The performance a website has in natural search results (e.g. how highly it is positioned) on Google is dependent on three main factors. Or as Johnson and McGee (2009) like to describe it: ìThe Tripod of Loveî. Three underpinning factors support your website in its attempt to be page-ranked number 1. These are; Visibility, Relevance and Reputation. Google uses these factors to determine the likely usefulness of your website.
First and foremost lets deal with visibility; for your website to be present on Googleís search results it first must be visible to the ìGoogleBotsî. These bots ìcrawlî the worldís websites and add their information to the ìGoogle Indexî along side their corresponding URL. So when a Google user makes a search, the most relevant information related to it is retrieved from the index and the URL is pulled out the database and shown to the user.
When designing your website it is important it is done in a certain way to make sure it is visible to the GoogleBots. When the bots crawl across the web they do not experience the site in the same way we do. Google will experience your site in what is referred to as the ìsource codeî view of a webpage (You can view this for yourself by right-clicking on this page and clicking ìView Sourceî). It has great significance as to how this source code is written and structured to how visible your site and itís content is too Google.
So now your website is visible to Google, you now must make sure it is relevant to peoples searches! The solution to making your site relevant is simple, but not as easy to implement. It comes through the concept of the ìWisdom of Crowdsî (Surowiecki, 2004, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many are Smarter than the Few) and is connected with ìlinksî. Basically the premise of this concept is that the more links that exist from web pages to one particular page indicates that particular pages quality, relevance and usefulness.
ìSo if my website has loads of links to it, it will rank highly on Google in terms of relevance?Ö. What Iíll do then is create hundreds of sites myself that link to my main one and Iíll be top of the rankings! Easy!î
Unfortunately, Google knows youíll think of doing this and therefore have added a few complexities to the relevance formula. Each link to your site is scored on two scales of quality; 1. Their relevance to the target of the link and 2. Their authority within their pocket of relevance, known together as Reputation.
Reputation is the third and final leg of ìThe Tripod of Loveî and perhaps the most important. Faced with millions of sources of apparently meaningful and useful information Google has to decided which of these sites are most trustworthy. Looking at the number and the quality of links connected to a webpage allows Google to assess the reputation of it in relation to all the other web pages that include similar information.
The position of your website in the results pages of search engines are therefore completely dependent on building and continually supporting the three legs of the ìTripod of Loveî.
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