Web sites that dominate the search engine result pages understand that SEO is both an art and a science. And while Google and Bing provide resources and guidelines to webmasters, the lack of transparency to how these search engines work created an industry of snake oil salesmen that promise top results and engage in tactics that only penalize those that fall for their bogus claims.
The search industry has evolved from using a Web browser to reach an index to what we have today: search via mobile devices and social apps. There are even head-mounted displays like the augmented reality Google Glass that responds to natural voice commands.
This evolution is forcing the search engines to protect their algorithm via patents like Google's "System and methods for improving the rankings of news articles" where we can find how the engine is using more than a dozen signals to rank news articles created by other Web sites.
How Search Works
Google recently took a big step in letting us understand a little bit more about their search algorithm by creating a How Search Works Web site with an interactive explanation of the different steps Google takes from crawling Web sites to find information, to indexing the information, to using over 200 factors to rank results and a 43 page document explaining how they evaluate their results.
They even have a live slideshow of their efforts for removing spam. The interactive site is in English with text versions in 43 different languages. Wait, a 43 page document and 43 languages? Isn't the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything 42? Why is Google off by one?
When you reach the bottom of Google's How Search Works infographic, you will see the millions of searches that were performed while you read the infographic. In my case, there were 366 million searches while I wrote this!
Are you searching for your products and services both from your home computer as well as your mobile device? Remember that the results you see are not the same as the results from potential customers since the browser is personalizing your results according to your search history and social connections.
Do you use Twitter search or Facebook's new graph search to look for your business? How are your competitors ranking? Now that you had the opportunity to see how search works, remember that content is king as there is no fast solution or magic widget that will guarantee top results, only quality content that is not surrounded with ranking barriers.
Read our previous search and social media optimization articles for tips on how you can dominate your Social Shelfspace. I would love to read your feedback. Add your comments below.
Julio Fernandez is Vice President of Search Marketing & Analytics for SocialShelfspace.com, a marketing agency that combines search engine optimization with influencer outreach to deliver measurable effects. So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish.