Foreword From Matt Cutts
Matt is well worth following, he talks about difficult issues Google and web marketeers face, how to approach new elements of SEO and the technical details of new updates that Google release. Follow Matt Cutts on Twitter, Blog, Google +
The Internet, what it’s made up of, history, search engines, indexing and the good ship progress.
‘The internet’ is a giant, global network of computers. ‘The web’ is a vast set of documents sitting on it, sewn together like a spider’s web by connections called ‘hyperlinks’. Many people use the terms interchangeably but they are not quite the same, as there are other types of connection on the internet too.
Most pages contain many hyperlinks embedded in them, and clicking on one takes you to the page or file at the other end. Google and the major search engines follow these hyperlinks to find new content. Search engines are not the Internet, they are their programmers’ algorithms’ view of what the internet is, a kind of giant, ever-changing index.
The Internet is made from many different languages and many different sources with new techniques and new files being created or updated all the time.
- HTML updates to name a few.
Over the years, search engines have had huge difficulty understanding what these files are, how they relate to each other or how they better the page/website that they are on. Major search engines like Google find it difficult to read these files, store them and index them for the searcher.
Recently Search engines have become much better, with the inclusion of Google Films, Youtube, Google Images, and the way that you can search for individual items. An Example of this is, under advanced search, you can search for huge images, mp3’s or any number of variables.
True, this is useful for the searcher, and some elements can even help with your domain name authority and increase the levels of traffic to your website. However be made aware, wrong optimisation of these files and of your website will not help your rankings.
How a search engines works
Main elements of a search engines job. Crawling, Rankings & Indexing
Search engines have many hundreds of factors in how they work. Jobs that they process weekly, hourly, secondly and as a searcher hits go. However there are three main jobs that stand out. Crawling, Rankings and Indexing. These jobs are completed to the highest standards.
Google change the way that they approach these techniques all of the time, they do this to find the very best content to the searcher.
Search engines send out different types of programmes, of different variables called spiders. Spiders normally start at a set destination and follow links until they can follow no more.
The search engines store what they find in a huge datacenter. The datacenter contains thousands of computers and billions of pictures of Internet. Not all information is up to date. Pages that change frequently like the BBC see more indexing, they get followed by spiders more because of high levels of content and refresh rate. Websites that do not get updated often, don’t get looked upon as needing more attention or indexing.
When a user hits ‘Search’, Google start’s a script that collects web pages together under a searched phrase. Google, have ranked these pages with its 1,000’s of different ranking factor questions generated by Google’s’ quality raters.
Googles Algorithm, as crawling the web, looks at hundreds of factors and rates each and every page it has in its index. Later, will be addressing what we think this Algorithm is made up of. Once the perfect page for the keyword has been discovered, its delivered back to the users in a matter of seconds.
How the recipe has been updated.
For many years search engine ranked websites solely on the relevancy. 5 years ago, if there was no real competition in a keyword market, title tags and a description would rank you highly.
Up until recently, the algorithm has been based around, the more links you have the higher you will rank, well, an approach many SEO’s had taken. However, with the recent updates of Panda and Penguin, this strategy has removed over 30% of Google’s index. The Search Engine Optimisation ranking criteria has shifted once again. The ranking factors that Google look for will always change, because of this, its best practice to optimise your website for the customer, talk about subjects that they would be interested in, enjoy your website and market your website with a happy, clean optimisation point of view.
Any black hat or negative SEO advantage you gain will be short lived and in the end will cost you much more then doing it the right way the first time round!
Three noticeable updates that have changed the way that we think about SEO, are Social Media & Personalised Search & User Metrics.
Social Media is and will continue to play a huge part in the future of Search Engine Optimisation. Websites like Twitter, FaceBook & Google+ show Google what websites are doing the rounds on the Internet virally.
This works better than using a computer based algorithm to guess what you’re looking for. Search engines can now see how searchers react to your website, if they share your website or if they comment and spread the information to their friends. Its quickly becoming a bigger section of the ranking factors pie.
FaceBook towards the middle of 2012 hit over 1 billion users. The company said, that those billion users, to date were responsible for 1.13 trillion “likes”, 219 billion photos and 17 billion location check-ins.
After Google tried and failed to buy FaceBook, Google reacted by creating Google+.
It took many many years for social networks like Twitter and Facebook to get the membership that they have. Keeping those users is becoming harder and harder with the competition from Google+
The expansion of Google+ is something not to be ignored.
So what does the Google+ Button do?
Its my belief that Myspace and Facebook will become things of the past. Everyone uses Google, true FaceBook are launching their Search Engine, however I think FaceBook will become a diary website and Google will become the new business connection. However for the moment, use all social media to your advantage!
If you don’t have a Google Analytics account, please sign up for one at http://www.google.co.uk/analytics/. Your web designer should be able to add your Google code. If you are using a popular Content Management System, like WordPress, check your Plugins – WordPress Google Analytics.
Looking at your websites analytics, you can see major statistics of your website, things like how long did a user stay on your website, how many pages did they look at, what was the bounce rate and much more. This will give you a pretty good indication of how traffic is using your website.
Google can also track this information from its ranking pages. More on this later.
So what type of searches are there?
