Peppergraphics Design Studio 
Web Design, Web Content Strategy, Search Strategy

Why Would Google Recommend You?

Why Would Google Recommend You?

Have you ever gotten a request for a recommendation? So often you don’t really know the person well at all, and if you agree to help them, there you are trying to figure out something to say. It doesn’t work. It’s not genuine. Why would it be different for Google?

Did you ever recommend a store without trying its products? Well maybe, if a good friend you trusted suggested it. Is there any time that we recommend something in good faith that we know nothing about? Not really.

Doesn’t Google need to know something about you or your website content so it can rank it on a search page? Have you thought about this — that each site showing on the page is actually a recommendation? Each time you type in a search box, this is a request to Google for a recommendation of content that will be a solution for your need. Why would Google do this without knowing you and your content?

Google does order the content on the page, all 60,000 or 3,000,000 selections or more. People have been trying to game this page order for years to be first on first page. There is no easy method. Google uses at least 81 different attributes of a web page to determine the order in which they are shown. And with the new “personalization” of search, the exact order is different for each viewer, based on interests and past searches.

How does Google decide whether or not to “recommend” your content? How does it judge the content quality? Whether people like your information? Whether your ideas or your products have been found to be good by others? Should Google assume that if you are popular you are really great?

Did You Win at Google’s Popularity Contest?

We used to think that just putting a website up on the web magically made Google list it. It could, the robots scan everything. But it wasn’t like that. For Google robots to scan it, yes that was routine, if they could read the words on the website. With some older coding practices, the robots couldn’t even see the words to scan them. That was the case with “Flash” websites, so popular a few years ago.

For many years we played the word matching game, “Keywords.” All you had to do was repeat a certain word more times in the right places than someone else and your website might rise higher on Google’s search page. Is that any kind of valid sign of high value for the content, worthy of recommendation? Of course not!

There was another game, the “linking” game. Whoever had more links of recommendations from others would win and rise to the top of the page. Isn’t that how board games work, you get rolls of the dice or have the luck to draw a card that says “Pass GO and collect $200.” Does this have anything to do with people, their content, or Google really getting to know you?

I’ll never forget the first time I sat in a presentation on how to succeed in helping a website rank high on Google and the three presenters were all talking about how they gamed the system with links that had nothing to do with the website making the link knowing anything about the website they were supposedly recommending with their link.

Does anybody ever ask what happened to honesty? Inventing hundreds of pretend links to a website was the way many search professionals would try to trick Google into ranking their client’s websites higher. That’s what you were competing against if you didn’t buy that service for your business.

Google figured this out and decided to stop the fake gaming and they built a new search engine over many years intending to help stop the problem. They put it live last summer. It is called “Hummingbird.” Now we are seeing that things work differently. It is a slow process, turning a large ship. But eventually Google will develop it to the point that recommendation for rank on its search pages works fairly based on quality and popularity. It will take a while.

What Can You Do to Invite Google to Get to Know You?

When you no longer have the use of games to build fake web links or mechanically repeat words to get attention from Google, what can you do? If you can’t game the system, how can you work it? A lot of people are asking this. Many folks don’t realize things changed yet on the search engine. It happens slowly. But the actions people used to take to rank high are working less every day. These websites no longer sit on top of search pages, and they often become invisible; customers can no longer find them.

Is “Social Media” is the answer — everyone is turning to social media. When the people recommend you, the Google will listen. Is that how you feel it works? I think we have just become very trusting. We don’t understand the magic, but if a lot of people “like” you then surely they will be able to find you on search and come to your store, buy your product, visit your information, and share you with others.

Does this have anything to do with Google? Google has no connection with Facebook. They cannot see private pages in Facebook. In a Search Engine Watch article, Google's Matt Cutts has explained that these social media signals are not part of the Google search ranking algorithms.

Matt Cutts Video

On each social media, you can connect with the people who follow you there. Google is the place where 80-90% of people go to search. How will you be seen on those pages if your “Social Media” efforts do not directly help you rank highly on search engine pages?

Why Not Introduce Yourself to Google?

I just don’t think it occurs to people that we can or should do this. Google+ is the “Social Media” of Google. When you are happy with the other social media platforms you are using, you may not see a need for another. Here is a different way to look at this situation.

You want Google to get to know you. Google has provided an identity solution on its platform called “Google+”. If you use it, then Google will know more about who you are, what you write online, and who likes or recommends what you produce.

I’m not talking about rank here. You don’t get rank on a search engine page just by signing up for Google+. But you do allow Google to know you better and connect your original authored content with your name and face. To me this is the logical first step toward a recommendation. I have to know you before I can recommend you. We don’t often remember to think about this on such a basic and simple level. It is like opening a conversation with Google, like introducing yourself.

Google+ is an Identity Machine

Google+ is not just a social media platform. It is the identity machine Google can use to know that you are a real human with quality content to share on your website. This is a really simple concept. It is the start of the conversation. That’s all.

Verify your identity with Google+ and connect yourself with the work you author online. This simple process is the way to help Google know who you are, that you are not some spam content, or another robot. Google is then in a position to rank you fairly against other available content by whatever means they use to analyze their data.

Now, if you want to continue using Google+ as a social media platform, then that is wonderful. At the very least, just get your identity correct with Google. I’m not saying this will guarantee you any magic rank. But it can set you up with author photos in search. You know how these faces stand out on a web search page. It is the beginning.

Authorship Steps
1. You need to use a good clear face photograph of you.
2. You set up a Google+ profile (not a page) and place your photo there.
3. You verify to Google that you are the person in that image.
4. You put a link in the "About" page contributor section to websites on which you author content.
5. Put a backlink from those websites to your Google+ profile, a two-way link using a Google+ badge. Search this on Google.