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How Do Algorithms Impact Digital Marketing?

Summer Browne author profile image
algorithm digital marketing featured
algorithm digital marketing featured

In the worlds of tech, marketing, banking, and more, the word "algorithm" is used on a daily basis. But what is an algorithm? 

Algorithms are predefined sets of instructions required to execute diverse functions. Put even more simply, algorithms are sets of instructions. They are a part of everyday routines, from making a cake to plumbing a toilet.

algorithms too much data

But, as technology has improved, so have the capabilities of algorithms. You use them every time you open your computer, an app, or software. They are even in play when a phone camera adjusts colors and lighting. But how important are they to digital marketing?

Algorithms and SEO

There is plenty of talk about algorithms and SEO. Every content marketing job, for example, requires the ability to optimize for SEO. 

Love it or hate it, there is no avoiding search engine algorithms. But how do they work and what do you need to know?


First, in Google’s case, the algorithm is updated frequently. Some of these changes are small and some are big, so it’s important to stay informed about these changes and adjust accordingly. 

One place to get these updates is Google’s Search and SEO Blog.

Google doesn’t give away all its search algorithm secrets because then people could ‘scam’ the system. But they do provide five important components to guide your understanding of how the algorithm ranks content:

  1. Meaning of your query: The algorithm tries to understand the intent, category behind someone’s search as well as how up to date it should be.
  2. Relevance of web pages: The algorithm analyzes the information on the page to see if it is relevant to the search. Here comes the importance of keywords. If the search contains the same keywords as are on your page, you are doing it right. But the algorithm doesn’t just look for keywords, it looks for ‘quantifiable signals to assess relevance’. These signals feed and support keywords. This means you can’t write gibberish to get hits. 
  3. Quality of content: Reliable sources are prioritized by the algorithm. The algorithm looks for trustworthiness and expert knowledge. There are spam algorithms to detect bad quality content.
  4. Usability of web pages: The algorithm looks for ease of use. Pages should be easy to view on different devices. And have a fast page load time.
  5. Context and settings: The algorithm takes into account the search history of users as well as location. It can be difficult to adjust content for this. But by knowing where your user base is you could target that location.

Algorithms and Social Platforms

Most peoples’ understanding of algorithms is related to social media. The posts that appear on your feed are chosen by algorithms. Algorithms on social media learn what you’re interested in and recommend people and accounts to follow and connect with.

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Each social media platform has a slightly different algorithm setup. Instagram is all about engagement. This means the more engagement an account gets the bigger the reach. 

Facebook targets you with your immediate circle of friends, which expands based on your likes and shows you things that are relevant.

Twitter works by showing the latest news in the feed, using location and interests. Tiktok works on interests, hashtags and sounds. While LinkedIn looks at connections, relevance, and the probability of engagement.

Of course, the iOS14 updates have sent the algorithms into a bit of chaos but all is not lost. Getting to know and understand the algorithms of each platform can aid in the creation of a strategy that will make the algorithm happy. Happy algorithms mean better engagement, sales, and reach.

Algorithms for Digital Marketers

The more marketers understand how algorithms work in the digital world, the better their strategies will be. 

When advertisers have data overload, algorithms can help to simplify and organise the information. 

The application of algorithms in time management can also make you more effective! For example, algorithms can help marketers by saving time and simplifying decision-making. 

Another useful application for effective time management is the A* search algorithm, which helps you find the quickest path to a given point. If you know the most important things to work on, you can finish your work quicker.

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A* search algorithm/image source

Final Thoughts 

Algorithms can and do learn how to do things. They get smarter and improve. They will continue to improve and understand behaviour and patterns. And the better the algorithms are, the better the decisions of digital advertisers. 

Why? Because when advertisers mistakenly interpret data or don’t have the right data, bad decisions are made. And sales are lost. 

When marketers know what made a consumer click or not, what improved reach and what didn’t, it's easier to optimize and make informed decisions about your campaigns. Data is key but having quality data is even more important. Algorithms help with this.

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About Summer Browne

AdLeaks content writer Summer Browne has a degree in Civil Engineering, studied Law at the University of London, and speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently.