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Behind the Scene: the Competition to Rank High on Google

By Edited Jun 30, 2015 2 1

You are probably one of the many people using Google daily, but have you heard about the ferocious competition that takes place behind the scene to rank high on Google? Did you know that some bloggers spend more time improving their rank than actually writing articles?

Here is more about this fascinating and yet very little known battle between online writers.

1. Why Would Anyone Care About Google Ranking?

This is the first question you may have: why do bloggers even care about it? 

The first thing is that most writers want to be read. Isn't it the reason they are writing? And ranking high in search engines is a good way to get readers.

Also, what you may not know is that money is at stake here. If a writer has 1000 articles but each of them get about 1 reader per month, this writer will probably not make much money. No advertisers are interested in posts that get so little readers. But if the writer has 1 article instead that gets 1000 readers per month, then suddenly advertisers will fight to get an ads spot on it and the writer will be able to make some money out of it.

As you probably know, where there is money, there are people cheating... but we will come back on this later.

2. What Does Google Look For?

Google Search

What makes a blog post rank high? What is it that makes search engines choose to display those results first instead of that ones?

Quite obviously, there are many parameters. To rank high, here are some parameters that are taken into account:

  • how relevant the page is: if a user is looking for information about the next Olympics, no point in displaying something about cars.
  • the page must be so good that people really read it and don't just have a quick look at it and surf away
  • the page must be so interesting that people share it on social networks, link to it, leave comments, etc...

But things start getting interesting (especially for you who are curious about it, not for writers who have to deal with it) because things are done automatically and it is enough to convince some programs that you are the best to get the higher result place.

3. Gaming the System

Effectively, it is not as simple as "write the best content, you will rank the highest". This would be too good to be true. An empty article may rank well because its author knows how to game the system.

Let's take the first point. Being relevant. To prove to some bots that a post is relevant, the author had the tendency to use the exact words people are searching for everywhere in the post (title, introduction, conclusion...). "here is more info about X, X is what you are looking for, aren't you?, this is what you need to know about X" ...

Sometimes it sounded awkward to the readers but as long as search engines were happy with it...

It even got worse as people started to use this in the URL of their blog: howtomakemoney.com, howtogetyourexback.com, shouldyoumarryhim.com... If Google hadn't started to give a penalty for this, you would probably have found a URL with the exact words you are using in all your searches. 

Shoes URLs

4. Search Engine Updates

Of course, if crawler programs were easy enough to fool, this was not the case of real people behing the search engines. They found out the many tricks used by bloggers to rank high and haven't hesitated to punish them.

Too many keywords? Sanction. Strange URL? Sanction. Suspicious number of links to the post? Too many irrelevant outbound links? Too much of this or too much of that? Bad, bad and bad.

This is why search engines have known many major updates and why some unfortunate bloggers have suddenly lost an important part of their traffic. Sure some were to be punished because they were "cheating" but others (especially newcomers) were innocent. 


Anyway, this was a simplified version of the competition that takes place behind search engines and that you may not have been aware of. I thought it was interesting enough to share it with you and hope you appreciated learning more about it.

Further Reading About Google

The Google Story: For Google's 10th Birthday
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Sep 25, 2013 7:54pm
This was certainly an interesting read. It's too bad Google dominates so much over other search engines, but that's how it is.
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