Hey, everyone; Ken Courtright here. Want to start this podcast by saying I truly appreciate everybody listening. Any material you guys would like me to cover, or talk about in any way shape or form, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I have got some great emails so far, tremendous feedback. People have gotten information on the podcast I did not think they would pick up on. I had no idea some of the stuff we were covering would hit people that way.
Kind of enjoying doing these podcasts. I’ve got a great one for you guys today. I’m going to rip through, in our opinion, how Google operates today. I’m going to hit it from probably a different angle than maybe your internet marketers or your SEO guys have told you about, or if you are an internet marketer, or an SEO guy, maybe I can add a couple nuggets to what you’re doing, what you know.
I want to first share, where am I getting this info from? Because I’m going to cover this, and I just did this in San Francisco this past weekend. I got a lot of people coming up to me with some larger companies that said, “How come my internet marketers haven’t told me this?”
First I want to give you some backdrop. I think most of you guys that are listening know that our company, Income Store, currently manages close to 700 revenue-generating websites. Our portfolio is seen by, I think, 180, 190, maybe 200 million people a year. The thing that I want everybody to know, when I rip through these three different things, I call them the “big three” of what Google’s looking at today to elevate rankings, is, we really have no choice but to figure out exactly what to do, because every one of these 700 websites that generate revenue, we are contractually obligated to provide an 11-22% return to the website partner.
Whoever funded that deal into perpetuity is going to receive a fairly decent revenue stream from that website. The reality is, as we found out our first couple years many years ago, growing websites is not that easy. We had to make sure we were not doing anything that was too fast, too hard, too quick growing. We want steady growth; we want consistent growth. We want growth for 10 years from today, not just today, so we had to find out, what do you do? How do you really grow a website consistently? How do you generate traffic, which can turn into legitimate convertible leads and actual real revenue?
Some Science Behind How Google Ranks a Site
I’m going to give you the no-holds barred, here’s what works today. Here’s what Google’s looking for. I’m actually not going to give you the marketing techniques to grow stuff. I’m going to tell you how does Google work. The title of this podcast is, “How Google Works.” It really should be, and maybe I’ll change it. It should be, “How Google Ranks” or, “How Google Stacks.”
Here we go. There is what we call internally, “the big three,” and the big three things that Google and quite frankly, Yahoo and Bing are looking for… Just as another disclaimer, up until about 18 months ago, if you can go to Wayback Machine, archive.org, and look at some quick snapshots of Yahoo and Bing, you can sometimes catch this, but in faint gray underneath the search bar it used to say, “enhanced by Google.” When I say how Google works, I mean how all search engines work. I’m saying but not saying that it’s possible that Yahoo and Bing are enhanced by Google.
With that said, the big three are credibility, popularity, and author equity. I’m going to go one at a time and give some light explanations. I’m going to do it in a way that, hopefully, everybody can grab and understand. You could absorb this if you’re driving in your car right now. You certainly don’t need to take notes. You need to catch concepts on this one. If you have a company that needs to generate leads, you’re going to really want to pay attention. If you have competitors that are beating you organically in search, you probably want to get some cue tips. If you want to make money online by writing or music or whatever, you’re going to have to rank. You’re going to have to come up in search, or you’re going to have to pay till you’re blue in the face into Google’s 3.8 billion dollar a month pay-per-click machine.
That’s said, here we go. Credibility is number one. Credibility simply says this: Google looks at themselves like the old Encyclopedia Britannica. They think, they know, they are the world’s source for information. It is critical to Google that they put their best foot forward, that the best, most reputable, most quality sites come up on page 1 and page 2 for search, for any different search phrase.
Here’s some pretty interesting side notes. Over the last 6 years, 26% of all searches in the Google search bar are for the first time. I’m going to pause for dramatic effect. One out of every 4 searches, worldwide, for the past 6 years, Google has never seen before. Tomorrow, when you wake up, one out of every 4 things typed into the Google search bar are going to be brand new to Google. They have no idea where to send that traffic. Guess what they do? They have to guess. They use a best guestimation.
The Big Three That Affects How Google Ranks a Site:
In the three big three criteria that Google’s looking for to determine rankings, number 1, is credibility. They want to put the most credible, proven, the most provenly, if that’s a word, credible site above a less proven, less credible site. How do they judge credibility? Well going back into ’95, when they filed the extension of their patents, you can do some homework, credibility since day 1, is “other industry websites making a mention of you in a way that if someone clicks on the mention, it opens up said websites.”
