Just a few years ago no-one had heard of Google. We were all searching with Altavista, Excite and Inktomi (through Yahoo). Searching the web was a difficult process. Search engines were incaccurate, they had very small databases and it was difficult to know which results were actually relevant. The big search engines had turned away from searching and were concentrating on their huge portals, with news, horoscopes and TV listings. It was accepted that the difficulties in searching the web were something you had to put up with.
It was in December 1999 that Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page published their document 'The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine' that everything began to change. This document showed the workings of their new project, a search engine called Google, which at that time, held data on 26 million web pages. Over the 2 years since then, Google has changed the webbeyond recognition.
Finally, there is a search engine which is fast, powerful, accurate and has an enormous database. Today, Google holds over 2 billion pages in its index, the largest search engine ever. Results are accurate and, using Google's 'Page Rank' technology, and the masterful idea of showing a snippet of the site's text containing the search term instead of the META description, the user can easily see which ones are relevant. Google's huge cache of every page in its index has made 'Error 404 - Not Found' from listings a thing of the past and the total lack of large images on the site means it is one of the quickest sites to load on the web, even when showing 100 results per page. Now, Google offers web search, image search, directory search (based on the Open Directory), Directory Search (with the world's biggest Usenet archive) and catalogs search (mail order catalogs online).
This sucess has immense implications for webmasters. Google is now the search engine of choice for most of the web and it handles over 150 million queries a day. With that sort of popularity, a webmaster's first promotion task should be submitting to Google. Although it is highly likely that Google will pick up your site anyway on its next crawl, its always best to be safe. Getting into Google is simple, but getting a high ranking isn't. Traditional methods just don't work. Repeating your search term is useless, as is carefully planning out your META tags (Google doesn't use them). What you must pay attention to is Google's PageRank.
This is the method used to rank search results. Each page is given a PageRank based on this formula:
PR(A) = (1-d) + d (PR(T1)/C(T1) + ... + PR(Tn)/C(Tn))
Although this looks extremely confusing, in essence it means that your PageRank is based on the following:
- The number of sites linking to yours
- The PageRank of sites linking to yours
This means that a site with 500 links to it from other sites will get a much higher rank than one with 5. Also, if two sites, each with 100 links to them, but one of them has links from Yahoo, CNN, the BBC, Amazon and Microsoft, the one with the links from the more popular sites will get a higher ranking.
So the only way to guarantee a high ranking with Google is to exchange links with people, which is exactly what makes the web so powerful anyway. All Google is really doing is returning to the roots of the internet. Exchanging links is free (usually) and, now Google powers Yahoo's web results, it seems to be the best way to build up traffic. But is a good PageRank the only way to get a higher listing. It probably is, but here are a few other tips which may or may not work (they appear to have given quite good results in some cases but this may be coincidence).
- Get a keyword filled domain name. If someone searches for 'free advice' and your site is www.freeadvice.com, you should get higher up the search results
- Put keywords in your title. If your site has the title 'F
ree Advice' it should appear higher up the results for the above search
- Get your site included in the Open Directory (www.dmoz.org). Google appears to rank these pages higher.
Getting a high ranking in Google is not the only way you can benefit from it, though. Take a look at the design. To many people, Google is the best designed site on the web now. Its fast loading and easy to read. You can also learn an important lesson: If you see something wrong with the internet and can provide a good fix, you are well on the way to success. Thirdly, take a look at the Google Zeitgeist. Even if it doesn't help your website, its an extremely interesting page, and you may just be able to change your site to take advantage of highly searched queries.
Google is a revolution. Its changed the way the web works, and its changed the way webmasters promote their sites forever. If you still don't take Google promotion seriously, you're making a big mistake, and if you're considering spending thousands on promoting your site, take a week or two to exchange links with other sites first. I guarantee you won't regret it.
1999 - 2003 David Gowans