This is How Search Engines Categorize Each Piece of Content

When Google is determining which piece of content to rank, it’s looking at the categorization of each piece of content.

Wait… categorization of each piece of content? What does that even mean?

This guide shares exactly how search engines categorize each piece of content so that you can capitalize on how they operate. Scroll down to learn more.

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First It’s Important To Understand How Search Engines Crawl Your Entire Website

Before we jump into the information about how search engines categorize each piece of content on your website, it’s important to understand how search engines crawl your entire website as a whole.

Before a search engine can determine which particular piece of content should rank for a certain keyword, it needs:

  • Context in data about what each website is about 
  • How it’s categorized; and 
  • Whether or not that website aligns with the user’s needs

The most important thing that Google is looking at when crawling the site (at the technical level) is the URL structure and categorization of content on a website. 

Basically, how is that website structured?

URL Structure & Categorization is Important For Content

To understand why the categorization of content is important and why URL structure is important within this paradigm of categorization, let’s look at an example…

Let’s say there is a business in Portland, Oregon that sells bicycles. Let’s say their website is

That business wants to rank in Google for their content around different questions that users might have about bicycles. For example, they’ve written content about how to change a bicycle tire, the correct hand signals to use when riding your bicycle on the road, and which models of bicycles are best for which types of riders.

When Google is crawling their website, it’s trying to figure out how the website is structured. And, for the sake of this example, let’s argue that this bicycle shop has structured their content properly.

First, they have a “how to” section on their website. Within that category, they’ve created a lot of content such as…

  • How to change a bicycle tire
  • How to readjust bicycle handlebars
  • How to fix a bicycle chain
  • How to add safety lights to your bicycle

Because this content is easily categorized, they’ve optimized their URL structure to align with Google’s best practices. 

How did they do that?

It’s pretty straightforward. They shared links to all of their how-to articles on one page. The URL structure of that page is below:

Whenever a new how-to article is published, it automatically shows up as the most recent article on this category page. Not only is this awesome for categorization of content, but it also keeps that page fresh, which is a ranking factor that Google likes.

Then, each of the how-to articles is nested underneath this parent page. Basically, it’s categorized underneath this parent page. 

So, here’s an example of what a how-to article’s URL structure would look like:

It’s pretty simple!

Many Businesses Don’t Categorize Their Content At All

Let’s take the same example above. Most other bicycle shops wouldn’t categorize their content in this way.

They may have it categorized underneath a blog. But that still doesn’t give much context to Google.

Some websites may even have each of these pieces of content as orphan pages. Basically, this means that each piece of content does not have a parent page that it’s categorized under.

If you’re unsure about how your website is categorized, let Portland SEO Growth help out. We offer a free initial audit to get you started.

Google Categorizes Each Piece of Content Based on 5 Factors

So how do search engines categorize each piece of content on your website? Scroll down to see the five factors that search engines use.

1. The User’s Intent

When search engines are categorizing each piece of content in their SERPs (search engine results pages), they are first looking at the intent of each search.

Here are some of the questions that Google’s algorithm is asking:

  • Why is this user searching for this term?
  • What value is the user hoping to get out of a piece of content related to this term?
  • What types of websites would best help this user answer their question?
  • What types of content (listicles, blogs, ecommerce pages, etc) would be the best fit for this user?

Based on all of that information, search engines are able to categorize each piece of content a little better.

2. The Relevancy Of The Website

The second way that search engines categorize each piece of content is by looking at the relevancy of a website.

The easiest way to think about this is through an example:

Let’s say that a person who lives in Portland, Oregon is searching for “how to build a tiny house?”

Before Google determines which website should be categorized and rank for that particular keyword, it has to look at what that website is about.

To simplify this example, let’s say that there are only four websites on the internet that have written content about “how to build a tiny house.” 

Here is what each website is about in general:

  • A home loan website
  • A candy store website
  • A tiny house company website
  • A celebrity news website

Which of the four websites above are most relevant to this user’s search? In order, it would likely look something like this:

  1. A tiny house company website
  2. A home loan website
  3. A celebrity news website
  4. A candy store website

Therefore, simply based on the relevancy of each website, the tiny house company and the home loan company have a greater opportunity of being categorized as a good fit for the user.

Obviously, Google’s algorithm doesn’t work like this, but this simplified example can give you context.

3. The Relevancy of The Content/Page

Next, search engines are looking at the relevancy of the content itself when categorizing each piece of content in the SERP.

Let’s follow the same example as above:

Somebody in Portland, Oregon is searching for “how to build a tiny house?”

To simplify this example, let’s say that there are only four pieces of content on the entire internet that deal with tiny houses. While this is not true, it’ll allow us to have a more simplified example.

And those four pieces of content have the following titles:

  • Are Tiny Houses Safe? Five Things You Should Know
  • How to Build a Tiny House in 12 Steps
  • Where is The Best Place to Put Your Tiny House?
  • How to Fix a Tiny House Bathroom

Obviously, the article with the title “How to Build a Tiny House in 12 Steps” is going to be most relevant to the user’s search. Therefore, that piece of content will likely be categorized as more valuable to a search engine.

4. The Categorization of the Content On The Page (How It’s Structured)

Next, search engines categorize each piece of content based on how the page is structured.

Search engines do this by looking at the following things:

  • URL structure of the page
  • Title tag
  • Meta description
  • Header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc)
  • Images/Videos
  • Copywriting
  • Who wrote the article
  • And more

So, it’s important to structure your page so that it aligns with the user’s intent and adds value to them.

5. The Content’s Value (Compared To Other Content In The Same Category)

Lastly, search engines categorize each piece of content based on how it sizes up to other content in the same category.

In short, all your content has to do is outperform all of the other content in the same category.

So, if you’re trying to rank in Google or other search engines for the keyword “how to trim roses in my backyard?”, then all you have to do is outperform other pieces of content in the same category. 

You can do this by:

  1. Adding more value to the user
  2. Structuring your content better
  3. Providing more page relevancy for search engines
  4. And more

Contact us to learn more from our Portland SEO experts on how search engines categorize each piece of content.

Picture of Joey Randazzo

Joey Randazzo

CEO of Becoming Media