SEO, to some extent, is always a mystery. Search engines like Google, Yahoo, and MSN Live Search don’t like to reveal the exact methods they use in weighing page rankings. Presumably, this is because they don’t want certain industries or people exploiting the process, but also, they want to avoid having competitors infringe on their methodologies.
As a result, webmasters, writers, and SEO specialists have developed a set of best practices — mostly without any actual input from search engines themselves. But until now, there has been no actual documentation provided as a quick way for those that are new to SEO links to get a jump start.
That changed when Google’s Official Google Webmaster Central Blog announced the release of Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Their Guide is a great way for newbies to learn more about the SEO process.
Keep in mind, the most important part of any website is the audience. So first and foremost, web writing should always engage and entertain. But, making some relevant adjustments to a site’s content and meta data can greatly improve its visibility–and having high visibility is the best way to build your audience quickly.
Here’s a topline review of what reader’s can find in Google’s SEO Starter Guide:
Create Specific, Accurate Page Titles
Page titles should be unique for each web page. This is such a simple thing and it can have a huge impact on a page’s SEO. It’s amazing how frequently this is overlooked.
- A homepage should have title and other important information
- Deeper pages should use words to briefly describe the content of the page
- Deeper pages should include a website or business name
Use the Meta Description Tag
The meta tag is a place for search engine’s to learn more about the content of a page. It is usually a sentence or two in length and should contain keywords. Meta descriptions should vary according to content and not be the same for each webpage.
Use Good URL Structures
The URL structures should not use long, cryptic URL structures. Instead, use more friendly URL structures that use keywords and other recognizable words to describe a page’s URL. In addition to helping SEO, this will also make the URL of a page easier to remember and understand.
Improve Site Navigation
- Use good information architecture (create a hierarchy of content that flows in a natural, logical manner)
- Use text for navigation links
- Use breadcrumb navigation
- Helps SEO
- Helps visitors to quickly know exactly where they are
- Provides an additional navigational tool
- Create an HTML sitemap on your site
- Helps visitors and crawlers to better understand the structure of a site
- Anticipate users trying to use clipped URLs
- Create friendly 404 pages
Create Great Content and Services
The best way to help SEO is by having content and services that visitors can use and enjoy. This will create word-of-mouth traffic and social spread.
- Write text that is easy to scan and read
- Stay focused on a topic
- Divide copy into logical content chunks
- Use relevent language with the types of words users will use in search
- Update your content to keep it fresh and unique
- Write primarily for users
Improve Anchor Text
The links embedded in copy text is called anchor text. Don’t use language like ‘Click Here.’ Instead, use keywords that say something about the page you’re sending a link to. For instance, DeeJayDog Productions talks about SEO.
- Keep anchor text short
- Make links easy to see
- Link internally too
Make Good Use of Heading Tags
Heading tags refer to headlines. These are typically larger than the regular text.
- Heading tags should reflect an outline style of writing
- Incorporate keywords
Don’t Spam or Keyword Stuff
When promoting a website, don’t spam other sites by sending link requests emails to too many sites. And never try to stuff a web page with too many keywords. Keywords should be used naturally and strategically. But overdoing their use will actually damage SEO rankings.