WHAT do you think Tuesday Golf, Canadian Rummy and Eric McMordie have in common? My natural inclination would be to say that there is nothing to connect these three things.
In fact the thing that links them is the community website for our local town that my wife Jacqui and I maintain.
Jacqui and I play cards from time to time. One of the games that I played as a kid was called Canadian Rummy. When we first moved to Almerimar we played the game with some friends. At the time we had some type written rules for the game that I had produced in the early 1980s.
I was asked to provide the rules so that other people could have a copy and could play the game when they were back in the UK. On top of that, one of our friends introduced some additional rules about buying cards for money. These were included in the rules in 2008. Early in 2009 we were asked to publish the rules on the internet so people could find a copy when they needed them. We published them on the Almerimar Today website.
Now almost three years later if you enter the words Canadian Rummy into Google the story on the site with a link to the rules comes up on the front page of the search results. It has done so for almost three years now.
So although there is no real repetition of the phrase in articles on the internet and it is not particularly timely the Almerimar Today article has stayed at the top of the Google search results for around three years.
A while ago I was explaining to someone about narrowing down searches on Google. The article here describes the advantages and disadvantages of using quotes symbols around words and other slightly more advanced Google search techniques than simple searches.
At the time I was demonstrating this I thought I would be clever. I tried to think of two words that separately might be on the same website lots of times but close together in a phrase would perhaps only be used reasonably frequently on Almerimar Today.
We publish the results of regular Tuesday golf competitions organised by our friends Sune and Marianne when they are in Almerimar for the winter season. So I thought that by putting the words Tuesday golf into Google and then entering the exact phrase in quotes (e.g. “Tuesday golf” ) we would see a difference in results.
In fact in this example it does not make much of a difference. The top two links that come up in the search results are Almerimar Today and tuesdaygolfers.com.
When I first did this search I was really surprised to see that Almerimar Today ranked so highly for the Tuesday golf search. I guess it is because we publish a story most weeks throughout the winter with these two words together in the story. So the repetition of the phrase is perhaps what drives Google to position our site highly for this search.
As mentioned in the Google help article above you have to be careful about the use of quotation marks in searches. Nevertheless the use of quotes and some of the other examples mentioned in the help article can be useful when trying to narrow down search results on Google.
The third example is Eric McMordie who was a footballer who played for my home town team of Middlesbrough in the 60s and 70s.
In early 2009 I was watching a TV show about the life of George Best. This show mentioned that George and Eric McMordie went to Manchester United for trials together. This made me think of Eric who was one of the first ever professional footballers I saw playing live. So I looked him up on the internet and wrote a brief story on Almerimar Today about him.
Imagine my surprise that when I entered Eric McMordie into Google not long after publishing the article the reference to Almerimar Today came up in the list on the front page of results.
This triggered my interest a little and for the next few months I kept doing searches for Eric McMordie and watched as the article disappeared down the list of Google results. When I checked today the article from January 2009 was on page six of the results from Google.
To test this out further I wrote another article about Eric McMordie yesterday. In less than a day it had been indexed by Google and appeared on the first page of search results.
So this was an example of Google using the timeliness of an article to increase its position in search results.
We take Google for granted and probably do not really think too much about how it works.
As you can see from the examples above repetition and timeliness are two factors that Google uses to determine relevance. However, for me it is a bit of a mystery about how Google uses these and other factors to determine search results.
From past experience I know that pure repetition of phrases on websites without taking context into account can be detrimental to your position in search results.
Also, Google has a habit of changing the rules reasonably regularly. This helps to keep Search Engine Optimisation experts in business forever trying to keep websites high up in the search results for specific search strings.
Hopefully this article has given some examples of different ways in which Google determines the relevance of links when publishing search results and has provided some useful tips for refining search strings.