Since their beginnings at Stanford University, Google has risen to the top of their class in web-related products and services. Google has been around since the mid-to-late 1990’s, echoing the release of public access to the Internet in 1991. The registration of their famous domain name in 1997, then the founding of Google Inc. a year later, has brought the world into a Google Age of Convenience. Their products include many household names of the 21st century – Gmail, Google Drive, Google Translate, Google+, Google Maps, and YouTube. Other products include Android OS and Chrome OS, as well as hardware such as Nexus electronics and the new Google Pixel line. Google is prolific, and it seems that everything that comes from them is magical.
At the pinnacle of their product line is the one that started it all, the Google Web Search Engine, which has become synonymous with web-browsing and continues to fulfill their now long-running mission statement: “Organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Their website, as well as the magnanimous extensions to their product assortment over the years, shows another line to their purpose: “Since the beginning, our goal has been to develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible. Not just for some. For everyone.”
Their first significant improvement was a simple-to-use web search engine for an ever-growing online encyclopedia, i.e. the now public pages of the World Wide Web. The Google Search page quickly became the preferred homepage of web browsers worldwide and remains as one of the great developments of the 90’s. According to the numbers on the Internet Live Stats website, nowadays Google Search is running over forty-thousand searches every second, and on a busy weekend the numbers exceed sixty-thousand.
And, quite generously, Google invites you to add your website to the search results.
Though many of their search methods are kept as company secrets, Google lets us know plenty about their famous search engine and how it calls forth websites, yours included. They have allowed businesses, freelancers, bloggers, and all domain-name-holders enough information to build and present their websites in a way that takes full advantage of Google Search features and the website ranking system that works behind the scenes. The details of the search process are held to thwart spammers and other malpractitioners, but the knowledge they have made public is heavily documented and well-worth reviewing.
This is how Google wants site owners, webmasters, and web-marketers to use their search engine. Following their guidelines, everyone has a fair and likely chance to reach their audience online. You want your website to get some traffic, and (as sixty-thousand searches per second can pledge) Google is your widest lane – but you should go in knowing that search engine optimization is not all about “keywords”.
The Google Search Engine Results Page
The Google Search webpage is iconic for its simplicity, but that simple design is a user-friendly interface for a fascinating search process. The search button calls forth Google’s patented search algorithm, which sorts the macro verse of information on the web and presents the most relevant pages on their Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Google Search has evolved over the years to present not only webpage links but “universal” search results, which further categorize content into tabular format (Images, News, Maps, etc.) for an easier search experience.
Another major enhancement to their search result page was the addition of “rich results”, which are dynamic snippets content that appear above the results. If you search for a recipe, a carousel of “rich cards” may appear above the results showing the images, links, and a few words from relevant webpages. Searching for a musical artist might bring up a section showing an image of the artist and a list of their songs from YouTube. These “cards” of rich content provide the most immediate and direct answers to the user’s queries. Google’s rich cards include blocks of content for recipes, musicians, advertised events, articles, product information, maps and locations, job postings, and a dozen more.
The utility of Google Search and rich results is easy to see, and website owners are invited to prepare their sites in a way that optimizes the mechanism. Websites that follow Google’s suggested structure, markup, and metadata guidelines can have their content organized into rich cards on the Google results page, creating a stunning display and an inviting “front door” to the site.
The Google Index of Web Pages
Saying Google Search searches the web isn’t quite right. Google search doesn’t search the web – it searches an archive of URLs that Google collects from the web and stores in a database generally called the Google Index. When a user submits a query through Google Search, the search engine fires up its algorithm and filters the data in the Google Index to find the most relevant, high-quality, safe, and accessible information. It returns that data set in a neat format on the search results page. Having your website indexed by Google is one of the essential steps to deploying your new web domain for a wider audience.
The task of gathering URLs from the web falls to programs called “web crawlers”. The web crawler programs are “bots” programmed to perform their task autonomously (Google’s main web crawler is named Googlebot). Googlebot and the other web crawlers visit websites and “crawl” through each and every link to evaluate every page on the site. They then sort the information based on the evaluation and send the URLs and other identifying information to the Google Index. The Google Index is regularly updated this way to ensure the integrity of the archive.
