That is the big question that all Search Engine Optimization experts are wanting to know. No matter what you hear it boils down to this; Google wants its users to find the most relevant site to their search. With that said, Google doesn’t want us to know exactly how they determine that because they know we will find a way to cheat it.
The result of the Google secret sauce is the Google Page rank. Whether page refers to your web page or Larry Page is not certain. What is certain is that Google likes sites with a higher page rank. Some of the factors that give you a higher page rank are links to your site. Google views each link as a vote. Early in the game some smart guys started using link farms, web sites that they set up that had no purpose other than creating links to sites to increase Page Rank. Google got wise to this and stated giving weight to the link by measuring the links to the liking site. On top of that they started to penalize sites that had links from link farms. If your website has a page rank of 0, it is not helping you and could possibly be hurting you.
There are a lot of other ways Google weighs Page Rank. One is by having SSL certificate for your site. This is usually just used on pages where you enter sensitive data, but it may now carry relevance in your page rank if used throughout your site. An SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private. Google likes this because it shows you are willing to make an investment in your site and you are less likely to be malicious.
Ultimately the thing that Google wants more than anything is for the site it recommends to be relevant to the visitor. They measure this by the time spend on the site and the number of pages visited. For this, you have to give your visitors a reason to stay on your site.
Content is what keeps visitors engaged. Video, blogs, photos, illustrations and stories. Everyone wants an exciting site with lots of pages and gadgets but if your copy does not engage the visitor, you are missing the point.
The most recent major change in Google page ranking affected some businesses dramatically. My company was called to consult on how to save a business that sold cell phone batteries online. They were a 10 year old business that had over $100,000 a month in sales because they were always in the top 3 organic searches for “cell phone battery”, but Google started to put more emphasis on location and overnight, Best Buy and Batteries Plus, brick and mortar stores were on top. His business fell to $30,000 in sales over night. Within 6 months he had to lay off 12 people and close the business.
Unfortunately, the business owner waited too long to call us, and we were too late to help him, but you can learn from their mistake. Keep your SEO strategies current, your site updated, and your content relevant and engaging, and you will have a great foundation on which to build your business.