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Being Relevant and Reputable—Google’s Sweet Spot

This guest post is by John Hoff of Blog Training Classroom.

I’ve written many articles online over the years. Many deal with WordPress, blogging, and making money online; however, there’s one subject I’ve noticed which consistently takes the “most popular” topic award … search engine optimization.

The concept of search engine optimization at times can really make your head spin. In one respect, it seems like a concept which is extremely complicated to understand and implement because there can be a ton of moving parts which you have to consider, like:

  • keywords
  • keyword density
  • attaining backlinks
  • who you link to
  • duplicate content
  • how to structure your link text
  • heading tags
  • meta tags.

And now with terms like Panda and Google +1 getting tossed into the mix, I feel like grabbing our buddy Googlebot by the shirt and saying, “Really? I mean, come on. I’ve got way more important things to do online then trying to understand how your Google brain works!”

But then there’s the simplicity of search engine optimization.

The simplicity part comes when you start thinking about Google as if it were a human. By thinking of it like a human, we can better understand what it wants in terms of concepts we understand and use in our everyday lives.

The human side of Google

The above list shows all the mechanics of SEO. Google is not a human, it’s an algorithm.

Now to throw you for even more of a loop: it’s an algorithm which is trying to act like a human. You ask it something and it wants to be the smartest guy on the block.

How does it get to be the smartest guy on the block?

By giving you the best answer to your question.

And that, my friends, is what Google wants.

While Yahoo! and Bing give “okay” answers, Google wants to give you the best answer, just like your most trusted friend would, because if it can do that, you’ll keep asking it questions.

So what is the human side of SEO?

It’s the concept of helping Google get what it wants in terms of how we humans think. And by giving it what it wants, it will reward you.

How to give Google what it wants

Here’s where all those mechanics of SEO come into play. They are the way in which Google tries to determine two very simple concepts. Is a site or article:

  • relevant
  • reputable?

Now those are concepts we humans can understand a little more easily.

The relevant part is the easy part—all you have to do is stay on topic. It’s the reputable part which takes a little more work, but we’ll talk about that in just a moment.

Case study: Problogger.net

Let’s take a look at how Darren Rowse and his site are giving Google what it wants.

As of the date this article was written, Problogger.net has a PageRank of 6. Not too shabby. This tells us that Google thinks this site is important.

How then would Google see that Darren and his site are both relevant and reputable?

The “relevant” part

When you arrive on Darren’s blog, it’s obvious his site is all about the concept of blogging. Here’s a quick list of how he shows Google his site is relevant to blogging:

  • He offers products on the subject.
  • He’s got an incredible number of articles written which relate to blogging.
  • The word “blogger” is in his URL.
  • The word “blog” is sprinkled throughout his website.
  • His site’s home page title clearly tells people what they will find here (blogging tips).

And the list goes on.

Okay, so that was the easy part: just stay on topic and show Google what your site is all about. But what about being reputable?

The “reputable” part

Back in the day (years ago), simply being relevant was good enough—remember those keyword meta tags?

But being only relevant these days just doesn’t cut it and the reason is because the Internet has grown from a few thousand websites to millions of websites, with many talking about exactly the same thing.

So tell me then, who’s article would you rather read and trust?

Someone who knows nothing about blogging but wrote a “how to make money blogging” article, or an article Darren wrote which was about “how to make money blogging?”

Both articles are relevant to making money through blogging, but whose article would you trust is more correct?

Take that evaluation you just did in your head, and that’s exactly what Google is doing.

It sees that both articles are relevant to the topic but then, just like you, it makes a decision at who is more trustworthy.

And that’s where the reputable part comes into play.

Darren and his site Problogger.net are reputable for these reasons:

  • People (a lot of people) link to his site.
  • People mention his name and site even when they don’t link to him.
  • He’s like seriously everywhere: Twitter, Facebook, Google+ (how do you do it, man?).
  • His articles get retweeted, Liked, Stumbled, appear on Digg, etc.

In other words, he’s mentioned everywhere online … and in a good way.

So Darren has shown Google, just as he has to you and me, that his site is both relevant to blogging and a reputable resource people can use. By showing this to Google, he has attained decent search rank.

That’s the simple side of search engine optimization. It’s not about the mechanics, it’s about the human side of SEO.

How to get into Google’s good graces

In my opinion, the way to achieve the best search engine success is by concentrating the majority of your time on the human aspect of SEO.

Don’t get me wrong—if you’re really wanting to dive into search engine optimization, then you’re going to have to learn the mechanics. There’s no way around that. You can think of the mechanics (keywords density, header tags, etc.) like tools.

But tools don’t build buildings, people do.

