I reveal no secrets here; in fact, I am really just copying and pasting what I found on Google's Webmaster Tools site. I may provide some interpretation as well as some strategy and tactical steps to take to full advantage of the information provided.
But please note: This is all based on what Google publicly says. Take that for what it's worth.
According to Google, and the following is addressed to the searcher, not the online marketer:
The three key processes in delivering search results to you are:
|Crawling: Does Google know about your site? Can we find it?||Learn more…|
|Indexing: Can Google index your site?||Learn more…|
|Serving: Does the site have good and useful content that is relevant to the user's search?||Learn more…|
As internet marketers, we're often focused solely on Serving, right? Kind of like putting the cart before the horse, no?
Crawling and Spidering, Oh My!
Obviously, the “googlebots” don't even know about your site until they either stumble across it or somebody tells them about it.
There are two gold nuggets in there, for the keen observer:
- If other sites link to you and those other sites are already crawled, indexed, and ranked highly on Google, your site–even if only a few minutes old–will get spidered (another term for crawled).
- You can speed up the process of getting crawled by–NEWSFLASH!–telling Google about your site! In the industry, it's called a sitemap. If your site is based on WordPress, you can even install a plugin that makes your sitemap for you!
So now your site has been crawled. But has it been indexed?
Indexing? This Ain't No Book!
Once your site has been crawled, the next step to turning up on Google's search results pages (SERPs in internet-marketing-speak) is to get your content indexed. There are no tricks here. Except that once your site's been indexed, it's probably easier to get new content indexed, compared to getting an entirely new website's content indexed.
Think of indexing using the following book metaphor: In a book, usually near the end, there is an index. This index lists many–but not all–words and phrases that appear in the content of the book and where in the book those terms are located.
The “book” in this case is the web. The “page number” is the URL (of the various websites) and the “term” is the keyword phrase.
Generally speaking, a book's index is alphabetized. The web isn't. You simply type in search terms (keyword phrases) and Google tells you where to look. Only in the case of the internet, there are literally millions of “pages” that contain the word/term you may be looking for. Google and the other Search Engines (SE) try to deliver the “most relevant site” for that keyword as the first result, the “second most relevant site” as the #2 result, and so on.
In short, you cannot speed up this indexing. “Internet gurus” will tell you that you can, but they'd be wrong. What they're really referring to is the crawling.
Google indexes all of the data they glean from the crawl on their own time. There are many factors. Probably too many to mention and it doesn't matter in any event because you cannot change it.
Suffice it to say that Google is pretty darned fast.
Rank? When Did I Join the Army?
Now that Google has crawled your site and processed your data so that it's organized, they apply a ranking algorithm that nobody fully knows or understands.
Read that again: Nobody knows Google's search engine algorithm. Not even Google.
It's top-secret stuff and the less anybody knows about it, the harder it is to “game the system.” It's kind of in everybody's best interest NOT to know what that algorithm looks like, when you think about it in those terms.
Google really wants the most relevant site for any search term to pop up as #1. And so do you.
This says a lot about content, doesn't it? As search engines get smarter and begin to mimic human behavior, everything will boil down into two parts:
- Referring sites
It's kind of like being an expert. There are 2 components to being an expert. Both are necessary and sufficient. You need to have a ton of knowledge about the topic and your peers have to look to you as the expert.
Everybody knows that “content is king” but until recently, crap websites could rank at #1 on Google and the other SEs just because…well, who knows why? But now, you won't find that to be the case nearly as often. And it'll keep getting better.
Although content is very important, it's the “recognition by peers” (referring sites) that gets a website to #1. Look at it this way: If your website is respected enough to get industry or niche peers to link to it (in other words, “recommend it”), then it begins to look like an “authority site” (in other words, an “expert”).
To summarize, 3 things need to occur before you can rank #1 in Google:
- Google needs to know about your site. They need to crawl it.
- Google needs to index your keyword terms where it feels appropriate.
- Google needs to analyze all of the data at its disposal, and–using its own proprietary algorithm–rank the results so that the “best site” for any particular keyword ranks #1.
The concepts are not difficult to understand. But getting the results you want (“I'm #1 on Google”) can be tricky. In the spirit of Halloween, it will soon be “Trick or Treat” time!
Preview: I trick, you get a treat. Subscribe to my newsletter and I will give you a few very special tricks in the next few days and you'll be treated to a very worthwhile treat.