SEO Best-Practices & Guidelines Straight from Google
If you’re already a Magnifi Online client, you know about these SEO best practices. For those of you who are new to SEO, though, here is a great beginner’s guide to search engine optimization, straight from Google.
Write short, descriptive meta titles for every page of your website. The attribute should be unique and relevant to each page, should appear first in the section of the code, and Google advises including your company name on deeper pages of the site.
Write unique meta descriptions for every page of your site. The description attribute should be unique and relevant to each page, should appear below the attribute in the section of the code, and should be a few sentences in length.
Use URLs that contain keywords relevant to your page and explain to both engines and site visitors what the page is about. Rewriting dynamic URLs can create crawling problems if done incorrectly, so be careful. Use a simple directory structure and don’t use excessively deep directories. Avoid duplicate content, avoid canonical issues (both www. and non-www. versions of the same page), and avoid odd capitalization of URLs (URLs should be lowercase).
Provide an HTML sitemap for visitors and an XML sitemap for search engines. Keep it simple and logical, not too deep. Use mostly text navigation and be sure to include attributes on image-based navigation. Use navigational breadcrumbs as well. Think about what happens if someone removes part of a URL to navigate to a broader section of your website — will the visitor be able to reach content? Create a useful 404 error page with links to important pages of your website.
Quality Content and Services
First and foremost, provide easy-to-read text that is fresh and unique. Avoid duplicate content and write for users, not search engines. Also, stay organized around your page’s topic by using paragraphs, subheads, and other design elements to logically break up content into digestible chunks.
Write descriptive anchor text for internal and external links, avoiding non-descriptive anchor text like “click here” or “go”. Keep it concise — don’t make an entire sentence or paragraph your anchor text. Rather, a key, descriptive phrase works best. Be sure to format links so they’re easy to spot.
Be sure to use heading tags (not to be confused with your page section) to break up content into readable sections. Don’t use heading tags for design purposes (i.e., to change the font of a page). Rather, these should be used for signifying sections and subsections of your page.
Give each image on your website a unique, descriptive file name. Use a distinct Alt attribute for each image too because the Alt attributes are treated like anchor text when using an image to link to another page. Store images in their own directory (i.e., www.yoursite.com/images/). Use JPEG, GIF, PNG, or BMP file types and the extension of the file name should match the file type.
Use a robots.txt file to tell the search engines which pages and directories to exclude from its index. This is useful to exclude search results pages, URLs created by proxy services to be crawled, and duplicate or near-duplicate content. Robots.txt files are not a way to protect sensitive content as the pages can still be accessed by visitors and may still be indexed by the search engines. For this, use htaccess to password protect directories or encrypt the content.
Use the nofollow attribute to prevent passing your page’s reputation to the pages or websites linked to from your website. This is critical on pages of your website with user-generated content such as blogs, guest books, or forums. You can use the nofollow attribute in the meta tags of your page if you want to nofollow all links on the page. Otherwise, you can add rel=”nofollow” to individual links within a page.
Blog about new content or services on your website, and participate on social media sites. Don’t forget to include your website URL on offline promotions. Add your website to the Google Local Business Center. Last but certainly not least, reach out to those in your website’s community to get new links (but avoid spammy link requests and/or purchasing links for PageRank purposes).
Webmaster Centers (Search Console)
Use Google’s Webmaster Tools, Yahoo!’s Site Explorer, and Microsoft’s Live Search Webmaster Tools to communicate with the search engines and to diagnose potential problems with your website.
Use website analytics tools such as Google Analytics to understand your website visitors’ behaviors, such as which pages they’re viewing, which pages seem to cause them to leave the site, and how they arrive at your website.
Your Next Steps
You now know the basic SEO rules for optimizing a website. These are the first things you need to do if you haven’t yet done any optimization work, and Magnifi Online can help you get started. If you’ve already done these things and you’re ready to take your site’s SEO to the next level, we can help with that too. Drop us an email or give us a call and we’ll talk about how we can help.