As part of our recent 'Perfecting Your Online Presence' mini workshop, we touched on the key ways Google chooses results for any search query. This information is super useful for us little businesses to help us understand why or how Google might choose our content as a result for our target search types.
For example, a Google user searches for a cosy cottage for 2 in the Yorkshire Dales. A micro business offering that has multiple different ways to be 'seen' or 'found' by the user and it's useful to understand what Google is looking for.
Google publishes articles about the 5 key elements and you can read about them easily. Today, I wanted to break those articles down and highlight the significance for micro businesses like ours and how we might harness some of the elements with our limited time and budget.
So here goes!
Google uses a range of systems to establish the meaning of any query using sophisticated ways to 'assume' the real meaning including spelling mistakes and location of user.
You can gain more understanding about different ways users might be using words as part of your key searches by checking the 'related searches' at the bottom of the Google page.
Also, Google says, 'for trending keywords, our systems understand that up-to-date information might be more useful than older pages' - this is a key message to us as micro businesses to ensure that we update our information often. This could be information on our social media, a blog on our website, new products in our online shop or new videos on Youtube to help us harness Google's desire for 'latest information' to share with its users.
Google is wanting to ensure that the results it shares with a user are as relevant as possible. The obvious ways it does this is to match search terms with keywords and phrases or website titles. This is step 1 for us as micro businesses.
There is also something extra we can think about here too. Google also looks for 'clues' that the page they are sharing with the key word or phrase also has 'back up' to support that. For example if a page is about a cosy cottage in the Yorkshire Dales, then other content on that page also contains images, maps or other information about the location or subject.
What this means for us is that we ensure all our images are 'alt tagged' i.e. given a title that is relevant and that we provide a variety of information that is relevant to the subject. For example, if you're writing a blog post, you could use sub headings that include some of the key words, images and links to other relevant information.
Google is very keen to ensure that the information they share as search results is 'trustworthy' and has 'authority'. Google primarily identifies content that other places might link or refer to. For example, does another website/blog/social media platform refer to your website/blog that would give Google the confidence that your content has authority or expertise.
Examples might be that you are listed on another blog site, or connected to an award that you've won or perhaps a listing somewhere. You can also think about influencers or even affiliate links.
Don't forget too, the significance of using features like Google My Business which allows Google to understand that your business has up to date information and great reviews. Ensure too that all your platforms have the same name and strap line to help Google understand that your business is genuine and has several quality 'locations' on the internet.
Google is very keen that a website users experience is good. We already know that it's very focussed on how mobile friendly a platform or website is and how quickly pages load. This will determine if your website, for example, is in the running to be shown as a result.
Overall information about 'page experience' can be complicated but you can break down some simple steps. Make sure your website is truly mobile friendly (Google has a free tool). Also think about the ease in which a user can travel around your site and find things. Think about how information is broken down so that there is relevant text, images and diagrams to support the experience of a user. Make sure too, that your pages are deemed 'secure' i.e. use 'https' rather than just 'http' at the beginning of your website address.
This element is harder to influence in that it's often about the users location or settings in their own browser. Google will also use their own search history to 'predict' the best answer that they might be looking for.
However, we can help educate our audiences and potential customers by repeatedly using the key words we want them to use in our own content e.g. on socials or as hashtags. We might even suggest search terms to help find us e.g. in a story, we might add " 'search micro businesses in Yorkshire' to find us". You could also make sure you have a Google and an Instagram location so that you're included in searches that are 'near me' in nature.
I hope that this has been useful to help simplify and break down the Google algorithm. Let's discuss this in more detail in the Forum in the Member Hub with examples and questions!