Let’s say we’re starting 2 different websites today, ABC.com, and DEF.com. Well, let’s say they’re both medical sites. If ABC.com is, say, 6 months old, and there happens to be one other medical site that has mentioned ABC.com, we’re going to give that a relative score of say, 10 points. Maybe get 10 points for 1 mention. Let’s say DEF.com is also 6 months old and it has, say, 5 other medical sites that have made a mention of it. If you’re Google, and you stand back and the only thing you have to judge these sites on, when you crawl them with your bots and your spiders, is, “Well, this one site, ABC.com has had 1 mention. This site, DEF.com’s had 5. All things considered, they all have home, about us, frequently asked questions. Let’s put the site with 5 mentions above the other one because that’s all we have to go on.”
Now things can change, if the other site starts adding content every week and it’s great content. There’s other factors, but the biggest factor that gets people out of what’s called the “Google sandbox,” which I’ll explain in a second, is credibility. Let’s go right to the Google sandbox. Feel free to Google that term. The Google sandbox is about a 6-24 month semi-penalty box, semi sitting-in-the-corner box, semi, we’re going to just sit back, wait and watch box.
Basically, Google says, “Hey, if you’re a new site, we don’t know if we should trust you or not, so we’re going to sit back and wait, see if you write consistently fresh, organic, unique, non-plagiarized content. Then, if the content’s decent, we’re going to add up what’s called your popularity, which is box 2, which I’m going to talk about in a second. We’re going to add your social signals, see if anybody’s moving your content out there. Most things considered, what we’re going to rank the most important is, “Do you have any other sites in your industry adding you to tools and resources, blogging about you, linking to you, in essence, how many other websites in your industry think you’re awesome?
The addition, meaning the physical math of how many links, which are known as back links or link backs, are pointing to your site equals your credibility score. Now, it’s deeper than that. It’s actually a empirical algorithm, but for simplicity sake, if it’s two sites all things equal, both with 5 pages of content, both 6 months old, one has 1 link from a medical site, another has 5 links from 5 different medical sites, Google’s going to think the site with 5 links is more credible. Your first of the big three is credibility.
Now, watch this. Credibility is an algorithm. If the site that just has 1 mention, if they’re getting that 1 single mention from, say, WebMD, the largest medical site in the world, well, that one mention is definitely going to outweigh the 5 other mentions if they’re smaller mentions on 5 smaller websites. It’s an algorithm, but I’m just giving you a general concept here. I’m not going too deep, but suffice it to say, if you have a website and you yourself are the marketer, you might want to take a good hard look maybe using tools like SEO book, or use tools like Majestic SEO, and simply find a way to add up or count how many other sites are linking back to you.
There’s a ton of free tools; just Google it. Find out how many are linking to you, and then find out how many are linking to your competitors. Now you’re going to have a quick score of what you can kind of hold yourself to and who you’re chasing out there. That’s credibility.
Let’s move on to the second of the big three. This is getting a lot of play the last few years. It’s called, “popularity.” Popularity does not mean how popular is your site, how much traffic does it get. That’s not exactly what we’re saying. Popularity means, if you look at a website, there’s a home page, but below the home page, typically under navigation buttons like, “home,” “about us,” “frequently asked questions,” “products and services,” everything else past the home page, I’m going to define that as a sub page or a tier 2 page, anything. Popularity says, how many social signals is your website gathering on a daily, weekly or monthly basis? How many social signals are gathering, so we have to define “social signals.”
A social signal is whenever a page, a sub page, a tier 2 page of your site, gets shared on any social media platform, you’re going to get what’s called a “plus 1 signal.” If a page of your site gets moved to Facebook and shared with 2 other people, that’s a plus 1 signal. If your picture of part of your website, maybe on page 2 of your website goes to Pinterest, that’s a plus 1 signal. If somebody grabs a post, puts it in Google Plus to share, that’s a plus 1 signal. If somebody Tweets your page, it’s actually not a plus 1 signal, but if it gets retweeted, it’s a plus one signal.
What Google’s looking for with popularity is, “What can we track that cannot be in any way, shape or form manipulated or gamed?” Let me define that. From about 2004 to 2012, there were a lot of people across the world that were gaming the system. I actually wrote a book a couple years ago called, “Online Income: Navigating the Internet Minefield.” I devoted a whole chapter of how some companies were trying to game the system. I became, let’s just say, not very, let’s just say a lot of people weren’t very happy that I shared how SEO and internet marketing companies were out there hurting people.
