital marketers are focused on making their websites appear on top of the search results for several reasons.

It Can Increase Your Website Visibility

Many businesses use the web to sell their products. If your business is on the top of the results page of any search engine, it is easier for people to discover your business.

With a massive number of websites, it can be difficult for a small business to rank first. However, if you have correctly optimized your website and have good search relevancy with the right keywords and content matching the user’s intent, you can get a better shot at being first. As a result, you will become more visible to people searching for queries relevant to your website.

Shows Your Website to Your Target Audience

Having a lot of traffic is always good for business, but there is a chance that the people visiting your site didn’t find what they were looking for. If there is a lot of visitors but low sales, you may need to reevaluate your page’s relevancy to target the right audience. With Google’s algorithm, it has become easier for websites with good SEO to be placed on top of the results page of the intended audience.

Relevancy Makes People Stay on The Site

Bad search relevancy means that even if the person clicked on your site, they are not guaranteed to stay, seeing that it is different from what they have in mind. These are the people who usually click and scroll through your page for a bit of bit before hitting the back button. On the other hand, when the person’s search is relevant to your website, it provides a better user experience, so there will be lower bounce rates and higher conversions.

It Builds Your Brand

Being on top results of search engines means that you are usually reputable. Users are more likely to trust your website because it is perceived as being more credible when compared to other websites. Customer trust is an essential factor in generating sales, which is very important (especially if you have a small business).

How Does Google Measure Search Relevance?

It is undeniable that Google is the leading search engine. Google dominates the market share for search engines. Based on recent data, Google controls the search market share by 91.54%, while Bing ranks second with a mere 2.44%. Google process an average of 3.5 billion searches every day. It is no wonder why many digital marketers are tailoring their websites to be optimized based on Google algorithms.

No one knows how Google measures its search relevance, but we see a series of complex algorithms involved. However, they have given us a guideline on how to optimize search engine results. Many SEO experts research and determine the best way to rank higher on Google’s search engine to put your websites on the first page of the search results.

Meaning of Your Search

Google’s sophisticated algorithm then decipher the words on the search query and tries to understand the meaning and context of the search based on several factors. Google then follows a process that will help it understand your question better.

Determines the Language

Language is the first thing that Google recognizes on a user’s search query. If the question is asked in a foreign language, it will prioritize web pages in the same language.

Normalizes the Text

A step-in data analysis called stemming wherein the computer will try to normalize different texts to give a consistent result. For example, the words “buys,” “buyers,” and “buying” will be normalized to “buy” in both the search query and the search results to give a variety of effects that are not limited to the exact keyword used.

Checks Synonyms

But aside from normalizing the texts, Google also adds another algorithm that checks for the synonyms of the words with several meanings. Google has developed a system for over five years and improved the search results by 30%. For example, the term “change” has several meanings based on the context. Below are a few ways Google translates the word “change.”

  • “How to change a light bulb” uses the synonym “replace” and matches the search query to relevant websites
  • “Does post office change foreign currency” gives results that are relevant to “exchanging” money
  • “How to change brightness in laptop” returns a set of results that discusses how to “adjust” the brightness of a laptop

Understands Additional Keywords

Other keywords signal Google that there is a specific result that the user is expecting. The word “location” on the search query will give priority to results from Google Maps. The same thing happens when the users search for a business’s “Opening Hours” or “Review.” Meanwhile, a film’s name followed by “Review” will give results of different websites of film critics and less priority to Google Maps results.

Checks for Freshness of Content

There are specific keywords that are related to events. When the users search for regularly occurring events, there is a higher chance that they are looking for the most recent occurrence. For example, if someone searches for “Olympics schedule,” Google is more likely to return a result of the upcoming Olympics event.

Correct the Spelling

All of us have encountered Google’s famous phrase, “Did you mean…?” While some users found it entertaining and created memes about it, this process is a very important part of Google’s algorithm. If it encounters a word unfamiliar, it will check for other words that might fit the phrase better and suggest it to the user.

The accuracy of the search query is one of the more important factors in serving relevant search results. With a correctly spelled question, it will be easier for the algorithm to move to the next step, deciphering what you meant by your query.

Comparing the Relevance of The Query to Your Website

Finally, after deciphering what exactly you meant by your query, Google will start comparing the search query to the keywords on your website to determine its relevance. Google then creates a quantifiable signal that will determine if your web page is relevant to the question. These are some of the factors that contribute to whether your website is relevant to the search query.

Presence of Keywords on Your Website

Perhaps the most basic factor in all search engines is the presence of the keywords. The keywords on the text in one of your pages will signal Google that your web page may be relevant to the search query. With the vast number of web pages to sift through, limiting the search results to display web pages that contain only the keyword the user is looking for will make the search easier.

Fields Importance

Search engines need to prioritize how it searches your web page for keywords to give the users results immediately. You may notice that you will see “About 4,570,000,000 results (0.54 seconds)” or something very similar at the top of the results page. While Google tries to give accurately optimized results, it also displays the results relatively quickly.

Because of this, Google ranks its search results based on the text field. For example, it gives priority to web pages with correctly optimized titles, headings, and subheadings that match the keyword from the search query.

Keyword Positioning

Google also checks the position of the keywords that are on the page you are trying to rank. If the target keyword is in the first paragraph, it will likely get ranked higher. For example, if your keyword contains “dogs,” Google will scan websites where dogs are mentioned. However, to filter other irrelevant results, it will not display web pages where the keyword “dog” is not mentioned within the first few paragraphs of the text.

Anonymized Data Interaction

Google aggregates anonymous data based on your web interactions to understand human behavior better. Instead of giving back the same results every time you rephrase your search query, the AI responsible for the search engine will collect the data on your interactions and give a set of more accurate personalized results based on its algorithm.


Based on the interaction of other users who used the exact keywords as a new user, Google ranks the popularity of these websites. Google’s algorithm checks for these interactions and will return a set of results that seem to be more relevant to the user’s search. Some factors for popularity include click-through rate and the number of backlinks it has.

How Can You Improve Search Relevance?

You can study the way search engines such as Google work to optimize your website better. Search engine optimization is becoming more and more complicated as years or even months go by, but there is a way to improve your search relevance.

Here are the steps to improve your search relevance:

Look for The Proper Keywords

There are many tools available online that help you optimize your website to generate more traffic through searching. Most search engines, including Google, measures the number of times a keyword is mentioned in your article. Generally, we look for a target keyword density of 1-2%.

While search engines want the keywords to be mentioned a few times, it also determines if you are saying it too often. To avoid penalization for spam it is recommended that your web pages don’t go above the recommended keyword density.

Write More Articles

One of the marketing techniques today is having articles on your website. This is one of the most organic ways to bring in new visitors.

If you already have existing articles, it is good practice to update them regularly with relevant information.

Ensure proper keyword placement

Many experts claim that the presence of keywords is not enough to rank high on search relevance. Google itself said that it prioritizes websites that have the keyword on their titles, subheadings, or even the URL itself. Meanwhile, it will give less priority to websites that only mentions the keywords in their last paragraph. 

Hire A Specialist

Since SEO is a complicated matter, most businesses focus on their business and hire an SEO expert to manage the technicalities. There are a lot of services available that will suit the needs of even small business owners. This is perhaps the most effective result as experts can guarantee that you will generate more traffic to your website to translate to sales.


While the search relevance is complicated, it is pretty easy after you understand the terms needed. The effort one takes to make their contents search-relevant will be a massive step towards your business’s success. You will be able to present your websites to new potential buyers without having to buy ads.

Tags: seo basics, seo beginners guide, seo strategies, Small Business

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