SEO Newbie: Google Is Much More Than Meets The Eye

I’ve spent a lot of time on Google as an internet user. It’s often my first point of contact with the web when I nip on for a browse, but I’ve never really thought about Google’s inner-workings.
  • SEO is all about great quality text written for readers – not for Google.
  • Google is continually improving how it ranks its sites, putting out updates which help truly good and relevant websites go up in the rankings.

In her first post, Charlotte reflects on the lessons learned about Google in an SEO agency…

I’ve spent a lot of time on Google as an internet user. It’s often my first point of contact with the web when I nip on for a browse, but I’ve never really thought about Google’s inner-workings.

It’s like bumping into somebody you never got to know in school in a bar, you chat and discover they’re actually very interesting and very, very clever. That’s how I feel about Google.

Interning on the content team for an SEO company has opened my eyes to how important and complicated Google really is. It’s far more than just a pretty face and hey, it likes me back! At least, it likes writers like me – and here’s why.

Google is large and in charge.

Google is the most used search engine in the UK and thus a powerful agenda setter, determining which sites we find during our online searches and which ones go unseen. So you don’t want to make Google grumpy with you. (Remember that Google cannot actually become grumpy because it is a search engine, not one of seven dwarves).

But what about the other search engines? Well, there is still Yahoo!, Bing, Ask and MSN, while outside of the UK there are popular search engines you may never have heard about. You have to know your audience and thus which search engine to focus on ranking well with.

As for my SEO journey, Google has become synonymous with searching the web and thus the most important to please. How do we conform to Google’s rules?

Google likes well-written and informative copy.

Websites need to comply with Google’s rules in order to rank highly on SERPs (search engine results pages) and happily, Google’s many updates are forcing sites to contain quality copy. As a content writer who cares, this is great news! When I write something I want the reader to enjoy it and find it informative. Google wants this too.

Before I got into SEO I was concerned I’d be writing, well, “rubbish for rankings”. I thought wrong. Good SEO, also known as “white hat” SEO is all about great quality text written for readers – not for Google. This is because: that is what readers want; that is what most writers want; because of this, that is what Google wants too.

Google is keen on Penguins and Pandas – not spam.

Google is continually improving how it ranks its sites, putting out updates which help truly good and relevant websites go up in the rankings. Good behaviour is rewarded. In turn, bad sites that are of low quality or partake in spamming, such as bought links on irrelevant sites, will go down in the rankings.

After years of funny YouTube videos I think we’re all a bit keen on penguins and pandas, but in a Google-run universe these terms mean something slightly different. Google has become such a powerful internet force because of it’s incredibly clever algorithm updates, which often share names with animals.

I’ve learned that the Panda update in 2011 was all about quality websites, figuring out if what somebody is writing useless gibberish or genuinely interesting text. It weeded out the ‘thin’ sites from the full.

The Penguin update was then born, meaning Google knows that simply because a website uses the same key search phrase repeatedly that it does not mean it’s an expert in the field.

So, even if a site was to use invisible text repeating, say, “SEO London” a thousand times (which did used to happen) Google has figured out that it’s spam, and not necessarily a website its users want to be looking at when they search “SEO London”. Thus, when Google finds this spammy behaviour the perpetrator is punished, their rankings lowered and possibly a fine will be ordered – all thanks to the Penguin update.

Google wants intelligent and informative links.

I have come to understand that bad links are irrelevant links from irrelevant sites such as “link farms” or low quality blogs. It’s a money thing, people pay for these links so that more sites link to their own, to try force up rankings.

It’s pretty annoying when you’re trying to find something online and you’re directed to the ugliest, least informative, useless site. A site trying to sell you a weight loss pill through misleading information and links. Good on Google for trying to stop it. It’s in their interest too – they want to be the best search engine and to do that they have to be the best!

If you want more information on all of the Google updates check out Moz, a powerful resource for SEO which is great for the SEO newbie. This only scratches the surface of the intricacies of Google. I’ll continue on my mission to understand the ins and outs of SEO and Google algorithms, and continue writing to make readers happy and thus keep Google happy too!