SEO Tutorial For Beginners 2014




Here are some free search engine optimisation tips for you to help you create a successful site, based on over 10 years experience making websites rank in Google. I deliberately steer clear of techniques that might be a bit ‘grey hat’, as what is grey today is often ‘black hat’ tomorrow, as far as Google is concerned. Google aims to reward high quality content and remarkable white hat web marketing techniques – or at least penalise sites that fail to deliver in these areas.

What is SEO?

There are a lot of definitions of SEO (spelled Search engine optimisation in the UK, or search engine optimization in the US) but lets face it, SEO in 2014 is about getting free traffic from Google, the most popular search engine in the world. The art of seo is understanding how people search for things, and what type of results Google wants to display to it’s users.

It’s Google’s job to MAKE MANIPULATING IT”S RESULTS HARD. So – it keeps moving the ‘goalposts’, modifying the ‘rules’ and raising quality standards for pages that compete for top ten rankings. Google is very secretive about it’s ‘secret sauce’ and offers sometimes vague advice – and some say misdirection – about how to get more from Google, but is intent on ‘frustrating’ search engine optimisers attempts to improve the amount of high quality traffic to a website – at least – via low quality strategies.

At it’s core, Google search engine optimisation is about KEYWORDS and LINKS. It’s about RELEVANCEREPUTATION and TRUST. It is about QUALITY OF CONTENTVISITOR SATISFACTION. Web page optimisation is about a web page being relevant enough for a query, and being trusted enough to rank for it. It’s about ranking for valuable keywords for the long term,on merit. You can play by ‘white hat’ rules laid down by Google, or you can choose to ignore those and go ‘black hat’ – a ‘spammer’. MOST seo tactics still work, for some time, on some level, depending on who’s doing them, and how the campaign is deployed.

Whichever route you take, know that if Google catches you trying to modify your rank, then they will class you a web spammer, and your site will be penalised (normally you wont rank high for important keywords). These penalties can last years if not addressed. Google does not want you to try and modify your rank. They would prefer you paid PPC to do that. The problem is – traffic from SEO is valuable. REALLY valuable. And FREE, once you’ve pleased Google enough.

In 2014, you need to be aware that what works to improve your rank can also get you penalised (faster, and a lot more noticeably). In particular, Google is currently waging war on unnatural links and manipulative tactics if it detects them.

Google is making sure it takes longer to see results from black and white hat seo, and intent on ensuring a flux in it’s serps based largely on where the searcher is in the world at the time of the search, and where the business is located near to that searcher. There’s some things you cannot directly influence legitimately to improve your rankings, but there is plenty you CAN do to drive more Google traffic to a web page.

Welcome to the tightrope that is SEO.

Google has HUNDREDS of ranking factors with signals that can change daily to determine how it works out where your page ranks in comparison to other competing pages. You will not ever find them all out – some ranking factors are on page, on site and some are off page, or off site. I’ve been doing this for 14 years. Ive learned to focus on the areas that offer the greatest return on investment of one’s labour and here is few simple seo tips to begin with:

SEO Basics….

  • If you are just starting out in seo, don’t think you can fool Google about everything all the time. Google has probably seen your tactics before. So, it’s best to keep it simple. GET RELEVANT. GET REPUTABLE. Aim for a good visitor experience. If you are just starting out – you may as well learn how to do it within Google’s Webmaster Guidelines first. Make a decision, early, if you are going to follow Google’s guidelines, or not, and stick to it. Don’t be caught in the middle.
  • If your aim is to deceive visitors from Google, in any way, Google is not your friend.
  • A lot of seo techniques that work to boost a sites rankings in Google are against Google’s guidelines. Indeed, many links that may have once promoted you to the top of Google, may in fact be hurting your site and it’s ability to rank high in Google. You must be smart, and cautious, when it comes to building links to your site in a manner that Google *hopefully* won’t have too much trouble with in the FUTURE.
  • Don’t expect stellar results without a lot of work, and don’t expect them too fast. Expecting too much too fast might get you in trouble.
  • You don’t pay anything to get into Google, Yahoo or Bing natural, or free listings (SERPS). It’s common for the major search engines to find your website pretty easily by themselves within a few days. This is made so much easier if your website actually ‘pings’ search engines when you update content (via XML sitemaps for instance).
  • To stay in Google and other search engines, you you really should consider and largely abide by search engine rules and guidelines for inclusion. With experience, and a lot of observation, you can learn which rules can be bent, and which tactics are short term and perhaps, should be avoided.
  • Google ranks websites by the number and quality of incoming links to a site from other websites (amongst hundreds of other metrics). Generally speaking, a link from a page to another page is viewed in Google “eyes” as a vote for that page the link points to. The more votes a page gets, the more trusted a page can become, and the higher Google will rank it – in theory. Rankings are HUGELY affected by how much Google ultimately trusts the DOMAIN the page is on.
  • I’ve always thought if you are serious about ranking – do so with ORIGINAL COPY. It’s clear – search engines reward good content it hasn’t found before. It indexes it blisteringly fast, for a start. So – make sure each of your pages has content you have written specifically for that page – and you won’t need to jump through hoops to get it ranking.
  • If you have original quality content on a site, you also have a chance of generating inbound quality links (IBL). If your content is found on other websites, you will find it hard to get links, and it probably will not rank very well as Google favours diversity in it’s results. If you have decent original content on your site, you can let authority websites, those with online business authority, know about it, and they might link to you – this is called a quality backlink.
  • Search engines need to understand a link is a link. Links can be designed to be ignored by search engines (the attribute nofollow effectively cancels out a link, for instance)
  • Search engines can also find your site by other web sites linking to it. You can also submit your site to search engines direct, but I haven’t submitted my site to a search engine in the last 10 years – you probably don’t need to do that.
  • Google spiders a link to your home page, finds your site, and crawls and indexes the home page of your site, and will come back to spider the rest of your website if all your pages are linked together (in almost any way).
  • Many think Google will not allow new websites to rank well for competitive terms until the web address “ages” and acquires “trust” in Google – I think this depends on the quality of the incoming links. Sometimes your site will rank high for a while then disappear for months. This is called the “honeymoon period”.
  • Google WILL classify your site when it crawls and indexes your site – and this classification can have a DRASTIC affect on your rankings – it’s important for Google to work out WHAT YOUR ULTIMATE INTENT IS – do you want to classified as an affiliate site made ‘just for Google’, a domain holding page, or a small business website with a real purpose? Ensure you don’t confuse Google by being explicit with all the signals you can – to show on your website you are a real business, and your INTENT is genuine. NOTE – If a page exists only to make money from Google’s free traffic – Google calls this spam.
  • To rank for specific keyword searches, you generally need to have the words on your page (not necessarily altogether, but it helps) – ultimately it is all dependent on the competition for the term you are targeting) or in links pointing to your page/site.
  • As a result of other quality sites linking to your site, the site now has a certain amount of Pagerank that is shared with all the internal pages that make up your website that will in future help determine where this page ranks.
  • Yes, you need to build links to your site to acquire  more Google Juice. Google is a links based search engine – it does not quite understand ‘good’ content – but it does understand ‘popular’ content.
  • When you have Google Juice or Heat, try and spread it throughout your site by ensuring all your pages are linked together
  • I think your external links to to other sites should probably be on your single pages, the pages receiving all your Google Juice once it’s been “soaked up” by the higher pages in your site (the home page, your category pages).It’s not JUST a numbers game, though. One link from a “trusted authority” site in Google could be all you need. Of course, the more “trusted” links you build, the more trust Google will have in your site. it’s pretty clear that you need MULTIPLE trusted links from MULTIPLE trusted websites to get the most from Google.
  • Try and get links within page text pointing to your site with keywords in it – not, for instance, in blogrolls or sitewide links. Try to ensure the links are not obviously “machine generated” ie site-wide links on forums or directories. Get links from pages, that in turn, have a lot of links to them.
  • Internally, consider linking to your other pages by linking to them within text – I usually only do this when it is relevant – and recently, I’ll link to relevant pages when the keyword is in the title elements of both pages. I don’t really go in for auto-generating links at all. Google has penalised sites for using particular auto link plugins, for instance.
  • Linking to a page with actual key-phrases in the link help a great deal in all search engines when you want to feature for specific key-terms. ie “seo scotland” as opposed to http://www.hobo-web.co.uk or “click here“.
  • I think the anchor text links in internal navigation is still valuable – but keep it natural. Google needs links to find your pages. Don’t underestimate the value of a clever internal link keyword-rich architecture and be sure to understand for instance how many words Google counts in a link, but don’t overdo it.
  • Search engines like Google ‘spider’ or ‘crawl’ your entire site by following all the links on your site to new pages, much as a human would click on the links of your pages. Google will crawl and index your pages, and within a few days normally, begin to return your pages in search results (SERPS)
  • After a while, Google will know about your pages, and keep the ones it deems ‘useful’ – pages with original content, or pages with a lot of links to them . Ideally you will have unique pages, with unique page titles and unique page descriptions if you deem to use the latter – most search engines don’t use the meta description when actually ranking your page for specific keyword searches if not relevant –  I don’t worry about meta keywords these days.
  • Google chews over your site, analysing text content and links
  • If you have a lot of duplicate crap found on other websites Google knows about, Google will ignore your page. If your site has spammy signals. Google will penalise it.
  • You don’t need to keyword stuff your text and look dyslexic to beat the competition. Generally it’s good to have keywords in links, page titles and text content. There is no ideal amount of text – no magic keyword density. Keyword stuffing is a tricky business.
  • I prefer to make sure I have as many UNIQUE relevant words on the page.
  • If you link out to irrelevant sites, Google may ignore the page, too – but again, it depends on the site in question. Who you link to, or HOW you link to, REALLY DOES MATTER – I expect Google to use your linking practices as a potential means by which to classify your site. Affiliate sites for example don’t do well in Google these days without some good quality backlinks.
  • Many SEOs think who you actually link out to (and who links to you) helps determine a topical community of sites in any field, or a hub of authority. Quite simply, you want to be in that hub, at the centre if possible (however unlikely), but at least in it. I like to think of this one as a good thing to remember in the future as search engines get even better at determining topical relevancy of pages, but I have never really seen any granular ranking benefit (for the page in question) from linking out.
  • Original content is king and will attract a “natural link growth” – in Google’s opinion. Too many incoming links too fast might devalue your site, but again. I usually err on the safe side – I go for massive diversity in my links – to make them look more natural. Actually, I go for natural links in 2014 full stop. Google can devalue whole sites, individual pages, template generated links and individual links if Google deems them “unnecessary”.
  • Google knows who links to you, the “quality” of those links, and who you link to.
  • Google decides which pages on your site are important or most relevant. You can help Google by linking to your important pages.
  • It is of paramount importance you spread all that Google juice to your sales keyword / phrase rich sales pages, and as much remains to the rest of the site pages, so Google does not”demote” starved pages into it’s reserves, or “supplementals”.
  • Consider linking to important pages on your site from your home page, and via the template navigation on the site.
  • Focus on RELEVANCE first. Then get REPUTABLE. The key to ranking in Google is actually pretty simple.
  • Every few months Google changes it’s algorithm to punish sloppy optimisation or industrial manipulation. Google Panda and Google Penguin are two such updates, but the important thing is to understand Google changes it’s algorithms to control it’s listings pages. The art of SEO is to rank without tripping these algorithms – and that is tricky!

