There is a lot of confusion about Google among new website owners.

Many believe that Google offers them a guarantee of success for their business and that their website will instantly hit the top of the rankings and that all they must do is sit back and let the money roll in.

Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth and, to help you better understand how Google works, here are four things that you need to know about Google.

They may not fit with your view of Google but after 20 years of working with search engines this is the truth.

Why can’t I find my website in Google?
This is a question that we are asked by almost every new client within a day or two of their website being completed. People seem to have an expectation that they will instantly be able to find their website in Google and nothing could be further from reality.

Google offers no promises and it makes no guarantees that it will ever list your website.

In fact, Google says quite clearly that it can take up to 12 months before it will list a new website … and even then, there is no guarantee that it will list a website for the keywords and keyword phrases that are important for your business.

While experienced web designers will do everything they possibly can to get the fundamentals of search engine optimisation right for your website there are simply no guarantees.

Google is not your friend

Why isn’t my website on the first page of Google?
This is another question that we are constantly asked by clients who do not understand how Google works.

Google compares every website to a very complex list of over 250 different factors that it considers to be important in ranking those sites. The sites that Google ranks above your website in the search results for terms that are important to you are the sites that do better than your website in those comparisons.

Google does not tell us what those ranking factors are or how important each of those factors are. However, we do know that Google can, and does, change the importance of some of those ranking factors from time to time.

We also have a fairly good idea of what some of those ranking factors are and some are listed here … in no particular order:

The age of your website. (You can read more about age as a ranking factor here)

How many links from other, relevant and trusted websites point to your website? (You can read more about links here)

Is the focus of your website relevant to the search term someone is looking for?

Is it easy to find important information on your website?

Is your site useful or is it just trying to sell something?

Does your website load quickly? (Currently Google wants it to load in under 3 seconds.)

Is your website user-friendly for people who are looking at it on a mobile phone or tablet?

When was the last time anything new was added to your website?

Those are just some of the things that Google looks at when it visits your website.

You also need to remember that the search results display many other websites and every one of them wants to achieve good results too so you are competing with a lot of people for the few listings that appear on the first page of any search results that Google displays.

It’s Google’s game and Google sets the rules

If my website gets to the front page of Google will it stay there?
No, there is never any guarantee that your website will stay at the top of the search results.

Google is continually tweaking those ranking factors and in the last 12 months it has made over a thousand changes. Some of those changes are minor while others have had a major impact on the way sites are ranked.

Google rarely tells us when changes are coming and doesn’t always tell us about the changes after they have been made. That means that you can be on top of the rankings one day and not on the first four pages by the next morning.

Can I pay someone to get me better rankings for my website?
Yes, you can. There are plenty of reputable search engine optimisation specialists out there who can work to improve your rankings but this type of work is slow and expensive.

There are also a lot of less reputable people out there who will offer you the same services but for a lot less and much reduced time frame. Unfortunately, they will deliver a quite different result.

In general people who offer you cheap and fast results cut corners and try to cheat their way to the top. When Google sees the work that these guys are doing on your website your site will disappear from Google’s listing in a heartbeat.

Google accepts that website owners want to achieve the best rankings and are prepared to pay for specialists to achieve those rankings for them. What Google doesn’t want to see is work done that has obviously been done to fool Google into giving you a good ranking.

When Google thinks that you have been trying to cheat your way to the top it will penalise or ban your website and recovering from either of those can be a long and expensive process.

Always remember that:

Google offers no guarantees

Google sets the rules

There are no shortcuts

Google will penalise or ban your website if it thinks you have been trying to game the system to achieve a good ranking.

So, if you are building your business on the business that you think that Google will send your way then perhaps you need to have patience or a Plan B