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  • 1. Search Engine OptimizationStarter Guide
  • 2. This document first began as an effort to help teams within Google,but we thought itd be just as useful to webmasters that are new tothe topic of search engine optimization and wish to improve theirsites interaction with both users and search engines. Although thisguide wont tell you any secrets thatll automatically rank your sitefirst for queries in Google (sorry!), following the best practicesoutlined below will make it easier for search engines to crawl, indexand understand your content.Search engine optimization is often about making small modificationsto parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changesmight seem like incremental improvements, but when combined withother optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on yoursites user experience and performance in organic search results.Youre likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide,because theyre essential ingredients for any web page, but you maynot be making the most out of them.Even though this guides title contains the words "search engine",wed like to say that you should base your optimization decisions firstand foremost on whats best for the visitors of your site. Theyre themain consumers of your content and are using search engines to findyour work. Focusing too hard on specific tweaks to gain ranking in theorganic results of search engines may not deliver the desired results.Search engine optimization is about putting your sites best footforward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but yourultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.Your site may be smaller or larger than our example site and offervastly different content, but the optimization topics we discuss belowshould apply to sites of all sizes and types. We hope our guide givesyou some fresh ideas on how to improve your website, and wed loveto hear your questions, feedback, and success stories in the GoogleWebmaster Help Forum.Welcome to GooglesSearch Engine OptimizationStarter Guide
  • 3. Table of Contents4681014161820212224262830GooglebotCrawling contenton the Internet forGoogles indexevery day, everynight, non stop.From here on, Ill beexplaining various pointson search engineoptimization (SEO)!SEO BasicsCreate unique, accurate page titlesMake use of the description meta tagImproving Site StructureImprove the structure of your URLsMake your site easier to navigateOptimizing ContentOffer quality content and servicesWrite better anchor textOptimize your use of imagesUse heading tags appropriatelyDealing with CrawlersMake effective use of robots.txtBe aware of rel=nofollow for linksSEO for Mobile PhonesNotify Google of mobile sitesGuide mobile users accuratelyPromotions and AnalysisPromote your website in the right waysMake use of free webmaster toolsAn example may help our explanations, so weve created a fictitiouswebsite to follow throughout the guide. For each topic, weve fleshedout enough information about the site to illustrate the point beingcovered. Heres some background information about the site welluse:Website/business name: Brandons Baseball CardsDomain name: brandonsbaseballcards.comFocus: Online-only baseball card sales, price guides, articles,and news contentSize: Small, ~250 pages“Paid” Search, AdWordsOrganic SearchSearch engine optimization affects only organic search results, notpaid or sponsored results such as Google AdWords.
  • 4. Search engineComputer function that searches data available on the Internet using keywords orother specified terms, or a program containing this function.head tagAn element that indicates the header in an HTML document. The content of thiselement will not be displayed in a browser.HTMLAbbreviation for HyperText Markup Language, a language used when describing webpage documents. It denotes the basic elements of web pages, including the documenttext and any hyperlinks and images embedded within.Search querySingle or multiple terms which are input by the user when performing a search onsearch engines.A title tag tells both users and search engines what the topic ofa particular page is. The title tag should be placed within thehead tag of the HTML document (1). Ideally, you should create aunique title for each page on your site.If your document appears in a search results page, the contents ofthe title tag will usually appear in the first line of the results (ifyoure unfamiliar with the different parts of a Google search result,you might want to check out the anatomy of a search result video byGoogle engineer Matt Cutts, and this helpful diagram of a Googlesearch results page). Words in the title are bolded if they appear in theusers search query. This can help users recognize if the page islikely to be relevant to their search (2).The title for your homepage can list the name of your website/business and could include other bits of important information likethe physical location of the business or maybe a few of its mainfocuses or offerings (3).Create unique, accurate page titlesSEO BasicsGlossaryIndicate page titles by using title tagsPage title contents are displayed in searchresults(1) The title of the homepage for our baseball card site, which lists the businessname and three main focus areas.htmlheadtitleBrandons Baseball Cards - Buy Cards, Baseball News, Card Prices/titlemeta name=description= content=Brandons Baseball Cards provides alarge selection of vintage and modern baseball cards for sale. We also offerdaily baseball news and events in/headbody(2) A user performs the query [baseball cards]. Our homepage shows up as a result,with the title listed on the first line (notice that the query terms the user searchedfor appear in bold).If the user clicks the result and visits the page, the pages title will appear at the topof the browser.(3) A user performs the query [rarest baseball cards]. A relevant, deeper page (itstitle is unique to the content of the page) on our site appears as a result.
