What Does Google Think Your Website is About?

First the disclaimer: Google is not a person; Google doesn’t think. Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me ask you — what does Google think your website is about?

This is important. Metaphorically speaking, Google looks at your website and decides whether it’s worth indexing. If it has lots of duplicate content or seems to have no purpose for existence but to send people on to some other website (a link farm or affiliate mall, say), it won’t bother. If Google decides to index your site, it decides what your site is about. Then, when people search for whatever you’re about, it offers your site to them.

It offers your site and others in the order of quality and trustworthiness. That is, my site on pens and your site on pens will both be offered to someone searching for pens. However, the site that is better written, better designed, faster loading, and more highly respected by the online community (as evidenced by links and citations) will be offered first.

But any site on pens will only be offered to seekers for pens if Google can tell that pens are what it’s peddling. If I optimize so diligently for the keyword phrase “Mont Blanc” that Google thinks I offer Alpine holidays, people looking for pens will never be offered my site at all.

What’s your website about?

Sometimes your website truly is not clear about what you offer because your business model is a bit fluid. You’re not really sure what you have to offer. You don’t want to commit yourself. Your home page focuses on your awesome customer service and how strongly committed you are to excellence.

Sometimes you know what you have to offer, but — perhaps because you have a background in print advertising — you are focusing on visual branding and emotions. You have a stunning photo of mountains and a few words with lots of periods.

In either of these cases, you can’t expect a machine to understand what you’re trying to say.

Get a quick sense of how a machine will understand your website by using a word cloud tool like TagCrowd. Put in your website and see what you get.

The data visualization above shows how a machine might understand one website. What do you think this website is about? How do you suppose it’s performing?

Check it out. If your site is confusing Google, then you’re not being offered to people who need you as often as you should be. You’re not getting your share of search traffic. You need a rewrite.

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