The original idea behind Google is something that is still important to those who work in SEO. Although there are lots of products promising to get you top rankings in a week. Sometimes it’s better to remember the goals of Google and see how your SEO strategy helps them.
The reason for Google
Google was constructed to help with the ever growing list of users who began to use the world wide web. At it’s time of conception more users were searching online and either using the Yahoo directory (edited by users) or automated search engines where the results were often quite poor. The Google boys also highlighted the plight of automated search engines and how they were subject to being gamed by advertisers. Something that may always be part of online advertising. The name Google was selected because it is a common spelling of googol, or 10 to the power of 100. The name fitted with the idea of Google, to deliver a large scale search engine capable of managing hundreds of millions of queries per day (now billions).
The goals of Google
1. Better Search
The goal of Google from the start was to improve the quality of searches returned for a users query. The web of 1997 was a place where search engines often returned junk results. A user had to skim through many pages to find a document relevant to their query. As the numbers of documents on the web increased this became an even greater problem as a user would still only browse through the first few pages of a returned search result. This meant they often wouldn’t find a document matching their search. Google planned to change this by delivering the most relevant results first by sorting them using a number of different factors (although link structure and anchor text would play a big part).
Google wanted to deliver a system that allowed any user to use it. It could be argued it was their simple one page design that has given it so much success over competitors such as Yahoo.
How Google delivered better search results
The idea behind page rank is similiar to a popularity contest. The more votes your website got, the more relevant it must be. Google felt that ranking a page based on on-page factors such as page titles, meta descriptions, body copy etc did provide decent results. But when you combined this with a tool that allowed you to further categorize those results based on citation by other users, the results were a lot more effective. Pagerank is an algorithm that calculates a sites importance based on external links pointing back to it. It counts citations or backlinks to a website and then adds value to these dependant on a number of other factors (what pages they are from, what website they are from, where on the page they are, how many other links are on that page). The Pagerank formula is pretty simple 🙂
PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + … + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))
The basic explanation is “We assume there is a “random surfer” who is given a web page at random and keeps clicking on links, never hitting “back” but eventually gets bored and starts on another random page. The probability that the random surfer visits a page is its PageRank.”
2. Using Anchor Text
Google places a lot of importance on how a website is referenced from those linking to it. The reason for this important is because they feel that often the anchor text used to link back to a page is a better description than what’s actually on the page itself. Another advantage Google seen in using anchor text to determine what a page is about, is it allowed them to reference non text items such as images, videos etc and place a reference to them in their search engine.
The use of anchor text in modern SEO is still as important and relevant. Although Google did have problems with this method such as Google Bombing. Also early problems bloggers experienced with people spamming their comments and placing a link back to their site, where aided by the introduction of the nofollow tag.
Other items which Google cited as being external factors in determining a pages rank where reputation of the source, update frequency, quality, popularity or usage. It should be noted these factors have changed a little over the years (bounce rate is a factor I would cite as being important) but these are all still relevant to your SEO campaign.
How do they crawl the whole Web
I am not going to try and explain this. The best resource for this is the paper “The Anatomy of a Search Engine” written by the boys at Google. There are a couple of interesting points to note though:
1. Google doesn’t index a page or website. It strips a page of all text and links, storing them in different databases. It stores individual words, recording if they are in bold, where they are in the document and other such information. The links are stored in a separate file (anchor file) and information is kept on where the links are from and where they point to.
This is important to keep in mind when thinking of your SEO strategy in terms of how important content and links are.
Ranking a Page
How Google ranks a page was designed to take into account a number of on-page factors combined with Pagerank. When thinking of your SEO strategy keep in mind “Google considers each hit to be one of several different types (title, anchor, URL, plain text large font, plain text small font, …), each of which has its own type-weight.” (ref The Anatomy of a Search Engine). So your on-page efforts should try and target as many of these factors as possible. But also remember that each factor only carries a certain amount of weight. Once you achieve a certain weight you cannot gain any further advantage from optimising this factor. An example of this would be people who try include your keyword throughout the body copy in a manner that over optimises their page. Once your keyword and variations of your keyword are included on the page a couple of times, there is no advantage to be gained from continually using the keyword in every paragraph (at the cost of good copy).
There are so many get rick quick IM products centered around getting to the top of Google in a week. For the most part they use tactics that may get you some early results but will eventually result in you being dropped from the results. If you want real to build a proper business and achieve good organic listings. Then it’s important to keep in mind what the essence of Google is. Why it was developed, why it is so successful and why it continues to grow. A good SEO consultant will understand how best to promote your site in Google, which in turn should help your website attract more traffic and keep it coming back !!