A Business Owner's Jargon-Free Guide to How Google Actually Works

Amit Vyas January 02, 2016

Do you own a business or are a leader of a large organisation?  Have you ever wondered how the internet impacts your business or industry?  The chances are that at some stage, you've typed in your company's name on Google, possibly the most famous of all internet based companies.  Whether your company showed up in the results or not, you may have wondered how Google actually works.  

This article will help you to better understand Google and how you can use Google to your company's advantage.

Google helps to answer questions or provide information when you need it

The best way to understand Google is to ask yourself what you personally use Google for.  When I ask this question in meetings or workshops, I get a range of answers that normally narrow down to the following:

  • "I use Google to search for answers to any questions I have"
  • "I use Google to search for information or whenever I have a query"

Both of these are absolutely correct and the important aspect of this to understand is that Google is an "answers" or "information" provider.

The next aspect to look at is this.  Whenever you type something into a Google and a new page loads up, how do you normally react?  Lets look at the following example:


In the example above, I typed in "B2B Social Media in Dubai" and the page that opened was Google's attempt at answering that query.  If you look closely at the page, you will notice that I have segmented the page into 3 main areas.  This is the structure of a traditional Google results page.

So, when you use Google and get to a results page like the one above, in which section (Red, Yellow or Blue) would you normally click on?

Most people at this stage always say the "Yellow" section.  Over the years, Google users have understood that the results contained within the Red and Blue sections are adverts of some kind and therefore, possibly won't contain the information that they are looking for.  Statistically, 94% of people who use Google, click on the Yellow section with only 6% of people click on the Red and Blue Advert sections.

Why do Google place these websites at the top of the Yellow section?

To answer this properly, people need to understand that Google is a business and probably one of the most profitable businesses in the world.  Their success comes down to delivering the best quality results so that people continue to use Google instead any of their competitors.  The bottom line is that if people stop using Google, Google makes no money.  Therefore, their sole focus is to provide the best possible service to those who use their website.

So, if you look at the results page in the example above, you will see that the top 2 answers are highly relevant to the query "B2B Social Media in Dubai".  In Google's eyes, these web pages contain the best 2 answers to what they are being asked.  If tomorrow a new website contained an even better answer to that question, Google may place that website ahead of those that are currently being shown.

It's really as simple as that.  

If your website provides answers (and specific answers) to the questions that your potential customers are looking for, there is a good chance that Google will reward you by listing your website within its results.  How quickly your website is shown or how high it is within the results may depend on other factors such as competition for answers and competitor websites.

How do you create these "answers" or pages of "information"?

It depends on what's possible on your website, but much of this can be added on your product or services pages, your frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages or on your corporate blog.  The key is to make sure that you create the type of content that your customers are searching for when looking for your business.

The Jargon

The above explanation was created to not include any jargon, but as a business owner, it's important that you understand some of the terminology used by your marketing teams and vendors.  Remember, the formula above stands firm and supports Google's recommendations to website owners so no matter what you are told by others, as long as you understand the above, you understand how Google works!  

So here are some of the terms you need to be aware of:

Search Engine:  Basically, Google is know as being a Search Engine but this term dates back to over 15 years.  I actually think the term "Answers Engine" is a better description of what Google is today.

Search Engine Optimisation or SEO:  A service oriented term where manual manipulation of the content on your website should (in theory) make your website and your web pages more Google-friendly.

Ranking:  The rank of a web page on the Google results page.

On-Page Optimisation:  Part of SEO that describes the changes to the website structure of changes to the content that is again, designed to be Google-friendly.

Off-Page Optimisation:  An old SEO approach that has limited impact today.  Today, off-page SEO generates awareness to your website using social media platforms.

Black Hat SEO:  Black Hat SEO is a tactic designed to manipulate Google and how it and if identified by Google, is penalised heavily, which can be as extreme as the blocking of your website or web pages from its results pages.

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