Keyword Research

The first step in any seo campaign is to do some keyword research. There are many tools on the web to help with basic keyword research (including the free Google Keyword Research Tool and SEMRUSH). You can use these tools to quickly identify opportunities to get more traffic:

Example Keyword Search Volume
seo tutorial for beginners 1900
seo tutorials 1600
seo tutorial pdf 1000
how to seo a website 880
seo tutorial step by step 720
how to seo your website 720
google seo tutorial 320
best seo tutorial for novices 260
free seo tutorial 210
free seo tutorials 210
on page seo tutorial 170
seo tutorials for beginners 170
all in one seo tutorial 170
seo tutorial video 140
how to seo website 140
seo tutorial in urdu 110
how to seo my website 110
seo tutorial download 91
joomla seo tutorial 91
online seo tutorial 91
seo tutorial in bangla 91
seo tutorial free 73
optimizare seo tutorial 73
best seo tutorial 58
basic seo tutorial 58
bing seo tutorial 58
step by step seo tutorial 46
beginners seo tutorial course 46
seo tutorial google 46
seo tutorial ppt 36
search engine optimization seo tutorial 36
seo tutorial w3schools 28
best seo tutorials 28
website seo tutorial 28
seo tutorial for beginners lesson 1 28
seo tutorial youtube 22
google seo tutorials 22
link building in seo tutorial 22
black hat seo tutorial 22
how to work seo tutorial 16
youtube seo tutorial 16
drupal seo tutorial 16
seo tutoriale 16
seo tutorial blog 16
seo tutorial 2015 12
seo tutorial online 12
seo tutorial printable 12
seo tutorial beginners 12
online seo tutorials

Getting a site to the top of Google eventually comes down to your text content on a page and external & internal link profile. All together, Google uses this analysis to determine whether your no1 in Google or number 32, or de-indexed. There’s no magic bullet.

At any one time, your site is under some sort of filters designed to keep spam sites out and deliver relevant results to human visitors. One filter may be kicking in keeping a page down in the serps, while another filter is pushing another page up. You might have poor content but excellent incoming links, or vice versa. Try and identify the reasons Google doesn’t link a particular page. Too few quality incoming links? Too many incoming links? No keyword rich text? Linking out to irrelevant sites? Too many ads? Affiliate links on every page of your site, found on a thousand other websites? Whatever, identify issues and fix them. Get on the wrong side of Google and your site might well be MANUALLY reviewed – so seo your site as if, one day, you will get that website review.

The key to successful seo, I think, is persuading Google that your page is most relevant to any given search query. You do this by good unique keyword rich text content and getting “quality” links to that page. Next time your developing a page, consider what looks spammy to you is probably spammy to Google. Ask yourself which pages on your site are really necessary. Which links are necessary? Which pages are getting the “juice” or “heat“. Which pages would you ignore?

You can help a site along in any number of ways (including making sure your page titles and meta tags are unique) but be careful. Obvious evidence of ‘rank modifying’ is dangerous.

