Google’s Secret Sauce – The Holy Grail of SEO

Clive Lobo

When I met Google’s cofounder Sergey Brin at a search engine marketing conference in 1998, he wasn�t eager to share Google�s search engine secrets. He was quiet, but confident he had the secret to big success though. He had the knowledge and fortunately the support to make his dream come true. And the secret was the secret sauce – Google�s mix of ranking factors they used to rank web pages, what�s known as an indexing algorithm. Google was an underdog then, yet a rising star. They had a clean, useful product which served up an interesting mix of search results that other search engines did not.

I doubt at that time he could have looked ahead ten years to visualize what his beloved search algorithm would become and how many computers and databases would be involved in processing and serving search results. He couldn�t have foreseen that he would become a billionaire. Yahoo loomed over everything back then. Pagerank wasn�t a term anyone knew of and the thought of buying a text link back then was absurd. That simple algorithm worked wonderfully because no one understood how to manipulate it. Ten years later, tens of thousands of people work feverishly to manipulate it every day.

So Google�s evolved and found ways to constantly filter out irrelevant information, well, what they see as irrelevant. You could be on top one day and down 20 or 50 rankings the next, either because your site accidentally hit a threshold level in some area, or your �factors� didn�t support each other well enough. If anything is out of tune and out of time in the orchestra, Google hears it. If your orchestra plays well, you�ll be rewarded with high rankings or lots of referrals. Maybe both!

Stability and Risk Management

One way to control yo-yoing search engine rankings and referrals, is to diversify your keyword phrases. I�ve found that diversifying can actually speed up rankings for new sites and generate ten times the traffic over the longer term. Ironically, to minimize risk, you have to take some risk. The problem with this is that it increases the complexity of SEO and dilutes available ranking power for any particular phrase. No guarantees in ranking for more keywords, but it always seems to work out if it�s done right. For a new site, diversifying keyword phrases initially is smart. Once you get out of the site aging delay, you can focus on the competitive/popular phrases. And for established sites, the potential can be incredible. I’ve seen it happen, just as it was planned.

Google has been tough recently, even experimenting a little, like usual. You could be at the top for a singular phrase one day and then only for the plural version the next day. You could raise your ranking for one phrase and watch your other top phrase drop simultaneously. Ya, some sites are consistent and stable but rest assured it�s by design, not a fluke.

Spam Smokescreen

Google hired a spam detection team, and they manage to distract everyone. The real focus should be on the elements of the algorithm and how they�re being orchestrated to choose top ranking sites. And business owners should think in terms of what type of site will rank well in Google, especially over the long run. Building sites from scratch is a smart approach to SEO. You have to respond to the algorithm and you need to be able to manage the site to respond to changes. Established corporate sites are worthy of optimization efforts, but new sites focused on the right topics will outperform over the long run, if they�re developed correctly. They don�t face the restrictions that corporate sites have imposed on them, and they can convert sales better.

Does Google have complete control over the end search results? Not likely. They have to see the results for themselves many times to decide whether their changes are working or not. They even ask for actual results when people complain that their pages are missing, or the results have gone wacky. And there may be feedback elements at work as they see who clicks where and for how long and returns for more searches. If you�re not engaging or converting customers, it makes sense that Google may not want to present your site at the top of the results.

Well Planned and Well Supported SEO Works Best

You can�t control Google. What you can do is plan for success and feel confident that you�ve got the secret sauce yourself, just like Sergey did ten years ago. He put the effort and dedication in and was rewarded amply. I�m sure he faced his detractors when he said he was competing with Google. Your web site needs the same dedication and effort because it is an incredible business asset. It�s well known that few marketing campaigns can outperform SEO. All promotional efforts online and off, just seem to point to one way or another.

Clive Lobo

Spark’s resident boss man, Clive possesses the very nature of an entrepreneurial spirit.

Newsletter Sign-Up

Share the knowledge!