Google 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.