Cool picture describing how Google works

Ever asked yourself how Google works? How your query provides thousands and thousands of useful or less useful results? PPCBlog released a really nice diagram illustrating the process. Various steps will have different weight, for example the page authority seems to be less important in certain situations than page content. My blog is very new, only several months old and its page rank is still 0, however it still ranks on Google’s first page for terms like “Vip 922 review”  or “top media streamer 2010” for example, so Google has also ways to calculate the usefulness of a page.

There is a feverish activity to optimize one’s website to rank well in Google’s results since a good ranking brings traffic and traffic brings money, in advertisement or potential sales (20 billions as PPCBlog mentioned), and everybody wants a piece of the pie.  This activity is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The result pages are called SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

In the last several years, after the Internet really exploded, companies started to understand the importance of ranking higher, thus increasing their business visibility. At the same time, a lot of people figured out a way to exploit Google’s ranking algorithm and the SEO profession appeared.

The SEO professionals split in two main categories: black hat and white hat, and a variety of gray shades 😀 (like the E-Ink paper from a eReader). The black hat category relies on a variety of techniques to artificially boost the ranking of a website. Among those techniques are spamming (yep, I hate it too), link farms (create thousands of useless domains with no other goal than to create links between them and pass page authority), keyword stuffing (adding non necessary words in an article  to increase the keyword density), etc. Other techniques to artificially increasing the page rank are buying/selling selling  links, including links on a webpage invisible to the user but visible to the search engine bots, automatic websites that are surfing the web copying content, etc.

Google, on the other side, is fighting continuously to adjust its own algorithms so it returns relevant results, since this is their main business and this is what made Google the most popular search engine in the first place. All the black hat techniques described above were successful at one time or another but now they are only part of the SEO history. The battle goes on though. Of course, Google is still making mistakes, especially since there are no effective algorithms to evaluate a webpage semantically. SERPs are still loaded with duplicate content / spamming websites and Adsense loaded websites with virtually no useful content still show in the first page of Google’s results. However, Google algorithms are improving.

The white hat techniques are simple but at the same time more complicated. To rank high, the website has to have a good structure (WordPress blogs qualify), and most important, have good content. Even if the start is slow, having good content will bring visitors always. There is a nice say floating around: “Write for the reader, not for the search engine!”. And by the way, in the long run, white hat techniques always work better, because Google’s algorithms will catch up sooner or later with the black hat techniques, de-list your website and you’ll have to start from the beginning.

On the same subject, this month, Google announced the completion of Caffeine, a new web indexing system that should bring faster to the result page news and blog posts from around the world. Caffeine speed is 50% faster compared with the previous index and it is able to process hundreds of thousands of pages in parallel. I checked myself and I noticed posts appearing in the search results as fast as 10 minutes after submission. And Bing has not indexed even my homepage yet 😉

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