Does Google Have a Golden Rule?

google4 Does Google Have a Golden Rule?
Titus Hoskins asked:

Copyright (c) 2008 Titus Hoskins

As a full-time webmaster and site owner, figuring out just what Google wants has been the most challenging aspect of running an online business. For many webmasters Google is the eight ton elephant in the room and you only have two options: upset the elephant and get trampled or quickly find out what it likes to consume and try to feed it.

In order to keep Google fed, webmasters have to jump through more than one set of hoops. When it comes to getting top rankings in Google’s Index or SERPs, there are 200 of these hoops or ranking factors. And if you want to play in Google’s ballpark, you have to try and master the majority of them.

For years, frustrated webmasters have been guessing and searching for these ranking factors. Asking what does Google want? How does Google rank pages and keywords? How does Google want you to build your site?

Ten years ago it wouldn’t have mattered what Google thought of your site for it wasn’t even in the picture, but now when it comes to online search, Google is king of the hill. And as we all know, kings get whatever they want.
Besides, any webmaster worth his salt, knows Google is what counts when it comes to organic traffic – you can achieve #1 spots for a keyword in all three top search engines (Yahoo and MSN being the other two light-weight contenders) but Google will simply deliver the most traffic to your site.

Google doesn’t as yet have a monopoly on web search, but it’s getting close to 70% of U.S. traffic and in some countries it’s up over 90%. But it’s not only the search numbers which makes Google king – it is the prestige and power of the Google brand name. Google has truly permeated into popular culture and the public psyche like no other brand name in history.

Google brings respect and trust into the equation. Web users respect and trust Google to give them a quality answer to their question. That’s why it was rather ironic, that for years webmasters have been asking Google about their ranking system, their algorithm, their practices… for years Google remained for the most part silent. This was mainly to keep at bay, those who would like to “game” the system in order to get high rankings within Google.

Until now that is, maybe it’s just me but doesn’t it appear that Google is suddenly opening up about its whole ranking procedures and what they expect from webmasters. Maybe the answers have always been there, we just couldn’t find them. However, a more likely scenario is that someone high up within Google made the decision to be more transparent with it comes to webmasters and how much they would tell them.

In recent Webmaster live chats, Googlers Matt Cutts, Maile Ohye, among others… have been honestly answering questions about what Google requires webmasters to do regarding their sites. These are Q&A sessions dealing with the “burning questions” webmasters have had for years concerning Google and what Google wants. Do a search in Google for “Google Webmaster Help | Google Groups” if you will to find these sessions.

Since I run several modest sites on webmaster tools and Internet marketing I am approached by more than a few people who want me to help them build their online site or business. One of the major issues that always comes up somewhere in the process (usually phrased in different ways) is this question:

What does Google want? What does Google expect of my site? How do I get ranked high in Google?

Mainly because my chief goal is to help these webmasters understand Google better in order to build a profitable site; I have struggled and puzzled over this question for years.

What is Google’s Golden Rule?

Many experts believe it is related to relevancy – the key to getting high rankings is how relevant your content is to the question being asked? Maybe so, but in order to explain it to a would-be webmaster, I had to find the words that would most appropriately sum up Google’s prime directive?

After you go through all the SEO checkmarks, take into account the quality and uniqueness of your content, factor in the credibility and authority of your site and backlinks, and factor in the relevancy issue… this was the simple Google Golden Rule I came up with:

“Always think of your visitor first when creating any content for your site.”

This may or may not be what Google is expecting but all indications are pointing in the direction of the “visitor’s experience” and how good you or your content make that experience? Google is serving up a product, it wants the user of their product to be happy with the results. If they’re happy, Google is happy. And if everyone’s happy then the kingdom grows.

Still anything as simple and as complicated as getting top rankings in Google can’t be boiled down to a single catch phrase. You must do your homework and a good starting point would be to thoroughly read Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. Studying and listening to the latest Google webmaster chats may also prove beneficial and helpful.

However, there are still those 200 hoops you have to jump through and you must be extremely careful of how you build your site if you’re trying to please Google. Listen when the king speaks. Observe his rules. Be on your guard, and it helps to become just a little paranoid. And always, always remember, an elephant never forgets.

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