Search engines like Google, are built to help a user to find exactly what they want, in many different ways. They can see images, filter colour, size, format, new pages, old pages, pages indexed in the last 24 hours and many many more. Things like;
- News stories
- Local businesses
- Marked up results (e.g. stars)
- One-box / “answer” results
- Profile/author results
- PPC Results
- Google +1 results
- Gmail in search results, being trialed at the moment.
- and more, see image right.
Different users approach the search engines in different ways. This can be said for content and also keywords.
Some users may just be wanting to type in the keyword “iPhone”, however this could mean the user is looking for films, a local shop, news on the new iPhone, the latest apple film, images of the new or old products and so forth.
Because of this its never a good idea to assume that potential customers will just find your website or your websites content. Market yourself over all areas of Google, yahoo! and bing.
A prime example, our SEO News section to the http://www.totallyseo.co.uk/soap-box/ website. Each news article has a blue box on the top right that contains a headline from the chosen subject. Because we have optimised these images, we see good traffic coming from Google images results.
The more places you are, the more keywords you target, means the more traffic and conversions you shall stand to gain.
Google searchers use filters to narrow down the search results to find exactly what they are looking for. Spread your content well and users will find much more of your your content.
Using the search engine like a professional Search Engine Optimiser.
If you want to see what pages are indexed within Google for your website, you can use the function; site:yourdomain.com. This will show you how many of your pages are indexed within Google. You can also do this for your competition. Remember content is king!
Try your website; are all your pages included? are there some that you don’t want to be?
As we know, the search engines have spiders that walk around the Internet looking for exciting new content to add to Google’s index. But Google only follow links from other websites. So if your pages are not included or perhaps your website is not on Google’s index, it means, potential, that nothing is linking to it.
A really easy and quick type of link that can be developed, is from social bookmarking links. Social bookmaking websites like Digg.com are used as a starting point for Google and its spiders. We think that Google read Digg.com, looking for new links to follow on average every 8 hours. Why not build a link now.
Building a link in such a fashion is a great way to promote Google to come and read your website. So, if you have recently made a new page, edited your website or you are not included in Google’s index, developing a link on social do follow platforms like Digg will bring the spiders.
Sometimes you can look at a site:mydomain.com and see things that you don’t want to be indexed. For example /admin or /system, if you are running a content management system.
You can ask for URL’s to be left out of Googles index with a Robots.txt
Here is a good break down of a Robots.txt and how to use it.
limiting access to Google, for these pages, does not clog up Google’s index about you, and shows that you’re making efforts to be a better webmaster. Robots.txt is the first thing spiders look for before crawling a website, these are your direct instructions to Google!
Google’s algorithm and future steps.
First of all, Google do not release a detailed documentation of what Google look for or how Google score your website or websites content. Having said this, there are major sections, SEO’s monitor, that have a direct impact on your websites results.
SEOMoz, is an SEO community that often reviews what they think could be Google’s ranking factors. However, please take with a pinch of salt. Matt Cutts, from our films above, has said that there are well over 200 different ranking factors. Google have also said, that update over 300+ per year.
Here is a fantastic view of 2011 Search Engine Ranking Factors. http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors#metrics
Ranking factors do change often. It’s always a good idea to monitor what onsite and offsite changes have an affect on your websites rankings, more on this later! But Google doesn’t just stop there, Google applies its algorithm in 4 main ways.
Simple keyword usage
The main keyword targeted, long, mid or short onpage and applied to the above.
Term Frequency * Inverse Document Frequency (Tf*idf)
How often a term is used on a page compared to its wider usage
This model posits that search engines can tell, across the Internet, that certain phrases are used together. Therefore when one is used, the page may still rank even with someone performs a query for the related term. For example; “Clark Kent” is often used alongside “Superman”.
The future of search engines. We see this as very important in the future of search!
Cached version of your website
When a search engine has crawled your content, it then stores your content on its cache at data centre. Its cache is what the searcher see’s when they type in a keyword.
Changes to your website will not show up right away. Getting a new version included within Google’s index is down to the job of Google’s spiders crawling you. To see a cached version of your website you simply enter cache:domain.com into Google’s search box.
The resulting page, will show you, when the page was cached last.
The future of Search
We are currently in the mix of an interesting revolution when it comes to search. For such a long time, the idea of a search engine was something like DEMOZ. A website, search engine or directory that showed you websites around the keyword you searched for.
Google has moved into the leader of the market, never shying away from the good ship progress. If you have chance look into Google Glass, this should establish them against Apple’s iPhone in the future.
With the intentions of Google+ all this will change. Sharing, liking, talking, recommending has never been so easy.
There is no better lead, for a business, than a personal recommendation. We are not out of the existing search requirements, however the new model of search is coming, as it always will be, and coming quickly.
Social media, user activity, content and the right setup can make a brand. Now a business can survive on Google+ and social networks alone. Introducing Google+ your world.
First SEO Lesson Conclusion
Search engines are only ever looking for great, relevant content for the user. The better the content that they bring back, the more customers will continue to use their search engine.
Algorithm’s are not set in stone, and being number 1 for your keyword is not the only way to generate business from the major search engines.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, the more noise you make, the higher your websites rankings will be.
Always be 100% ethical, honest and develop your internet marketing for the customer over the search engines!