Summarizing Google’s SEO Guide
One of the questions I get asked on a regular basis from business owners; “What magic do you guys perform to get my website ranking well?” The truth is that their is a vast array of variables that go into how Google ranks you – but none of them require any magic. I have addressed some of the things you can do in an article I wrote some time ago.
But for those that really want to delve into the exact science that Google uses when considering how to rank your pages I recommend reading through an article they published in late 2008 entitled, “Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide”. Not only is this SEO guide readily available for anyone to read but it is now available in 40 languages!
Highlights For Getting Your Website Optimized
Here are some key highlights that this document outlines:
- Google states the following about Search Engine Optimization:
“Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site's user experience and performance in organic search results.”
- Search Engine Optimization only affects your organic placement. Whether you use Google Adwords or not places no relevance on your search engine positioning.
- Base your website decisions on what is best for the visitor. In the end, search engines are trying to offer visitors the best experience possible so their own search results are focused on the visitor.
- Create unique Page Titles based upon what the content of that particular page is about. This page title is what will be reflected in the actual search result page on Google itself. Stick to about 8-10 words.
- Utilize the Page Description meta tag. While the Page Title is meant to be short with core keywords, the description is used by search engines to learn more about what is on the page. Google Webmaster tools provides a content analysis section that will tell you more about your page description.
- Pay Attention to URL Structure. Where possible try to keep your site folder structure organized. Use meaningful keywords that will help search engines understand what the article is about. For a sample, simply look at the URL of this article itself.
- Make your Site Easier to Navigate. Simply put – plan out your sitemap before you build! Your homepage is the entrance page. Make sure you plan your site so it has necessary 2nd, 3rd, 4th level pages. Try to use HTML text in your on page navigation so the words can be spidered by the search engines. Search engines also like ‘breadcrumb’ navigation. Here is the sample graphic used by Google.
- Use a Sitemap & Create an XML Sitemap file. Creating an XML Sitemap file for your web site helps you ensure that all new pages are discovered by search engines. You can also verify through Google Webmaster Tools.
- Write Thoughtful Content!
- write content that is easy to read
- stay on topic
- always write unique content
- write content for your visitors not search engines
- Hyperlink Good Keywords through to Relevant Pages. Search engines like to read hyperlink text. If the keyword you are linking is relevant to the page it is linking to it raises that pages profile by search engines.
- Use Heading Tags Appropriately. If you have a title on your page then make sure you distinguish it as an “H1”. If you have a sub title under the main title then make sure you call it and “H2”. It is also good to have some of your keywords for the page in that title as it will receive higher weight then regular content.
- Optimize Your Images. You can make sure your images are optimized by naming them something meaningful, and also making use of the ‘ALT’ attribute. This allows search engines to understand what your imagery is about.
- Make Good Use Of Your Robots.txt File. This small text file sits on the root of your site and tells search engines which files that can or cannot scan. Many sites that are not being found in search engines often have a ‘Robots’ file that tells search engines the whole site is blocked. Here is an article we wrote last year that helps people understand why there site is blocked by search engines.
Promoting Your Website
Now that you have your website setup properly here are some things Google has to say about promoting your web site.
- Blog about recent and topical information. This will allow others to notice your content and follow your site on RSS.
- User social media. This will allow people interested in your area of expertise to become part of your own group.
- Add your business to Google’s Local Business Centre
Google Webmaster Help Forum – Have questions or feedback on our guide? Let us know
Google Webmaster Central Blog – Frequent posts by Googlers on how to improve your website
Google Webmaster Help Center – Filled with in-depth documentation on webmaster-related issues
Google Webmaster Tools – Optimize how Google interacts with your website
Google Webmaster Guidelines – Design, content, technical, and quality guidelines from Google
Google Analytics – Find the source of your visitors, what they're viewing, and benchmark changes
Tips on Hiring an SEO – If you don't want to go at it alone, these tips should help you choose an SEO company