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Official Google SEO Guide

Google SEO GuideGoogle has just released an Official Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide for the webmasters. In a recent blog post at Webmaster Central blog, Brandon Falls of the Google Search Quality Team writes that many webmasters often have some basic SEO questions that goes unanswered or they just get confused due to the fact that SEO is an emerging thing and there are lots of different resources on web. So Google has decided to make their own Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide public, which covers around a dozen common areas that webmasters might consider optimizing. So from now on If anybody has any SEO related doubts they can easily refer to this easy to read 22 page(PDF) – Google SEO Starter Guide.

This guide was already being used internally within Google to optimize their own sites such as Youtube, Orkut and so on. I have personally gone through the guide and I must say that it’s a very basic 101 type of guide that any SEO newbie should read. Its very well written had contains a lot of illustrated examples & screen shots.

I have created a small one page summary that basically covers everything that is written in the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

  • Always create unique & accurate Page Titles - Page title should accurately describe the page’s content. Webmasters should make sure that their titles are unique for each page. The Title should be descriptive but not extremely lengthy. Don’t stuff your title with only Keywords – write a title that will benefit both the user and the search engines.
  • Make use of the “description” meta tag – Google clearly states that Meta tags such as (Meta Description) is not dead! Meta description should accurately summarize the page’s content. Webmasters should write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw the description meta tag as a snippet in a search result. Don’t fill up your meta description tag with only keywords and avoid writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page. Try writing unique descriptions for each page, if your site is really big try to generate description meta tags based on each page’s content automatically.
  • Improve the structure of your URLs – Try to use words in your URL. – URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be more willing to link to them. Don’t use lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs. Avoid choosing generic page names and using excessive keywords. Provide only one version of your document, if you accidently happen to have multiple version of the same page, do a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL
  • Make your site easier to navigate - Create a naturally flowing hierarchy – Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content they want on your site. Try to use text for navigation and its a good practice to put an HTML sitemap page on your site, and use an XML Sitemap file. Have a 404 page that is user friendly.
  • Offer quality content and services - Practice writing easy-to-read text as users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow. Break your content into logical parts so that the users find the content they want faster. Use relevant keywords in your content and take help of the Google Keyword Tool where necessary. Write fresh, unique content and avoid re-writing or copying existing content from the web. Always create content primarily for your users, not search engines
  • Write better anchor text - Always write descriptive anchor text, The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to is about. Use keywords in your anchor text and use anchor text for your internal links too.
  • Use heading tags appropriately - Take advantage of the HTML Header tags H1, H2, H3 to break down your content for easy scanning by your readers. Give some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use those heading tags appropriately.
  • Optimize your use of images - Use brief, but descriptive filenames and alt text for all images. Avoid using generic filenames and stuffing in excessive keywords in the alt tag.
  • Make effective use of robots.txt - Robots.txt is not enough to block your sensitive or confidential material. So take appropriate security measures for your confidential information.
  • Be aware of rel=”nofollow” for links - Setting the value of the “rel” attribute of a link to “nofollow” will tell Google that certain links on your site shouldn’t be followed or pass your page’s reputation to the pages linked to. Avoid using no follow for links in blog comments or other sites that you don’t trust. You can nofollow all of the links on a page by using “nofollow” in your
    robots meta tag, which is placed inside the tag of that page’s HTML.
  • Promote your website in the right ways - Blog about your new content or services to get your users excited. Use appropriate offline promotion, social media to promote your content. Add your business to Google’s Local Business Center.
  • Make use of free webmaster tools - Google provides a lot of free tools for webmasters inside Google Webmaster Tools to help webmasters better control how Google interacts with their websites and get useful information from Google about their site.
  • Take advantage of web analytics services – Use Web analytics programs like Google Analytics that can be a valuable source for identifying your users, the content that they are reading, the source of traffic etc.

My Two Cents

Its really good to see that Google is genuinely trying to help the webmasters to succeed. If you are new to SEO, I strongly recommend you to Download the Full 22 Page PDF of Google’s SEO Starter Guide.


