In a video that was released today from Matt Cutts of Google, he answered a question, “Are results in different positions ranked by different algorithms?” Meaning does Google use a different set of rules for positions 1 through 3, versus positions 4 through 6. And his answer to that question was no. But he did give some general insight, which merits additional exploration, as to what Google looks for when ranking web pages in their search results.
In the process of answering the above question, Matt indicated that Google takes “a 100, or even a 1,000 search results, and then with those we just sort them in order what we think the trade off of relevancy versus reputation. So we want something that is very relevant, but also as reputable as we can find.” To understand just what he means by “relevancy” and “reputation,” let’s explore deeper these two terms, and how Google defines them.
On the Google Enterprise site they state, “We feel relevancy is one of the most important factors that influence our users’ experience.” So just how do they define relevancy? Well, it becomes a tricky process in trying to understand just how their algorithm works. But we can get some general ideas of what makes a web page relevant. In Google’s Webmaster Tools general guidelines one of the first points they emphasize is, “Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site.” They go on further to say, “In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.”
A prime example of a website doing this is etrailer.com. If you go to their site and click down to a product, like a “fixed ball mount” hitch, you’ll find a lot of helpful information that gives you all that you would need to make a buying decision. There are videos on how to pick and install the right hitch for your vehicle, a question and answer section, photos and tons of reviews about the product. Do a search in Google for a “fixed ball mount hitch” and you’ll see that they rank number 1, as well as occupy 3 other natural ranking positions with their videos. We can certainly borrow a page out of their playbook for relevancy.
A reputable site is one that has good, authoritative backlinks pointing to it. The reputable individual pages of a web site are determined by the internal link structure. Google, in their Webmaster Central Blog states, “By looking at the links between pages, we can get a sense of which pages are reputable and important, and thus more likely to be relevant to our users. So linking structure, both outside and inside are important aspects of building reputation. Another part of building reputation is through citations on social channels, blogs, directories and industry-related sites. A citation is any reference to your business name. A citation can be in the form of a business listing in a directory, a blog article, a press release or even a comment on a web page or forum. Basically, Google feels if a lot of people are talking about a particular brand or brand product, it is important to the searcher.
So focusing on these two main points that Matt Cutts mentioned in his video will help to improve the ranking and traffic of your web pages.