“Where’s the best place to hide a dead body?”
“On the second page of search results!” – Old search engine optimization joke
It’s a testament to Google’s accuracy that few people ever will see the second page of search results, because the perfect result is usually right at the top.
In an effort to give searchers (their customers) the most interesting and relevant results, Google updates how it decides which pages are most relevant. This is done automatically. An algorithm “reads” the pages (including the code) and ranks it. When someone searches for keywords, the search result pages show the most relevant results at the top.
Periodically, Google changes what they think is important, and the SEO (search engine optimization) world is shaken to its foundation with alarm and stories of people being banished from the kingdom (the first page!).
Their sites have violated some Google rule, and Google has punished the offending company.
For example, in a recent Google update, sites without mobile-friendly pages were banished. Google decided that so many people browse pages on their phones, that it’s a universally bad experience to have non-responsive (responsive = mobile-friendly) sites.
So how can you keep up with these updates and avoid being punished?
Google wants to provide the best possible experience to anyone who is using their site, and part of this is providing the absolute best results.
Google’s robots (also called spiders) read pages in certain ways, and understanding those ways is helpful, but not necessary.
The important thing to remember is that Google is just trying to provide the coolest experience to their customers.
It’s not personal. You don’t have to “game the system.” You just have to provide relevant, interesting, updated content, in a format that is pleasing to readers, and Google will take care of the rest.
Ok, so there you have it.
If you’re interested in learning more about search engine optimization (aka SEO) from me, I happen to have a course on SEO for small business (lookit that!). I personally love SEO because it’s half magic, half sleeves-rolled-up nitty gritty.
Google itself has tutorials and resources that are (mostly) updated with the most recent news.