We all recognize Google as being the “God” of search engines. As the most prominent search engine in the world, all sites want to be on Google’s nice list to maximize web traffic. So what does it take to be best friends with Google? Take a look.
Search Engine Optimization
As you know search engine optimization (SEO) is the practice of setting up your site to maximize visitors that are the result of search engine hits. Google’s SEO algorithm is always changing to prevent SEO companies from determining the SEO secret. The truth is that there really is no secret. Google produces a guide for SEO best practices and websites need to do their best to follow it. That is the best method to land yourself on Google’s nice list.
Google values page titles that are unique and accurate to the page’s description. A page’s title is indicated by a title tag which tells the user and the search engine what the page is about. Title tags are typically placed within the head tag of the HTML document and there should be a title page for each page of the site. The title tag typically appears in the first line of the search engine result. These words will help users decide whether or not click on your page.
The Description Meta Tag:
The page’s description Meta tag provides google with another view of what the page is about. The Meta tag is typically 1-2 sentences and maximum of a short paragraph. Google often uses these Meta tags as a snippet on a search if the content is relevant.
Your URL should be easy to understand. Categories and filenames can help organize your site as well as improve the crawling of your documents through Google. Lengthy URLs that contain unrecognizable words are very difficult to remember and link to. If your URL is consistent with your page it will be much easier to remember. URLs are also shown in Google as results. It helps Google and your users if your URL is relevant.
Google values the navigation of a website pretty highly. How easy is it for your users to find what they’re looking for? How much time to they need to spend to sifting through unimportant information? Google looks at how a page plays a role within the entire site. Your navigation starts at your home page and should follow a plan from page to page to more specific content. Ease of use is of utmost importance to your users so Google recommends using breadcrumb lists- an internal link at the top or bottom of the page to aid users in quickly navigating to a different location on the page.
HTML Site Map
Putting an HTML site map on your page can help to ease its use. Also adding a 404 page that helps users back to the main site when they find a page that doesn’t exist is helpful. Both of these elements help the user which is what Google values most.
Quality, Unique Content
Google values quality content that is useful to the user over any other element of SEO. Good content that is recognized by your users as valuable through sharing, forums and posts is one of the best in terms of getting on Google’s nice list. Users are accessing google for quality content. Google delivers by endorsing quality content.
Being unique with content is another way to meet the needs of your users as well as appease Google. By taking the time to consider what other search inquiries may come up, and designing your site to meet those needs you can effectively expand the search criteria for your site. Identifying a broad range of key words and using them throughout the content of your site is the best way to do this. AdWords does have a Keyword Tool that can help you find different words.
Focus on creating content for your users, not Google. Be original, use fresh ideas and be organized.
Your anchor text is clickable text that users see within a link. This text provides Google and your users about the page that you’re linking to. Quality anchor text applies to both internal links and external links. The anchor text needs to be clear, descriptive and concise to aid the user in navigating the site. The links should be easy to find so the anchor text should be easily separated from your regular text.
Google recommends taking advantage of the file name and “alt” attribute of images. This provides you with the option to display alternative text if the image can’t be displayed. This is useful for the user because they can still view what the image is of even if their browser does not support viewing the image. Using distinct image file names is helpful to Google to understand what your images are of and to better use them in Google Image.
Heading tags are used to bring attention to important information. There are six sizes with <h1> being the largest and therefore most important text. These heading tags are valuable to the user and to Google because they advise about the most important aspects of the page.The different sizes (1-6) provide you with the ability to prioritize information and content headings. Headings should be used to highlight the most important points of the page; similar to an outline for a research paper.
This features allows you to keep search engine bots from crawling certain pages of your site. This is helpful because it prevents certain pages from appearing as the results of a search engine inquiry.
Mobile sites use different formats than normal sites. As such certain measures need to be taken to ensure that your mobile site is crawled and indexed by Google appropriately. You will need to make sure that your site shows up in the search results of a Google mobile search. If it is not found you may have to take several steps to let Google know of its existence.
You will also have to be cautious to ensure that mobile users see the mobile version of your site and that desktop users see desktop versions of your site. The first option in managing this is ensuring that mobile users are directed to the correct version. The other option is to switch the content seen based on the user’s technology.
Get Recognized Online
Links to your site from outside sources help to validate your content and lets others know that it is valuable. You can promote your site by accessing social media, blogging and e-newsletters. You can also personally contact individuals in your area to introduce yourself and your services.
Web Master Tools and Analytics
Google Web Master Tools and Google Analytics can provide you with very useful information about how your site interacts with Google. This can aid you in your design and decision making and should be taken advantage of.
What Google Likes
Google likes page titles that are unique, brief but descriptive, and accurately describe the page’s content.
Google likes Meta tags that are accurate summaries of the page’s content and that are unique to each page.
Google likes simple URLs.
Google likes easy navigation that follows a flowing hierarchy.
Google likes quality, unique content that is user focused and original.
Google likes descriptive and concise anchor tags.
Google likes alt text for images that is descriptive but concise.
Google likes heading tags that are helpful to the user.
Google likes sites that promote their most important content to gain links and users.
What Google Doesn’t Like
Google doesn’t like page titles that are not related to the page’s content, too lengthy, or are too vague.
Google does not like Meta tags that are irrelevant to the page’s content, too lengthy, too short or too vague.
Google doesn’t like long URLs with unrecognizable words.
Google does not like complex, confusing navigation designs.
Google does not like copy/pasted text and duplicated content.
Google does not like long, vague or generic anchor text
Google does not like lengthy or generic image file names.
Google does not like heading tags that confuse the structure of the page, that move from size to size, or excessive use of heading tags.
Google does not like sites that over-promote every single aspect of their page.
Google Values the User
Never forget that the most important component to Google is the user and how the user responds to your website. Google values sites that are easy for the user to find, navigate and obtain information from. Great content written with the user in mind is a key component to SEO. Always keep the focus of your website on the user and follow the practices identified above. The combination of these elements will ensure you get, and stay on Google’s nice list for 2015.