If you’re new to web publishing, there’s a few important things you need to know about search engines. Why? Because search engines are the driving force behind the internet today, and the majority of all online searches are done organically among a few web giants, notably Google, Bing, and Yahoo, as well as a few others. If you want to make it on the web you need to understand how they work from the ground up, at least in a logical sense, otherwise you will never make it on the internet today. Here we’re going to look over some of the basics of how search engines work, how they interact with your content, how they rank your content, and what to expect from them when publishing your sites and their corresponding content to the web, but from a practical perspective.
The Google Sandbox!
What many don’t understand about web publishing is that you need credibility to back you up on the internet, without it, search engines will simply ignore the fact you even exist! Search engines aren’t just going to dish out your content on a large scale within organic search results without taking into consideration many factors, including the quality of your content, what others think about that content, and whether or not the information portrayed in that content is true and accurate. While Google denies the use of a sandbox (waiting period), it does in fact exist, and it’s basically their way of regulating content within search results. Unfortunately, because they deny the existence of a sandbox, many are baffled as to why months have gone by since publishing their sites, only to find Google is not scoring their content with keywords in organic search.
For the average website, the sand box period in Google could be anywhere from 4 to 8 months from the date of publishing on average before Google will begin to return your content on a larger scale. There’s a number of reasons for this, including the time it takes for Google to enumerate and update your websites purpose, theme, and content within its central databases, including their organic search index (where you want to be). They also require time to see what others have to say about your site and content, and whether or not others approve of your content. So the question remains, how do I get out of the sand box, and how do I get out quickly?
There are a few things you can do to speed up the process, of all the factors I can possibly think of credibility remains number one, and if you can get it, you can get out! You get credibility when people recognize your work, and they device write or create relevant content on the web and link that content back to you. Simply put, the more relevant and higher the quality of the content on the web pointing to your site, the better! Google not only looks at the quality of content pointing to you, they look at the credibility of the sites that actually link to you. They also take into account social signals, such as with Google+, where +’1s, shares, and even comments are fair game in providing Google with the information they need to rank your site in their search index.
One way to speed up the process of getting out of Google’s sandbox is to get back links from relevant content on high page rank sites. This is the really tricky part of this whole situation, when I say relevant, I mean relevant! The more relevant the content between links, the better off you are with all search engines. Non relevant links mean crap! They will do nothing for you really as they flow very little page rank. Keep in mind, search engines want to return “Relevant” content that matches search queries, and that’s part of what makes this word of such a high importance here. Getting a back link from the Huffington post that has no relevance to your content because its displayed in a profile for example means absolutely squat when compared to a back link from a webpage article on another domain that features content that is relevant to the content it points to on yours. That being said, just because you have a back link from a high page rank site doesn’t mean you will get any credit for that link at all. And, in most cases you will get very little if any rank from estranged links regardless of the quality of your content. I’m also not saying any of this from opinion, I’m stating this from experience, this is the way it works, and flat out the way it is, plain and simple!
Part of the long sand box period that looms us all is actually caused in part by our inability to create a social presence, or quality content that people want or need for a particular reason, and the fact that most are generally misinformed about the way search engines function, manage, and or rank our content. While the tactics I just explained may seem fairly straight forward, they are actually very complicated since you also have to consider other factors, such as your ability to gain credibility to begin with! Creating quality content is the only way you are going to be able to convince others that your content is worthy of sharing, not just by linking to it from their sites, but by interacting with your content from within social networks as well.
Besides gaining credibility, you should also take into account how search engines index content. All webpage’s in existence today share a few things in common, they all run on the frame work of HTML (a standardized markup language), CSS (a standardized style and layout mechanism), and they all have the ability to function with a variety of proprietary technologies. Notice the two keywords here “proprietary” and “standardized”, just the mention of these words pretty much says it all. We have standards for a reason right? HTML and CSS are both standards that search engines can easily make sense of, and when implemented properly in the construction of a website, they can do wonders in terms of getting good search results for your content.
Unfortunately, a lot of the technologies used today to develop websites are in fact not standards at all, and in many cases they can actually do more harm to your sites than good. While content management systems such as Wordpress might seem like a good choice, there’s a few things you need to know about how they work, and how they can actually cause problems for search engines when crawling your websites. Wordpress, like many other CMS’s, is built on a framework of PHP, which by default is in fact not a standard of any kind, and is nothing more than a proprietary programming language often used to add additional functionality to websites, as well as manage content within a website. On the other hand, HTML and CSS are both fully standardized technologies that search engine robots can easily make sense of, making the process of crawling your sites content a simple task when they are implemented properly. On the other hand, Wordpress sites tend to require a sitemap much of the time in order for search engines to properly navigate your sites structure and content.
