google SEO

Google’s the biggest—make no mistake about it. According to the most recent data, Google has 90.46% of the search engine market share worldwide. That’s basically all of it! And new search queries are being created all the time. In fact, more than 15% of all searches have never been searched before on Google. Google receives over 63,000 searches per second on any given day. You could call them the nine-hundred pound gorilla.

Here are some general Google data points you should know as reported by Wordstream:
  • 3.5 billion Google searches are made every day. (Internet Live Stats)
  • The volume of Google searches grows by roughly 10% every year. (Internet Live Stats)
  • Every year, somewhere between 16% and 20% of Google searches are new—they’ve never been searched before. (Internet Live Stats)
  • 90% of searches made on desktops are done via Google. (Statista)
  • 35% of product searches start on Google. (eMarketer)

Google Ranking
What makes Google unique compared to other search engines, in addition to its size, is their proprietary website-ranking algorithm. Previously, this ranking algorithm could be summed up with a single metric called Google PageRank or Google PR. Named after one of Google’s founders, Larry Page, Google PR was symbolic of the SEO industry. Google Page Rank is no longer valid due to the growing complexity of the algorithm and advancements in artificial intelligence but the premise of being able to evaluate your website objectively is still very appealing for those trying to improve rankings. At the end of the day, we want to know how our website compares to those we’re competing against. We also want to make sure that we are doing everything we can to beat Google at its own rankings game. Fortunately for us, there are a number of ways to do so.
In order to improve rankings, you need to see how your website measures up. There are a variety of SEO tools and resources that can help you do this. One powerful resource is Moz which uses measures like MozRank and MozTrust to assess the overall health and relevance of your website. Other popular tools such as SEMrush and ahrefs have similar measures and offer very sophisticated platforms for SEOs working to optimize client websites.
Measures like mozRank and mozTrust have such an appeal because they were designed to help answer the question, “What can I do to make my website better in the eyes of Google?”  Regardless of which metric you choose to believe in, the concept of SEO metrics are important to understand. They give you a sense of how Google views a website from a technical and non-technical perspective, which helps explain why we rank the way we do.
Why does Google return one result over another? It begins by assigning a weight or level of importance to a given web page. This weight is determined by a variety of factors which we cover throughout this guide. Personally, I like to think of it as a voting system.
Imagine that Google search results are based on a huge election where users and machines cast votes for one another. Those votes are based on how well you conform to on-site factors like page titles, page descriptions, etc., off-site factors like who links to your website, and other factors dealing with how well your site performs for people using it.
One of the more talked about criterion affecting rankings is the coveted in-bound link. For example, every time a website links to another website, they cast a “vote.” The more votes an individual site receives, the more important they must be and the higher the site appears in search results! Seems pretty simple, right? Well…sort of, but not exactly.
In addition to weighing website factors (a.k.a. on page optimization) Google doesn’t treat all inbound links the same. You see, in this special election, not all votes are created equal—some votes hold more weight than others. For example, if an authoritative website places a vote for a new website, that vote theoretically counts more than a vote from a website with less authority. The harsh reality is that votes from different voters are weighted differently.
Said another way, it’s not just the vote you’re looking for—you also want a vote from the “right” person. In this instance, the “right” person is a website with lots of influence. In my opinion, you’re better off generating fewer links from sites that are more authoritative than many sites that have low relevance or authority.
Whether you’re looking at inbound links, on page optimization, or other factors – which we cover throughout this guide, it all comes down to how your site is viewed by Google which is a complex algorithm that measures your site based on SEO best practices.
Google Evolves
It’s important to understand how Google search results have evolved so you can understand where things are headed. Sometimes effective SEO is simply about staying ahead of the curve and being prepared for what’s next. Back in the day when this all began, search was relatively simple. Buy a URL with your keyword in it and top rankings were virtually guaranteed. Over the past number of years however, Google has been focused on improving the search experience and has added a layer of complexity to search engine rankings like never before. In addition to penalizing sites for using inappropriate optimization techniques, they’ve simultaneously enhanced the search experience for those browsing the web.  This has created a significant difference in how people use search engines and the results they see in their custom feed.
User intent. Thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning, Google has cracked the code on user intent. Without getting too technical, Google has enough data to figure out what you’re looking for, even before you do. Some may call it mind reading, but I call it a seamless user experience. Looking for, “restaurants near me”? Well, if you favor Italian, you’ll probably have more of them listed in search results thanks to the reviews you left on various apps and Google maps tracking the restaurants you’ve already visited. Want to figure out how to screw in a light bulb? Well, if you usually watch videos on how to do fixer-upper projects, you’ll probably see Youtube videos in your search results too. Google knows what content you consume and how often. Looking to get from point A to point B? You might find Google maps popping up on your phone if it’s your preferred navigator with time to destination prominently displayed.
How is this all possible? Data and machines. Google knows what you’re looking for and gets better every second of every day. They’re not just looking at you, but billions and billions of search behaviors all over the world. With each keystroke or tap, they collect more information, making your search experience more intuitive. They are getting a clearer understanding between what an individual does – the keywords they use, the websites they visit, the apps they prefer, etc. and what results matter to them as measured with clicks, time on screen, and engagement. Today, people don’t just get their content from a webpage, it’s much more complex. Given so many devices and different types of media, access to data has never been so important and meaningful.
Universal search. With the advent of video, blogs, podcasts, real-time social media, and countless apps, Google has enhanced the search experience for all of us. A typical page of search results may include a popular video from YouTube, a news feed from a leading news site, and relevant reviews or product images. Even local businesses have received a boost thanks to the Google My Business directory.
