"Tricking" Google

When we are talking search engines, mostly we talk about Google as they have about 75% of all search engine traffic (when you include in their various national sites around the world, such as google.ca for Canada, google.de for Germany, and so on).

As mentioned in earlier newsletters, over the years, many methods have been developed to trick search engines into giving a site a high ranking for chosen search terms. And, every time one was developed, Google and other search engines improved their algorithms (methods of determining rankings) to defeat those tricks.

Many of those cheesy tricks are still being passed around as “how to get high search engine rankings” by individuals who either don’t know any better – or don’t care.

But why would a website need a trick? Instead of trying to trick the search engines, your site should be optimized for the engines. There’s a HUGE difference between attempting to trick the engines and optimizing a site correctly for the engines.

Google’s real customers are the individuals who use them to find what they are looking for. If you type in “dentist Orlando” you want to get a listing of dentists in Orlando! And sure enough, 7 of the first 10 listings on such a Google search are individual dental practices with offices in Orlando. The other three are directories where you can find lists of such practices.

Because the searches give people what they are looking for, they keep using Google. Otherwise, people would drift off to other search engines or use other methods of finding what they are looking for. Because Google does a great job of it, they get billions of searches a month, and they can sell sponsored links and in other ways use their position to generate revenue.

So Google is in the business of keeping websites honest. And they work hard at it, and are mostly pretty successful. At the other end, then, are the webmasters and marketers who are trying to get immediate, high search engine rankings through trickery.

But getting sustained high rankings on Google is not an overnight or necessarily easy thing to accomplish. For one thing, it is pretty well established that Google has a “sandbox” into which it sticks new websites. One of the ways Google judges the value of a website is by how long it’s been around. So most new sites are not going to have great rankings at first, especially for highly competitive search terms.

There are lots of competing websites out there all screaming for attention. There are companies with full-time staff working on nothing except their search engine rankings. And in many businesses you are competing against a whole world full of them, not just locally or nationally – a big change from the old days of, say, 1993.

But don’t despair.

There are good and bad answers to this situation. The first is correct optimization. Another good solution is using some “pay-per-click ads.” With these you pay for a high ranking each time someone clicks on your ad. In future newsletters, we’ll cover more fully the specific ways and areas in which it is realistic to get high rankings fast.

But many people try to short-circuit the whole game with tricks. There are still tricks that “work” – meaning they will shoot you right up the rankings right now. You can see a good example of this below in “What’s Wrong With This Picture….”

But there’s a problem with these tricks. Google is on to them. They have ways of discovering them. And while they may not find them instantly, when they do, they won’t just drop your search engine rankings. They will likely blacklist you entirely so you don’t show up in the searches at all.

The moral of the story is don’t try unethical “tricks” to get high search engine rankings, and don’t listen to people with “get rich quick” search engine marketing schemes. The key to good rankings is building a site correctly, optimizing it for the search engines based on knowledge of how the search engines really work, and filling it with content that is relevant to your topic and interesting to the people you want to reach.

After all, that is what the search engines are trying to do – get their visitors to the sites they are trying to find. So if you build a site that your prospective customers like, chances are Google will like it too -- providing you also know how to properly optimize it for the engines. There is definitely plenty to know about correctly optimizing a site for the search engines. It’s a whole technology in itself.

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