Google(TM) works very hard at maintaining that reliability by defeating attempts to get unduly favorable placement. Google uses an algorithm with hundreds of millions of terms, because this is what is needed to defeat frauds, porn sites, and others who try to make a living by scamming searches.
For an academic placing a web site, this is actually good news. A site that contains what it purports to contain, and that is considered reliable by those who provide related sites, will rise to the top. A site whose content is not as described or that other people do not trust will sink.
Some steps can be taken to help demonstrate that a site is reliable and has integrity, but these steps will not save a weak site.
A trade-off exists between privacy and visibility. For example, some search-engine registrations require that an e-mail address be provided. I have simply learned how to screen spam, because the higher visibility yields such interesting results. Before actively promoting a site, think very carefully about what kind of contact information to include.