Among the main search engines that includes the likes of Bing and Yahoo!, Google is by far the most dominant in the US and UK search markets. A massive 90% of all searchers carried out in the UK take place on Google. That means that whether you are selling sofas or tractors, there is strong evidence to suggest that Google is the search engine to aim your marketing strategies at.
Apart from those employed by Google, no one really knows the full extent of the search engine ranking factors used by Google to determine the position of pages in search results. It is thought that there are actually more than 200 determining factors used by the Google algorithm, which could involve many different subtle and unique influences. One key point we do know is that Google aims to provide the most useful and pertinent information to searchers based on the keywords they have entered.
Given that the Google algorithm is notoriously complex and difficult to decipher, most SEO experts would agree that it is better to work with Google than to try to work against them. This is what is commonly referred to as ‘white hat’ SEO. Unlike the alternative ‘black hat’ tactics, white hat SEO work takes the information that Google openly offers about what makes a high-quality, high ranking web page, and uses that as a basis for optimisation.
Since the March 2011 ‘Panda’ update in which the Google algorithm was once more adjusted in an effort to improve results, on-page content has become a critical part of Google SEO optimisation. A number of poorer quality or duplicated content web pages have seen a significant drop in their Google ranking positions, with some being banned from the search engine altogether. This has given a clear indication of Google’s intentions for the future – search results that contain good-quality original content that give searchers useful or helpful information be that text, video or any other medium.
Another aspect of Google SEO optimisation that is widely known is that Google uses contextually matched backlinks from authoritative websites as an indicator of the quality and usefulness of a web page. While Google may view purchased backlinks as a challenge to its own AdWords link revenue, many businesses achieving high ranking positions on Google have paid for links from other relevant websites in order to boost their ranking positions.
The advent of the Google +1 feature in which searchers can ‘vote up’ a web page that they see as fulfilling the criteria of their search brings a whole new social aspect to the Google search environment. Time will tell whether this new development will influence the way search behaviour effects Google SEO techniques in the future.