Chances are that many of you want to rank your articles in Google, but have better things to do with your time than become SEO experts.

If that’s you and the idea of studying search engine optimization is as appealing as watching reruns of Rocky III all day long, then I’d suggest at the very least familiarizing yourself with a few of the more important mechanics of SEO, and then focusing the rest of your time on just building epic stuff.

Concentrate on people, and do what entrepreneurs did back in the day before the Internet.

Create that epic stuff—articles, blogs, ebooks, tweets, etc.—and then get out there and hit the digital pavement. Share your epic stuff with other people and they will like you.

And when other people like you, Google will like you. Hence Google +1.

By the way, what the heck do we call Google +1? Twitter has “tweets” and Facebook has “Likes”, but what do you say when you +1 something?

And how important do you think this tool will be after reading this post?

John Hoff the blog training instructor at Blog Training Classroom and is an Internet Marketer. If you’d like to learn more about SEO and how he ranks sites and articles in Google, he’s got a free SEO brain dump download – no email address required.

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Comments

  1. Nice one there John, you got everyone’s attention by quoting Darren as your example. Reputation is hard to get unless you please other bloggers by your writing, and I think He has done it with years of hard work and dedication.

    p.s. how long did they take to publish your article from the time you submit it?

    • John Hoff says:

      Hi Praveen,

      Darren, his site, and his authority online is a perfect example of what Google wants. The guy is a machine, though. He does it all!

      About the guest posting stuff, just send me an email on my blog’s contact form.

    • Gregory C. says:

      So true, domain age seems to be really important to Google, because it shows that you have been putting out content for a long time, and as long as people continue to link to it, it shows Google that your site is trustworthy.

      To answer your other question, it can take a few weeks to get a guest post published on Problogger, Darren most likely has a ton of submissions.

  2. I recently realized somthing about SEO that changed the way I write. It doesn’t matter all that much in the scope of things. If I get people to my site, but they don’t want to stay because the information there was written to be read by an algorithm, what good does it do me. Personally, I write for my readers and I build my “tribe” with Social Networking”. Your article is a great summary of this. Relevant and reputable=focused on your readers while building your reputation in some type of community.

    • John Hoff says:

      Hi David.

      Writing for people first is always the idea, but if getting traffic to your blog is of importance to you, I wouldn’t completely disregard onsite SEO. In fact, onsite SEO is very important, especially for your archived pages.

      As both a blogger and Internet marketer, I do it like this.

      If it’s an article which could potentially make me money, like a product review or something, I will make sure I’ve got a few breadcrumbs in my title and content for Google to eat up. If it’s an article which isn’t a direct money maker article, I’ll be a little more relaxed on researching keywords and how I link to things.

      Writing for humans and leaving a few breadcrumbs for Google to eat up shouldn’t only result in sounding robotic.

      About the social networking thing…

      That’s awesome. Just to add to that topic, I always try to remember that social networking is where the conversation begins, but my blog is where the content and discussion happens.

  3. You call them “+1′s”…

    • John Hoff says:

      Hi James. Got that. I was just kind of joking with what you call it after you “plused” it.

      Twitter has tweets. Facebook has likes.

      I guess Google has Plused it! LOL

  4. I think this was a really good post. It made me think.

  5. Chris McCoy says:

    Thanks for the post! I think I need to re-evaluate the relevancy of my blog, at the moment I just want to write about any daft topic that pops into my head haha.

    • John Hoff says:

      I sort of had something similar years ago when I started my first website. My first instinct was, write about everything I know about because I want to drive tons of people to my site.

      The site was about web hosting and I had a blog attached to the domain in which I talked about astronomy! Astronomy, Chris! “Hey why not get some web hosting while you’re waiting for that moon to drop in the horizon a little?” LOL.

      I soon realized, though, that for a business – that wasn’t so wise.

      But if your blog is about you and what’s on your mind, then I’d say you’re doing just fine.

  6. Sanjeev says:

    You made SEO simple by this article, though being human is hard these days….:)

    I like the way you made a point of being relevant to your readers and once your are trying to make them read and solve their problems rather than google-bot, a difference will be there….

    • John Hoff says:

      Hey Sanjeev.

      Life can be hard at times, can’t it? We just brought home our third baby. I’m going to have 3 little ones running around. Three! And I do most my work from home – and a lot of it has to do with creating videos LOL.

      But I don’t really consider them work, I suppose.

  7. Morgan says:

    Very nice break down! Never thought about Google like this, but I can see this definitely being helpful when considering what Google deems relevant and reputable for those who can’t keep up with all the updates. No matter how many updates there are, as long as your content is original, relevant and reputable, Google will love you.

    Great post!

    • John Hoff says:

      Hit it on the nose.