All being said, content management system or not, you still need HTML and CSS, or no website! If you were to build a site purely on a framework of HTML and CSS, search engines will have no problem at all crawling your content on a regular basis, and no sitemap would ever be required. Also, ”static” sites tend to load in web browsers much faster than the average wordpress template does. There truly is no comparison. While Wordpress may make the ability to manage your content easily on a large scale, it serves no purpose in the eyes of search engines, and practically has nothing to do with design at all. Just the fact that page loading times can be exponentially faster than CMS’s like Wordpress, is reason enough to learn web design technologies.
Google’s current recommendation is to use one, why? Because the average person is not a tech savvy web designer, and a large majority of those who construct their websites on their own don’t code out their sites properly, making it difficult for search engines to crawl their content, such as is the case with websites that store all their textual data in images. What, do people think search engines are psychics? They can’t read text within images, but people do this all the time today.
The answer here lays in understanding how web based technologies work, including HTML and CSS. These technologies drive content on the internet today, including on mobile devices, and the better you can understand how these technologies work, the better results you can get from search engines, especially since our content is stored within in it! Another issue, which I’ve mentioned previously in another article, is that text links are the best when it comes to SEO! Buttons just suck because the textual info they contain cannot be read by search engines without an “title”, or “alt” tags. Buttons also cause your pages to load slower since they are actually graphic images that the browser must render, among other reasons to ditch them, yet everyone is still using them. Having tons of errors in your code will in fact count against you, keep this in mind!
If it’s a faster escape from the Google sand box you seek, then you have to understand how web based technologies work, you need credibility in the form of social signals and relevant back links from reputable sources who will vouch for your work. The sooner you convince people your content is worthy, the sooner Google and the other search giants will start to believe the same. Keep in mind, you are competing against the entire world when publishing content to the internet!
Ranking! What is it?
When it comes to ranking sites on the web, many have clearly failed to understand how page rank in Google actually works. Rank within search engines is not a static entity, it is actually a process of constant change! Generally speaking, search engines match keywords within your textual data to search queries created by users within organic search results. Somewhere in the scheme of things search engines must decide on the quality and relevance of your content to a given search query. The problem is, people produce and update content on the web on a daily basis, so the rank for a given set of key words can change at any time for this very reason. You also have to take into account social signals. If people are sharing, commenting on, and liking content from one domain more than another, then which site do you think they are more likely to return in organic search results for a given set of keywords?
Page rank (a metric based on the quality and relevance of back links pointing to you) itself is only one of many factors, in fact several hundred that Google takes into consideration when scoring and ranking your site and its content within their search index. Page rank doesn’t actually equate to your rank for keywords in search results, it’s actually more like Google has stated the entire time, it’s their measure of the importance of your site on the web. A site with a low page rank could easily have more traffic and better search results than a site with a higher page rank. In fact, there are plenty of sites on the web today that have never been assigned a rank, or have a rank of zero, yet they continue to do well in Google search. Page rank is now only one factor among several hundred that Google takes into consideration when deciding the quality and importance of your website.
Page rank tends to flow across links, and it naturally divides equally among all internal and external links of a webpage. Page rank, like everything else in this world, must start somewhere. For this reason, it is actually created when search engines like Google identify high quality content on the web, when links are created between relevant and high quality content, when others in social media talk about, share, or like that content in some form or another. The more qualifying factors that search engines can identify for your site, the better it will perform in search results. This is why some pages score page fifty for a given set of keywords, while another site may score page one for the very same keywords.
Create Content for People, Not Search Engines!
If you are spamming your pages with the same statements, keywords, etc, over and over again for no apparent reason, then you are truly lost. Don’t bother creating content for search engines, create it for people! After all, they are the ones you need to convince that your content is of a high quality nature and its worth viewing, not search engines, they could care less initially. The sooner you can convince others to share your stuff, the sooner you will score for more keywords, get out of the Google sand box, and perform well in all search engines. This also means not creating websites and content solely for the purpose of making money. If you don’t take any interest in what you are doing, then don’t be shocked when you find out that no one else does either. So it’s best to focus on your interests first, then focus on the monetizing factors later. And believe me, I’m all about making money just as much as the next guy, but as the saying goes, work first, play later!
Either way it goes, if your site seems to be sitting ignored by Google for five months after publishing, just know you aren’t alone! This is actually the norm when it comes to web publishing today. You need serious patience during this phase. While you are waiting, why not help to accelerate the process, and Just make an effort to create stuff that people will really want, this will seriously help to speed things up. Besides breaking free of Google’s sandbox, you need quality content anyways to make it anywhere on an internet swarming with competition. The bigger fish always eats the littler fish, and the more you can comprehend about how the internet works, the more successful you will be with your efforts online.