My 3/27/11 Missoulian column
Google has been in the news recently because of some important changes they made to how its search engine collects and indexes results for users, and many website owners and companies are not happy with the changes.
Google is constantly tweaking its search algorithm, the very complex computer code that makes the automatic decisions on how to rank websites in search results. What Google wants is to constantly improve search results for the user; the top results should be sites that are relevant to the search terms and have high quality, original content.
Good search results has made Google king of search, with 66 percent of the market. But with new search engines like Bing growing and taking some of Google’s market share, however small, Google is even more concerned with providing good search results.
But the long term battle Google is always fighting has to do with website owners and companies trying to “game” Google results. Website companies are always looking for an advantage in the search engine optimization trick book for ways to get their websites to rank higher. If your website ends up on page two of the search results, or even at the bottom of the first page, your traffic (and income) is a fraction of the top few results.
One of Google’s recent quality control changes has dropped some types of websites far down in search results, with a huge drop-off in traffic, and as a result, their income.
One of Google’s first claims to fame in the search world was its algorithm that ranked pages according to the number and quality of links that linked to that page. The company’s founders reasoned that a Web page with lots of good links to it must be better quality then a page with few or no links to it.
And website owners recognized that feature immediately and took advantage of it. How? By getting links to their own sites, which has been completely legitimate for the most part, in Google’s eyes, if those links made logical sense in terms of content.
But what also happened is that businesses quickly sprang up that offered to get a website lots of back links for pay, links made no sense in terms of subject or relevance. And paid links are one of the tricks Google recently clamped down on.
More on paid links and another of algorithmic Google’s changes next Sunday.
This week in Mac Q & A: Network Printers