What Does Google Really Think About SEO? (Part One)

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Google Coin
(photo by einvents)

Last month, Google released version 1.1 of Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.  This twenty-two page PDF contains what Google refers to as their best practices for SEO.  Although this document received a lot of attention when it was initially released, I noticed that it didn’t seem like that many people took the time to thoroughly examine this document.

Since it has been just over a month since this document was released, I thought now would be a great time to break down the most important information that is contained throughout the twenty-two pages of this PDF.  Because this is a fairly long document, I have decided to break my examination into a series of posts (hence the Part One in the title of this post).

So, without any further ado, let’s dive right into the meat of Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide:

It’s Always Going to Be About the User Experience: If you only take away one piece of information from this document, it should be that Google’s position on topics like SEO is always going to go back to the user experience.  While we all hear this phrase quite often, I don’t think a lot of people grasp why Google uses it in reference to just about everything.

The reason that Google is the dominant presence in the search market is because people like the results that Google provides (for example, a study that was just released showed that SERPs are the third most trusted source of online information).  If Google stopped making people happy with their results (as a result of a bad user experience), people would find a different search engine to use, and would stop visiting Google (and also stop clicking on their AdWords ads).  Therefore, regardless of whether or not you agree with some of the policies that Google implements in the name of providing a great user experience, you can count on them focusing on this subject for the foreseeable future.

What’s in a Title: When it comes to your < title > tags, you should include the name of the business or website, descriptive keywords and a physical location (if it is a brick & mortar business).   While Google suggests that every page should have a unique < title > tag, they do acknowledge that this is not always possible (however, using a CMS like WordPress in combination with the All in One SEO Pack makes this task much easier).

Google Content Analysis

Meta Description > Meta Keywords: Although Google does not mention the meta keyword tag throughout the course of their document, they do emphasize the importance of the meta description tag.  Specific advice Google gives about things to avoid when it comes to meta descriptions include keyword stuffing and repetitive meta descriptions throughout large portions of a website.  Google also mentions that if you are concerned about your meta descriptions, you can take advantage of the content analysis feature in Google Webmaster Tools.

URL Structure Matters: In addition to helping Google properly index your website, this document also points out that well-structured URLs can make it easier for users to navigate and link to your website.  When you are planning (or fixing) your URL structure, try to use relevant keywords (without going overboard), avoid generic names (the example the guide gives is page1.html), create a directory structure, limit the overall length of your URLs and use a 301 redirect to avoid canonicalization issues.

If you are using WordPress as your CMS, you can not only create better permalinks from the beginning, but you can also use the Permalinks Migration plugin to ensure that your existing URL structure is properly updated.

If you have made it this far, congratulations on getting through the first nine pages of Google’s SEO Guide.  Be sure to subscribe to our RSS feed so you will know when the next post in this series is published.

As always, if you have any comments or questions about what I talked about today, please leave them below!

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