Search engines are ridiculously complicated beasts, massive warehouses of servers with huge pipes in and out to the super highways of the world. All with one task in mind, giving you the most likely webpage to answer the question you've asked. Just think about how much goes into answering the simple question "what's the best restaurant in the South Island?".
The more you think about it, the more complicated it gets. However, the key to answering the question can be boiled down to a very human notion. Democracy. Democracy is a decision based on relevancy and reputation of a candidate.
If you think about search engines like Google as a democratic election system, calculating relevancy and reputation, things get much easier to understand.
The restaurant websites are like candidates, all candidates have a message and a media presence; hoardings, brochures, billboards, tv campaigns - all the media was carefully written and produced by marketing people - this is the website SEO or relevance.
Then we get to the voting. Each vote for each candidate adds to their total score. The candidates reputation or how much we trust that candidate is purely reflected in their vote count. Lets be honest, it doesn't matter how good a candidates marketing team does on the hoardings if they run around telling the world that corporations put fluoride in the water to stop fairy dust magic from working - we're fairly unlikely to vote for them or ask them over for dinner any time soon.
In terms of our restaurant website, a vote is a link from another website. All these votes add up to create what is called PageRank.
So, we have SEO - this is the candidate, how good they are, how well presented the candidate is, whether they are telling us all the right things. We also have PageRank, who is voting for us and how many votes we have collected.
Add these 2 things together and you get a score. Lets say you have 2 candidates:
Now for the exciting part, MATHS!
If the candidate's are ranked based on their SEO score * votes we have the following result:
In this situation, our second candidate actually wins, even though we weren't totally sure he was correct for the job (50% SEO) we were totally certain that we trusted him, in fact we trusted him twice as much as the other candidate who we suspect probably has fairy dust all over his coffee table.
While there are a few important things to note about where the votes come from - like don't get crazy people to vote for you, google may think you are crazy too - in general this is how it works, more votes from other trusted people = better results in our little democracy.
So, lets think about our restaurant sites. 2 things go into making Google / Bing / etc think a restaurant the best in the South Island.
So, who is the best restaurant in the Lower South Island? Riverstone Kitchen in Oamaru! (not just because they are a client, but because they keep winning awards including best restaurant in all New Zealand!).
View from the top
The Eiffel Tower is located on the Champ de Mars in Paris. When you look at it from a distance, it is perfectly symmetrical and balanced.
The following is our blog - where we try to put things that are getting a bit twisted BACK into balance.
The dark mysterious art of making Google like you12-Mar-14
Seeing the forest from the 'tower'29-Nov-13
It's easy to see why statistics are the most ignored / shunned resource on the web. People associate stats with being back in school, staring at graphs and charts and trying to divine meaning from thin air. Add that to the fact that everyone is busy doing business and the last thing on the list is reviewing what has happened on your website. Just to complicate it further, chances are the graph was written by a programmer and makes no sense to anyone without a computer science degree.
This is one of the reasons that we don't create "stats" for our customers, we aim to provide insights.
When you think about the differences between statistics and insights, the power of the latter is clear.
The difference is clear, statistics are just raw data in a pretty format with no clear purpose other than to look fancy at meetings. Insights provide valuable, actionable facts about how things are working and whether they are working. Where should you target advertising? Is your Facebook promotion generating sales? Do you need to invest in a more mobile friendly site?
In the end, the most important answers come from your customers and what they are doing on your site.
We probably get a client a week asking about a mobile site. Either excited by gaining new customers, new sales and new opportunities from the growing mobile browser market, or terrified that they are losing customers because their about us page is hard to read on an iphone.
Bring in the insights: generally the answer is very quick, just look at the amount of mobile users on your site and what they are doing. For most websites, mobile browsers are not there to trawl your site and learn about your company, they are just trying to get your phone number or your address. Stress gone, decision made! No mobile browsing solution required! Or maybe it will provide a wow moment where you find out that a huge amount of your customers are trawling your site on mobiles and it really is worth the investment to make their life easier.
So, next time you're thinking "I wonder if we can get some valuable insights into our customers?" you just need to remember, we have a graph for that, and it comes standard.
The State of the SEO Nation05-Nov-13
Whenever you get an audit of your website it's usually with one thing in mind from the provider... they want your business!
There are various strategies that the provider who's vying for your business might take.
They could try all sorts of smoke and mirrors tactics designed to 'sow the seeds of doubt' into thinking that your site is terrible, eroding confidence in your current provider, or they could give you a balanced honest view based on the facts which are freely available to anyone who knows the right questions to ask.
Here's an excerpt from a report we were asked to review the validity of. It was produced by a big, well known SEO agency.
- The lines in red are outright wrong.
- The lines in orange represent a week's worth of work for probably no gain.
A huge portion of self proclaimed SEO experts are web designers who know very little about how Google and the other search engines work. SEO best practices from a couple of years ago may no longer be relevant, and unless your designer is keeping completely up to date with the latest information from Google and Bing it could be detrimental to your website's success.
Because Red Paris is a web technology provider a large amount of our work involves building systems for automating best practice SEO.
Red Paris is NOT an SEO agency. There are companies out there that we could recommend for SEO. However with our level of SEO knowledge we're able to state that suggestions in the report above are wrong.
If you'd like honest feedback about your website and realistic suggestions for a decent ROI, speak with us.
If you'd like more information straight from the horse's mouth, follow Matt Cutts (https://www.youtube.com/user/GoogleWebmasterHelp), head of the webspam team at Google.