Ok, so the title is a little bit of a stretch. But my point is that Google is constantly putting out great information about achieving better visibility in their index. In the following three videos from Google’s YouTube Channel, Google lays out the overwhelming majority of core information you should know about showing up in Google’s organic search index.
A webmaster tutorial video that covers how Google can find your site.
In this first video, Google helps you understand how Google finds your pages across the web. Getting Google to “know” about your pages really comes down to acquiring links. While you can submit your site via the add URL function, it really isn’t necessary. However, I still believe that providing search engines an XML site map makes sense. Especially when you are just getting started with a new site. You should also keep in mind that folks that are selling “search engine submission” are probably cheating you.
Google also provides information about keeping your pages out of the index. Understanding how to use robots.txt is critical to avoiding a major indexation problem with your site. No amount of awesome content, links, or social signals will help you if you are blocking googlebot from crawling and indexing your site.
A webmaster tutorial video that addresses crawling and indexing of sites.
This next video discusses more specifics about how search engines like Google crawl and index and your web pages. This is known as accessebility. This basically boils down to providing access to both search users and googlebot.
As the web continues to move in the direction of HTML 5, you as a webmaster will have many more tools for helping Google understand rich media and other interactive web elements.
If you use some of these more dynamic and media rich components, make sure that you include a plain text alternative on the page.
This video is also a great reminder of the importance of using a concise, interesting, and attention grabbing page titles and headings.
Finally, Google provides some solutions for addressing duplicate content issues. In our experience, duplicate content issues can be a very significant impediment to visibility. If you’re syndicating content, try to keep it somewhat unique. If that’s impossible, do what you can to provide links back to your original or considering using rel=”canonical” on the duplicate page.
A webmaster tutorial video that covers how sites are displayed in Google search results.
The first two videos provide the basics for some technical aspects of making sure that your web pages are getting found, crawled, and indexed by the search engine. This third video gets into the real meat and potatoes of how Google orders web pages in its index, relevance and importance or popularity.
Relevance is a fairly simple concept. Google wants to return results that specifically related to the users query. This can include information about where the user is searching from, historical usage of Google, and other factors that might not be directly tied to the specific content on the site.
Importance or popularity is the real engine behind getting your site to rank better. The most conceptually simple way to think about popularity is how does the rest of the web view your web pages? Do other Internet users like the content on your site enough to link to it, share it with other people they know, subscribe to future updates, and come back to your site later? This is the foundation importance or popularity.
Understanding page popularity from this perspective is a great reminder that the majority of the time that you invest into Internet marketing should be on developing good content. Ask yourself the following about the content on your site:
- Would you trust the person who wrote what appears on your site?
- Would you think the author of the content on your site is knowledgeable about the subject matter listed on your site?
- Is the content on your site interesting, useful, or helpful?
- Ask the people you interact with offline what they think. Current and former clients are a great resource here.
- Pour over your web analytics data. Bounce rates, exit rates, time on page, and other web analytics metrics are a great source of information about what your visitors think about your content.