Search Rankings: What Is Google Really Up To?

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The World Wide Web is the biggest source of information for users looking for products and services. Moreover, as more transactions shift online, the internet has become a massive goldmine for every business. All websites are now clamouring for the attention of web users, in the hope of generating higher revenues. This is the biggest global rat race ever.

Why is Google so important?

At the heart of all this is Google’s search rankings. These determine who gets the most visitors into their sites. Almost two thirds of all web traffic is channelled through Google. A number one Google page rank can generate up to 30% of a site’s traffic. Webmasters have therefore learned to respect and fear its search robots at the same time.

Understanding how Google works and what it is trying to achieve, is now a matter of life and death for online business. Only those who can see the world through the eyes of Google stand the best chance of getting that coveted top rank.

This is what Google is really up to and why it matters:

How does Google’s work?

When a user types a query into Google search, they are basically asking a question that requires an answer. Google then tries to provide accurate answers by generating a list of websites with relevant information on what the user searched for. It ranks these websites based on particular attributes including:

  • Relevance of the website’s content
  • Quality of the content
  • Originality of the content
  • Reputation of the website
  • User experience on the site

How does Google do it?

Google uses over 200 criteria to come up with the right search results for users. Most of these are known, while a great deal is also never disclosed. Central to this is Google’s patented PageRank algorithm.

This unique system ranks webpages based on links from other sites. A link from one site to another is considered a vote by Google. A website with many links will therefore rank higher than one with fewer links.

However, Google has tweaked its algorithms through several updates which include:

  • Panda: Introduced in 2011, the Panda update was aimed at penalising and blacklisting sites with irrelevant, low quality, and duplicated content. It also hit sites that stuffed keywords in order to fool search robots into ranking them highly.
  • Penguin: This update was introduced on 2012 and targets sites that buy links so as to spam search engines for high rankings.
  • Hummingbird: This was a major update to PageRank and focused on understanding the intent of the user, and not just what they are searching for. This improves search accuracy.

Google is also expected to introduce algorithm updates that check the facts in a site’s content. This is to ensure that any website with inaccurate or misleading information is given a much lower ranking.

All these updates are all geared towards making Google a trusted and accurate source of information on the web.

How do you keep Google happy?

Increasing search rankings is achieved through search engine optimization or SEO. A webmaster who understands what Google is really trying to do will be more successful at SEO. This will require:

  • Providing high quality, updated, accurate, relevant, and original content to the user
  • Designing an aesthetic, user friendly, and easy to navigate website which will reduce the site’s bounce rate.
  • Avoiding spamming techniques such as bad linkages
  • Improving mobile responsiveness, which Google now uses to rank sites on mobile search results
  • Creating sharable content especially for social media, which Google values as a vote of confidence when it is followed, liked, positively reviewed, and shared with others

Google is simply trying to do the best for users. For this reason, it will rank pages that fulfil a user’s needs rather than those of search robots. It is therefore important to fully understand how Google thinks, and how it will try to achieve better search results. This is the only way to ensure your website ranks highly and attracts more traffic for greater revenues.

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