Google makes it clear that they never accept payment for favorable indexing or “recrawls” that reassess your website for the index. They are committed to keeping the index fair. However, new domain-name-holders can submit a site map to Google (the list of every link on your website that generally appears in the footer) so that Google can index the new webpages. It is also possible to view an Index Status Report for your website, request Google to perform a recrawl, or opt out of indexing completely.
But, just being in the Google Index doesn’t guarantee a place on the first page. Truly, nothing can guarantee a spot at the top because Google’s website ranking system is designed with neutrality at its core. Anyone who tries to unfairly manipulate their chances will find that their efforts only work against them. The only way to succeed with Google Search is to utilize everything Google lets us know about their search engine and plan our websites accordingly.
“PageRank” is the name of the first Google Search page-ranking algorithm developed by Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Previously, web search engines looked primarily for matching keywords. The PageRank algorithm took a new approach, which was to analyze websites and give each page a weighted score based on the links coming into the page from other sites. The higher the score, the higher up the website appears in Google Search results.
The system relies on the idea that websites with more incoming links (called “backlinks”) are more important for search results, especially if the backlinks are from reputable sources. Links leading to your site from other sites will increase your website’s PageRank. A link on the NBC* News website will increase your score considerably. PageRank rightly assumes that quality content and an accessible website will draw the attention of other website owners who want to link to that valuable content. Consumers then find these popular websites at the top of their search results.
As ever, the conversation does circle back to quality content, but the take-away here is that there are more factors affecting your website’s visibility than matching a user’s search terms.
Factors Affecting Your Website’s Visibility & Ranking
In addition to the PageRank algorithm and backlinks, other factors can affect your website’s visibility and search engine rank. In fact, there is a great deal of speculation on exactly how many factors affect Google search results. Educated guesses generally list around two-hundred different rules to optimize your site for search ranking, but it is likely a handful (including PageRank) have a greater influence over the process.
Keywords and valuable content are fundamental factors and the most well-known. If you want people to see your website, it has to contain some well-laid-out content. The number of times a popular keyword appears on your webpage, called keyword density, can improve the visibility of the content. Too many keywords, however, can actually lower your ranking, as Google has set their search engine to ignore keyword spamming, the overuse of keywords to influence search results. Keyword placement is also evaluated, such as if the keyword appears in the titles or links on a page. Secondary keyword relevance, such as additional words that relate to a user’s search, as well as the length of the content can also influence the results.
Non-content related factors also affect your ranking. A website’s compatibility with popular web-browsers, the last time the site was updated, and the length of time the site has existed are all factors to include in your analysis. The structure of your website, the quality of the code, and the metadata provided can also increase your odds. Google favors accessible and well-built websites over those that are difficult to use or outdated. Google especially favors websites that are mobile-friendly, a recent change that addresses the sharp rise of mobile devices with Internet access. Mobile-compatibility is in popular demand, enough so that Google says most of the traffic coming to your website from their search engine is likely from mobile devices.
The Google algorithm is humbling, being composed of dozens of factors that cannot be listed here. Ideally, a website owner should follow Google’s guidelines from the start and work to build the website’s credibility with gratifying content and steady maintenance. For domain-name-holders, ranking in search results and managing the website can seem like an overly-complicated task. Most domain-name-holders want a website built, but not the complexity that comes with it. Professional websites can’t be hacked together, so we provide the expertise to bring your dream website into reality.
MaxGroup Business Solutions relies on our webmasters and engineers to create and maintain sites with the latest standards of code and the best practices for search engine, desktop, and mobile optimization. Our SEO technicians are Google certified and receive their continuing education from Google.
Our content writers come to us from diverse backgrounds of everything from medical writers to professional journalists with years of experience and all being published authors. This ensures that they provide current and compelling content to draw a readership.
Through our wholly owned affiliate Tier-1 news outlet, MaxGroup Media, we then work with our network of 500+ media outlets, newspapers, and 100,000+ affiliate blogs to engage the public, pointing them towards your services. *MaxGroup is able to guarantee that when we publish and syndicate a story for you, that your brand, story and links back to your website are all syndicated to ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW, Google, Yahoo, Bing, Twitter and Facebook news outlets. Your story has international reach and it lives on the web forever! Your website goes from an idea to a polished product, then gets spread to the world with a booming press release that is apt to get your website backlinks on some of the major venues. Trust us when we say, MaxGroup has a common goal with website owners – to be the best on the web.
The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accounting, marketing, technology and more. Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted. The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.