What does Google do?
To understand Google & Holistic SEO first we must understand Google. Google is a global enterprise built around the company's hugely popular search engine. Google specializes in Internet-related services and products, which includes: Internet analytics, cloud computing, advertising technology, Web app, browser and operating system development.
Google’s mission is “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Above all Google wants to be helpful by showing you the best results for your search query. Google is always updating its top secret search algorithm, but their goal remains the same: help everyone find the information they need.
At it's core, Google is a search engine that follows links. Google follows links from one web page to another web page to another web page... Google crawls over a billion pages every day and uses a secret algorithm to determine what site provides the most value for a search result.
The Google search engine consists of:
1. a crawler
2. an index
3. an algorithm
What are crawlers, spiders or bots?
A crawler follows links on the Internet 24 hours a day 7 days a week. A crawler is also called a robot, a bot, or a spider. When a crawler lands on your website it saves the HTML version of a page in a huge database, called the index. The index is updated every time the crawler finds new or revised versions of your website. If you have new content or changes that Google deems as important, the crawler comes around more often. You want to make sure your website is easy for Google to crawl. Good crawlability means your code is clean and Google can easily index your site.
Google's secret algorithm
Once Google's bots index your webpage, Google then shows your website in search results. Google has a secret proprietary algorithm for determining which web pages it will show in which order in search results. No one knows the the exact factors Google uses to determine where you rank in search results but we do know that Google values quality, usability and relevancy. Google's goal is to always improve, remove spam and deliver the best search results. Therefore Google often updates their secret algorithm factors in order to continue to deliver the top quality search results.
Google's Organic Search Results
Based on Google's algorithm, Google shows the top seven to ten links to websites which best fit your search. These results are known as organic search results (not paid for). These results are ranked and show up on Google's Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). Websites that are awesome, up-to-date, provide top notch content, offer a great user experience and give users what he or she searches for should ideally always be ranked on the top. Permanent ranking well in Google demands an extensive SEO strategy focused on every aspect of your website and its marketing.
Google's Paid Search Results
Google Ads (formerly known as Adwords) are paid links (pay per click) which are placed at the very top, bottom and/or side of search result pages. Unlike print advertisements, Google Ads provide trackable data and real time analytics to help you measure the success of your marketing campaign. Google Ads include placement in: Search & Map Ads, Display Ads, Video Ads and/or App Ads. Basically people pay Google to prioritize their links when a specific term is searched. Prices for these ads vary depending on the competition of the search term and the quality of your ad and landing page (make sure your website is awesome and relevant to the Google Ad you place). Having a dedicated marketing budget for running high-quality Google Ads is highly recommended and a win win. Check out our Google Ads Management service to learn more.
Why do search engines value links?
Search engines look at the number of natural links pointing to a page to determine how valuable that web page is. Having both internal links (links from your own website to other websites) as well as external links (links from other websites to your website) can help your website rank high in Google. It's important to note that some links are more valuable than others. For example: links from very popular, high quality websites (with a high volume of links) are generally seen as more important than links from a small low quality website that have very few external links.
A deeper understanding of Google
Over the years Google has released several major updates to their search algorithms. Each update focus on combating spam and delivering the best most relevant search results. For example: RankBrain is a Google search algorithm that uses advanced machine learning systems to help Google decipher the meaning behind and give context to search inquires. RankBrain is able to summarize what a page is about, evaluate the relevance of search results and teach itself to get better over time. RankBrain is among a line-up of all star Google search algorithms that have all contributed to the successful Google search platform we use today. Below are some of Google's algorithm updates:
- Mobile indexing first algorithm
- Possum (2016)
- Mobilegeddon (2015)
- Hummingbird (2013)
- Penguin (2012)
- Panda (2011)
Although Google's algorithms are top secret, professional SEO experts have gained a pretty good idea about the important factors that go into Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
What is Search Engine Optimization?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the profession that follows up-to-date, best practices of search algorithms to optimize websites in order to make sites appear in a high position in organic search results. The key factors in Google's algorithm can be divided into two categories:
- on-page factors which decide the ranking of your website. This includes technical issues (the quality of your code, page speed, image optimization, etc.) and textural issues like structure of your site, text, use of words, etc.
- off-page factors are factors that occur outside of your website. For example: links from other websites, social media attention and other marketing activities.
Sustainable ranking = Holistic SEO
Holistic SEO is about creating a smart SEO strategy that #1 cares about your users and their experience on your website. Don't waste time or money building a budget website that only focuses on tricking Google crawlers. Build a website that naturally cares about User Experience (UX) and puts emphasis on the quality of the content you publish on your website. Think about and apply Google's mission: "As technology continues to evolve, our commitment will always be the same: helping everyone find the information they need." Be helpful, be valuable, be you, and most importantly be what searchers are looking for...
Google & Holistic SEO means you focus on it all:
- good technical SEO
- a great user experience
- proper keyword research
- writing quality content
- visually attractive website
- a solid social media strategy
- content marketing strategy
- mobile optimization
Don't use any tricks or SEO manipulating tactics
Stay away from 'scorched-earth' or 'black-hat' SEO tactics. These tactics exploit loopholes in Google's algorithms and will hurt your SEO score in the long run. These tricks attempt to rank websites higher than they actually deserve by:
- Link building - Trying to rank higher by buying links. Exchanging money for links or free products in exchange for a "fake" link from their website to yours.
- Page swapping - Getting ranked for one page, and then, once that page has achieved a high rank, replacing that page for another.
- Keyphrase / Keyword stuffing - Manipulate bots by filling pages with unrelated keyphrases or numbers. Often these keyphrases and keywords are hidden in white text.
Google is smart and ever evolving. The crawlers are accounting for all of these tricks. Using trick tactics will ultimately get you heavily penalized or even banned from Google for a significant period of time. Remember, SEO is a triathlon not a sprint.
Bottom line - Build an awesome website!
If you build an awesome, attractive website, with great user experience and a holistic SEO strategy you will ensure that your website keeps ranking well for the long run. Attractive websites that inspire people have been proven to have lower bounce rates and are much more likely to receive positive social media attention (which is a Google ranking factor). You may not see instant improvements in your ranking, but over time your holistic SEO and sustainable ranking approach will result in higher conversion rates, happy Google bots and new customers / clients.
Google & Holistic SEO Conclusion
At FLYING 'OKOLE we believe that holistic SEO is the best way to become the best result. If every aspect of your website is awesome and matches what Google's algorithm is searching for then you will be rewarded by the Google fairy. Don't use any tricky SEO tactics. Instead, practice sustainable SEO with your users and their experience of your site in the front of your mind.
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