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What does Google actually do?

I’m sure most people think they know how Google works, but it never ceases to amaze me how many people who have a new website, actually don’t know how the search engines work.

This is for SEO newbies.

search engines

Search engines such as Google constantly crawl the web looking for links to follow – they can’t resist them!  When they come across a link, they follow through to discover what it leads to, analyse what’s on the page and then add the page to their massive, world-wide index.

When you put a search term into Google, you are not actually searching the live internet, you are searching the Google database. This means that if Google has not found your pages and added them to their database, then there is no way that your website will come up in the search results.

The basic misunderstanding often made by new website owners is to imagine that the moment their site is put live, they should be able to find it by searching for themselves in Google. Until the first page of your site has been discovered by the robots crawling the web and added it to the Google index, there is no possibility of your beautiful shiny new site appearing in the search results.

How can you help Google to find your website?

  1. The most important thing to do is to create a search-engine friendly website, built to the latest web standards. That will make it easy for the search robots to access your site.
  2. You can submit the url of your new site to Google. This doesn’t bring Google rushing in, search engines are pretty blase about the importance of indexing you asap! However, it can be useful to help the robots to find every page on your site when they do visit if you have submitted a site map.
  3. Try to get other websites to link to you. Links coming to your site from other really popular sites which have plenty of incoming links of their own are really useful. It will be likely that the search robots will quickly follow the link to your new site, thus getting your pages into their index sooner. Google also ranks websites with lots of high-quality inbound links higher than those without. Conversely, you will be penalised for lots of links which have no relevance to the content of your site or from sites which have poor ranking. The lesson here is: don’t buy links from link farms or directories!

Once Google has found your site, how can to improve your ranking?

Just because you have been indexed by Google, don’t imagine you will immediately appear on page one of the search results. Yes, the aim is always to get onto page one, but your competitors are already there and they may have been there for some time. The age of a site is one of the many, many ways in which Google decides on a ranking. Gaining a good ranking for your website takes patience and I’m sorry to say, some hard work!

The only way to get instant page-one results for your website, is to pay for adverts. The first 3 or 4 results on page one of any Google results are often there because the site owner has employed pay-per-click adverts. If you are going to participate, consult an expert. It is possible to waste a great deal of money on pay-per-click if you don’t know what you are doing!

Google uses an ever-changing, secret algorithm for deciding how to rank the pages in their organic search results (those which are NOT paid for).  Although the algorithm is only known to Google, there are certain things that you can do with your website that are known to improve the chances of a good ranking:

  1. Provide lots of high-quality content on your site. Never attempt to trick the search robots but stuffing pages with keywords. If you do, you can guarantee that your web pages will appear a very long way down the results.
  2. Make each page of your site contain content on one specific topic. The more topics you try to cover in a page, the more you water down the potential ranking.
  3. Add new information on a regular basis. Search robots love new content, the more regularly you add it, the more frequently they will visit the site and index the pages. If you haven’t changed your site for 3 years, don’t be surprised when you do add new information, if it takes a long time for it to be added to the search index.
  4. Ensure your pages load quickly – slow page-load time means a lower ranking.
  5. Make sure your site is mobile friendly. In this age of mobiles and tablets, it is vital that your website displays well on all screen sizes. If your site is hard to navigate on a mobile, then your ranking in response to mobile searches will be poor.