Basically, I exposed that. I definitely wasn’t the first guy to expose that, but the reality is, prior to 2012, the beginning of a lot of Google’s massive algorithm changes, you could go overseas, you could quite frankly do this in the US, but the fastest way to game the system with Google is people would go overseas, pay 50 bucks for a 100 to 500 fake links from fake websites. Because these websites were technically real, they were a fictitious name on a real website, with 2 pages of fake content, and they linked back to a site, you could say they were a real website. The bottom line is, people would sell these links from these fake sites to anybody that would pay them. Google caught onto it for sure.
Bottom line is, these methods of these, let’s call them “black hat” techniques, they hurt a lot of people’s websites. Many of these websites got hurt and had no idea why, because nobody told them they were using poor techniques. I’ll give you an example; if you Google, “Google busts BMW,” “Google busts JC Penney,” “Google busts Overstock.com,” I doubt that BMW, JC Penney and Overstock knew that some of their contractors doing their marketing were buying fake links.
I think what happened is they hired a firm who got busy, who hired another firm and then they subcontracted out to somebody else, and those people probably went out and bought those to impress the people that gave them the job. The bottom line is, you don’t want to game the system. There’s another phenomenal story; I think the kid was at Northern Illinois University or somewhere, an Illinois University, I’m not sure where. He was a sophomore, and he built a luxury car parts website. He was a sophomore in college and he got a hold of Google’s algorithm and said, “Wow, I just got to go out and buy a couple thousand links.” He was buying 500 links a month and very quickly he passed all the major luxury brands, BMW, Lexus, and some of the big car agencies got together and sued Google.
That was the beginning of the end, and Google started making sweeping algorithm changes called “Panda,” “Penguin” and such. Bottom line is popularity says this, “Hey, what can we put in place,” this is Google talking, “where we can only measure real human activity?” The reason if someone Tweets your post, you don’t get a plus 1 signal is, you can write a program to do that. If it’s retweeted, you need to be a human being to retweet something. There’s no program to do that.
They’ve got popularity down; it’s pretty good. What I love about Panda and Penguin over the years is, it weeds out all the garbage. It weeds out all the fake links, all the plagiarized crappy content, so when you talk about credibility plus popularity, you’re letting the real, legitimate websites with real, legitimate, organically written, non-plagiarized content. I say that because 82 percent of all content online is somewhat plagiarized. That’s number 2.
You Can’t Overlook Author Equity
Number 3 is, “author equity.” For anybody that doubts this piece I’m about to cover, I recommend strongly that you go to the article online by the blind 5-year old. I think it’s “blindfiveyearold.com,” just look up “author rank,” and see what the Google patents say about author equity. I’m going to give you my definition, and again, this is going off the fact that we have 3,000 domains in action, but we have 700 revenue-generating websites. Again, most of them, we have to guarantee the site’s growth to the site partner, so we have to find out what ranks a website.
Author equity says this: “Every website has content on it. Every piece of content has a signature.” If you’re not actually signing off, say, “This post written by John Hancock,” or whatever, the author’s signature, or author equity of that page is, by default, “admin.” Every website has a signature. I strongly recommend, if you’re going to write content, that you actually sign your name, John Evans, Mary Smith, put your name there.
The reason is this; if you have a small website and you’re website is the only one you write for, if we give author equity a ranking, say 0-100, which, this is not how they do it, this is my way of explaining it, but if you just write for your own little website, you might have an author equity score of, say, 3. However, watch this. If Google catches your same signature, especially if you back it up with your Google Plus profile and prove it, and there’s a way to do that, and they start seeing you writing for other websites, they might raise your author equity from 3 to say 20 or 30.
Not only does this raise your author equity and thus your rankings on your own website, it even helps the rankings of the other people’s websites you’re writing for. There’s actually a very similar model out there called “Klout,” K-L-O-U-T, so I recommend you check that out. You can see your personal Klout score, which is your weight or your equity on social media when you post. There’s a couple different ways to raise your author equity.
First is, can you get out there and start writing for other websites? Google really appreciates that, because it proves you’re real. It proves other people trust you and then Google can trust you more, but the real way to raise your personal author equity is if you can find other people with strong author equity, authors, executives, people with massive LinkedIn profiles, and have them start writing for your website. This is what we call the “Oprah effect.”
