Everyone deserves to have access to the highest quality information, for without it we’re denied our right to liberty and education to name just a few. It’s a slightly intense opening to our blog post, but it’s an important point to raise nonetheless!
As a small business owner, you don’t have complete control over the way that Google ranks websites, including yours. That can be frustrating, but don’t worry. The search engine does updates every day and is working hard to provide users the experience they’re looking for.
So next question: where do we access all of this information? Despite its size, few of us are heading to the Library of Congress on a daily basis. Sure the 164 million items and 1,350 kilometers of bookshelves are impressive, but we have an even greater source of information right at our fingertips – you’ve guessed it: Google.
Google is the world’s largest library. In just a fraction of a second, Google’s automated systems sift through hundreds of billions of web pages in their Search index to pair you with the correct content on demand. This isn’t any old library of information, but a place where the librarians (highly-qualified tech engineers, developers, mathematicians and computer scientists) are working day in day out on systems which deliver every speckle of relevant, reliable information to you at that given time. It’s important to note that this system is never final and there is no end point as we (humans) are ever-evolving, ever-learning in this world. The way we’re delivered this content must therefore be rigorously tested to ensure it’s really what we’re looking for. If we’re misinformed, then what’s the point? What’s more, it’s critical that this information is delivered in an unbiased way. You can’t pay your way to higher rankings on Search! Google refuses to accept any money for rankings other than Ads, which are an integral part of keeping Google alive. In their own words: “Ads are how Search remains accessible to everyone”.
Fundamentally, the ranking criteria is complex – just as we are as human beings. Google is trying to piece together as much information as possible in order to make it easy for you to explore information from many angles so you can form your own understanding of the world. So what’s the catch? This is what we’re here to break down and explain in the context of your business.
The Google Approach
When you search, Google presents results in a variety of ways depending on what’s most useful for the type of information you’re looking for. From images, videos, news, sports sources, maps, stock prices, even the weather! Search is continuously changing, just as you, your business and the rest of the world are. This is all while keeping your personal information private and secure, exactly as it would be if you had your nose stuck in a book. It is super important to continue to learn more about SEO and Google to help and scale your business.
Why should you know how Google Search works?
It’s understandable why you’d think it’s futile to understand the technicalities behind Search, but really this is a missed opportunity for you and your business. Understanding the basics in this way can really help solidify how to give your prospects exactly what they want, so you can enhance your website’s visibility on Search and drive more web traffic. This is so much more than passing off the nitty gritties of this work to your SEO agency.
How does Google work: the technicals
Google “crawls” the web for any new information with automated programs called web-spiders. These mythical arachnids collect every bit of information from your website from titles, to keywords, description tags, even the navigation, in order to learn where to position you on Search.
Tips for you: The more strategic and more clear you are with the information you present, the more likely you are to be picked up by the crawlers and be paired with your relevant audience. Title tags, meta-descriptions, links and citations all help to alert Google of your website, therefore you should make your information crystal clear across all areas of your site (not just in body copy of page content). Consider captions, tags, quality of your links, and citations from socials or other sources.
The crawlers then report back for Google to analyze this information (text, images, video files, docs, etc) and attempt to understand what the page is about so it can be categorized appropriately for Search. This is not to say that indexing is guaranteed – issues such as low-quality content, over-complicated backend web-design, or ‘block search indexing’ (an intentional method used in the backend of your website) can prevent your page from being indexed.
Tips for you: Ensure your website is intuitive to use, displaying user-friendly and digestible content that maps the needs of your audience. This keeps your users engaged, supports on-page relevancy and minimizes bounce backs, which again Google considers for ranking.
- Serving search results
So Index essentially facilitates a fast and accurate retrieval of information for our end user. When our user submits a query, machines filter through the Index to find pages which match this query, and return results which the Google algorithm has calculated is of relevance. Of course this algorithm is created by fallible human beings so it may not deliver 100% of the time (we’ve all been there when we’ve received a totally obscure Search result!). This is because Google hasn’t got enough information to understand the context behind what our user is asking.We help our clients take their business to the next level by using our strategic skills, strategies, and knowledge of how Google works, to ket an insight on who we are and how we do this look here!
Tips for you: Be specific enough that your content answers a genuine need for your specific audience. Does it respond to something your user is specifically seeking out, and therefore position you as more valuable than alternative sources? Google wants to show a diverse set of results, so ensure your content isn’t listing identical information to your competitors. Focussing on topics (long-tail keywords) or a user’s search-intent, is a sound approach to advancing your visibility.
Improving your search ranking: The expectation vs the reality
- Expectation: Instant ranking
More often than not, business owners come to us wanting their website to rank on the first page of a Google search, organically (i.e using unpaid sources) overnight.
- The reality: Organic SEO can take up to 6 months
Your website can take up to 6 months to be placed on the first page of a Google search from a particular keyword! This is because Google is crawling every single site across the web, updating Search with the most relevant information. It’s worth noting that industry specific keywords will likely take less time, whereas generic keywords are likely to take significantly longer since there are so many other sites Google needs to filter through to rank these.
- Expectation: Straight to the top
Many think they’ll be bumped straight to #1 on Search once their website starts ranking.
- The reality: A steady rise
After Google completes its rigorous Indexing process (more on that later), it positions your website using a base ranking. This ranking can vary depending on the size and accuracy of your online presence, the “trust” Google has in your company and information, and the overall algorithm (the “PageRank” algorithm). It takes time for Google to establish this trust and place your website higher in those rankings.
- Expectation: You can rank for every keyword
You’ve picked up on the keywords for your areas of interest. Now it’s just a case of using them on your website, right?
- The reality: Different keywords exhibit a variety of different factors
While Search has become all the more sophisticated, so has the approach to keywords. Different keywords exhibit totally different qualities and potential users in search of them. For this reason rankings vary by competition, website authority, and the relevance of the keyword to your business. In addition to this, throwing hundreds of keywords (known as “keyword stuffing”) on your website may actually hinder, rather than help your rankings!
- Expectation: SEO stays the same
And once you’re ranked it’s set forever… but not quite.
- The reality: SEO is ongoing
While the world is continually learning, so is Google. Therefore to meet the demand, you constantly need to inform yourself of the latest keywords, update your content, fix any bugs and adapt to the ever-changing search algorithm.
Ultimately, all of the elements of Search are in place to support a healthy ecosystem of fresh and useful information which is accessible to anyone across the world. How Google finds and delivers that information is the building block of SEO, meaning that growing your online presence is so much more than pumping out a load of keywords for SEO purposes. We hope we’ve proven that understanding Search is an integral part of growing your business online!Want to know how we can help you with a lasting marketing strategy and grow your online presence? Get in touch today and we’ll help you get started.