Is Ontology the Next Big Factor in Google’s Algorithm?

    May 19, 2005

When the ax comes down at Google, there are always big winners and big losers. Recently, we’ve seen the first big algorithm change of the year and many web site owners and their respective sites have fallen, much like the proverbial tree.

What was it about their site that was simply too much for the new algorithm to allow anymore searchers to see? Taking a look at their sites (if you can find them) as well as the sites at the top, gives us great insight into the mind of the Google boys and the evidence is clear; the word ontology is not getting the attention in deserves.

What is ontology? The quick answer is that it is words that are related to the keywords that you are targeting. However, it’s a bit more complicated than just dusting off the old Thesaurus. The way it works is that it is an undetermined amount of words that most frequently appear on the same pages throughout the internet as the keywords you are targeting. I would assume that more weight is given to the words on pages that rank well than those that don’t. So now that we know that, how is it affecting today’s SERPs?

Logically, ontology makes a lot more sense than keyword density, which is clearly a thing of the past. Of course, Google needs to know what your site is about, and you need to tell them, but not in the way that some sites have in the past. This is a lesson learned for the site owners who have been axed from Google’s rankings. I have taken a look at a few that have been talked about in the SEO “underworld” and while it’s been obvious in the past that keyword density is nothing more than spamming the search engines, it is now clear that Google has made the necessary adjustments in it’s algorithm to avoid sending it’s users to spammy sites.

Not only is it important to have related keywords so that you can rank well for the keywords that you’ve targeted, but if you do your homework properly you can actually generate quite a lot of traffic from strategically placed ontological words. If you think about it, it is a situation that will help you in more ways than one. Forget just dropping in a word here or there, make sure that you have a nice array of words that relate to your keywords. Don’t hesitate to include them in your your meta tags and page titles. The underlying though behind Google’s change is the removal of spam. As long as you keep that in mind while writing the content of your web site, you will be fine.

If there’s one thing that we all hate when it comes to the internet, it’s spam. Now, Google has stepped up and insured it’s searchers that, while Gmail is still a work in progress, they at least won’t have to deal with spam in their search results.

Bobby Heard is the Vice-President of Abalone Designs (, which offers Search Engine Optimization at affordable prices.