I prefer simple seo techniques, and ones that can be measured in some way. I don’t want to just rank for competitive terms, I want to understand the reason why I rank for these terms. At Hobo we try to build sites for humans AND search engines. Make a site relevant to both for success in organic listings and you might not ever need to get into the techie side of SEO like redirects and URL rewriting. Of course, to beat the competition in an industry where it’s difficult to attract quality links, you have to get more “technical” sometimes.

There are no hard and fast rules to long term seo success, other than developing quality websites with quality content and quality links pointing to it. You need to mix it up and learn from experience. Remember there are exceptions to nearly every rule, and you probably have little chance determining exactly why you rank in search engines. I’ve been doing it for over 10 years and everyday I’m trying to better understand Google, to learn more and learn from others’ experiences. It’s important not to obsess about the minute seo specifics unless you really have the time to do so!

THERE IS USUALLY SOMETHING MORE VALUABLE TO SPEND THAT TIME ON.

There are some things that are apparent though.

Don’t Build Your Site With Flash or HTML Frames

Well… not entirely in Flash, and especially not if you know very little about the ever improving accessibility of Flash. Flash is a propriety plug in created by Macromedia to infuse (albeit) fantastically rich media for your websites. The W3C advises you avoid the use of such proprietary technology to construct an entire site. Instead, build your site with CSS and HTML ensuring everyone, including search engine robots, can sample your website content. Then, if required, you can embed media files such as Flash in the HTML of your website.

Flash, in the hands of an inexperienced designer, can cause all types of problems at the moment, especially with:

  • Accessibility
  • Search Engines
  • Users not having the Plug In
  • Large Download Times

…and Flash doesn’t even work at all on some devices, like the Apple Iphone. Html5 is the preferred option over Flash these days, for most designers. A site built entirely in Flash could cause an unsatisfactory user experience, and could affect your rankings, and especially in mobile search results. For similar accessibility and user satisfaction reasons, I would also say don’t build a site with website frames.

Keep It Simple, Stupid

As in any form of design, don’t try and re-invent the wheel when simple solutions will suffice. The KISS philosophy has been around since the dawn of design.

KISS does not mean boring web pages. You can create stunning sites with smashing graphics – but you should build these sites using simple techniques – HTML & CSS, for instance. If your new to web design, avoid things like Flash and Javascript, especially for elements like scrolling news tickers etc. These elements work fine for TV – but generally only cause problems for website visitors.

Keep layouts and navigation arrays consistent and simple too. Don’t spend time, effort and money (especially if you work in a professional environment) designing fancy navigation menus if, for example, your new website is an information site.

Same with SEO – keep your documents well structured and keep your page Title elements and text content relevant, use Headings tags sensibly and try and avoid leaving too much of a footprint – whatever you are up to.

Page Title Tag Best Practice

 

 

<title>What Is The Best Title Tag For Google?</title>

The page title tag (or HTML Title Element) is arguably the most important on page seo factor (with regards to web page optimisation). Keywords in page titles can HELP your pages rank higher in Google results pages (SERPS). The page title is also often used by Google as the title of a search snippet link in search engine results pages.

For me, a perfect title tag in Google is dependant on a number of factors;

  1. The page title is highly relevant to the page it refers to, it will probably be displayed in a web browsers window title bar, and the clickable search snippet link in Google, Bing & other search engines. The title is the “crown” of a keyword targeted article with important keyword featuring AT LEAST ONCE, as all search engines place a lot of weight in what words are contained within this html element.
  2. Google displays as many characters as it can fit into  ”a block element that’s 512px wide and doesn’t exceed 1 line of text”. So – THERE IS NO AMOUNT OF CHARACTERS any seo can lay down as exact best practice to GUARANTEE your title will display, in full in Google, at least. Ultimately – only the characters and words you use will determine if your entire page title will be seen in a Google search snippet. Google used to count 70 characters in a title – but not in 2012. If you want to ENSURE your full title tag shows in Google SERPS, stick to about 65 characters. I have seen ‘up-to’ 69 characters in 2012 – but as I said – it depends on the characters you use.
  3. Google will INDEX perhaps 1000s of characters in a title… but no-one knows exactly how many characters or words Google will actually count AS a TITLE when determining relevance for ranking purposes. It is a very hard thing to try to isolate accurately. I have had ranking success with longer titles – much longer titles – Google certainly reads ALL the words in your page title (unless you are spamming it silly, of course).
  4. You can probably fit up to 12 words that will be counted as part of a page title, and consider using your important keywords in the first 8 words.
  5. Some page titles do better with a call to action – one which reflects exactly a searcher’s intent (e.g. to learn something, or buy something, or hire something. Remember this is your hook in search engines, if Google chooses to use your page title in its search snippet, and there is now a lot of competing pages out there!
  6. When optimising a title, you are looking to rank for as many terms as possible, without keyword stuffing your title. Often, the best bet is to optimise for a particular phrase (or phrases) – and take a more long-tail approach. Yes – that does mean more pages on your site – that’s the reality in 2012. Content. Content. Content.
  7. The perfect title tag on a page is unique to other pages on the site. In light of Google Panda, an algorithm that looks for a ‘quality’ in sites, you REALLY need to make your page titles UNIQUE, and minimise any duplication, especially on larger sites.
  8. I like to make sure my keywords feature as early as possible in a title tag but the important thing is to have important keywords and key phrases in your page title tag SOMEWHERE.
  9. For me, when SEO is more important than branding, the company name goes at the end of the tag, and I use a variety of dividers to separate as no one way performs best. If you have a recognisable brand – then there is an argument for putting this at the front of titles.
  10. I like to think I write titles for search engines AND humans.
  11. Know that Google tweaks everything regularly – why not what the perfect title keys off? So MIX it up…
  12. Don’t obsess! Natural is probably better, and will only get better as engines evolve. As I said – these days – I optimise for key-phrases, rather than just keywords.
  13. Generally speaking, the more domain trust/authority your SITE has in Google, the easier it is for a new page to rank for something. So bear that in mind. THere is only so much you can do with your page titles – your websites rankings in Google are a LOT more to do with OFFSITE factors than ONSITE ones.
  14. Also bear in mind, in 2012, the html title element you choose for your page, may not be what Google chooses to include in your SERP snippet. The search snippet title and description is very much QUERY dependant these days. Google often chooses what it thinks is the most relevant title for your search snippet, and it can use information from your page, or in links to that page, to create a very different SERP snippet title.
  15. Click through rate is something that is likely measured by Google when ranking pages (Bing say they use it too, and they now power Yahoo), so it is really worth considering whether you are best optimising your page titles for click-through rate or optimising for more search engine rankings.
  16. Google has been recorded recently discussing an ‘over-optimisation’ penalty. I would imagine keyword stuffing your page titles could be one area they look at.
  17. Remember….think ‘keyword phrase‘ rather than ‘keyword‘, ‘keyword‘ ,’keyword‘…

A Note About Title Tags;

When you write a page title, you have a chance right at the beginning of the page to tell Google (and other search engines) if this is a spam site or a quality site – such as – have you repeated the keyword 4 times or only once? I think title tags, like everything else, should probably be as simple as possible, with the keyword once and perhaps a related term if possible.

I always aim to keep my html page title elements things as simple, and looking as human-generated and unique, as possible.

I’m certainly cleaning up the way I write my titles all the time. How do you do it?

