When people talk about Search Engine Optimisation, what they really mean is "I want to be on the first page in google". Other search engines are available, they're just not as popular.
Google are the Hoover of the Vaccuum world and the Tannoy of Public Address systems. The brands have become synonymous with the product group that they are part of. "I'll google it" is far snappier than "I'll run it through a search engine".
So Google really are kings of the web. Day in, day out I witness clients typing the full url of their website into a google search bar instead of the address bar and i'm constantly explaining why their site isn't "on google" 5 minutes post launch.
Google make their own rules
And - contrary to popular belief - they don't particularly tell anyone what they are.
Check your inbox first thing in the morning and I'll bet you a Cadbury's Creme Egg (which are now smaller than last year, but don't get me started on that) and I'll bet you have an email that begins with "Greetings of the day" and ends with a promise to make your site better and more visible.
We all know it's a bit of a scam, but in reality even the nice freindly chap up the road who has met you for a coffee and told you he can get you higher in the results is telling a bit of a porkie. He can try and he can do everything in his power to help, but in reality Google make the rules and they're a close guarded secret. Coke won't give you their recipe and Google won't tell you their secrets, least of all if you have set up a SEO business to make your fortunes on the back of googles success.
So what can you do?
There are a multitude of things you can do to help your site - tried and tested practices involving site maps, key words and updated content - but once in a while, Google will let something slip. When google purchased YouTube (for 1.65 billion!!!) they started to favour sites with embeded videos in them.
The age of the mobile.
How times have changed - 10 years ago, you probably wouldn't have dreamed of surfing the net on your phone. Even 5 years ago, many of us still didn't.
However, todays statistics on internet useage show that the most popular devices used to search the internet are
1 - PC / laptop ( 91% )
2- Mobile device (80%)
3 - Tablet 47% and
4 - Games Consol 37%.
With this shift in user preference, Google penalises sites that provide a bad experience to mobile searchers.
Google has revealed that they are experimenting with giving sites that have earned their mobile-friendly label special treatment within its ranking algorithm.
A spokesperson for Google said :
"We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal."
This doesn't specifically tell us that google will penalise you for not have a responsive (mobile friendly) site, but if we look back at Google's timeline we see an interesting indicators that this may be the direction in which they are moving; In June 2013, Google introduced a penalty for sites providing a bad mobile search experience. Sites generating errors and other problems for mobile visitors received less visibility in Google’s smartphone results — the results Google shows to mobile searchers, as opposed to desktop searchers.
It's not just about search engine results
Regardless of how Google rank you, it still makes sense for your site to be responsive. Not all of the visitors to your website come via a search engine - customers brand awareness and your own advertising will result in people coming directly to you without passing Go(oogle) and without collecting £200.
As this projection shows us, mobile useage looks to overtake PC / laptop useage pretty soon so maybe a website review is in order?