Algorithms, Soccer, and Link Building

Algorithms, Soccer, and Link Building

As part of an ongoing series of posts, we share our thoughts on movies and tv shows we’re currently watching, or books we’ve recently read, and how they relate to SEO or PPC. 

football-452569_640.jpgWhile it’s usually Game of Thrones that dominates the pop-culture talk around the Logical Media Group offices (and Anish, I’m really sorry for spoiling this week’s episode!), that’s not the only thing we watch. In fact, just last weekend, my wife and I were scouring Netflix for some evening viewing (whilst waiting for the latest GoT episode to drop), and we came across a fascinating documentary called The Secret Rules of Modern Living: Algorithms.

Yes, the title may sound like a recipe for boredom, but the actual content is riveting. If you don’t know what an algorithm is, think of it like a recipe, but instead of ending with a meal, you have a solution to a particular problem. Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy looks at several different applications in which algorithms play a distinct part of our lives, from Internet dating to kidney donation to data sorting – it even explains how your phone’s camera can recognize faces. In one segment, du Sautoy looks at how bees are used to answer the Travelling Salesman Problem.

But the portion that should be required viewing for any SEO is the segment on Google. In it, the filmmakers use the clever metaphor of a soccer (or football, because they are rather British) team to explain Google’s page-rank algorithm. Each player represents a webpage, and each pass they perform is akin to a link. Based on how often that player passes and how often the ball is passed to them, they calculate the most valuable or highest-ranking player on the team, the second highest-ranking, etc. But since the game is ever-ongoing, the rankings are constantly being recalculated.

Page links are pretty much the same idea – the more quality links a website has pointing to it, the higher it’s going to rank. Now of course Google’s algorithm is more complex than that, and getting passes, or rather having relevant links, is not the only way to optimize a site – but this is a good reminder of the importance of link building for SEO – and, if nothing else, it’s a great way to explain the how and why of the process.

You can currently find the documentary streaming on Netflix. Check it out!

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