Feature Article (Pub: March 06) Google Optimisation by Paul Rudman
I frequently get asked whether someone can have their website specifically optimised to achieve high rankings in Google. Not, MSN, not Yahoo, specifically just optimisation for Google. Are they correct to be focusing so intently on this single engine?
Is optimisation work for Google so much different from optimising for any of the other major search engines? The answer isn't simple, it's a yes and a no, it's degrees, not absolutes.
Firstly, it isn't wrong to be thinking primarily about getting good rankings for your website in Google. It is far and away the most popular search engine used today. People in the industry produce all types of statistics to highlight the market share of Google against the other major engines. Personally I have found the best method of judging traffic from the different engines to simply look at search engine referrals for some of my sites when I have the same search engine ranking placement (SERP) in some if not all the major engines.
Admittedly not everyone is in the position (or geeky enough) to be able to track and monitor this, but if you can then you'll have a good idea about who is generating the majority share of the referring traffic. In the particular instance of the website I was monitoring, approx. 88% of the traffic was from Google, 6% from Yahoo and the rest was shared around another 30 engines or so. I won't go into too many details about this traffic breakdown as this isn't a client case study, just a fact to back up the validity of optimisation for Google.
So where does optimisation for Google differ from the other engines you may ask? Well here's the interesting bit, it doesn't really, not to the extent of changing your approach to optimisation. Yes, there are slight differences between how the engines rank websites, but ultimately the evidence all supports the commonly believed theory that the following is the most important for achieving high rankings:
- Provide original, genuine, useful content to readers
- Update your website frequently
- Submit to your website to directories
Generally the difference between how Google ranks websites and the other search engines do it boils down to the fact that that you have to do that much more of the good things for Google. To maintain their reputation as the number 1 search engine they have the most sophisticated mechanisms in place to guarantee the integrity of the data they display in their rankings.
From a personal perspective, I don't actually agree with how the guys at Google operate in ranking websites. It's hard to argue with how successful they have become and how popular they have got, but I'd put money on the results of an indepedent survey into search engine usage showing that people were equally if not more happy with the results brought back by MSN or Yahoo than Google.
This point I've raised ties in with the major difference between Google and the other engines. Let's refer to it as "Trust", it's a simple word with a clear definition:
"Firm reliance on the integrity, ability, or character of a person or thing" Dictionary.com
Paul Rudman is the director and head of optimisation at Commercetuned, he's been involved in developing search strategies and search engine optimisation for 7 years.