Google Basics – Introduction: We’re Off to See the Wizard
I remember a time before Google. The memory is fuzzy and is haloed in a 1977 Instagram-like filter. People still used pay phones. I can’t remember the exact time I started using it, just like I can’t remember when I started drinking coffee, but it melted with perfect symmetry into to my daily routine. In fact, Google has been so integrated into our everyday lives that it actually became a verb. Yahoo!, the red-headed step-child of search engines, tried desperately to campaign for the cultural embedding that Google achieved and spent a pretty penny on television ads asking, “Do you Yahoo?” Apparently not as much as we Google. I’m convinced that Google is going to take over the world. At the very least there may be a very small man behind a giant green curtain, for whom we have a lot of questions. If we take it step-by-step, we find that all of this intimidation is really all in our heads.
As we settle into a search-engine occupied existence, learning to live cohesively with Google means understanding what it does, how it works, and if you own a business, publish work, depend on any kind of publicity for your success – why you should care. There are so many articles available online that dive deep into the mysterious underworld of Google’s algorithm (that’s the mathematical procedure for how Google comes up with results for your search query) that sometimes, just getting back to basics feels like a fresh start.
Understanding the basics behind Google will help you in your marketing success. Let’s pull back the curtain.
Google Basics – Part 1: What Happens When You Do a Google Search?
When you want to look something up, check a fact, find a business, what do you do? The first thing most people do is sit down at their computer and “Google” it, by typing in keywords in to the search box. Almost instantly, Google produces a list of results from all over the web. How does Google find web pages matching your query? How does it determine which order to present the results?
Searching the web is like looking in a very large book with an impressive index telling you exactly where everything is located. When you perform a Google search, the Google program goes through its own giant catalogue, The Index, of over 30 trillion individual web pages to determine the most relevant search results to be returned (“served”) to you. How Google determines which sites are the most relevant is a very important key topic covered later on. For the time being, to put things in perspective, there are 500,000 Google searches performed every 15 seconds.
Basically, there are three key processes in delivering search results:
- Crawling: Google uses a web searching bot called a Googlebot (sometimes called a “spider”) to discover new and updated pages to add to the Google index.
Good question to ask yourself #1: Does Google know about your site? Can they find it?
- Indexing: Once the Googlebot finds your site, it is catalogued in a giant “book” of information called The Index.
Good question #2: Can Google index your site?
- Serving: Google determines which sites are relevant to the search query and produce a list ranked from most relevant to least. The latest Google algorithm that determines relevant content and Page Ranking Results is the 25th called Panda (P25). *(This information was written prior to September 2013 when Google unveiled the biggest change to their algorithm in 12 years, called Hummingbird.)
Good question #3: Do you have useful, quality content on your site that is relevant to search queries?
In a nutshell, it comes down to this: when was the last time you searched for something online and looked past the third or fourth page of results? Who has time for that? Given that 97% of consumers begin looking for a product or service online, the business that sells that product or service wants to end up on the first few pages of the Google Search Results.
The Take Away: Unless someone types in your exact website URL, just having your website online is like sitting in the dark. You have to give yourself tools to be seen, tools that will help connect you to the people looking for your information online. Now that we’ve introduced ourselves to the Wizard, let’s get to know about some of those tools.
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