More Reading:

 External Links

 

Meta Keywords Best Practice

A bastian of crap and unethical search engine optimisation companies – the meta-keywords tag. How many crap seo companies mention cleaning and optimising this tag in their presentations? Companies that waste time on these waste clients money.

<meta name="Keywords" content="seo, search engine optimisation, optimization">

I have one piece of advice with the meta keyword tag, which like the title tag, goes in the head section of your web page, forget about them.

If you are relying on meta-keyword optimisation to rank for terms, your dead in the water. From what I see, Google + Bing ignores meta keywords - or at least places no weight in them to rank pages. Yahoo may read them, but really, a seo has more important things to worry about than this nonsense.

What about other search engines that use them? Hang on while I submit my site to those 75,000 engines first [sarcasm!]. Yes, 10 years ago search engines liked looking at your meta-keywords. I’ve seen OPs in forums ponder which is the best way to write these tags – with commas, with spaces, limiting to how many characters. Forget about meta-keyword tags – they are a pointless waste of time and bandwidth. Could probably save a rain-forest with the bandwidth costs we save if everybody removed their keyword tags.

Tin Foil Hat Time

So you have a new site….. you fill your home page meta tags with the 20 keywords you want to rank for – hey, that’s what optimisation is all about, isn’t it? You’ve just told Google by the third line of text what to sandbox you for  and wasn’t meta name=”Keywords” originally for words that weren’t actually on the page that would help classify the document? Sometimes competitors might use the information in your keywords to determine what you are trying to rank for, too….

If everybody removed them and stopped abusing meta keywords Google would probably start looking at them but that’s the way of things in search engines. I Ignore them. Not even a ‘second order’ effect, in my opinion.

 

Meta Description

Like the title element and unlike the meta keywords tag, this one is important, both from a human and search engine perspective.

<meta name="Description" content="Get your site on the first page of Google,
Yahoo and Bing too, using simple seo. Call us on 0845 094 0839. A company based in Scotland." />

Forget whether or not to put your keyword in it, make it relevant to a searcher and write it for humans, not search engines. If you want to have this 20 word snippet which accurately describes the page you have optimised for one or two keyword phrases when people use Google to search, make sure the keyword is in there.

I must say, I normally do include the keyword in the description as this usually gets it in your serp snippet, but I think it would be a fair guess to think more trusted sites would benefit more from any boost a keyword in the meta description tag might have, than an untrusted site would.

Google looks at the description but there is debate whether it actually uses the description tag to rank sites. I think they might at some level, but again, a very weak signal. I certainly don’t know of an example that clearly shows a meta description helping a page rank.

Some times, I will ask a question with my titles, and answer it in the description, sometimes I will just give a hint;

See the snippet? That's my meta description tag

It’s also very important in my opinion to have unique title tags and unique meta descriptions on every page on your site. It’s a preference of mine, but I don’t generally autogenerate descriptions with my cms of choice either – normally I’ll elect to remove the tag entirely before I do this, and my pages still do well (and Google generally pulls a decent snippet out on it’s own which you can then go back and optimise for serps. THere are times when I do autogenerate descriptions and that’s when I can still make them unique to the page using using some sort of server-side php.

Tin Foil Hat Time

Sometimes I think if your titles are spammy, your keywords are spammy, and your meta description is spammy, Google might stop right there – even they probably will want to save bandwidth at some time. Putting a keyword in the description won’t take a crap site to number 1 or raise you 50 spots in a competitive niche – so why optimise for a search engine when you can optimise for a human? – I think that is much more valuable, especially if you are in the mix already – that is – on page one for your keyword.

So, the meta description tag is important in Google, Yahoo and Bing and every other engine listing – very important to get it right. Make it for humans.

Oh and by the way – Google seems to truncate anything over @156 characters in the meta description, although this may actually be limited by pixel width in 2014.

More Reading:

 External Links

 

Google SEO: Robots Meta Tag

 

OK – So I’ve theorised about the Title Element, the Meta Description Tag and the pointless Meta Keywords Tag. Next:

The Robots Meta Tag;

<meta name="robots" content="index, nofollow" />

I could use the above meta tag to tell Google to index the page but not to follow any links on the page, if for some reason, I did not want the page to appear in Google search results.

By default, Googlebot will index a page and follow links to it. So there’s no need to tag pages with content values of INDEX or FOLLOW. GOOGLE

There are various instructions you can make use of in your Robots Meta Tag, but remember Google by default WILL index and follow links, so you have NO need to include that as a command – you can leave the robots meta out completely – and probably should if you don’t have a clue.

Googlebot understands any combination of lowercase and uppercase. GOOGLE.

Valid values for Robots Meta Tag ”CONTENT” attribute are: “INDEX“, “NOINDEX“, “FOLLOW“, “NOFOLLOW“. Pretty self explanatory.

Examples:

  • META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, FOLLOW”
  • META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”INDEX, NOFOLLOW”
  • META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”
  • META NAME=”ROBOTS” CONTENT=”NOARCHIVE”
  • META NAME=”GOOGLEBOT” CONTENT=”NOSNIPPET”

Google will understand the following and interprets the following robots meta tag values:

  • NOINDEX - prevents the page from being included in the index.
  • NOFOLLOW - prevents Googlebot from following any links on the page. (Note that this is different from the link-level NOFOLLOW attribute, which prevents Googlebot from following an individual link.)
  • NOARCHIVE - prevents a cached copy of this page from being available in the search results.
  • NOSNIPPET - prevents a description from appearing below the page in the search results, as well as prevents caching of the page.
  • NOODP - blocks the Open Directory Project description of the page from being used in the description that appears below the page in the search results.
  • NONE - equivalent to “NOINDEX, NOFOLLOW”.

Robots META Tag Quick Reference

 

Terms Googlebot Slurp MSNBot Teoma
NoIndex YES YES YES YES
NoFollow YES YES YES YES
NoArchive YES YES YES YES
NoSnippet YES NO NO NO
NoODP YES YES YES NO
NoYDIR NO YES NO NO
NoImageIndex YES NO NO NO
NoTranslate YES NO NO NO
Unavailable_After YES NO NO NO

I’ve included the robots meta tag in my tutorial as this is one of only a few meta tags / html head elements I focus on when it comes to Google (and Bing) seo. At a page level – it is quite powerful.

  1. Title Element – Important – Unique
  2. Meta Description (optional but advisable in most cases) – Unique
  3. Robots Meta Tag (optional) – Be Careful
  4. Canonical Meta Tag (optional – recommended) – Be Vigilant

These tags go in the [HEAD] section of a [HTML] page and represent the only tags for Google I care about. Just about everything  else you can put in the [HEAD] of your HTML document is quite unnecessary and maybe even pointless (for Google optimisation, anyway).

If you are interested in using methods like on-page robots instructions and the robots.txt file to control which pages get indexed by Google and how Google treats them, Sebastian knows a lot more than me :)

External Links

H1-H6: Headers

 

I can’t find any definitive proof online that says you need to use Heading Tags (H1, H2, H3, H4, H5, H6) or that they improve rankings in Google, and I have seen pages do well in Google without them – but I do use them, especially the H1 tag on the page. For me it’s another piece of a perfect page, in the traditional sense, and I try to build a site for Google and humans.

