004 How Search Engines Work, Part Two

Where you find out how Google learns what a page is about, and how it ranks that page.

Imagine you love jaguars. You have a blog about jaguars. You publish seven times a week about jaguars. On your site, it’s jaguar all day and all night.

But Google doesn’t seem to know you exist. What gives?

The problem is Google can’t tell if you are an authority on the car, the animal, or the older woman variety — because you write about all three.

Not good.

In this roughly 4-minute episode you’ll discover:

  • The conversation search bots have with each other while they crawl over your content
  • Writing advice for people who LOVE jaguars
  • Wikipedia’s secret to ranking high in search results (you can easily copy)
  • Why links are so precious to online content

[episode no=”004″]

Other episodes in this series:

The Show Notes

How Search Engines Work, Part Two

Demian Farnworth: Hi and welcome to Rough Draft, the daily podcast that delivers the essential writing advice you need to succeed online as a writer.

I’m your host Demian Farnworth, Chief Content Writer for Copyblogger Media. Thank you for sharing the next four minutes of your life with me.

This episode is episode four, and it is called “How Search Engines Evaluate Content.”

So we are continuing our discussion about how search engines work. Like I mentioned before, you don’t have to be an expert in this, but you must understand it.

The Conversation Search Bots Have with Each Other While They Crawl Over Your Content

It is based upon the content on your page. The robots and crawlers are crawling over everything. The words you use in your headline, in the sub headlines, throughout the copy. These little eight-legged robots are looking crawling over your content and looking for patterns. Do you keep repeating the word “jaguar”? Then you are probably writing about the large feline cat, panthera onca. But not so fast. You talked about rubber tires and a windshield and engine size. Then you are talking about the luxury car.

This is basically, though we will talk about the more nuanced ways of search engines in future episodes, the basic idea of how they work.

Writing Advice to People Who LOVE Jaguars

But that’s only part of the equation. They have to figure out which pages about jaguars are more relevant than others. Let’s imagine we are talking about the large feline cat. And let’s say there are over 1,000 very enthusiastic lovers of jaguars. And they all blog. And each of them has a page — a very basic page — about the jaguar. So the question is: which one of these pages should they give you … and in what order.

They do this through popularity and authority. This is the other problem I spoke about neglect. If we want to learn about jaguars, we want to talk to the smartest, the most popular people on that subject.

Wikipedia’s Secret to Ranking High in Search Results (You Can Easily Copy)

Now here’s the cool thing. If you searched for jaguars on Google. The results will basically come in like this: the website for the luxury car maker, Wikipedia entry on the panthera onca, and in third place the Wikipedia entry on the luxury car.

Why these three? It is because of the authority behind each website. Jaguar the car maker, is probably, this is debatable, but probable, is an authority on the luxury car. Wikipedia is also an authority. This is why it dominates the two of the top three spots.

How did it come to dominate? And this is where we get to the ranking system behind Google. So Google evaluates a page. Decides what it is about. Then it decides how relevant and popular it is.

It decides the popularity through links.

Why Links are so Precious to Online Content

One way they used to evaluate the authority of a page is to say “how many links are pointing to this page?” And what kind of links are pointing to it?

See, Google figured that links from other websites pointing to your website indicates that people find value in your page. It’s sort of a vote of confidence for your page. People might link to because a blogger likes how you explained something.

So if you have one hundred links pointing to a page about the nursing habits of jaguars, it’s probably going to be ranked higher than a similar page with no links.

However, the quality of the link matters. One link from CNN is worth one hundred from no-name bloggers. And it’s what those links say, that matter and help Google evaluate and rank pages. We have run out of time now but what we’ll do next time is look further into links and how you can actually create links that are valuable.

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