What Google Wants

Google logoThere are so many articles out there on SEO and so many conflicting opinions. Some of those opinions are people just spouting off without any solid evidence to back it up and others are based on tests and experiments done by the author. It can be really confusing for someone trying to understand SEO. Who is right, who is wrong? Where should you focus your attention? Let’s answer that question by breaking things down…

The truth is…with over 200 components in Google’s algorithm there is definitely more than one way to get your site ranked.

If you’ve read any of my previous articles you may have come across my Gold Star analogy. Let me quickly break it down for you…

Think of the engines like teachers handing out gold stars. Google currently has about 200 factors in their algorithms that determine how your site will rank. Imagine your teacher with a clipboard and checklist with 200 items on it and she assigns you gold stars for each of the things you do well.

The catch is that some of the items on the list are more important and you may get multiple gold stars for that one item, whereas other items are worth only one gold star.

No one (but Google) knows for sure how the algorithm works, so we study and we test and we monitor the industry to come up with a technique that works well for getting sites ranked based on earning gold stars in various different areas.

The number of gold stars you achieve will determine how well your site will rank.

Let’s say you have a ton of great content that uses your keywords really well, and you also have some other on-page optimization in place (like naming images with keywords, clean code that is free of ‘bloat’ etc.) but you don’t have many links. You could still rank well, we see it all the time. Then let’s say another site has very little content but they have an obscene amount of legitimate links, they could also rank well (and often do). And now we have the whole content versus links debate and both sides have proven their case. So what do you do?

I encourage you to continue to look at the facts and then come up with an answer that makes sense to you.

Ultimately Google’s goal is to deliver the most relevant results to the searchers using Google. So if you break it down in the simplest terms what you need to do is prove to Google that your site is relevant to the phrases you want to be ranked for.

Simple, right? The truth is the concept is simple and once you understand that, you can go about the work of achieving your goal.

Now that you understand at the simplest level what needs to be done, you can start looking at the sites that already rank well for your keywords and try to figure out how many gold stars they have (what are they doing right). This process is called reverse engineering.

Next you start on your journey to beat them out. If they have a nice amount of content, you need to get your own “nice amount” of content – and then exceed it. If they have some good links you need to start getting some good links – and then continue on to get great links etc.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it’s all quick and easy and going to happen over night. But what I am saying is rather than get caught up in the all talk about this strategy and that strategy, if you simply focus on creating a great site that has a lot of relevant content that people will want to link to… then you are on the right path. You can spend your time building and improving your site, or you can spend your time chasing the latest technique that people are debating about.

And I can’t resist chiming in on the content versus links debate…

My response is: why choose only one? If we know both are important to the engines why not focus on both and build your site in both areas? That makes a whole lot more sense to me!

This has been an overly simplified way of looking at things, but I think it is important to take a step back and remind yourself what Google’s objective is and then focus your attention and spend your time on the simple things and not chasing the latest technique to “game” Google.

Jennifer Horowitz, Director of Marketing for EcomBuffet.com, has written a book on SEO and has been published in many SEO & Marketing publications. Over the past 10 years Jennifer’s expertise in marketing & Search Engine Optimization has helped clients increase revenue and grow their business. Check out Jennifer’s free ebook Optimization Step by Step on www.ecombuffet.com

About the author


Jennifer Horowitz

Jennifer Horowitz is Director of Marketing for EcomBuffet.com. With over 13 years in the industry, Jennifer has amassed much knowledge and experience and has much to say about all things SEO, marketing, copywriting & social media. Jennifer says "My focus is always on results based marketing. It's not about reports and rankings, it's about results. It's about business growth. My job is to uncover areas of new growth for clients. My job is also to educate site owners that want to be proactive in their marketing efforts. I focus on the details and the data - that is where the success lies!"


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  • Hi Jennifer, I totally agree with you in the “content versus links debate” – there should’nt even be one!! Both should be applied thoroughly and then any website who’s SEO focuses on only one of these areas will always rank lower 🙂

  • Hello Jennifer,

    Well, even though I have been very occupied with Websites and the internet over the last 12+ years and have quite good SEO knowledge skills about it, I have came to the conclusion, that the best way to improve a Websites results to Search Engines is to Apply ALL SEO tips as necessary to that particular site… that means, that one would have to handle each and every Website individually, analyse the type of information that is available and adjust it accordingly to get the best results…. Of course as you said, the results don´t happen overnight, so it becomes sometimes a quite long experimental process…

    I also believe that you can´t just simply optimize Websites once, or until you get your expected results, you also have to periodically stay in sync with Google´s ever changing algorythms… which I think is the main reason why Google keeps adding and changing its requirements or algorythms… 🙂

    Simply to keep SEO´s on their toes and to see who keeps their SEO skills highly sharpened… To separate the “Good” and the “not so good” SEO´s. As in a “Good” SEO, the more you know, the more you have already applied, the more experienced an SEO becomes, makes it even simpler to understand why Google keeps changing and shifting their algorythms… Thus allowing new techniqes or methods easier to adapt and apply to…

    Even If I considered myself as an experienced SEO, I simply cannot agree with SEO´s that claim to favor one system, technique or whatever for the best PageRanking over other SEO-techniques…. What might be highly necessary to improve on certain Websites might not necessarily be helpful for other websites, in fact, in can be disastrous.

    So in closing this Comment, I can just AGREE 1000% to your information above Jennifer… Keep the Mind Open to anything and Everything!

    Don´t get yourself stuck in one or a couple of particular techniques…

    Learn about ALL the Tips you can get your hands on, use ALL the information that you can find, Apply it as often and as necessary to your projects, practice and research the results, with the possibility of even finding your own working techniques that might become Google´s Algorythms of Tomorrow. 🙂

    Take and try Everything, but ONLY USE what works best!

    You Have to Think BIG, Dream BIG and DO BIG Things to GET BIG Results!


    Howard “MR. B-I-G” Borges
    CEO / SEO

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