How Does Google Organic Search Work?
Do you ever wonder how some businesses are always near the top on organic Google search results? Do they have the best content or largest amount of information? Are more people searching for these businesses? Are they spending more on advertising online? Many of us take it for granted that Google search results are valid without bothering to wonder what’s going on behind the Google search page. Given the importance of the internet to your business, we wanted to provide a high level perspective on Google search rankings.
Crawling the Web. Google processes more than one billion search requests daily. These searches are conducted across more than one million servers in data centers around the world. Google uses special software known as Googlebot running on its network of servers to analyze or ‘crawl’ the web, following links from page to page. Googlebot continually looks for new sites, updates to content on sites, and the relationship or links to other sites (as well as invalid links).
Google claims that they do not accept money to categorize or index a web site or to crawl it more often, but site owners do have the ability to influence how their sites are crawled. For example, a site administrator can prevent summaries from appearing in Google results or keep their sites from being cached on Google servers.
Organizing Online Content. Google’s web crawlers report back on the billions of pages that they visited, and that information is organized into a big map. While gathering and organizing this content is difficult, the real ‘secret sauce’ is what factors Google uses to analyze this content to provide the most relevant results almost instantly. Some of these factors of this proprietary technology are known while others are kept confidential to prevent people from trying to ‘game’ the system by making changes to content in order to unfairly generate higher search rankings. Here are some of the known factors:
- Freshness of content (sites frequently updated are more likely to be returned than dormant sites that had not been updated for several years)
- Type of content (how relevant is the data on the site to the search terms)
- Quality of content (spell check is used to separate professional sites from amateur sites)
- The user’s geographic location (Google tries to retrieve sites in a relevant language)
- Legitimacy of the site (whether the page is judged to be associated with spam)
- Name and address of the website
- Social media mentions and promotions
- Search word synonyms
- How many links point to a particular web page
- The ‘value’ of those links
These last two factors involve a critical process called “PageRank.” PageRank rates web pages based on whether links to the pages come from important high-traffic, well-established pages (known as “higher authority” sites) or random pages with very few visitors. Sites with a higher Page Rank are presented higher in the search result list.
Note that PageRank is intelligent enough to differentiate by the quantity and quality of site links. For example, if one site has 5 high-quality links to it from popular sites relevant to the search term and another has 10 low-quality links from unpopular and unimportant sites, the first site will end up with a higher PageRank score.
Think this sounds simple? It’s not. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Page_rank to see some of these algorithms.
What Can You Do? There is an entire Search Engine Optimization (SEO) industry that has evolved to help companies improve their PageRank scores. Some try to find holes in Google’s methodology (also known as Black Hat SEO) while others recommend legitimate ways to improve a website’s PageRank score. In next month’s MicroBiz newsletter, we will discuss ways that you can improve your Google search rankings.
PCI Compliancy Refresher
With the recent highly publicized breaches of credit card data (e.g. Target), we wanted to provide a refresher on the PCI (Payment Card Industry) Data Security Standard. PCI-DSS has been designed to ensure a high degree of security to protect the cardholder. The Security Council is comprised of a set of 12 mandatory regulations created by the card associations to safeguard consumer card data. Compliance with these PCI standards is required for all payment processors, POS payment applications, and merchants of all sizes.
The goal of the PCI Data Security Standard is to protect cardholder data that is processed, stored or transmitted by merchants.
How Are You At Risk? Merchants are liable for card data thefts from their businesses, even if only a small number of cards are affected. By signing a credit card processing agreement, merchants agree with the card associations’ requirements for handling credit card data according to the PCI data security standards. Cardholder data security is a shared responsibility and all participants must do their part to prevent fraud.
Visa’s top five data security vulnerabilities leading to compromise:
- Storage of sensitive cardholder data, including track data, Card Verification Value 2 (CVV2), and Personal Identification Numbers (PINs) or PIN blocks
- Missing or outdated security patches
- Using vendor-supplied default settings and passwords
- Insecure website code
- Unnecessary and vulnerable services on servers
The PCI Council exists to set standards and to oversee compliance on behalf of all the card associations (Visa, MasterCard, etc.). Please visit www.pcisecuritystandards.org to learn more.
How Does This Pertain to MicroBiz? The Payment Card Industry now requires significantly increased security for credit card information than existed even three years ago. Starting with version 12.5, MicroBiz is now designed to lower the risk of breach of credit card data. This was accomplished by moving the handling and storage of credit card number storage to our integrated credit card processing software partners, such as X-Charge and TGate.
If you are running versions of MicroBiz earlier than version 12.5, it is highly recommended that you upgrade your MicroBiz software (current version is 15). The upgrade process will automate the removal of credit card numbers in the program. There is no charge to upgrade for customers who have already purchased a support contract. If you do not have a support contract and you do handle credit cards, it is still recommended that you purchase one as you will be danger of keeping credit card information at risk. If you are interested in purchasing a support contract, you may contact MicroBiz at (702) 749-5353.
Quote of the Month
“We are currently not planning on conquering the world.”
– Sergey Brin, co-founder of Google