For any given Google search, there are thousands, if not millions of possibly relevant results.
How, on earth, does Google decide which page (website) gets better website ranking? Better than yours, that is… ??
So.. how DOES Google work???
Since fundamentals (knowing HOW Google works) are the building blocks of fun (getting better website rankings), let’s talk about how Google search works.
(Between you and me, the answer lies in RELEVANCE… buuuuut I am getting ahead of myself…)
How Does Google Work?
[HOW GOOGLE WORKS]
First, Google scouts out the web
The web is an ever-expanding library of billions and billions of books.
Google wants to be its central filing system.
To get there, Google uses software known as ‘web crawlers’ to discover publicly available web pages.
Crawlers go from link to link, web page to web page, and bring data they collect back to Google’s servers.
[HOW GOOGLE WORKS]
After crawling the web, Google builds an index
Crawling is done.
The data is gathered.
Now, it’s time to properly file it.
Picture the index in the back of a book with every keyword seen on every page…
That’s what the Google Search index looks like… just slightly more complex. ??
The Google Search index is well over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size and contains hundreds of billions of web pages.
When Google ‘indexes’ a web page, they add it to multiple ‘files’, each containing a certain word.
For instance, the word “ballroom” might appear in documents (pages) 5, 11, 54, 71, and 97, and the word “dancing” might appear in documents 11, 23, 54, 68, and 71.
[HOW GOOGLE WORKS]
Finally, after crawling and indexing, Google ranks pages
Google’s job is to provide the searcher (let’s call her Claire, shall we?) with the ANSWER. NOT a gazillion of pages.
Claire is looking for information, a solution to her problem, right now.
She might be in pain, bored, stressed, unhappy for any number of reasons, and she’s searching for a solution.
How is Claire looking for a solution to whatever she wants resolved (let’s call it a ‘friction point’)? By typing her question into a search box.
By the way, the ‘search box’ is NOT limited to Google.
It could be YouTube, SlideShare, Facebook… that’s where content repurposing comes it.
That question she’s looking up… that’s a keyword.
The BEST kind of keyword as far as you, a content creator, are concerned.
Claire is telling you EXACTLY what problem she wants you to solve with your content.
She is looking for the best solution that gets her from a ‘Before’ state (in pain, bored, stressed, unhappy, etc) to a desired ‘After’ state (well, busy, relaxed, happy, etc.)
And yes, my dear Content Boomerang Members – this came straight from Module 3 of your Content Boomerang Training.
It was too good (yes, referring to my artistic skills! ?) not to use in this post!
Going back to our example, if you are to do a search for “ballroom dancing“, Google will take the following two steps to return search engine result pages (SERPs):
- Find the set of pages that contain your query.
- Rank the matching set of pages in order of relevance.
In the example of documents containing words “ballroom” and “dancing” above, you’ll see that BOTH words appear only in documents 11, 54, and 71.
Those are the prime contenders to be listed for your query first.
How Does Google Rank Relevance?
Here’s where the answer to the question of “Why is my site not ranking as highly?” might lie.
It only makes sense that a document that mentions both “ballroom” and “dancing” next to each other will be deemed more relevant than the one that talks about square dancing and simply mentions the word “ballroom” somewhere else on the page.
Similarly, if the entire “ballroom dancing” phrase is mentioned in the title of the page, it will appear to be more relevant to the topic.
In the same way, if the phrase is mentioned several times throughout the page, the page is more likely to be about ballroom dancing than if the phrase appears only once.
Check out this great quote I found at Google’s Librarian Central (there used to be a link to the source here, but the source moved and I couldn’t find it again):
As a rule, Google tries to find pages that are both reputable and relevant.
If two pages appear to have roughly the same amount of information matching a given query, we’ll usually try to pick the page that more trusted websites have chosen to link to.
Still, we’ll often elevate a page with fewer links or lower PageRank if other signals suggest that the page is more relevant.
For example, a web page dedicated entirely to the civil war is often more useful than an article that mentions the civil war in passing, even if the article is part of a reputable site such as Time.com.
Is Your Website Relevant?
I understand that there are certain topics you think your site is relevant to, but remember you need to spell it out for the Google bots – that’s how Google works.
On-Page Optimization Determines Relevance
Yes, it might come down to how well you optimize the page itself that will determine whether and how highly it’ll show up in Google search results.
Things like title, <H> tags, description, on-page keywords.
So What’s Your Plan of Action?
Now that you have an idea of how Google bots work and how they determine which page to move up the search results, let’s get to work.
1. Stay on Topic
If you want to tap into the wealth of SEO traffic, you have to work for it.
And that means staying on topic.
Both your readers and search engine bots will love you for that.
If your post subject is list building, don’t talk about video marketing.
If you run a cooking blog, don’t talk about relationships.
This principal applies both to your entire site (pick a niche, i.e. a specific subset of a broad market) and each particular page of your site.
Remember, Google ranks pages (that includes your home page), not websites.
2. Learn about on-page optimization
On-page optimization is all about using every trick up your sleeve to tell Google bots what your page is about so that they can rank it accordingly.
As I mentioned above, it’s things like title, <H> tags, description, on-page keywords.
Take a look at this post to learn more about on-page SEO:
3. USE on-page optimization
Having the knowledge on a subject vs actually applying it are two different things.
I know just about everything there’s about on-page optimization.
It’s not exactly rocket science.
But do I actually optimize every post I write so that it has a better shot at ranking for specific keywords?
4. How to stay on track
To make sure you actually apply the principles of how Google works to your on-page factors, I suggest you do one of the following:
1. Do it yourself
You could put together a check list of all the factors that are important and make sure you stick with it when writing a new post.
2. You could hire someone to do it for you
SEO outsourcing doesn’t come cheap, but if you value your time above money, it’s a great way to go.
3. Get a tool to help you do it yourself
I was never a fan of using on-page SEO tools in the past; particularly because of all the recent Google algorithm changes.
I am referring to the tools like SEOPressor, Easy WP SEO, or Yoast SEO.
However, I must admit, I didn’t actually test any of them; just thought I knew what I was talking about… a perk of being Ana Hoffman, I suppose.
Since then I put my money where my mouth was and tested SEOPressor and Easy WP SEO at Traffic Generation Cafe.
I was impressed with Easy WP SEO at first, but then it went out of business (you never want to have an outdated plugin on your site, especially the one that’s in charge of something vital like SEO), plus the free version of Yoast SEO has improved so significantly, that Yoast is all I currently use at Traffic Generation Café.
4. Do nothing.
Free search engine traffic that brings in targeted visitors like a clockwork?
Too much work…
Doing nothing is certainly an option.
I realize that this post is just my opinion on the issue of how Google works and how we can take advantage of it.
And you’ll still see many crappy websites outrank yours for no apparent reason.
At least now you’ve got some knowledge and tools to help you kick them to the curb.
Dot your I’s and cross your T’s and then let Google do its job.
Whether it’s a job well-done on their part is entirely out of our control.
From Ana with