MARCH 2011
Salvaging Millions
Who decides who gets to be on page one in Google’s search results?

When a searcher types in a search term like Fort Worth award winning restaurant, who decides who shows up as number one and who shows up on page one in Google?

Books have been written on this question, but I will try to make it simple.

I will use Google because they are the search engine most frequently used.

Google wants to display the results that most closely respond to the keywords that a user types into the search box.

So, how do they decide which listing should be number one and which ones should be on page one of the results for a search term? The biggest factor by far is the votes that a page gets.

WHAT? You didn’t know you and others were voting?

Votes in the search world are simpler to understand than you think. There are no hanging chads. They let the world vote for a particular site in a lot of ways, but the most important measures Google uses are the number of links that point at a site and the quality of the sites that those links come from.

Let me give an example. If you own a restaurant, it’s fairly easy to get your friends to put a link on their web site that points at your restaurant’s homepage. You could get dozens of these links if you have enough friends. Google sees them all, and tabulates those votes, placing a value on each link.

(If you give them a link back, it’s called a reciprocal link and Google discounts the value of those links because they are more like back scratching than endorsements or votes. Think of reciprocal links as like going down to the bus station and paying $1 apiece to a bunch of bums to cast ballots for you. If Google catches you buying votes, their votes essentially won’t count.)

Google realizes that those links (or votes) from your friends for the restaurant don’t necessarily mean the food is great. But, what if you get on CNN for those fabulous homemade rolls and CNN puts a link on their website back to your site? That link has a lot of authority because Google trusts CNN a lot more than the link from the local tire shop’s five page website, and that link from CNN would likely push your page rank way up, at least temporarily.

Google also knows how much traffic a site has and a story on CNN with a link (also called a “backlink”) will likely drive visitors to your restaurant’s site. Now when someone types in an award-winning, Fort Worth restaurant, you are likely to be in the top listings for that term, as well as best homemade rolls in your city, etc. As time goes on, the votes lift your page rank, which increases the likelihood that your web site will be shown close to the top of the listings for a chosen keyword phrase.

Web marketing and search engine optimization is always a part of any consulting or speaking assignment I do, and we always make sure participants in our Peer Benchmarking Group Sessions understand the tools to gain optimum page rank as part of their overall strategy to increase business using strategic web development.

As a promoter of my businesses, I have had to become a web expert. Now I’m helping other small business owners. I’ll be glad to share some of the dos and don’ts of creating an effective business web site with you.


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Ron Sturgeon is past owner of AAA Small Car World. In 1999, he sold his six Texas locations, with 140 employees, to Greenleaf. In 2001, he founded North Texas Insurance Auction, which he sold to Copart in 2002. In 2002, his book “Salvaging Millions” was published to help small business owners achieve significant success, and was recently reprinted. In June 2003, he joined the new ownership and management team of GreenLeaf. He also manages his real estate holdings and investments. You can learn more about him at He can be reached at 5940 Eden, Haltom City, TX 76117, or 817-834-3625 ext 6#.