The Internet is a bit like a video game—if you want to win the game, you have to master the rules. And when it comes to search engines like Google and Bing, the rules are constantly changing. Coming out on top of the search listings requires ingenuity, dedication, and even a little bit of luck. From the perspective of a reputation builder, search engines look a little different.
Over the years, Google and Bing have become increasingly sophisticated, and what was originally outlined as a relatively straightforward ranking algorithm has evolved into a complex system incorporating social media, image identification, artificial intelligence, and a whole host of individual factors that we’ll never know.
There are some mainstays to the search engine process for reputation purposes, however. Most people use search engines, reputation management consultants changes what they show. This is how:
The first thing search engines do is look at a body of content, examine a particular search phrase within that content, and “score” the phrase, assigning a value of relevance that determines a page’s importance, authority, and reliability. In turn, this helps decide whether a certain site will show up for a given search phrase. For Google, this complicated inner working is broken down into a 0-10 scale called PageRank.
A site’s given PageRank depends on a few factors:
A link to a site from another page counts as a “vote” toward raising the site’s ranking. The more links to your site, the better its ranking will be. The more reputable the sites linking to yours are, the faster your score will rise.
Once the relevance for a given search phrase has been determined, search engines assign rank. Rank is assigned based on priority and relevance, and relevance is based on the number of incoming links, so here too the links the come into your page—the number of them and their sources—matter greatly.
Links aren’t the only factors at play. Other elements, like the inclusion of certain search terms in the page, especially in the title tag, matter as well. A page with lots of incoming links from other relevant pages may not rank in search results well if it doesn't have on-page relevance itself. Links alone are not the answer, but they are part of it.
Not all websites have links coming to the page, but they may still have good, relevant content. To solve this problem, Google created RankBrain, which looks at pages much like a human would and then judges its merit. This solves the problem, helping make sure that just because a page has no links to it doesn’t mean it has to languish in search result purgatory forever. RankBrain helps ensure these types of pages see the light.
For most of us, when we think “search engine” we think of Google, but Bing offers some unique differences in their ranking algorithms. SEO is still important, but Bing puts less priority on back linking and more on pages that have been around for longer periods of time.
In some studies Bing's results were superior to Google's.
Bing doesn’t crawl through pages the way Google does. Instead, it focuses on ranking a fraction of the content and letting links do the rest. Where it outshines Google is its grasp of multimedia content. Bing’s algorithm is able to read and understand non-text content like Flash, videos, and images, factoring the meaning of the media content into the overall meaning of the page.
Google and Bing offer differences in their algorithms, and a good reputation builder should know how to achieve the benefits of both. Focus on producing quality content, keeping keywords relevant, and building strong linking relationships with reputable websites and you should be successful on both engines.
The point of reputation management is to improve search and social results. To do that we look at search engines differently than most. We try to discern what makes them tick from the viewpoint of the entire branded search profile - not just a single search result like SEO's normally do. That means looking at all types of web properties, the competition, content and technical factors, then giving the search engines and the people who use them, what they need and want most. The end result is better search results.
Image credit: Christina Morillo