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The Basics of How Google Rankings Work (SEO101)

Understanding Google SEO – 2018 (Part 1 of 9)


A bit of history


There are other websites and there’s Google. Google controls 81.12% of all search engine traffic. (1) It is the most visited website in the world (2). Interestingly, Google controls the number two site as well, YouTube.


Google was founded officially in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Since then it has become a monolithic powerhouse in the internet world. There are many people who believe that when the future arrives and we are all subjects of “The Corporation” it will be Google that will be running things.


SEO (search engine optimization) is the art and science of getting found on Google by users. There are other search engines, but with Google’s dominance and its leadership in design, it’s hardly worth mentioning them in relation to SEO.


That’s not to say that other major sites like Yahoo and Facebook don’t represent great opportunities for various forms of online marketing.  But when you hear terms like SEO and Page One (getting onto Google’s first page of search results), it’s Google that the writer is talking about.


In this article, we’re going to look at some of the things that drive the Google search machine and the very beginnings of how to use SEO to build your business.


A quick note: If you like being alone at work or relish closing your doors soon, ignore SEO. Otherwise, there are billions of people doing 3.5 billion searches every day and 1.2 trillion every year. In other words, no matter who they are, your customers are searching on Google. (3)


How it works: The Google Algorithm


Google is driven by an algorithm. In reality, it’s about math.




If you really want to know about how the math works, there’s a great article at, by the way, is one of the best places to keep up with changes to Google’s algorithm.


Basically, Google will look at the factors that people use to decide things and translate that into math. The ranking factors listed below are just some of the things that the algorithm takes into account. It also moves very fast. A search for burgers in New York City returns “About 5,120,000 results (2.09 seconds) “. That’s over 5 million results in just over 2 seconds. Consider that that’s so fast that most of us won’t notice it. That’s 5 million results out of trillions of points of data. It gets returned with a map, restaurant listings and much more.


If you aren’t completely blown away, you’re either Larry Page or you aren’t paying attention.


How to get to the top of the pile


Getting to the top of the pile is a matter of SEO and knowing what to do.


It’s all about “ranking factors.” These are things that experts believe that Google looks for on a website. They can only assume of them because they have to test, via trial and error. Google will only rarely confirm a specific factor.


Top 5, or 60, ranking factors


There are over 200 factors that Google ranks a website for, but most of them are minor compared to the top items.


Here are some of those factors:

  1. Link score – a simple count of the number of other websites that link back to yours – this is how much Google sees that you’re trusted by people in your field.
  2. Anchor text relevance – This is a technique of linking the text on your page so that Google can see clearly what you’re about. It has to be natural and clean.
  3. Content – This might be numbered 3 through 57. Make great content that real humans want to read and Google will help you find people! Wow! That was simple. Just write for real people and don’t worry about a lot of junk. This might be a series on its own, but just remember to write the way you would to explain something to your grandmother and you’ll be fine.
  4. Technical SEO – This refers to things like page speed and mobile-readiness. If you’re not a programmer or a pro at this, it might help to hire one. The most important thing to know is that fancy isn’t necessarily better.
  5. User experience – Google looks at how long people stay on your site, where they jump off at, etc. If people don’t stay long, then they rank you lower. The “user experience” or UX is not optimal. Much of this also comes from good content and a proper website design.


Keep up with the  Pichai’s


The CEO of Google is Sundar Pichai. Now, every time Google does a major update (they make changes every day), it throws the whole world into a tailspin. Techniques that got you to Page One yesterday aren’t working today and you’re on page 34.


If you want to keep up with what Google is doing, here are some resources.


  1. – As we said, they are awesome. They’ve made a business out of figuring out what Google is doing. Even the experts rely on their resources.


How to NOT rank on Google


We could do a giant list of things to NOT do to rank on Google, but here are the biggest and most common signs:


  • No keyword packing- In the old days, you would find pages that were just lists of words. Those are keywords and, while they are important, if you put too many in Google will ding you. Write like you would for a real human and it will all be fine.
  • Not mobile ready – The vast majority of all searches are on mobile devices. If your website can’t handle that, you will find yourself in a Google wasteland. In fact, Google won’t even put you into mobile searches at all.
  • Fake backlinks – Links from other site are called backlinks. They are how Google knows that you’re trusted. A lot of bogus backlinks can get you taken out of the search completely.


Stay tuned for more, but that’s just a taste of what you need to know to get your website to show up in Google’s rankings.

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