How does Google decide what pages to show on the search engine results page (SERP)?
According to Matt Cutts at Google, the SERP shows the results that are the most reputable. Fine, but how does Google decide what is reputable?
As a website owner, you may have a very nice website and may have even written a good description of your business. Going a step further, you may have written some good articles about your niche and have published them on your website or blog
. And since you have heard about SEO, or search engine optimization, you even added Meta keywords and a Meta description to your site. This is called “on-page” SEO.
Now the visitors should be stampeding to your site, right? After all, you have a good reputation, your business has a good reputation and you wrote about yourself and your business. Google should see your site as reputable and viola, your site should be #1 on Google and your sales will skyrocket.
But something strange happens. Nothing. You check Google but cannot find your site listed on the first few pages. You check Google Analytics and there are no visitors. But sometimes it takes a while to get indexed, right? So weeks go by and still nothing. What is the problem…and what is the solution?
Matt Cutts refers to “reputable” websites. What does that mean? How can a computer tell what is reputable? Simple. Google searches the web for links to your site. If other website owners think your site good enough to link to, well, it must be reputable. The more links you have, the better your reputation. Usually.
Google also cares about the quality of the links pointing to your site. If you buy links from what are called link farms, your site could be penalized. Links from sites with no links to them, or no Pageank, do not have any authority and may be worthless. However, links from sites with a Pagerank of one (1) or higher have more authority. The more links you have from authority sites, the more reputable your site appears to the Google robots that crawl the web. Links with your keyword phrase as anchor text seem to be more important to Google as several experiments have demonstrated.
If this sounds like a popularity contest, you are exactly right. Your site needs to be more popular than your competitor’s website to out rank them. This means good content and more links to your site from authority sites. This is called “off-page” SEO, and this is where many website owners throw up their hands. How are you going to go about getting links? Who has the time to do that, and where do I begin?
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