<h1>The Hobo SEO Company, Scotland</h1>

I still generally only use one <h1> heading tag in my keyword targeted pages – I believe this is the way the W3C intended it be used – and ensure they appear at the top of a page and written with my main keywords or keyword phrases incorporated. I have never experienced any problems using CSS to control the appearance of the heading tags making them larger or smaller.

I use as many H2 – H6 as is necessary depending on the size of the page, but generally I use H1, H2 & H3. You can see here how to use header tags properly.

How many words in the H1 Tag? As many as I think is sensible – as short and snappy as possible usually. Aaron Wall at SEOBook recommends not making your h1 tags the exact same as your page titles, although I personally have never seen a problem with this on a quality site. I also discovered Google will use your Header tags as page titlesat some level if your title element is malformed.

As always be sure to make your heading tags highly relevant to the content on that page and not too spammy, either.

 

Google SEO: How Many Words & Keywords?

 

Inverted Pyramid

I get asked this all the time -

how much text do you put on a page to rank for a certain keyword?

Well, as in so much of SEO theory and strategy, there is no optimal amount of text per page.

Instead of thinking about the quantity of the text, you should think more about the quality of the content on the page. Optimise this with searcher intent in mind. Well, that’s how I do it.

I don’t find that you need a minimum amount of words or text to rank in Google. I have seen pages with 50 words out rank pages with 100, 250, 500 or 1000 words. Then again I have seen pages with no text rank on nothing but inbound links or other ‘strategy’. In 2014, Google is a lot better at hiding away those pages, though.

At the moment, I prefer long pages and a lot of text, still focused on a few related keywords and key phrases to a page. Useful for long tail key phrases and easier to explore related terms.

Every site is different. Some pages, for example, can get away with 50 words because of a good link profile and the domain it is hosted on. For me, the important thing is to make a page relevant to a user’s search query.

I don’t care how many words I achieve this with and often I need to experiment on a site I am unfamiliar with. After a while, you get an idea how much text you need to use to get a page on a certain domain into Google.

One thing to note – the more text you add to the page, as long as it is unique, keyword rich and relevant, the more that page will be rewarded with more visitors from Google.

For instance, this page might be relevant to a search for;

  • How many words on the page for Google?
  • How many words to rank in Google?
  • How many words and characters on the page for SEO?
  • How many words on the page for Yahoo?
  • How many words on the page for Bing?
  • What is the optimal amount of text on a page for search engines?

OK so I cheated a bit there, and normally I would take more time to work these questions into the text – but hopefully you get my drift.

There is no optimal number of words on a page for placement in Google. Every website – every page – is different from what I can see. Don’t worry too much about word count if your content is original and informative. Google will probably reward you on some level – at some point – if there is lots of unique text on all your pages.

TIP: The ‘inverted pyramid‘ – pictured above – is useful when creating pages for the web too – very useful.

 

Keyword Density?

 

The short answer to this is – no. There is no one-size-fits-all keyword density, no optimal percentage. I do not subscribe to the idea that there is a certain percent of keywords per 1000 words of text to get a page to number 1 in Google. Search engines are not that easy although the key to success in many fields is simple seo. I write natural page copy where possible always focused on the key terms – I never calculate density in order to identify the best % – there are way too many other things to work on. Hey, I have looked, a long time ago. If it looks natural, it’s ok with me. Normally I will try and get related terms in the page, and if I have 5 paragraphs, I might have the keyword in 4 or 5 of those as long as it doesn’t look like I stuffed them in there.

I think optimal keyword density is a bit of a myth these days, although there are many who disagree. Crazy stuff. I think the page I just linked to is the longest page on the internet debunking keyword density.

 

Internal Links To Relevant Pages

 

I’ll lay down my thoughts on internal link optimisation later in this seo tutorial, but onpage, I link internal to relevant pages in my site all the time.

I silo any relevance or trust mainly though links in text content and secondary menu systems and between pages that are relevant in context to one another.

I don’t worry about perfect silo’ing techniques any more, and don’t worry about whether or not I should link to one category from another, as I think the ‘boost’ many proclaim is minimal on the size of sites I manage.

Sometimes I will ensure 10 pages link to 1 page in a theme, and not reciprocate this link. Other times, I will. it depends on the PR google juice I have to play with and again, if it feels right in the circumstance to do so, or the size of the site and how deep I am in the structure.

There’s no set method I find works for every site, other than to link to related internal pages often and where appropriate – it’s where I find some creativity.


Link Out To Related Sites

 

Sticking firmly in on page seo territory, I regularly link out to other quality relevant pages on other websites where possible and where a human would find it valuable.

I don’t link out to other sites from homepage. I want all the PR residing in the home page to be shared only with my internal pages. I don’t like out to other sites from my category pages either, for the same reason.

I link to other relevant sites (a deep link where possible) from individual pages and I do it often, usually. I don’t worry about link equity or PR leak because I control it on a page to page level.

This works for me, it allows me to share the link equity I have with other sites while ensuring it is not at the expense of pages on my own domain. It may even help get me into a ‘neighbourhood’ of relevant sites, especially when some of those start linking back to my site.

Linking out to other sites, especially using a blog, also helps tell others that might be interested in your content that your page is ‘here’. Try it.

Generally I wont link out to sites using the exact keyword /phrase I am targeting, but I will be considerate, and usually try and link out to a site using keywords these bloggers / site owners would appreciate.

 

Redirect Non WWW To WWW

 

I can’t even say this word properly – Canonicalization (US spelling). Does your site have canonicalization problems?

Simply put, http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/ can be treated by Google as a different url than http://hobo-web.co.uk/ even though it’s the same page, and it can get even more complicated. It’s thought Pagerank and Google Juice can be diluted if Google gets confused about your URLS and speaking simply you don’t want this PR diluted (in seo theory).

That’s why many, including myself, redirect non-www to www (or vice versa) if the site is on a linux/apache server (in the htaccess file -

Options +FollowSymLinks
RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^hobo-web.co.uk [NC]
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/$1 [L,R=301]

Basically you are redirecting all the Google juice to one url.

Do you need to do this? No. As standard these days, I do however. It keeps it simple, when optimising for Google. It should be noted, it’s incredibly important not to mix the two types of www/non-www on site when linking your own internal pages!

Google can handle most sites no problem even without this measure being taken, and it’s certainly no magic bullet implementing this canonicalization fix. On it’s own I see little boost. I am not an expert when it comes server side, of course, so I would love to hear other views.

In my experience it depends on the type of site. Are people linking to your site other than you? ;)

If there are a lot of people linking to you, I would implement it. Imagine you have 10 links from relatively untrusted sites with the www and all of a sudden you get a link from a trusted site without the www (non www) – that’s when you might not get the most out of a link, it’s thought.

Note in 2014 Google asks you which domain you prefer in Google Webmaster Tools.


Alt Tags

 

NOTE: Alt Tags are counted by Google (and Bing), but I would be careful over-optimizing them. I’ve seen a lot of websites penalized for over-optimising invisible elements on a page. Don’t do it.

ALT tags are very important and I think a very rewarding area to get right. I always put the main keyword in an ALT once when addressing a page.

Don’t optimise your ALT tags (or rather, attributes) JUST for Google!

Use ALT tags (or rather, ALT Attributes) for descriptive text that helps visitors – and keep them unique where possible, like you do with your titles and meta descriptions.