28 Comments

  • Reply Idaho Falls SEO |

    Simple but true. It’s amazing how many people out there don’t think to optimize there site, through there title tags, anchor text and other suggestions you mention.

  • Reply Kneoteric eSolutions |

    The guide is quite comprehensive and long overdue. What’s better than to hear it from the horses mouth. An excellent read and I am hoping that it everyone one reads it. Atleast we can all look forward to the quality of search results going up.

    However I am already apprehensive about what Google says. The guide mentions what needs to be done and what to avoid, nothing (concrete) on the lines of what should be done to improve rankings. And as always I believe Google says what they want people to do. What is your take on it mate?

  • Reply Saad |

    @Kneoteric eSolutions – Thanks for dropping by. Well the PDF covers all the major aspects of “On Page Optimization. They have listed the best practices, and obviously they won’t release a book that contains the “secrets” of ranking high in the engines because then the secret won’t be a secret anymore. Google’s algorithm takes a lot of things into account, and certainly on=page optimization is the best/easiest way to start from.

    Slowly, a webmaster can start to look at the Off=page factors. Building links is one of them as Google still give value to Links and it’s anchor text. Read my link building tutorial to learn more: http://www.saadkamal.com/featured/link-building-a-complete-walkthrough/

  • Reply Idaho Falls web design |

    I agree with your starting kit and that the people at Google are wanting to help. At the last SMX Advanced conference, Cutts and other Google people constantly stressed how they’re making strides and efforts to help out beginning webmasters. Good to see.

  • Reply Kneoteric eSolutions |

    @Saad

    No doubt that it is good and I don’t think any business would be sharing their secrets.

    They have discussed on-page factors but left out off-page, as you said, and therefore the guide is incomplete. I am sure they will add on to it, no doubt about it.

    What is your take on the section which discusses about ‘friendly url structure” wherein the example quoted looks like a dynamic url and would have to be re-written to make it user friendly. I find that statement contradicting what google wrote in their post titles “Dynamic URLs vs. Static URLs”

  • Reply Saad |

    @Kneoteric eSolutions – I personally think that dynamic URL should be avoided ‘where possible. And here is why:

    1. Its not user friendly, if I give you a url such as this: http://sphinn.com/story.php?id=84842 you can’t really say what the link is about unless you visit the Url. Where as if you look at a URL like this: http://www.saadkamal.com/google/official-google-seo-guide — even before reading the content you can guess what’s the post is about.

    2. Since Search Engine Crawler is not a Human being and thus really “DUMB” plus there is still not much development in Semantic web that a Search engine like Google can use, majority of the engines still depend a lot on “key words/phrases”. So if your URL has the appropriate keywords, it just makes the life of the crawler a ‘bit’ easier.

    Obviously I’m only basing my opinion on the fact that static url’s are user friendly.

  • Reply JerseyGuy |

    Saad,
    I have a question about your first point. On the homepage title tag, do you want to keep it as simple as possible? I have about 5 key words with the first 3 being my most important. For instance my title tag is (example)

    real estate | NJ real estate | FL real estate | CA real estate | MS real estate

    Is that working against me or is that acceptable?

  • Reply Andrew Weismen |

    thanks for the tips to improve my status in seo..

    to this site creator, nice job!! I am really enjoying reading pages like yours..

    anyway, is there a way to check the nofollow links?

    Thanks!

  • Reply Carrie Bevill |

    @Andrew Weismen – Yes there is!! Mozilla Firefox browser offers this plugin. You just need to download their free plug in. Install it, and a small icon will appear in the right bottom part of your browser. Allow the highlighting of no follow links. There all no follow links will be highlighted.

    Anyway, this is a very good site!! Kudos..

  • Reply Bali |

    Hi Saad, Thanks for your download link. I have download the SEO Guide from Google. But i can’t find the off page tips. It only explain about the on page optimization.

  • Reply affiliate review |

    Great blog. I subscribed to the RSS feed. Can I subscribe by email too? i cant seem tofind the link for it..

So, what do you think ?