The Truth About Google No ratings yet.


24/01/2003

The anticipation of something is often more exciting than the event itself. When you work yourself up over an idea, emotion, or event, your body produces an exhilarating sensation of pleasure mixed with a keen sense of anxiety. It reminds me of the night before Christmas as a child, slightly modified for the adult mind where growth in business easily substitutes for new toys and candy.

For many online businesses, waiting to see if they show up in Google produces the same effect. Derrick Wheeler, Marketleap’s VP of Search Engine Marketing, calls it Googlebumps. He defines this as the adrenaline rush and excitement he feels when checking to see if one of our clients is now located in Google’s search results.

If you ever doubted Google is the world’s most popular search engine, ask yourself if you’ve gotten Googlebumps. Being in Google today is like being in Yahoo in 1996 or 1997. If you aren’t listed, you aren’t maximizing your online investment.

Google’s database contains over 2 billion documents. Estimates suggest Google reviews anywhere from 8 to 10 billion documents to create their index. Danny Sullivan from SearchEngineWatch.com refers to the pages that are not included in a search engine index as the “invisible web”.

How do you go from being a part of the “invisible web” to the part readily found by people searching at Google and other popular search destinations? Often people are misguided into thinking the best way to show up in Google is to find as many websites as possible to provide a link back to their website. Many people know PageRank, Google’s proprietary method for ranking a page, looks at links to help determine a page’s relevancy.

Here is what Google says about PageRank at their website:

“PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page’s value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”

This seems to be where most people stop. They don’t go on to read the next section of the description which is an even more important disclosure about what Google is really looking for – quality content.

“Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don’t match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page’s content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it’s a good match for your query.”

Google uses PageRank as one factor in determining if a site is relevant to a search request. A more important factor to them than PageRank is the content of a given page and the content on the pages that link to it. You could establish one million links to your website, but if they have no relevancy or content related to a search request, they don’t mean anything to Google. This is also true for the other crawler based search engines Inktomi and FAST as they all face the same challenge.

Many are quick to quip, “Who is Google to determine relevancy? The products and services I offer are the best in my market space? I should show up Number #1 for a search without question.” That may be true in the offline world, but online does your website accurately reflect and describe your products and market space enough to establish your perceived leadership?

Google and Inktomi have created search engines known for delivering quality results: successfully matching a person with a website they are looking for. These engines strive for relevancy. This means that a website must prove, through the content and structure of its code, that it is pertinent to a search request.

There seems to be a great misunderstanding that products and services alone build a successful web business. The web was created as a way to share information. Search engines were a by-product of that movement as Internet users looked for ways to find the information they believed was out there.

Because we have not created a governing method of identifying data online, like the Dewey Decimal system for books, search engines can only hope to find highly relevant documents containing text similar to the keyword terms people are searching for. To do this, they have to review the content of a website and evaluate the people who are linking to it.

Looking at part of the equation, if a website only gives an end user product numbers, images, five word descriptions, and a shopping cart, that website is less relevant than a website that accurately describes the products it carries, provides useful images of those products, and publishes editorials and consumer resources valuable to that market.

The onus does not fall on Google, Inktomi, FAST or the rest of the Web to find your website relevant. The responsibility lies with your online business to create something worthy of being included in these search engines databases and linked to by other websites. You have to contribute relevant content to your market space if you want to be found and reflected in search engines.

The more valuable content you create and share about your online business, the more credibility you are establishing. This also usually means that others will start to find your website and link to it because of the value your website provides. This hopefully helps to contribute to increasing the quality of your content and your relevance in the major search engines.

Showing up in Google should be much easier if you continually focus on your websites content. Be creative and show the same leadership online that you do offline. Contribute to your market and your market will give back to you.

In an age where the Web is quickly becoming a part of all businesses, remember why the Web was created – to share information with everyone who’s connected. Search engines are just trying to make sense of it all as a benefit to the public. If search engines can’t tell your website has something to do with your market, your potential customers are feeling the same way.

by Keith Boswell

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