Yesterday, at Agent Reboot, I learned something I didn’t know – lots of things, actually. But this one thing was so simple and so powerful . . . and it was presented in less than one minute. It’s a tiny sliver of Google history.
Google was started as a search tool for locating academic theses online. The two guys who wrote the initial code and algorhythm wanted to discover the ‘importance’ of each thesis on any given topic so that all theses on the topic could be ranked from most important to least important. That’s ranking – just like your website position on a page of Google results is a ranking.
Here’s the important part: in coming up with a criteria to establish the relative ‘importance’ of any thesis, they settled in on citations. Every time a paper was cited by another paper, its ranking improved. If John Doe’s paper on ‘Negatively Charged Sub-Atomic Particles’ was cited in hundreds of other papers, then it was deemed to be pretty darn important and thus ranked higher. My paper on ‘How to Dust a Lampshade’ was cited by absolutely no one and thus ended up at the bottom of the heap.
There’s a clue on how to improve your Google rankings: it’s what we call ‘Backlinks.’ The more often your website is mentioned and linked on other sites, the more important Google deems your site to be.
So, what can you do to improve your ‘Backlink’ status? You could go out and buy links – there are services that will link to your site from all sorts of places – but Google is not stupid. She can spot that stuff in a second and you risk being Google-slapped and relegated to the dark corners of the 12th page of results. Don’t do it.
A much better strategy is to FIRST: have relevant, important, interesting and always changing content on your site. Have something there of continuous value to others, something worthy of a link. That can be a challenge on a typical company website (but not impossible), so thankfully there are other ways, notably:
Interact when you surf. When you read something that causes you to react, comment! Most times, commenting requires you to list some basic contact information and (usually) your website. BINGO! That becomes a link, a breadcrumb the Google spiders will follow right back to you.
I’m a pretty typical Internet user. I’m on that spider Web every day and I’m always searching, reading, absorbing, learning. But it’s very rare that I go to that next step: interacting. Why? I am afraid I’ll get pulled into a discussion that will sap time and energy AND I’m afraid doing so will open me up to spam and/or viscious computer attacks. The first concern is probably real but all that means is that I have to be disciplined and focused . . . and always aware of why I’m dropping this particular breadcrumb. The second concern is something I don’t know much about. But I do know how to deal with spam (use a filter) and I have a good, regularly updated virus and malware process. So that shouldn’t stop me – or you – from taking your web experience from passive reading and watching to interacting and building your own online reputation.
Now: I double-dog-dare you to leave a comment to this post and include your website address when you do! Let it be your first breadcrumb!