Top 5 On-Page Lessons From Google’s SEO Starter Guide

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  • November 25, 2008

Google, amid much fanfare and crazed celebration, recently introduced a starter guide on search engine optimization (SEO) to the webmaster community.  The PDF document is aimed at users less familiar with standard SEO techniques and those that “wish to improve their sites’ interaction with both users and search engines.”

Titles

Hello my name is Fred and there’s nothing unique about me.  Would you be interested in hiring me?  Seems like the job interview from hell.  The funny thing is many websites have this same mentality in regards to title tags.  Titles are the first glimpse of a page users have with your site.  When a user bookmarks a page, the title is what is saved in the bookmarks folder.  Could you be missing conversions simply because your titles are not unique with your site’s main keywords?

Google recommends using accurate, unique and brief titles for each and every page on your site.  This is simple SEO at its finest, but quite often gets overlooked or forgotten about.  The title is valuable real estate for your site and as such should be effectively communicating the topic of the page.   All search engine queries that have keywords in your title will be bolded, instantly encouraging eyes of searchers towards your listing.

Descriptions

The meta description tag gives search engines a glimpse or summary of what the page is about.  Google recommends accurate and unique phrases that inform and interest users.  In essence, your site’s description is a brief piece of marketing copy that can make or break someone clicking on to your site.  There are many worst practice scenarios that seem to come up over and over again and should be avoided:

  • duplicate descriptions across a website
  • copying the title tag into the description tag
  • stuffing the description tag with a list of keywords
  • using a description that is not compelling marketing copy and lacks uniqueness

URL Structure

Hello, my name is Fredrif-06390p=12.  What’s your name?

Who’s going to remember Fredrif-06390p=12 and what makes him unique?  No one.  In the same sense your  website’s URL structure plays an important role in best practices SEO.  Google recommends using a URL structure that uses keywords from that specific page.  In addition, from a usability standpoint, a nice looking URL structure will make it easier for others to remember pages from your site.  Google also recommends having one URL for one unique page.  Many sites have duplicate pages with different URLs causing a duplicate content issue.  Set up a 301 redirect to solve this problem and clear any duplicate content issues.

Navigation

Your site’s navigation should be both intuitive and user-friendly.  Visitors on your site should find it easy to navigate to the page they are looking for.  Google recommends:

  • text-based navigation
  • properly formatted site-maps
  • useful 404 pages

Content

The brunt of your site lies within its content.  It’s the reason that someone visits your site.  Google’s guide has quite a bit of good information on this subject.  Here are some of the key take-aways:

  • make effective use of heading tags
  • make text easy to read, staying organized on the topic
  • use relevant language with keywords that users are searching for
  • keep anchor text intuitive and relevant
  • name images in a more intuitive way

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