SEO FAQ 4 of 10 – How Do I Rank on Google? (or “The [algo]Rhythm of the Night”)
Caution: You are about to enter a Geek Zone. The following is “under the hood” information and I will do the best I can to make it understandable.
In the beginning (before 1990) there was no internet. The world’s first website is from CERN, and it’s still running. When the NET was new, there was no way to find a particular document unless you had the address of the FTP server it was on, similar to the Pre-Windows ® way you had to type “C:\Programs\Games\Chess\Chess.exe” every time you wanted to play chess. Back then, there was only one way to get visitors to your “website”: The ‘Site Directory’.
One of the last remaining and best site directories is DMOZ.org. Your site should be listed here. Users would have to search a category and sub category to find the sites which most likely had something to do with whatever they were looking for. Eventually Archie, Excite, YAHOO and Lycos were created, in that order. These were the first search engines which allowed you to type in a term (keyword) and it generated a list of websites that contained the term. Since its launch in 1998, Google has since radically changed all this with ‘PageRank’ and the infamous, mysterious Google Algorithm.
What is all this talk of Page Rank and Algorithms? First, know that PageRank is not a reference to your page’s rank, rather a reference to Google co-founder Larry Page who wrote the original program. This basically held and incoming link to site A from site B as an indicator that site A was more authoritative than site B. Current search engines rank a page based on over 200 distinct factors, most of which you, the site owner or web developer, have direct control over while some of the data points are subjective. I can imagine some of you out there are surprised that a mathematical equation built on clearly defined datum would allow the inclusion of an operand based solely on the whim of a human, but it is a factor. SEO FAQ
That is to say, it is a factor today. Part of the issues a small business must overcome in its SEO is the shifting nature of the algorithm’s data set. Those clever guys at Google, et al, will periodically adjust the algorithm to keep a site owner or developer honest, or on his toes. The precise algorithm is supposed to be a secret, but bits of it leak out here and there. I’ve never seen the complete data sets which make up the equation, but here is a chunk of it, with partial Geek to English translation to follow:
Score=Keyword Info + Domain Data + User Data + Inbound Links + Content + manual bonus – manual penalty
Each of the operands above (like Domain Strength) is made up of several factors. I don’t know what they are, and even if I did the information would be out of date in a few months anyway. To the best of my knowledge each of these has a specific weight, which also changes periodically. It’s kind of like grading on the curve. Perhaps this cycle the Domain data is 30% and the Links data is 10% of your total, next cycle this may remain the same, wildly different, or even be reversed, if this data is even included in the next cycle. Notice the Manual Bonus and Manual Penalty. This is a person or team at Google manipulating the score, something you have no control over, but which is in place for reasons I am not aware of. I don’t know the criterion for a bonus or penalty, but this should not be a concern of yours.
Now that you have a very brief understanding of the Google algorithm, how do you manipulate it to stand out among the 80,000,000+ websites out there? YOU DON’T. This is the area of Google Bowling and Black Hat SEO. We will discuss this in the final article.
Small business search engine optimization is the improvement of YOUR site to better line up with the search patterns of real people and make your site work better, not to find a loophole in a formula and exploit it. Your exploitation may very well cause Google to ban your site from their search engine listings. Its Google’s party and you can be escorted from the premises at their discretion.