      Google will change tactics for evaluation over time, but the underlying principle I doubt will ever change.

  8. John, Good one.

    Reputation has strong connection with your dedication and trust towards the mission.
    Fine tuning, SEO and social activity will surely follow, if we able to grip in right path. Thanks for the post.

    For G+ How about “Geez”. Thanks.

    Manickam

    • John Hoff says:

      “I Geezed you, bro!”

      Ha… I like it. How cheesy does that sound? I bet it would be a hit. Making me laugh right now just thinking about it.

  9. Grant Hughes says:

    Well written but I have to disagree with this point:

    “As of the date this article was written, Problogger.net has a PageRank of 6. Not too shabby. This tells us that Google thinks this site is important.”

    A page rank of 6 doesn’t mean Google thinks this site is important it means it has a lot of backlinks. I can’t tell you how many sites I have seen that are only a month old and get a page rank of 3-5 because they had a lot of backlinks thrown at them.

    • John Hoff says:

      Interesting point and definitely worth discussion.

      I know exactly what you’re saying. I have an article which I wrote which is only a little over a month old and with doing a little backend SEO on it every other day, I have managed to get it ranked to a PageRank 3 already.

      Here’s the thing, though.

      Google wants to crawl and index (well) sites which it thinks are important, would you not agree?

      Matt Cutts himself said that Google crawls according to PageRank.

      Knowing that fact, I would say that PageRank carries a certain “importance” in Google’s eyes.

  10. Keith Davis says:

    Hi John
    Looks as though you have hit the big time… Problogger!

    Love the article, really made me think and believe me, that’s not easy.

    I’m pretty good on what we might call the “old fashioned” on page seo, title tags, that sort of thing, in fact if you Google “online video technique” one of my posts is number 1.
    Great bloke that Tom Breeze.

    My problem is building that “reputable” part with reputable backlinks.

    Getting those backlings is time consuming and you really do have to decide if your time would be better spent doing other things.

    I’ve got a copy of your Brain Download so when I’ve got time I’ll be taking a rummage through your hypothalamus and other bits. LOL

    • John Hoff says:

      Hi Keith,

      Nice to see you over here. That Tom Breeze video you have on your blog is nothing short of awesome! Those are tips people pay for.

      You’re absolutely right. As bloggers, we have to manage our time. As business owners, we have to manage our time. As a father, we have to manage our time.

      Where does SEO come in?

      It is time consuming at times, yes, but that’s why you have to choose which things you’re going to work on. If you have a little money, outsourcing is always a great way to go.

      But it always starts with proper research. If you aim for the wrong thing SEO-wise, you’re going to waste a lot of your time and effort.

  11. Awesome post, John!

    Moving beyond the basic mechs of SEO is a must — in terms of blogging, that usually means not only focusing on what people want or need to read, but also presenting it from a new angle.

    And I think we’ll end up calling it a “plus” … kinda wish Google would reflect how many times the content has been given a +1 … what do you guys think — shouldn’t Google go beyond +1 and reflect, for example, +2500 ?

  12. Himanshu says:

    learned some key points from this post.

  13. Tom Ewer says:

    Great post John – you’ve really hit on exactly how I see Google’s role in my internet business. I personally like to think of it as “write for your readers”, but writing to Google’s ‘human’ requirements is essentially the same thing.

    • John Hoff says:

      Exactly. It just takes a couple minor adjustments for Google – and it still sounds natural.

      For example, let’s say your keyword term is “NFL review”.

      Then instead of saying, “You’ve got to go check out my review on the NFL”, you might rephrase for Google and say, “You’ve got to go check out my NFL review I just posted”.

      Both read well for humans but one has a slight edge in SEO.

  14. You make some great points here. I view learning marketing as riding a bike with training wheels on. Eventually you have to take them off, move away from all the webinars, e-books, offers and what nots and just do it on your own. SEO is much the same. You get it, you find your niche, you pick a topic and eventually just go. I just wish I could stick to one topic. My blog is called ‘Marketing for Daydreamers’ but marketing is not in the title of the URL, my name is. I don’t even always write about marketing or include the word in my posts because marketing seems to encompass so many things. I have a hard time saying, ‘I am only going to focus my blog on this one aspect of marketing.’ I think that is what I have had the hardest trouble with when it comes to blogging – sticking to one topic and I seem to get the most traffic and the best response when I write about esoteric topics, existentialism, and just life and growth in general. It is all very confusing sometimes, but I think my unique writing voice comes out above it all and it is what I am remembered by. Sorry for the rant – you got me thinking. Great post, John. I will see if I can find you in the Social Media world.

    • John Hoff says:

      Hi Nicole.

      You can find me on Twitter with @johnhoff35.

