All About Google

If you read The Search Engine Showdown, you know Google is my favourite search engine. Why? Google always offers the most results for any given search (they currently have over 8 billion pages indexed), it's faster than the Audi Quattro we test drove this morning, and 9 times out of ten, in my experience, all the front page results are relevant to my search. In fact, I usually find what I'm looking for within the first few sites listed. I also really respect the fact that two college kids started it (kinda like Abalone Designs!) and that those two college kids seem not to have forgotten where they came from. If you check out the images at Google's press center (http:// www.google.com/press/images.html) and scroll down to the Everyday Life Inside Google section, you'll get a feeling that life at Google is fun.

Google is the most used search engine on the web. In May, 2004, 36.8% of all searches on the web were done using Google. Also during that month, Google powered 54% of all searches done on the web (Read more about these figures here).

Google owes their success to their mind-boggling algorithm. This intricate formula sucks in a web page, considers its keyword density, its link popularity, domain name, how often it is updated, the amount of content in the site, and a myriad of other things that few know and spits out a number called PageRank. There is absolutely no way to be sure how to get your site to number one on Google, but there are a few things that we know can help:

Make sure your site is well organized, visitor friendly and useful. Google seems to like sites that are listed in the Open Directory Project, and my theory is that it's because the Open Directory Project is human edited. This means real human eyes have looked at each site that is included in the directory and deemed it useful in some way or another. If your site has a link on The Open Directory Project, you're on the right track.

Avoid "spamming". Spamming refers to many different things. If you add keywords to your site that are out of context or hidden from plain view, it's considered spamming. Resubmitting your site to Google can be looked upon as spamming. The basic principal is to make sure every page on your site is professional looking, clean, organized and has its own unique information to offer.

Try to trade links with good quality sites that you like, 'cause if you like them, chances are they have something to offer and Google will recognize that. The more good quality sites around the web that have links pointing to your site, the higher your link popularity will be.

Stay away from hi-tech sites unless you offer an alternative. ie. If your site has been designed in Flash, try to offer a plain HTML version of the site. Google can index flash but it's not likely that it will be indexed well, and your ranking will suffer. Frames are also a no-no. Although Google can index framed sites as well, again, the ranking can suffer and more importantly, frames are universally recognized in our industry as hideous!

Keep the content on each page to a decent level. You don't want too much content, but you definitely do not want too little. A good way to judge what a good content level is, is to search for the #1 ranking site for the keywords you wish to target, and see how much content they have. Make your content keyword-rich, but don't make it so full of keywords that it sounds ridiculous to visitors. You want to keep the visitors you get from Google, right?

Google almost always offers you the best resource for your query due to the fact that all of these things matter to them. They are also always trying to find ways to improve on the Google Algorithm so they can continue to offer us the best service. Every once in a while we hear about this new search engine and that new search engine, but no one seems to have been able to catch up. As long as this remains true, these simple tips will be applicable.

Courtney Heard is the founder of Abalone Designs, an Internet Marketing and SEO company in Vancouver, Canada. She has been involved in web development and marketing since 1995 and has helped start several businesses since then in the Vancouver area. More of Courtney's articles are available at http://www.abalone.ca/resources/.

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