Best SEO Practices for Google
Undoubtedly the most widely used search engine1, Google Inc. connects well-established and trustworthy businesses with millions of potential clients all around the world. This powerful marketing tool can best be used by employing white hat search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, which aim to improve a website’s ranking on the results page and increase its visibility. These methods cover many areas, but their main aim is to improve the user experience.
Most importantly, make the content or services of your website high quality and of use to your users. Before you create anything, do a little research about what is currently available to clients, such as online services, quality articles, Internet consulting, etc. Google’s keyword tool2 can be used to monitor what words certain social groups use; for example, those familiar with the Eurozone crisis will search for “Grexit,” whereas non-experts will search for “Eurozone crisis.” Thus, you can provide tailored content to satisfy niche groups, and by using plain English and the selected keywords, your website will rank higher. However, avoid stuffing the website with keywords or meaningless phrases because it will be classified as containing spam and downgraded.
Having created unique, quality content, you should format it for best presentation, bearing in mind both the human users and non-human crawlers. Use proper punctuation and editing for text, and good positioning and re-sizing for images. Visitors generally prefer text to images, as they can copy and edit it, and crawlers can thoroughly index only text. Additionally, a well optimized website will need smarter internal linking and descriptive anchor text for better indexing and happier customers.
Website images should also be optimized to match Google’s best practices3. Choose accurate but brief filenames to best describe images, but when that isn’t enough, utilize the “alt” attribute for further description. This will improve the images’ standing in Google Images and further increase traffic to your website. Furthermore, always provide the additional text if the image is used as a link. It is recommended that you arrange the photos in an easy-to-understand hierarchy and provide an image sitemap.
When building the website, choose appropriate page titles, as these will be displayed as part of the search results. As with other descriptions, summarize the content of a page within a few words, and make a new page title for every new page. The description meta tag can be used to further specify the scope of your page, and remember to insert a few well-selected keywords within a short paragraph. If this reflects the contents of the page, Google will display it in the search results snippet. When searching within a specified domain, meta tags help locate the desired content much faster.
The choice of a URL can determine the success or failure for a website. Google recommends using human words for the main body of the URL and as simplified site architecture as possible. Users tend to be put off by a URL in the search results with many subdirectories or meaningless symbols. Additionally, this increases the chances of a mistake in a backlink or different URLs linking to one page, which splits the ranking of the page. When possible, shorten the URL but always use lower-case letters, as users will not be expecting upper-case ones.
Finally, backlinks are one of the main sources of traffic to a website and have a strong effect on the website ranking. Google distinguishes between backlinks from different quality websites: from educational (.edu) and governmental (.gov) through commercial and corporate (.com, .co.uk, etc.) to spam filled websites. A webmaster should always monitor the amount of traffic coming in, using Google Analytics, and quickly deal with unwanted backlinks as they can get the website blacklisted.