  • 5. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisLinksThe anatomy of a search result of a Google search results page PracticesPage titles are animportant aspect ofsearch engineoptimization.Choose a title that effectively communicates the topic of the pages content.Accurately describe the pages contentchoosing a title that has no relation to the content on the pageusing default or vague titles like Untitled or New Page 1Avoid:Create unique title tags for each pageEach of your pages should ideally have a unique title tag, which helps Google know how the page isdistinct from the others on your site.using a single title tag across all of your sites pages or a large group of pagesAvoid:Use brief, but descriptive titlesTitles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long, Google will show only a portion of it inthe search result.using extremely lengthy titles that are unhelpful to usersstuffing unneeded keywords in your title tagsAvoid:
  • 6. SnippetText displayed beneath the title of a corresponding web page on the search resultspages of a search engine. A web page summary and/or parts of the page that matchthe search keywords will be displayed.Open Directory Project (ODP)The worlds largest volunteer-run web directory (a list of Internet links collected on alarge scale and then organized by category).DomainAn address on the Internet that indicates the location of a computer or network. Theseare administrated to avoid duplication.A pages description meta tag gives Google and other searchengines a summary of what the page is about (1). Whereas apages title may be a few words or a phrase, a pages description metatag might be a sentence or two or a short paragraph. GoogleWebmaster Tools provides a handy content analysis section thatll tellyou about any description meta tags that are either too short, long, orduplicated too many times (the same information is also shown fortitle tags). Like the title tag, the description meta tag is placedwithin the head tag of your HTML document.Description meta tags are important because Google might usethem as snippets for your pages. Note that we say might becauseGoogle may choose to use a relevant section of your pages visibletext if it does a good job of matching up with a users query.Alternatively, Google might use your sites description in the OpenDirectory Project if your site is listed there (learn how to preventsearch engines from displaying ODP data). Adding description metatags to each of your pages is always a good practice in case Googlecannot find a good selection of text to use in the snippet. TheWebmaster Central Blog has an informative post on improvingsnippets with better description meta tags.Words in the snippet are bolded when they appear in the users query(2). This gives the user clues about whether the content on the pagematches with what he or she is looking for. (3) is another example,this time showing a snippet from a description meta tag on a deeperpage (which ideally has its own unique description meta tag)containing an article.Make use of the description meta tagSEO BasicsGlossarySummaries can be defined for each pageWhat are the merits of description metatags?(1) The beginning of the description meta tag for our homepage, which gives a briefoverview of the sites offerings.htmlheadtitleBrandons Baseball Cards - Buy Cards, Baseball News, Card Prices/titlemeta name=description= content=Brandons Baseball Cards provides alarge selection of vintage and modern baseball cards for sale. We also offerdaily baseball news and events in/headbody(2) A user performs the query [baseball cards]. Our homepage appears as a result,with part of its description meta tag used as the snippet.(3) A user performs the query [rarest baseball cards]. One of our deeper pages, withits unique description meta tag used as the snippet, appears as a result.
  • 7. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisLinksContent analysis section search engines from displaying ODP data snippets with better description meta tags operator PracticesUse description meta tags toprovide both search enginesand users with a summary ofwhat your page is about!Accurately summarize the pages contentwriting a description meta tag that has no relation to the content on the pageusing generic descriptions like This is a web page or Page about baseball cardsfilling the description with only keywordscopying and pasting the entire content of the document into the description meta tagAvoid:Write a description that would both inform and interest users if they saw your description meta tag asa snippet in a search result.Use unique descriptions for each pageusing a single description meta tag across all of your sites pages or a large group of pagesAvoid:Having a different description meta tag for each page helps both users and Google, especially insearches where users may bring up multiple pages on your domain (e.g. searches using the site:operator). If your site has thousands or even millions of pages, hand-crafting description meta tagsprobably isnt feasible. In this case, you could automatically generate description meta tags based oneach pages content.
