Google’s patent filing earlier this spring unveiled many closely-guarded secrets about their highly-regarded search and ranking algorithms. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often a mystery to all but those who dedicate their lives to understanding it. As you consult with your clients on a web strategy, it is helpful to understand a few key points revealed in Google’s patent application in order to give your client the best possible chance of a favorable ranking.
- Length of domain registration
Basically, the more years the domain is registered for, the better. Also, the longer the domain has been around, the greater the credibility in Google’s eyes. The goal here is to weed out the throw-away domains used by spammers and those interested only in a quick buck.
- Query/browsing observations
Google is now capable of showing results based on observed search and browsing patterns. For instance, if a newly-release movie were titled “Rome” then Google might deduce that most searchers are looking for movie information rather than information on the city in Italy of the same name.
- Content relevance
Content that is updated regularly will usually be ranked higher than content that appears stale and out-of-date. Google is smart enough to know which content should be updated, however, and doesn’t expect that a website with historical information, like a site dedicated to the Civil War, should need to change very often. Keeping content fresh through the use of a Content Management System (CMS) is key to showing search engines that a website’s information is current and relevant.
- Content consistency
Most legitimate websites won’t be affected by this as it’s designed mainly to filter out spammers and short-lived business schemes. Your rankings can be adversely affected, though, if for some reason you drastically change the nature of the content on your website say, for example, from agricultural in nature to high-tech.
The quantity and quality of both inbound and outbound links is an important factor in establishing a site’s popularity and credibility. If an educational institution or governmental site links to your site, it is assumed that your content is credible. The rate at which your site acquires inbound links is also a factor. If you gain links too quickly, Google may decide you’re involved in link-spam or trying artificially inflate your rankings.
When users search for a certain keyword, do they click on your site if it shows in the results? If they click on your site, do they stay there or immediately click back to the search results to find a more relevant result? Google monitors users’ interactions with search results to help refine rankings. As users click on results (and stay on the resulting page), they’re essentially casting a vote for that website.
- Site size
A one page site is considered less credible or relevant than a site with multiple pages dedicated to the keywords in question. Spammers or content creators with short-term interests often use one page sites to accomplish their purposes. A site with many pages all focused on providing meaningful information on a narrowly-focused subject will perform better in search engine ranking algorithms.
As you become more familiar with Google’s ranking algorithm and the factors that determine rankings, you’ll be better able to consult with your client on developing an effective web strategy. Hiring a professional to assist you in improving your clients’ rankings may be helpful as well if your client’s search engine rankings are critical to their business objectives.