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Google For Beginners

Google for Website Owners  
 
As a website owner getting visitors to your site is a high priority. You could have the best products and services in the world, but if no one can find them you may as well not bother. Getting visitors is simple if you are a large company with an ample marketing budget. For smaller companies however search engines are the easiest most economical way of letting the masses know just exactly what you have to offer.  
 
There are many search engines but currently the market is pretty much dominated by Google. Last time I checked it provided somewhere around 70%-80% of search results and proves to be the most common referrer to our site here at Duo Design. For this reason in this article I am going to concentrate on how Google works. Understanding Google is the first step in mastering the marketing of your website. 
 
Google's search results are of two types. On the right of every page are Google Adwords results. These are results you have to pay for. Basically you set-up an account with Google, create a small advertisement, say what words you want to appear under and how much you are prepared to pay per click. The more you pay the higher you appear on these results. Simple? Well yes but also potentially expensive. For this article I am going to concentrate on those links on the left, the 'natural results'. 
 
How Does Google Know I'm There? 
 
For the 'Natural' search results Google finds websites by a process known as 'Spidering'. This process involves Google following links on webpages. It follows these links from page to page and site to site. As it follows these links it 'indexes' the content.  Once Google has indexed these pages it uses this content in its search results.  If Google finds a link to your site on a website it already knows about it will visit your site and add it to it's search results. If your site is not linked to from any other sites you can also go to http://www.google.co.uk/addurl/  to add your website, but for reasons explained later getting other sites to link to you is probably better.  
 
Why Doesn't My Site Appear at the Top? 
 
The order in which pages appear in Google's search results are a mystery known only to the programmers at Google. However over the years they have given us some clues to understanding how to improve our pages position in their search results. 
 
To understand Google's results you need to understand Google's motives. Google wants to link us as users to the best quality content on the web. Google works out quality in two different ways. First it seems to use some level of keyword matching. It is obviously the case that if someone searches for 'Dogs' and you mention 'Dogs' a lot in your content the chances are your web page is about 'Dogs'. The thing is all Google can derive from this is that it has found a page about the right subject. It doesn't really know that the content it has found is of any quality. 
 
To work out quality it bases its results on the opinions of other websites. How it does this is to look for other sites which link to your content. If a lot of sites link to your page then it assumes you must have content worth linking to, and therefore good quality content. Before you rush to set up a load of bogus websites to link to yours read on. Google doesn't just take any old link as being important. First of all if the page that links to you is talking about the same subject as you it sees this as a relevant link and therefore more important. Also the text which is included in the link is important as shown in the Google bombing trick ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_bomb  ). To keep track of all the quality levels of content Google comes across it uses pagerank. Pagerank is a value it applies to each page Google indexes. To see the Pagerank of any particular page you need to install the Google Toolbar - available for download from Google.com. 
 
Example of Google At Work 
 
The above quality system makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Taking my example of 'Dogs' above if we go to Google ( well today at least ) and type in Dogs as a search term we get 'terrificpets.com'. So why is this top? Well if our above theory is correct inward links will play a part. So how many inward links does this site have? Google is very good in that it will happily tell us this. Simple by typing in 'link:www.terrificpets.com', Google tells us there are around 14,000 inward links to this site. This compares with it's number two result 'www.nextdaypets.com' which only has 3,120  inward links.  
 
If you look at the results when typing in 'link:www.terrificpets.com', you should also notice the results all contain information about dogs. If this many people with websites about dogs are linking to another site about dogs it is logical to assume that this site has high quality content about Dogs. Reading through both information Google provides and via other peoples articles on this subject it would seem Google has a link filtering system. If too many of your link texts are identical it sees this as contrived linking and ignores some of these inward links. Google seems to like links to your site to be in context. This is a difficult one to prove, but to play it safe it could be worth asking people to put in different link text when linking to you. Perhaps even place your link somewhere other than the links page. 
 
Google Sitemaps 
 
Google is constantly coming up with new tools. Google Sitemaps is one such tool which will be of interest to any site owner. Sitemaps is a system which lets you sign up and then get useful information back from Google on how well your site is doing. It lists the keyword's you appear under and lists words which people have clicked on in the past three weeks. Pagerank levels across your site are also shown along with how Google friendly your site is ( ie how many error pages it came across etc.. ). 
 
Google sitemaps also allows you to submit a site map to their system which allows Google to view all your site via one document. To use this feature you need to provide Google with an 'XML' document containing links to all the pages to your site. Although this may be beyond the scope of many readers, we here at Duo have recently done just this with our own site and we will keep you abreast of our progress and if this indeed helps with our sites future ranking. 
 
Trick Hacks and What Not To Do 
 
>From reading the above content you may have come across a wonderful way of conning Google into thinking your site is the best in the world. You may even be working with a web marketing company who claims to be able to do the same thing. The trouble is search engines like Google have seen many of these tricks before and know how to get around them. For those it discovers it occasionally makes an example of them and kicks them off the search results all together. Past examples like BMW.DE were no doubt chosen to show how Google dislikes anyone trying to cheat the system.  
 
Conclusions 
 
To rate well on Google play the search engine at its own game. Provide compelling content and lots of it. Get your suppliers and clients to link back to you whenever possible. Keep and eye on what keywords you are appearing under with tools like Google Sitemaps and choose your words carefully in the future to be found for what you want to be found for. If you're prepared to pay to be top see Google Adwords, and if your not, be prepared to put some time into making your site an attractive target for users everywhere. 
 
Further Reading 
 
See what Google says first hand - http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/
Get Other Peoples opinions at - http://www.seochat.com/   

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