I’ve read a lot of discussions about search engine optimization, and one comment that pops up pretty regularly is, “You can’t know what Google does unless you work there”.
That’s a bit like saying, “You can’t know how the laws of physics work because you aren’t God”.
While it’s true that we can’t know exactly what Google does, we can observe the effects. We can make changes to what we do, pass them through Google’s black box, and then see what the effect is on our rankings in Google.
This is the same process that has given us flight, and computers, and every other technological advance.
Further, with Google we do know their goals.
Google loved the early days of the web, when people linked to each other because the content was relevant. That’s the environment in which Google was created, and flourished. Google itself changed that landscape, by being successful enough that gaming Google was profitable. But that’s the environment that Google wants to get back to.
Where every link is relevant and in context.
Obviously, not even Google can get rid of paid links and the like. But, they can try to make sure that those sorts of artificial links do not impact a site’s ranking in Google search results.
Understanding that motivation gets us a long way to being able to make educated guesses about what Google might be doing. We can then experiment to see if the results support those educated guesses or not.
So while we can’t know exactly what Google does, we can come to conclusions that are close enough to let us improve our search engine rankings. That’s the whole point of search engine optimization.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t plug Aaron Wall’s SEO Book. Aaron has done a lot of the experimenting and thinking for us, so that we can start out ahead of the SEO game.