Google and your Website10 May 2012 Online Innovations
Just like your business and ours, Google’s aim is to provide their customers with the best service.
Who are Google's Customers?
Well…with reference to Google Search, anybody that is making use of Google’s search facility.
So what are Google's Goals?
As mentioned before, Google’s aim is to serve their customers with the best information possible.
That being said, it stands to reason that the order of the listings in Google’s SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) are what Google perceives to be most relevant to your search query.
Take a moment to think about what your expectations of a quality website are:
- The content must be contextual, relevant, rich, current and accurate
- A website’s graphics must be descriptive
- The information must be easy to read
- The website must be structured properly and easy to navigate
- It must load quickly
- It must be error-free
- The website must be long established and a popular source of information
- It must be accessible, have a mobile alternative, be print friendly and render properly in your choice of browser, resolution or operating system.
How does Google Rate or Rank Information?
When it comes to Google, they have a remarkable understanding of our expectations and have engineered a revolutionary algorithm (that is constantly being refined) that calculates the relevance of records in the SERPs in relation to search queries.
When the Googlebot crawls through a web document*, the algorithm references key performance indicators and builds a score card which will eventually determine where the web document will rank on the SERPs.
*I refer to documents as Google indexes other file types too, like .pdf, .doc, .txt. swf, etc. not only webpages.
Key Performance Indicators
Before reaching a point where a search engine can assess any kind of keyword-relevant value is in a web document, Google will establish whether or not it can or should be crawled at all.
Questions are asked such as can it be crawled; can it provide content; can it handle the load; is the content unique or is the publisher duplicating/plagiarising content; does it focus on real people and does the content of the document read logically? These are all factors one needs to consider.
Topical, contextual and rich
Google looks for any information that might be of value to someone and they will try to establish patterns in the mark-up to isolate the information that makes a specific web document unique.
Therefore, a webpage will be made up most probably of segments of code, the navigation, header area or footer for example, that are common across the website’s web pages.
By identifying where the information resides in the document, Google is able to operate more efficiently and can more easily interpret the information that may be of interest to users.
Google will analyse the mark-up of a document and scrutinize specific HTML tags to try and understand what the document is all about.
Google strips out the text, linearises it, scans it for patterns, passes it through a series of tests* and shreds it into indexable segments. It considers what words or groups of words are used most often; what words are used in the metadata, micro-data, headings, page title; and what words are bolded, linked, bulleted or emphasised.
*The search engines will penalise web documents for an abnormally high keyword count or improper implementation of document logic; where documents with high word content will be perceived to be more informative and hence be more useful.
Before Google rewards websites with a high ranking, it needs to be assured that you mean business. Long established websites with domain names that have been secured well in advance are regarded more highly by Google.
Google prefers websites that are visited regularly or ones where other websites (especially popular ones) have linked back to. All websites indexed on Google have a score, which is called a PageRank - a mark out of 10. Backlinks and visits are aggregated by Google and are regarded as votes for the website’s credibility.
The attention that Google gives PageRank currently is debatable, but two things are for certain; a backlink from a website with a PageRank of less than 5 accounts for little and websites with higher PageRank in competitive industries will be preferred.
It stands to reason that Google will penalize web document that have errors. Although many SEO specialists feel that the relevance of W3C* verification has depreciated of late - I feel it is still good practice to conform to these strict W3C standards. Not conforming may make a website unusable or error prone.
*W3C standards relate to the correct layout of web pages for readability as well making sure that the coded elements are marked up and declared correctly.
We all hate waiting for websites to open and Google is no different. Faster websites will be visited more regularly by Google and visitors - and will receive preference.
Google also gives kudos to websites that are accessible or understood by a broader audience such as the visually or auditory challenged. Websites with mobile alternatives, that are printer friendly and render properly across all browsers, screen resolutions and operating systems are given preference.
Search Engine Advice
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