Don’t obsess. Don’t optimise your ALT tags just for Google – do it for humans, for accessibility and usability. If you are interested, I ran a simple  test using ALT attributes to determine how many words I could use in IMAGE ALT text that Google would pick up.

And remember – even if, like me most days, you can’t be bothered with all the image ALT tags on your page, at least use a blank ALT (or NULL value) so people with screen readers can enjoy your page.

Update 17/11/08 – Picked This Up At SERoundtable about Alt Tags:

JohnMu from Google: alt attribute should be used to describe the image. So if you have an image of a big blue pineapple chair you should use the alt tag that best describes it, which is alt=”big blue pineapple chair.” title attribute should be used when the image is a hyperlink to a specific page. The title attribute should contain information about what will happen when you click on the image. For example, if the image will get larger, it should read something like, title=”View a larger version of the big blue pineapple chair image.”

Barry continues with a quote:

As the Googlebot does not see the images directly, we generally concentrate on the information provided in the “alt” attribute. Feel free to supplement the “alt” attribute with “title” and other attributes if they provide value to your users!So for example, if you have an image of a puppy (these seem popular at the moment :-) ) playing with a ball, you could use something like “My puppy Betsy playing with a bowling ball” as the alt-attribute for the image. If you also have a link around the image, pointing a large version of the same photo, you could use “View this image in high-resolution” as the title attribute for the link.

 

Search Engine Friendly URLs (SEF)

 

Clean URLS (or search engine friendly urls) are just that – easy to read, simple. You do not need clean urls in a site architecture for Google to spider a site successfully (Update 23/9/08 – apparently confirmed by Google), although I do use clean urls as a default these days, and have done so for years.

Is there a massive difference in Google when you use clean urls?

No, in my experience it’s very much a second or third order effect, perhaps even less, if used on it’s own. EDIT: Recent observations I have made seem to indicate they might be more valuable in 2010.

The thinking is that you might get a boost in Google SERPS if your URLS are clean – because you are using keywords in the actual page name instead of a parameter or ID number. Google might reward the page some sort of relevance because of the actual file / page name.

On it’s own, this boost, in my experience is virtually non-detectable. Where this benefit is slightly detectable is when people (say in forums) link to your site with the url as the link. Then it is fair to say you do get a boost because keywords are in the actual anchor text link to your site, and I believe this is the case, but again, that depends on the quality of the page linking to your site – ie if Google trusts it and it passes Page Rank (!) and anchor text relevance. And of course, you’ll need citable content on that site of yours.

Sometimes I will remove the stop-words from a url and leave the important keywords as the page title because a lot of forums garble a url to shorten it.

I configure urls the following way;

  1. www.hobo-web.co.uk/?p=292 — is automatically changed by the CMS using url rewrite to
  2. www.hobo-web.co.uk/websites-clean-search-engine-friendly-urls/ — which I then break down to something like
  3. www.hobo-web.co.uk/search-engine-friendly-urls/

It should be remembered it is thought although Googlebot can crawl sites with dynamic URLs, it is assumed by many webmasters there is a greater risk that it will give up if the urls are deemed not important and contain multiple variables and session IDs (theory).

As standard, I use clean URLS where possible on new sites these days, and try to keep the URLS as simple as possible and do not obsess about it. That’s my aim at all times when I seo – simplicity.

Be aware though – Google does look at keywords in the URL even in a granular level. Having a keyword in your URL might be the difference between your site ranking and not – check out


Keywords In Bold Or Italic

 

As I mentioned in the ALT Tag seo tip, some seo proclaim putting your keywords in bold or putting your keywords in italics is a benefit in terms of search engine optimizing a page – as if they are working their way through a check list.

It’s impossible to test this, and I think these days, Google might be using this to identify what to punish a site for, not promote it in SERPS.

I use bold or italics these days specifically for users. Only if it’s natural or this is really what I want to emphasise!

Don’t tell Google what to sandbox you for that easily! I’m currently cleaning up the Hobo blog to reflect this, too.

I’ve been meaning, maybe forgetting, to pint out in these posts I think Google treats every website differently to others in some respect. That is, more trusted sites might get treated differently than untrusted sites.

2c.

 

Which Is Best? Absolute Or Relative URLS

 

This is another one of those areas in SEO or website development that you shouldn’t be concerned about. My advice would be to keep it consistent.

Which Is Better? – Absolute Or Relative URLS?

I prefer absolute urls. That’s just a preference. Google doesn’t care so neither do I, really. I have just gotten into the habit of using absolute urls.

  • What is an absolute URL? Example – http://www.hobo-web.co.uk/search-engine-optimisation/
  • What is a relative URL? Example – /search-engine-optimisation.htm

Relative just means relative to the document the link is on. Move that page to another site and it won’t work. With an absolute URL, it would work.


Which Is Best For Google – Subfolders or Files?

 

Another one to forget about. Sometimes I use subfolders and sometimes I use files. I have not been able to decide if there is any real benefit (in terms of seo) to using either. A lot of CMS these days (2012) seem to use subfolders in their file path, so I am pretty confident Google can deal with either.

I used to prefer files like .html when I was building a new site from scratch, as they were the ’end of the line’ for search engines, as I imagined it, and a subfolder (or directory) was a collection of pages.

I used to think it could take more to get a subfolder trusted than say an individual file and I guess this sways me to use files on most websites I created (back in the day). Once subfolders are trusted, it’s 6 or half a dozen, what the actual difference is in terms of ranking in Google – usually, rankings in Google are more determined by how RELEVANT or REPUTABLE a page is to a query.

In the past, subfolders could be treated differently than files (in my experience).

Subfolders can be trusted less than other subfolders or pages in your site, or ignored entirely. Subfolders *used to seem to me* to take a little longer to get indexed by Google, than for instance .html pages.

People talk about trusted domains but they don’t mention (or don’t think) some parts of the domain can be trusted less. Google treats some subfolders….. differently. Well, they used to – and remembering how Google used to handle things has some benefits – even in 2012.

Some say don’t go beyond 4 levels of folders in your file path. I haven’t experienced too many issues, but you never know.

UPDATED – I think in 2012 it’s even less of something to worry about. There’s so much more important elements to check.


Which Is Better For Google? PHP, HTML or ASP?

 

Google doesn’t care. As long as it renders as a browser compatible document, it appears Google can read it these days.

I prefer php these days even with flat documents as it is easier to add server side code to that document if I want to add some sort of function to the site.

 

Does W3C Valid HTML / CSS Help SEO?

 

Above – Google Confirming this 2008 blog post advice.

Does Google rank a page higher because of valid code? The short answer is no, even though I tested it on a small scale test with different results.

Google doesn’t care if your page is valid html and valid css. This is clear – check any top ten results in Google and you will probably see that most contain invalid HTML or CSS. I love creating accessible websites but they are a bit of a pain to manage when you have multiple authors or developers on a site.

If your site is so badly designed with a lot of invalid code even Google and browsers cannot read it, then you have a problem.

Where possible, if commissioning a new website, demand at least minimum accessibility compliance on a site (there are three levels of priority to meet), and aim for valid html and css. Actually this is the law in some countries although you would not know it, and be prepared to put a bit of work in to keep your rating.

Valid HTML and CSS are a pillar of best practice website optimisation, not strictly search engine optimisation (SEO). It is one form of optimisation Google will not penalise you for.

