I talk about ‘Google’ here because it’s the English speakers’ king of search engines with a market share hovering around 95% here in Australia, but the info generally still applies to Bing which the other 5% use.
What does Google try to do?
Well Google the company mainly tries to sell copious quantities of ads, but we’re talking about Google’s search engine, which tries to give its searchers the most relevant results – the results that the average searcher will be happiest with.
Google serves searchers, not website owners.
It’s a popularity contest
Google favours the sites its users like best, the sites the most people visit and share. There are many other factors, but popularity is the big one.
So to influence our rankings we really have to influence the users of our site, we have to give them reasons to like our site more than our competition.
Google wants us to focus on users, not Google
In the early days some site owners ‘tricked’ Google by plonking their keyword on their page a bunch of times and Google would bump it up the list.* And over the years the ‘tricks’ have gotten sneakier, but Google constantly gets smarter and now actively punishes deceptive sites.
Google knows its users are our users. To keep users happy Google has to list the sites that make users happy.
Keep your users in sharp focus!