All of this may feel a bit frenetic, but it does create a more robust experience for those using Google. However, it also requires proactive management for anyone interested in SEO to promote their website, business, or online reputation. Search engine optimization has become less about getting a single site ranked in the number one position and more about acquiring multiple listings on a search results page for relevant searches. Do a Google search on “bmw auto” to see universal search results in action.
If you’re searching on your phone, you’ll probably see location specific results including dealers near you, ads, and much more. If you’re using a desktop, you’ll probably see bmw’s for sale, images, ads, resource sites, and even a Google Answer Box. What is a Google Answer box? Google's answer box is a unique search engine result, powered by the knowledge graph or scraped from a site that provides an adequate answer. It’s typically displayed at the top of the results page, but below ads. SEO’s call this position zero. Many of our clients want this position only to learn that it doesn’t have much of a positive impact on website traffic. None-the-less, it does add a few clicks to the mix and can help a brand building campaign.
Due to the advent of universal search, and focus on local, search engine optimization has changed dramatically. Instead of just optimizing for a single website, I recommend applying all the techniques you’ll learn in this Website to any digital asset including things like press releases, social media profiles, videos, images, etc.
The more assets you optimize, the greater your presence on search result pages for a given keyword phrase. This takes additional effort but not much additional knowledge. When you understand the basics of search engine optimization you can use slight modifications to optimize virtually anything online.
Mobile First. Mobile-first indexing is exactly what it sounds like. It just means the mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for what Google includes in their index, and the baseline for how they determine rankings. It’s called “mobile-first” because it’s not a mobile-only index. For example, if a site doesn’t have a mobile-friendly version, the desktop site can still be included in the index. But the lack of a mobile-friendly experience negatively impacts your rankings and a site with a better mobile experience would potentially receive a rankings boost even for searchers on a desktop.
Lucky for us, most website platforms from Wix to WordPress are developed in a mobile responsive way. Regardless of the device being used to browse the web, your site content is configured properly. I mention mobile first to give you a sense of what matters most when considering search engine results.
Google updates. Upgrades to the Google algorithm have enhanced the user experience from start to finish. Google suggest which recommends search terms as you type your query in both search and Gmail, updates to Google My Business, mobile first indexing, and a significant leap forward in user intent thanks to the BERT update, means that users can access information more quickly and more precisely than previously thought possible.
Understanding how Google has evolved is essential to getting and keeping your website ranked in the top positions for chosen keywords. It might feel overwhelming at the moment, but as we dissect the different ways to drive qualified traffic to your business, the easier it becomes. In addition, Google offers many tools to help you along the way.
Google Search Console
Google is one of the most innovative companies on the planet. They actually want you to succeed. Why? It’s because Google exists to improve search. To support this mission Google has developed a number of tools you can use to “improve” your online search experience and website.
Visit https://search.google.com/search-console to view these helpful web tools.
If your website is new, register with Google Search Console. I strongly recommend checking out the education Google offers. It’s very helpful information for using Google Console and optimizing your website. Once you’ve accessed the platform, you’ll be able to:
  • Get Google’s view of your website and diagnose potential problems. See how Google crawls and indexes your site and learn about specific problems Google has accessing it.
  • Discover your link and query traffic. View, classify, and download comprehensive data about internal and external links to your site with new link reporting tools. Find out which Google search queries drive traffic to your site, and see exactly how users arrive there.
  • Share information about your site. Tell Google about your pages with Sitemaps: which ones are the most important to you and how often they change. You can also let us know how you would like the URLs we index to appear.
It always amazes me how few people actually use Google Search Console despite its importance.  Sometimes people are so fixated on Google Analytics, they lose sight of this Google Tool which is designed specifically for SEO. If you do nothing else while reading this guide, sign up for Google Search Console and verify your site. Once you’ve reviewed all of the issues that Google suggests you remedy, I strongly suggest you upload an XML sitemap to your account. This is essential for Google to easily and fully crawl your website. Once your site is properly indexed it can be appropriately ranked for suggested keywords. If you need help with any of these features, visit the Big Fin SEO resources page or search do-it-yourself Google videos on YouTube.
I’ll go into more details later about sitemaps, but “yes”, they are still used today and important to create for both your site and Google Search Console. At the time of this writing there’s a great free tool you can use to generate an html sitemap and xml sitemap with the click of a button.  Visit https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ to learn more.
If you are more advanced and would like to look at additional data associated with your site, I encourage you to tag the site with Google Analytics code.  There are complete books on Google analytics (GA) so I won’t go into here, but adding tracking code may also provide additional insights for your SEO and site performance. It’s extremely easy to use and has become the standard for website analytics.  Best of all, it’s completely free! 
Personally, I use Google Analytics and Google Search Console on a regular basis.  The data and insights provided are extremely helpful in understanding why your site ranks well or why it doesn’t.  The data also gives insight into who is coming to your site, where they go, and how they leave.  It’s like having x-ray vision, seeing exactly what’s good and bad about your website.  If you don’t know how to implement either of these, reach out to the online community or hire a freelancer online to install the code for you and get your site verified.  Sites like Upwork.com provide skilled programmers for as little as $10/hr. Now that you know about the world’s largest search engine and some tools they offer, it’s time to begin improving your website’s Google ranking. Let’s get started!


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