Where can you test the accessibility of your website – Cynthia Says – http://www.contentquality.com/ – not for the faint hearted! :)

Addition – I will be following W3C recommendations that actually help seo;

Hypertext links. Use text that makes sense when read out of context. W3C Top Ten Accessibility Tips

 

301 Old Pages

 

Rather than tell Google via a 404 or some other command that this page isn’t here any more, I have no problem permanently redirecting a page to a relatively similar page to pool any link power that page might have.

My general rule of thumb is to make sure the information (and keywords) are contained in the new page – stay on the safe side.

Most already know the power of a 301 and how you can use it to power even totally unrelated pages to the top of Google for a time – sometimes a very long time.

Google seems to think server side redirects are OK – so I use them.

You can change the focus of a redirect but that’s a bit black hat for me and can be abused – I don’t really talk about that sort of thing on this blog. But it’s worth knowing – you need to keep these redirects in place in your htaccess file.

Redirecting multiple old pages to one new page – works for me, if the information is there on the new page that ranked the old page.

NOTE – This tactic is being heavily spammed in 2014. Be careful with redirects. I think I have seen penalties transferred via 301s. I also WOULDN’T REDIRECT 301s blindly to your home page. I’d also be careful of redirecting lots of low quality links to one url. If you need a page to redirect old urls to, consider your sitemap or contact page. Audit any pages backlinks BEFORE you redirect them to an important page.

 

Penalty For Duplicate Content On-Site?

 

am always on the look for duplicate content issues. I think I have seen -50 positions for nothing more than a lot of duplicate content although I am looking into other possible issues. Generally speaking, Google will identify the best pages on your site if you have a decent on-site architecture. It’s usually pretty decent at this but it totally depends on where you are linkbuilding to within the site and how your site navigation is put together.

Don’t invite duplicate content issues. I don’t consider it a penalty you receive in general for duplicate content – you’re just not getting the most benefit. You’re website content isn’t being what it could be – a contender.

But this should be common sense. Google wants and rewards original content. Google doesn’t like duplicate content, and it’s a footprint of most spam sites. You don’t want to look anything like a spam site.

The more you can make it look a human built every page on a page by page basis with content that doesn’t appear exactly in other areas of the site – the more Google will like it. Google does not like automation when it comes to building a website, that’s for clear. (Unique titles, meta descriptions, keyword tags, content.)

I don’t mind Category duplicate content – as with WordPress – it can even help sometimes to spread PR and theme a site. But I generally wouldn’t have tags and categories, for instance.

I’m not that bothered with ‘themeing’ at this point to recommend silo’ing your content or no-indexing your categories. If I am not theming enough with proper content and mini-silo’ing to related pages from this page and to this page I should go home. Most sites in my opinion don’t need to silo their content – the scope of the content is just not that broad.

Keep in mind Google won’t thank you for spidering a calendar folder with 10,000 blank pages on it – why would they. They may even algorithmically tick you off.

PS – Duplicate content found on other sites? Now that’s a totally different problem.

UPDATED: See Google Advice on Duplicate Content.


Broken Links Are A Waste Of Link Power

 

The best piece of advice I ever read about creating a website / optimising a website was years ago:

make sure all your pages link to at least one other in your site

This advice is still sound today and the most important piece of advice out there in my opinion. Yes it’s so simple it’s stupid.

Check your pages for broken links. Seriously, broken links are a waste of link power and could hurt your site, drastically in some cases. Google is a link based search engine – if your links are broken and your site is chock full of 404s you might not be at the races.

Here’s the second best piece of advice in my opinion seeing as we are just about talking about website architecture;

link to your important pages often internally, with varying anchor text in the navigation and in page text content

…. especially if you do not have a lot of Pagerank to begin with!

 

Do I Need A Google XML Sitemap For My Website?

 

What is a xml sitemap and do I need one to ‘seo’ my site for Google?

(The XML Sitemap protocol) has wide adoption, including support from Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft

No. You do not need a XML Sitemap to optimise a site for Google, again, if you have a sensible navigation system.

A XML Sitemap is a method by which you can help a search engine, including Google, find & index all the pages on your site. Sometimes useful for very large sites, perhaps if the content chases often, but still not necessary if you have a good navigation system.

  1. Make sure all your pages link to at least one other in your site
  2. Link to your important pages often, with varying anchor text, in the navigation and in page text content

Remember Google needs links to find all the pages on your site.

Sitemaps are an easy way for webmasters to inform search engines about pages on their sites that are available for crawling. In its simplest form, a Sitemap is an XML file that lists URLs for a site along with additional metadata about each URL (when it was last updated, how often it usually changes, and how important it is, relative to other URLs in the site) so that search engines can more intelligently crawl the site.

I don’t use xml sitemaps that much at all, as I am confident I can get all my pages indexed via links on the website and via RSS feed if I am blogging. I would however suggest you use a ‘website’ sitemap – a list of the important pages on your site.

Some CMS can auto-generate xml sitemaps, and Google does ask you submit a site map in webmaster tools, but I still don’t. If you want to find out more go tohttp://www.sitemaps.org/

I prefer to manually define my important pages by links, and ‘old – style’ getting my pages indexed via links from other websites. I also recognise not all websites are the same.

You can make a xml site online at http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ if you decide they are for you.

I’m certainly no authority on sitemaps – perhaps anyone else with any experience of them can add something…?

 

Does Only The First Link Count In Google?

 

Does the second anchor text link on a page count?

One of the more interesting discussions in the seo community of late has been trying to determine which links Google counts as links on pages on your site. Some say the link Google finds higher in the code, is the link Google will ‘count’, if there are two links on a page going to the same page.

Update – I tested this recently with the post Google Counts The First Internal Link.

For example (and I am talking internal here – if you took a page and I placed two links on it, both going to the same page? (OK – hardly scientific, but you should get the idea). Will Google only ‘count’ the first link? Or will it read the anchor txt of both links, and give my page the benefit of the text in both links especially if the anchor text is different in both links? Will Google ignore the second link?

What is interesting to me is that knowing this leaves you with a question. If your navigation aray has your main pages linked to in it, perhaps your links in content are being ignored, or at least, not valued.

I think links in body text are invaluable. Does that mean placing the navigation below the copy to get a wide and varied internal anchor text to a page?

Perhaps.

Here’s some more on the topic;

  1. You May Be Screwing Yourself With Hyperlinked Headers
  2. Single Source Page Link Test Using Multiple Links With Varying Anchor Text
  3. Results of Google Experimentation – Only the First Anchor Text Counts
  4. Debunked: Only The 1st Anchor Text Counts With Google
  5. Google counting only the first link to a domain – rebunked

As I said, I think this is one of the more interesting talks in seo at the moment and perhaps Google works differently with internal links as opposed to external; links to other websites.

I think quite possibly this could change day to day if Google pressed a button, but I optimise a site thinking that only the first link will count – based on what I monitor although I am testing this – and actually, I usually only link once from page to page on client sites, unless it’s useful for visitors.

 

Canonical Tag – Canonical Link Element Best Practice

 

Google SEO – Matt Cutts from Google shares tips on the new rel=”canonical” tag (more accurately – the canonical link element) that the 3 top search engines now support. Google, Yahoo!, and Microsoft have all agreed to work together in a

“joint effort to help reduce duplicate content for larger, more complex sites, and the result is the new Canonical Tag”.

