There was a wide interest about the SEO guide released by Google early last week; so this is a follow-up post with more details for those interested in search engine optimization.
For marketers, content publishers to executives, from new to old webmasters, search engine marketing and search engine optimization has seen an ever-growing interest for the past 5 years, due mainly to the fact that on average, 75% of visitors of a website come from search engines. There’s now an expanding industry with consulting firms, international events, renowned experts, all working to get better ranking and better search results for your website. However, up to now, search engine optimization has had a mystique around it, with a few practicionners using unfair tactics (such as black-hat SEO), and also due to the fact that Google and the other search engines such as Yahoo! or Microsoft Live never endorsed SEO. Of course, there was the Google Webmaster blog and Googlers like Matt Cutts, but they mainly announce policies and rules to fight against spammers and abusive tactics.
The new Google SEO starter guide [PDF] is bound to change this image. The way it’s presented, Google now endorses SEO tactics and guidelines as used by the SEO community, such as using short and descriptive words for URLs, web page titles, page metas, image tags, headings etc. They are detailed sections for the most important parts which influences a website’s rankings in search results pages. Common advice found in each section is:
- In all cases, use unique, short and accurate words which describe the web page,
- Think about your users and visitors’ user experience, and not just optimization for Google,
- Write friendly and unique text for your webpages. Unique here relates to the topic of duplicated web pages, and also in regards to content in other competing websites.
If you are running a website, those are tips that you have most likely seen around the web in various blog posts, and the Google guide doesn’t add in revolutionary new content, but merely clarifies what works and what doesn’t. It boils down to: craft each page of your website, as if each word and each html tag counts, take the time to find good descriptive words, and then Google is going to reward you for it.
Apart from basics, the guide also describes advanced methods such as good site navigation, web analytics, usage of the robot.txt file, or the google webmaster service. One that I found highly interesting is the promotion section: Google advises offline promotion at local events, writing original content and doing original reporting, using social media (read: open a blog, and submit your pages at digg.com), and reach out to your community. Those are advice that I find very efficient, but I didn’t expect Google to endorse those as “official” guidelines, since it can be described mostly as guerilla marketing. iWeb for instance sponsors local events, we do publish original and high-quality content, news, and tutorials for the web community, and the company was also amongst the first one in Canada to use a blog to write about new content and new services, starting 7 years ago. Those are just examples for iWeb, but you can certainly use the same pattern for your website.
Comic from Ranked Hard