The SEO That Google Recommends

With all the negative news about search optimisation you would think that Google is completely against SEO – however that is not the case.

Google recommends quite a lot of optimisation for all websites; they publish a PDF on the topic. The following is the basics for all websites.

Responsive or Mobile Design

You can check your analytics, but most websites now have traffic that is at least 50% from phones or tablets. Google has said that websites that are mobile friendly have a chance of ranking higher.

Putting Google aside, and often that is a good idea, your users will thank you and use your site more if it displays correctly on mobile devices. This is generally better achieved using a responsive design; that is coding that will enable the same website to display well in all formats.

Page Titles and Description Tags

Page titles and description tags are not visible on your web page, they are part of the background code. However they are displayed in Google’s search results. So remember it is a human that is going to view what you write here.

Google recommends that your title contain either you company name, location, or your main offering. You main offering is Google speak for your main search term.

Titles should be unique on each page and relevant. They need to reflect the content of that page – to see your current title type this into search

Descriptions are a little snippet of marketing text. They are listed on the search results and a good description will help relevant users click to your website. Again they need to be unique to each page.

Good Site Structure

Make your site easy to navigate and put the most relevant content front and centre. If you offer services make sure there is a clear heading that links to that page.

Have two sitemaps, one for search engines and the other for users. Submit via webmaster tools to Google and if you use a content management system it should ping Bing. Add the sitemap to your robots.txt file.

Use the robots file to tell search engine what pages not to index for example privacy page, checkout page, etc.

Optimise Content

The content on your website is primarily for users, it is there to encourage people to contact you – write for users, never search engines. That said make sure your main key terms are included in the page a couple of times. It is not helpful to have a search term in the title and not included in the page text.

Google recommends that you offer quality content. This means lots of different things to different people. However it is rare that I see quality in 300 words or less. A website of 30 pages with 300 or less words on average will not rank well in search.

Less is not more. It has been shown that by re-writing pages or blog posts from 300 words to 1,200 words increases the ranking of that page – without any other factor being introduced.

Link between your pages. This is more relevant if you have a blog, use good descriptive anchor text to link to the other page.

Promotion and Analysis

Analysis is the easy part here and carries no risk, unlike promotion. Use Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics to get an indication of your site in search and view your web traffic; both are free.

Promotion of websites are where the SEO war and destruction has been happening over the last 3 years. You website will not rank if it has no links from other websites. There are safe, slow ways of getting these links; and there are fast risky ways.

The fastest way is to simply buy links. Unless you are willing to run the risk of your site being taken out of Google’s index this is best avoided. All small businesses need to be aware of this risk now; big businesses can get away with buying links and recover quickly when penalised, it can decimate all traffic to a small business website forever.

These are best ways to promote your website at the start:

  • Claim your business name on all social media platforms
  • Post at least once each week to the main accounts
  • Submit your site to all local NAP directories, e.g. Yelp (NAP, Name, Address, Phone number)
  • Register on Google places / local
  • Make sure you are listed on all chambers and industry websites
  • Write for other sites – be careful, only write for good websites and don’t use highly focused anchors.

Network. Although I love the web attending networking events established my business. It can be slow hard work but in the longer term it is worth the effort, and you get to know some great people.