Example Canonical Tag From Google Webmaster Central blog:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.example.com/product.php?item=swedish-fish" />

The process is simple. You can put this link tag in the head section of the duplicate content urls, if you think you need it.

I add a self referring canonical link element as standard these days – to ANY web page.

Is rel=”canonical” a hint or a directive? 
It’s a hint that we honor strongly. We’ll take your preference into account, in conjunction with other signals, when calculating the most relevant page to display in search results.

Can I use a relative path to specify the canonical, such as <link rel=”canonical” href=”product.php?item=swedish-fish” />?
Yes, relative paths are recognized as expected with the <link> tag. Also, if you include a<base> link in your document, relative paths will resolve according to the base URL.

Is it okay if the canonical is not an exact duplicate of the content?
We allow slight differences, e.g., in the sort order of a table of products. We also recognize that we may crawl the canonical and the duplicate pages at different points in time, so we may occasionally see different versions of your content. All of that is okay with us.

What if the rel=”canonical” returns a 404?
We’ll continue to index your content and use a heuristic to find a canonical, but we recommend that you specify existent URLs as canonicals.

What if the rel=”canonical” hasn’t yet been indexed?
Like all public content on the web, we strive to discover and crawl a designated canonical URL quickly. As soon as we index it, we’ll immediately reconsider the rel=”canonical” hint.

Can rel=”canonical” be a redirect?
Yes, you can specify a URL that redirects as a canonical URL. Google will then process the redirect as usual and try to index it.

What if I have contradictory rel=”canonical” designations?
Our algorithm is lenient: We can follow canonical chains, but we strongly recommend that you update links to point to a single canonical page to ensure optimal canonicalization results.

Can this link tag be used to suggest a canonical URL on a completely different domain?
**Update on 12/17/2009: The answer is yes! We now support a cross-domain rel=”canonical” link element.**

More reading

 

Rich Snippets

 

Rich Snippets in Google enhance your search listing in Google search engine results pages. You can include reviews of your products or services, for instance. Rich Snippets help draw attention to your listing in serps. You’ve no doubt seen yellow stars in Google natural results listings, for instance.

 

What Not To Do In Search Engine Optimisation

Google has now released a search engine optimisation starter guide for webmasters, which they use internally:

Although this guide won’t tell you any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first for queries in Google (sorry!), following the best practices outlined below will make it easier for search engines to both crawl and index your content. Google

Still worth a read even if it is fairly basic, generally accepted (in the industry) best practice search engine optimisation for your site.

Here’s a list of what Google tells you to avoid in the document;

  1. choosing a title that has no relation to the content on the page
  2. using default or vague titles like “Untitled” or “New Page 1″
  3. using a single title tag across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages
  4. using extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to users
  5. stuffing unneeded keywords in your title tags
  6. writing a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the page
  7. using generic descriptions like “This is a webpage” or “Page about baseball
    cards”
  8. filling the description with only keywords
  9. copy and pasting the entire content of the document into the description meta tag
  10. using a single description meta tag across all of your site’s pages or a large group of pages
  11. using lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
  12. choosing generic page names like “page1.html”
  13. using excessive keywords like “baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseball-cards.htm”
  14. having deep nesting of subdirectories like “…/dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/
    page.html”
  15. using directory names that have no relation to the content in them
  16. having pages from subdomains and the root directory (e.g. “domain.com/
    page.htm” and “sub.domain.com/page.htm”) access the same content
  17. mixing www. and non-www. versions of URLs in your internal linking structure
  18. using odd capitalization of URLs (many users expect lower-case URLs and remember them better)
  19. creating complex webs of navigation links, e.g. linking every page on your site
    to every other page
  20. going overboard with slicing and dicing your content (it takes twenty clicks to get to deep content)
  21. having a navigation based entirely on drop-down menus, images, or animations (many, but not all, search engines can discover such links on a site, but if a user can reach all pages on a site via normal text links, this will improve the accessibility of your site)
  22. letting your HTML sitemap page become out of date with broken links
  23. creating an HTML sitemap that simply lists pages without organizing them, for
    example by subject (Edit Shaun – Safe to say especially for larger sites)
  24. allowing your 404 pages to be indexed in search engines (make sure that your
    webserver is configured to give a404 HTTP status codewhen non-existent
    pages are requested)
  25. providing only a vague message like “Not found”, “404″, or no 404 page at all
  26. using a design for your 404 pages that isn’t consistent with the rest of your site
  27. writing sloppy text with many spelling and grammatical mistakes
  28. embedding text in images for textual content (users may want to copy and
    paste the text and search engines can’t read it)
  29. dumping large amounts of text on varying topics onto a page without paragraph, subheading, or layout separation
  30. rehashing (or even copying) existing content that will bring little extra value to
    users

Pretty simple stuff but sometimes it’s the simple seo often get overlooked. Of course, you put the above together with Google Guidelines for webmasters.

Search engine optimization is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results.

Don’t make simple mistakes…..

  1. Avoid duplicating content on your site found on other sites. Yes, Google likes content, but it *usually* needs to be well linked to, unique and original to get you to the top!
  2. Don’t hide text on your website. Google may eventually remove you from the SERPS (search engine results pages).
  3. Don’t buy 1000 links and think “that will get me to the top!”. Google likes natural link growth and often frowns on mass link buying.
  4. Don’t get every body to link to you using the same “anchor text” or link phrase. This could flag you as an seo.
  5. Don’t chase Google PR by chasing 100′s of links. Think quality of links….not quantity.
  6. Don’t buy many keyword rich domains, fill them with similar content and link them to your site, no matter what your seo company says. This is lazy seo and could see you ignored or worse banned from Google. It might have worked yesterday but it sure does not work today!
  7. Do not constantly change your site pages names or site navigation. This just screws you up in any search engine.
  8. Do not build a site with a JavaScript navigation that Google, Yahoo and MSN cannot crawl.
  9. Do not link to everybody who asks you for reciprocal links. Only link out to quality sites you feel can be trusted.

…and that’s all for now.

 

Remember to keep up to date with Google Webmaster Guidelines. :)

If you enjoyed this post, please share :)


Hire Us


Loading Facebook Comments ...

2 Responses

  1. Robert says:

    Great post and generally agreed all the way through. Then again good practices (generally) remain good practices no matter who wants to apply them. Quite a lengthy read, but a great resource to share – which I will be doing regularly I imagine.

  2. ViciniDiBanco says:

    I’m an italian student with a small website and I was searching some helps about SEO in the italian websites… I tried to follow a lot of these and I had always to pay 5/10€ to download a PDF with informations… The problem is that in this free post you showed more suggestions than all italian websites that I used… Why I didn’t think before to search informations about SEO also in foreign languages!! Why I’m still leaving in Italy!! -.-” Thank you very much for all these suggestion, now I’ll try to use them in my website… THANKS!!!!!



Learn how you can get more sales from your website

Subscribe for free and let us share with you:

  • how to submit your site to Google, Yahoo & Bing
  • how to optimise your site to get more traffic from Google
  • how to target the most valuable keywords for your business
  • how to make your site rank better in free Google listings
  • how to rank high & avoid Google penalties in 2014

Trust Hobo with your SEO plan

Find out more