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Learn Google's secret formulaLearn Google's secret formula

In the world of search engines, Google reigns supreme. The search leader has about two-thirds of the search market, meaning that when your customers go online looking for flight training, they usually do it through Google. Knowing how Google creates search results, and why some sites rank higher than others, is important if your future customers are to find you.

There’s no quick fix to get your search results to the top of the list. That’s because Google uses a formula that incorporates hundreds of factors in its rankings, and it’s always changing. The search engine works by navigating the site and cataloging all the content. When someone submits a query, Google reaches back through its servers to find what it thinks is the most relevant content.

That’s to say your content should be related to what it is you do. If your business is flight training and only flight training, make your page about learning to fly. Have reliable stories about learning to fly, get testimonials from people learning to fly, and so on. If you think your potential customers are searching for terms such as “learn to fly,” “flight training,” and “become a pilot,” make sure those terms appear on your site. Don’t make it about flight, owning airplanes, and so on. It has to be relevant if Google is going to serve it based on keywords.

Part of the ranking involves your site’s visibility around the rest of the Internet. Some people call these votes, but you can think of them as word of mouth referrals. They are essentially links from other sites to your site. Be creative to increase your votes. Get your site listed with organizations where you’ve donated, try to get your link on a newspaper site, have your students write testimonials on their personal sites and on social media, and get professional business groups to list you as a member.

Social media also plays a large part. Cultivate your network across all the social sites, and make sure to keep the content fresh and relevant. The more you participate, the more your network will respond. And for Google it’s no surprise that Google+ is an important part of that equation.

There are numerous other factors, such as the amount of content on your page, how quickly it loads, and how often the content changes. A stagnant site will suffer in the rankings.

Become a search expert with Google’s homegrown tools, such as its Webmaster Academy. You can also find out how well your page is doing with the Moz open site explorer.

Finally, if your site is new, be patient. It can take Google a bit of time to find you. You can speed the process up by registering, which can help. There’s more about that in the Webmaster Academy.

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly

Ian J. Twombly is senior content producer for AOPA Media.

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