The Google search engine philosophy and the Reading Level function

Google is by far the leading search engine in the world. Over 70% of internet searches worldwide are done using Google. It is worthwhile to examine the giant's stated guidelines more closely when dealing with the theme of optimization of search engines or SEO. For some time now, Google has provided access to its philosophy in the area of search engines and provides valuable advice that can help to catapult a site to the top of results lists. We have reviewed these guidelines and provide here a summary of the principle points. In addition, we looked at a rather obscure international function, the reading level.

In addition, we looked at a rather obscure international function, the reading level.

Google Reading level

In understanding Google as a search engine, the first thing to do is to familiarize yourself with basic search engine terminology. The most important elements are the Googlebot, also called web crawler or exploratory robot, and the Google index. To simplify things, Googlebot may be seen as an explorer that collects information by scanning all sites present on the net. This corresponds to 20 billion sites per day. Pertinent data flows into the Google index. These web sites are classified according to their relevance to a particular theme. All of these values are evaluated by an page rank algorithm or page classification. This name is not a reference to a page in English, but rather to Larry Page, the man who designed the algorithm. This method is used by Google to weigh search results directed at a precise theme and to present them in an appropriate manner, depending on a request.

Quality Directives

For Google, the highest priority is benefits to customers. For this reason, Google has put out several quality directives in order to protect users against spam. At the outset, it was quite common to try to deceive search engines in order to place one's pages at the top of lists. However, that gave rise to key-word spams and other equally unfair methods that Google wishes to avoid, if possible.

For this reason, Google set out four simple principles that each web site provider should take very seriously:

  • Internet sites are not designed for search engines, they are designed for people
  • Do not attempt to trick users
  • Avoid resorting to ruses in order to achieve better ranking on Google
  • Instead of this, concentrate on developing relevant and interesting content to make your web page unique.

Regarding these basic principles, the most interesting element is that most of them apply not only to SEOs but also more generally to creating content for the net. Google has detailed which specific practices should be avoided. These may be consulted on the Webmaster Guidelines page of Google. For example, doorway pages and content generated automatically containing specific key words that are void of meaning can be found here.

Directives pertaining to images

As we have already mentioned in our SEO note, there are a certain number of rules that can have an extremely positive impact on the relevance of a web site. The most important of these by far is link building and a good choice of key words. We have examined these rules in detail. That is the reason we decided this time to consecrate more time to titles of images.

Google cannot interpret images, even if the text appears as an image. In contrast, Google can read image file names and alternative text, or alt text. Each of these should have a title containing data. An image should not given a file name like IMG1402.jpg, but rather a description of the image, such as Group-of-people-in-the-Himalayas.jpg . The same is true for alt text. The alt attribute can be modified in the HTML file. The more accurate these two attributes, the more Google will consider them relevant.

Technician Directives

Naturally, Google guidelines also contain more technical parts that you should leave to your web designer. Updating of robots.txt is an example of this. This can determine what addresses are explorable on your page, meaning which pages can be examined by Googlebot, and which are not. However, as we mentioned earlier, the web designer who has your trust knows beyond a shadow of doubt how to achieve genuine miracles when it's time to optimize your site for search engines.

Reading Level as an international SEO measure

For the moment, the Reading Level function exists only on Google pages in English. It is not yet available for pages in German. However, it is worthwhile addressing this phenomenon as the function can be advantageous, particularly for international sites.

With the Reading Level function, Google classifies articles and contents into three categories: "basic", "intermediate" and "advanced". To do this, Google examines the structure of phrases and the choice of words. Articles are then classified into one of three categories, which correspond to the difficulty of the article. Basic articles, which use simple vocabulary and syntax, are generally intended for a younger target audience, such as children. The intermediate articles make up the largest group and are comparable with media articles. Articles in the advanced category generally present a scientific base. The Reading Level may be determined in Google research options. For users, the benefit is that they can engage in targeted searches of texts at a level that meets their requirements. Yet there are also advantages in terms of SEO. Because texts are classified according to precise levels, the most relevant results, which generally come from the category that is best represented, occupy the prime places in the Google rankings. Here is one example of this: when a text is drafted using SEO techniques, the best represented category is the intermediate category, at 48%. As such, it would be judicious to draft this text using common vocabulary so that it falls in the same category. This has a positive impact on page rankings.

Google Reading level

This is obviously a very specific knack that necessitates prior research, but it could have a positive impact on ranking.


If there is one thing that we should remember from the Google guidelines it is this: Users get absolute priority. Pages created in the area of web design are conceived for a specific target group. Search engines, particularly Google, constitute the intermediary between creators and users. For this reason we must be sure to create the best content possible for our target group. It is only in this way that we can guarantee that Google will fulfill its intermediary role and that our content will reach the relevant users.