A top listing on Google – many businesses crave it…but few achieve it. If this is a goal for you, then it’s important to understand how Google works before you can figure out the right search engine strategy for you. Here’s a quick explanation of Google’s technology and how you can use this knowledge to your advantage.
In order to stay on top of everything published in the World Wide Web, Google uses highly complex equations in, paradoxically, what comes down to a very simple approach.
This approach is made up of three key parts:
- Googlebot, which finds and fetches web pages
- Google’s indexer, which stores every word from every page in a huge database
- Google’s query processor, which finds the most relevant results for the search you’ve requested
Crawling and Indexing
Googlebot is a “spider,” or a web crawling robot. “Spider” is actually a misnomer; the program doesn’t really roam the web like a creepy crawly bug, but instead is a program that asks web servers to pull up specific web pages. The Googlebot scans each page for hyperlinks to new pages, which it fetches in the same way. This process is repeated hundreds of thousands of times.
The information the Googlebot gathers is sent to the indexer, which scans and cross-indexes every word in every document it finds. To speed up the process, Google ignores common words like as, the, is, on, or, of, how, and why. It also ignores punctuation and spaces and converts all letters to lowercase.
The indexer compiles staggering amounts of data from millions of web pages. But in order to respond to your search query with the most relevant results possible, Google ranks the pages in its index, according to several factors.
Google’s primary system is the PageRank algorithm. PageRank evaluates two things:
1. The number of links to a web page from other pages
2. The quality of these linking sites
Remember that both factors – number and quality of links – play a role in PageRank. Therefore, it’s more advantageous for your site to have one or two inbound links from highly regarded sites, rather than many links from less well-established or less reputable sites.
A page with a higher PageRank is considered to be more important than a page with a lower PageRank, and will therefore probably be listed higher. But in practice, it’s not always that simple.
Google also considers factors like:
- Positioning of the keywords you used in your search query
- Size and formatting of the keywords
- Whether the keywords appear together in the page
- How often the keywords appear on the page
- Whether you might have misspelled the keywords
By taking all of these factors into account, Google can carry out your search and list web pages for you that are both reputable and relevant to your search. All things equal, Google will list pages with higher PageRanks above lower ones. But if a page with a lower PageRank appears to have content more relevant to your search than a page with a higher PageRank (based on the keyword considerations listed above), the lower ranked page might get listed higher than the other.
The SEO Lesson
So what’s the takeaway here?
First, if you want your website to rank well, you’ve got to build a site that other sites – particularly reputable ones – want to connect with.
Second, as you’re building your site, you’ve got to be deliberate in your selection and placement of keywords.
And third, Google’s algorithm is complex and changes frequently. Therefore, it’s important to have a coherent strategy to make sure your website always reflects current SEO best practices.