Google has become one of the largest and most influential companies in the world simply by giving people what they want: an answer to their question. And understanding how they do it is critical to successful small business marketing.
Search engines like Google use many factors to rank websites in their search results. (There are rumored to be more than 200, but Google neither confirms nor denies this.)
But the easiest way to understand search rankings is to consider two things: relevance and currency. How relevant is the content on the site to the search query? And how current is that content?
UPDATE: Google has announced that their search engine now places greater emphasis on the user experience outside of so-called ‘on page’ factors. Site speed and how well the site performs on mobile devices are two criteria that now have added weight.
How Search Engines Know About Websites
Constantly, 24 hours a day, every day, all year long, pieces of code called spiders crawl through the entire web. Their function is to find out what’s on your site, what it’s about, and when it was put there.
The spiders perform this task continually and automatically. While there is code that programmers can use to ask spiders not to crawl their site, normally spiders crawl every single site.
Also, if you’ve had a recent site update, you can specifically ask to have the site crawled so that search ranking give you credit for the new content sooner than might happen otherwise.
Now let’s understand specifically what they’re looking for so you can be smarter about your small business marketing.
They’re Looking For Relevant Content
Nothing is more important to the person searching than to get exactly what they were expecting to. Looked at another way, you’d be very disappointed if the search results you got didn’t relate at all to your search. And, long term, that wouldn’t help Google’s business much.
So Google works very hard to understand what the user is looking for and works hard to present in the search results only sites that have that kind of information.
They do this by understanding what the content on the site is about and presenting only those sites with relevant information.
If you think about it for a moment, this is a huge task. If all Google had to do was read and interpret text, maybe the task would be easy. But modern websites have all sorts of content on them, pictures, graphics, figures, tables, videos, animations, and links, to mention only a few.
But, without going into technical detail, we can tell you that Google is very good at determining the relevance on information on a website. And the information on your site had better be relevant, if you want your site to show in search results and if you want it to be an effective part of your small business marketing.
They’re Looking For Current Content
Face it, no one likes stale information. No one watches or reads about old news. And Google doesn’t want sites with dated information listed in their search results. And really, you don’t want old information to be part of your small business marketing effort, do you?
Frankly, it’s really not about information being old. It’s about information being wrong.
How many times have you seen a news report come out with facts that changed greatly as the story unfolded?
When Google is crawling a site, remember, it knows what the content is and when it was posted. It does not, however, know if a later version of the story changed the information completely. In fact, it does not know if there even is a later version.
So, Google almost always considers newer information more accurate. You easily see this when you search for a current news story. You will see the most recent results presented first.
Google values current content very highly. Google believes this gives them the best chance of presenting accurate and up-to-date information.
How To Keep Your Site Ranking Well
Honestly, keeping your site ranking well is a tough, but important, part of your small business marketing efforts. Everything else being the same, the higher search ranking your site maintains, the more visible it is to prospects and the more visitors it will have. And, if you’re really lucky, it will have more conversions too.
Good website ranking requires lots of good, current content. And that’s not always easy to come up with, especially when you have a business to run.
UPDATE: Websites that are mobile-responsive are now given higher ranking by Google. Click here to learn more about responsive websites.
Considering reaching out to a digital marketing agency like ours. We’re here to help.
And We Know Small Business™.