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search engines google
The Google homepage during the World Cup in 2014

Search engines, like Google, Bing and Yahoo can help people find your website after they shared their interest in a particular topic during a search on one of these sites.

In 2014, Google holds the biggest piece of the search market with nearly 70 percent of searches happening there. Sometimes people refer to searching for something online even as “Googling.”

A search engine’s job is to find the most relevant content based on the search terms entered by the searcher.

Websites rank at the top of the listings by:

  • Buying ads that show up for specific search terms.
  • Offering content that shows up in the organic, free results.

There are advantages to either and a comprehensive digital strategy includes both the use of paid advertising as well as organic content that shows up in the free results of search engines.

The key to be listed in the free results is to share relevant content to your audience. Typically, this means that your content solves an audience’s problem or answers a question. In addition, the content needs to be engaging. When people find your content through search engines, you want them to consume it and not just for a few seconds.

Search engines use user behavior to determine if content was relevant. When users stick with a post they’ve found through search engines for just a few seconds, the user likely didn’t find what he or she was looking for, or it was not the best result. When a number of people  behave this way, search engines can take that as a sign that the content is not relevant fora particular search.

Search engines change their algorithms all the time, and yes, there are ways to use so-called black hat SEO techniques, which allow some websites to rank high, but only in the short term.

Longer term, only authentic and relevant content will continue to rank high.

For authentic storytellers, the key is to:

  • Figure out the topics that you have something to say about.
  • Determine the audience and connect with them. Who needs the information that you are talking about?
  • Use the words your audience uses.
  • Share relevant and new content in a constant way. Publish articles (aka blog posts) at least once a week. Share social media updates daily.

Search engines, like people, are looking for the most relevant content in a specific situation. The best way to provide this is by sharing your knowledge in an authentic way.

Know, though, that it takes time to rise to the top..