This is part one of a series on demystifying Google for audience-first content experts
- Why understanding “search” matters
- What PageRank actually is
- Google search engine (a brief history of changes)
- The new SEO best practices (tactical and strategic)
- Takeaways for experts with content
The most important thing I can do for you is create a simple process to help you rise to what’s required for you to reach your search potential. An approach that elegantly streamlines aspects of “what you need to do” as painlessly as possible.
Unfortunately, I’m not there yet.
The only thing SEOs seem to agree on is that most SEOs and SEO advice are bad. In addition, Google has been on a mission for almost 20 years now to make their algorithms reverse engineering proof.
You look at a search engine from the outside.
You see a box, you type something in, you read the results. Google is your window to information and the rest of the internet. It feels like you’re accessing your own memory and you mistake what you read for “your own personal understanding of the information.”
In reality, that “window” is tinted. There are dozens of filters creating a Google lens through which you see the internet. Of near infinite possible results, you are served Google related properties and a handful of results from the rest of the Internet.
You only see what’s put right in front of you, the culmination of billions in R&D and an ocean of data points.
It’s confusing. It’s overwhelming. It feels like something meant for really big companies with really big teams.
But as long as people want to connect with and learn from people, there is a very big place for you and your content in search.
You look at SEO from the outside.
When you think about SEO, you’re not at all thinking about what’s happening behind the scenes, because, you think, it’s a bit like electricity: you don’t need to understand how it works to turn the lights on.
Add some keywords. Write longer posts. Delete old pages. Add rich snippets. Build some links if you’re really serious.
Not understanding how search works is fine if you only use Google to find things.
But you need to wire your own house. Which means you want the foundation required to wire your breaker box properly to route the right voltage wires to the right appliances, understand how your incoming distribution lines are routed, and most importantly, not hurt yourself.
As just one subject matter expert in a sea of “experts” all up against major brands and major budgets, a better understanding of the how and why G works the way it does will lead you to a better decision making framework in solving for search as part of your long-term strategy.
Your secret weapons
How what gets put in front of you is a mix of multiple problems G has to solve for. 1. Satisfying your intent enough that you must continue to rely on G for search. And 2. What will ultimately benefit Google’s bottom line.
That first part is key, it’s what you should chase because it aligns with serving your audience. That second part is to be feared so you don’t spend a bunch of energy doing things that will never ultimately pay off.
While big companies are catering to quarterly numbers, being overly tactical, and treating users like dollar signs, you can be strategic in your service to those users and earn your rightful place.
Tomorrow we look at PageRank, and maybe Hilltop (if it’s not too long) – two influential algorithms used by Google – from the perspective of how Google understands and tries to measure expertise.