      It almost sounds like although you like topics about marketing, you enjoy writing about various things. That’s okay. If you’re looking to make money in that range though, take a day and brainstorm what you can come up with given what you enjoy writing about.

      Can you come up with a mini course which relates to your blog topics? Or even an ebook or something?

      You’re totally correct about removing the distractions. I know a lot about SEO, but I’m quick to realize other people know more, so many times I get caught up myself in what they are doing.

      Time management is key to our success.

  15. Justin Dupre says:

    Thanks for sharing your insight on how Google works. I have to agree that relevance and reputation are two key qualities that will make Google SEO work.

  16. Marc says:

    This is great. Although isn’t it true that Google doesn’t even reference keywords (meta tag) on websites anymore…?

    • John Hoff says:

      I don’t think they do, but that doesn’t stop me from plugging them in anyway. Other search engines might still use them and you know, who knows what Google will do tomorrow? Maybe those will tie in somehow with Google + or something?

  17. I believe that a blogger’s reputation basically depends on the quality of his/her posts. Backlinks and SEO merely reflect a blog’s popularity.

    There are many very popular blogs that provide poor content. We cannot say that they have a good reputation only because they are popular. The word ‘reputation’ reflects honesty.

    I believe that so many people pay attention to what is written at Problogger because they have positive results when they apply the lessons they read. They know that they can trust the information they find here.

    • John Hoff says:

      Case example would be Yahoo!

      My wife reads all these different articles written by various authors on Yahoo and although Yahoo News or OMG or whatever it’s called is insanely popular, the content isn’t always well thought out, in my opinion.

  18. Grant Hughes says:

    “Google wants to crawl and index (well) sites which it thinks are important, would you not agree?”

    I would agree to some degree but I think it would be more accurate to say google wants to crawl all viable sites and include them in the index. All sites are important to Google because they are an index…the better sites ( in Google’s eyes or algorithm, will be at the top. That in and of itself doesn’t mean the site is exactly important either as I think we have all seen spammy poorly written sites on the first page of searches.

    • John Hoff says:

      Hi Grant.

      While it’s true that they want to index all sites, I don’t think anything could be less true then the fact that Google wants to crawl and index well sites which it thinks are important. By using the word “important”, I’m referring to what Google would consider an important website to be. Things like:

      – reputable
      – relevant
      – useful

      Can spammy websites get near the top? Sure, but that’s the whole reason for algorithm changes and things like Panda. It wants to weed those sites out from being indexed well and instead favor sites which contain the properties of the three mentioned above.

  19. James Greg says:

    Great post, not just for the sake of commenting but from the bottom of my heart, why? Because I would say that what is truly SEO I can make a vivid picture now. Although I’ve been reading about SEO in many blogs and articles but it was not clear to me. This clarified and explained a lot. Superb work and though it might not have caused you trouble in compiling your experiences but it has helped me a lot.

    • John Hoff says:

      Hi James, that is awesome. My pleasure and glad it’s made it a bit more clear. Once you get a few of the basics, it all basically falls into place.

  20. Liam says:

    The reputable part is definitely harder.
    I’m trying to work on that now, using many tips from this site.
    Thanks!

    • John Hoff says:

      I’ve been following Problogger for many years now, Liam, and it’s given me a lot of great ideas and taught me many things.

  21. Sameh says:

    I like how you described Google and SEO in the beginning of your article. You have a great writing skills!

  22. Will Marlow says:

    I was in the process of nodding my head in agreement with this post, thinking you were a very talented, well-informed writer, until I got to your swipe against Rocky 3, at which point you lost me forever. Any boxing movie in which the villain is named Clubber Lang and played by Mr T is ok by me.

    • John Hoff says:

      LOL – I was wondering if anyone was going to hit on that.

      When I was younger I think I drove my parents crazy because I use to watch that movie like two times every day for like six months.

      Rocky’s the bomb.

      There, did I win you back? ;-)

  23. Hi John,

    Relevance and reputation – got it! (I always knew Google was a human bean! ;))

    Just finished your free mini-course. Appreciated learning how to automatically get notified for spam links onsite. Thanks for that tip!

    Great article on SEO here; you explain things well. Thanks!

    Congrats for being on Problogger and congrats for the new little one in the family! :)

    • John Hoff says:

      Hi Dee and thank you. The new little guy is awesome and so perfect. He’s going to be our last child so we are trying to soak up all those baby moments.

      Glad to see you liked my security mini course. That particular lesson about Google notifying you of spam links is a good one. That actually might make a good post over here. It’s good information for everyone to know.

  24. family and friends are an inspiration, and they do have a lot of stories they can share to us which we bloggers can share to a bigger audience.

    - Jack Leak