When you can pull big people into your site, it physically raises your own personal signature, so Google says, “Okay, wow. This person has the Klout, pun intended, to bring in such and such to their own website. That’s impressive.” Again, remember Google, they think they’re Encyclopedia Britannica from the old days. They want to be known as the best, most transparent, most trusted place to go for information. They really need to find a formula for, “Who are the best trusted writers in the world?” Places like Huffington Post, and I think New York Times, they will actually pay you per post based on your Klout and your author equity score. It’s how you actually get paid per piece. That is like your net worth online, your value.
I’m going to do a quick, quick refresher and then tie this together. When you’re ranking a website, it’s pretty important to understand that rankings are important. Let me put this in perspective. If you own the number 1 spot for the word, “insurance,” or the word, “real estate,” you will have, in the US and Canada, in a single day, more visitors, more eyeballs looking at your number 1 placement than if you owned every single billboard to and from Chicago, on every major highway leading to and from Chicago. I don’t know how many millions of viewers that would be, but here’s the deal. If you’re in second place, it’s only half of that. If you’re in third place, it’s only half of second place. It keeps cutting in half.
The real magic, when it comes to rankings, is if you can look up your key phrases and analytics and see anything in spots 11 through 19, 11 through 20, you’re on page 2. You’re really close to the Promised Land. If you can do some more content, some more marketing, get that up to 9, you’re at the bottom of page 1, 10, you’re at the bottom of page 1. Every time you notch up 1 single spot, from 9 to 8, 8 to 7, 7 to 6, etc., you physically double the number of impressions on your website. It is absolute magic, and if you can climb up the rankings in certain keywords, you turn your company into a living ATM machine.
I would take how Google ranks very seriously. I would do a lot of homework. I would watch YouTube videos. I would read everything. If Rand Fishkin publishes it, I’d read it. If Pat Flynn talks about it, I’d read it. I would absorb what these guys are saying from every angle possible. For those that don’t know my buddy, Pat Flynn, out there, check out Smart Passive Income blog. It’s amazing. If you’ve never been to that site, you click the button that says, “Hey, if you’re new, start here.”
He literally shows you, from day 1, 7 years ago, every screenshot of every move he’s ever made. It just baby steps you from how he went from nothing to a 6 figure a month income. He shows you his checks every single month. If you really want to know how to increase rankings, how to write a piece of content, how to make a video, how to put an ad in the right spot, highly, highly recommend Pat’s website. It is awesome. He’s a machine.
That’s awesome. I want to wrap up by saying this; In the previous episodes, I’m always forgetful. Again, I want to thank everybody for listening. I’ve been reading the emails that are coming in. I did not know a podcast would be this impactful. Again, true thanks. If you’re listening, if you don’t mind, go to the desktop version of iTunes; it’s the only place you can do a review, I guess. If you don’t mind giving me a review on this. It’s a relatively new podcast. I think this is episode 7.
Most importantly, if you don’t mind, subscribe to the podcast. That way, with my crazy schedule, if I dump 5 in on a Sunday, or 1 a week. I’ll never do less than 1 a week, probably 2 a week. That way, if you subscribe, you get them as they come in. That way I can dump on you and just keep the flow going, because what happens is I end up going and doing a presentation, I have a seed of a thought and I go, “Oh my god; I got to get this on the podcast.”
That’s what happened with this episode. I presented this material and realized I had not made a podcast on how Google ranks. Hopefully, this one comes out okay; hopefully people can understand it. The big three: credibility. How many other websites are linking to you? It is that simple. I would find a way to create incredible content so that the world wants to link to you.
We’re 7 for 7, getting the government to link to our websites. How did we do it? We built killer tools that we knew certain state governments would want to use. After we spent all that money on the tool, we’d call them up and we’d say, “Listen, do you find this valuable?” They say, “Oh my gosh, yeah,” and they put that tool in their tool and resource section of their dot gov website. There’s no bigger, better link to get than a dot gov, so have a strategy, think outside the box of how to purposefully get some killer links, and then of course, popularity.
If you’re writing good content, your stuff’s going to get shared. Just write good content. Focus on the content; content is king. Marketing the content’s King Kong. You know what the best marketing is? Good content. The world will want to share your content.
Then author equity is simply, “What is your personal signature worth?” If your stuff’s moving and getting shared out there, you’re author equity is going to go, because people are going to ask you to write for their site as well, interview you on podcasts, all that type of stuff raises your author equity.
Again, guys, thanks for listening. I truly enjoy doing these. You guys are awesome. Take care.