  • 8. CrawlExploration of websites by search engine software (bots) in order to index theircontent.ParameterData provided in the URL to specify a sites behavior.ID (session ID)Data provided for the identification and/or behavior management of a user who iscurrently accessing a system or network communications.301 redirectAn HTTP status code (see page 12). Forces a site visitor to automatically jump to aspecified URL.SubdomainA type of domain used to identify a category that is smaller than a regular domain (seepage 6).Root directoryDirectory at the top of the tree structure of a site. It is sometimes called root.Creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents onyour website can not only help you keep your site better organized,but it could also lead to better crawling of your documents bysearch engines. Also, it can create easier, friendlier URLs for thosethat want to link to your content. Visitors may be intimidated byextremely long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words.URLs like (1) can be confusing and unfriendly. Users would have ahard time reciting the URL from memory or creating a link to it. Also,users may believe that a portion of the URL is unnecessary, especiallyif the URL shows many unrecognizable parameters. They might leaveoff a part, breaking the link.Some users might link to your page using the URL of that page as theanchor text. If your URL contains relevant words, this providesusers and search engines with more information about the pagethan an ID or oddly named parameter would (2).Lastly, remember that the URL to a document is displayed aspart of a search result in Google, below the documents title andsnippet. Like the title and snippet, words in the URL on the searchresult appear in bold if they appear in the users query (3). To the rightis another example showing a URL on our domain for a pagecontaining an article about the rarest baseball cards. The words in theURL might appeal to a search user more than an ID number like would.Google is good at crawling all types of URL structures, even if theyrequite complex, but spending the time to make your URLs as simple aspossible for both users and search engines can help. Somewebmasters try to achieve this by rewriting their dynamic URLs tostatic ones; while Google is fine with this, wed like to note that this isan advanced procedure and if done incorrectly, could cause crawlingissues with your site. To learn even more about good URL structure,we recommend this Webmaster Help Center page on creatingGoogle-friendly URLs.Improve the structure of your URLsImproving Site StructureGlossarySimple-to-understand URLs will conveycontent information easilyURLs are displayed in search results(1) A URL to a page on our baseball card site that a user might have a hard timewith.(2) The highlighted words above could inform a user or search engine what thetarget page is about before following the link.(3) A user performs the query [baseball cards]. Our homepage appears as a result,with the URL listed under the title and snippet.
  • 9. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisLinksDynamic URLs Google-friendly URLs redirect PracticesCreate a simple directory structureUse a directory structure that organizes your content well and makes it easy for visitors to know wheretheyre at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at thatURL.having deep nesting of subdirectories like .../dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/page.htmlusing directory names that have no relation to the content in themAvoid:Choose a URL that will beeasy for users and searchengines to understand!Use words in URLsusing lengthy URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDschoosing generic page names like page1.htmlusing excessive keywords likebaseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.htmAvoid:URLs with words that are relevant to your sites content and structure are friendlier for visitorsnavigating your site. Visitors remember them better and might be more willing to link to them.Provide one version of a URL toreach a documentTo prevent users from linking to one version of a URL and others linking to a different version (thiscould split the reputation of that content between the URLs), focus on using and referring to one URLin the structure and internal linking of your pages. If you do find that people are accessing the samecontent through multiple URLs, setting up a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominantURL is a good solution for this. You may also use canonical URL or use the rel=canonical link elementif you cannot redirect.having pages from subdomains and the root directory access the same content- e.g. and odd capitalization of URLs- many users expect lower-case URLs and remember them betterAvoid:
  • 10. Make your site easier to navigateImproving Site StructureThe navigation of a website is important in helping visitorsquickly find the content they want. It can also help search enginesunderstand what content the webmaster thinks is important.Although Googles search results are provided at a page level, Googlealso likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the biggerpicture of the site.All sites have a home or root page, which is usually the mostfrequented page on the site and the starting place of navigation formany visitors. Unless your site has only a handful of pages, youshould think about how visitors will go from a general page(your root page) to a page containing more specific content. Doyou have enough pages around a specific topic area that it wouldmake sense to create a page describing these related pages (e.g. rootpage - related topic listing - specific topic)? Do you have hundredsof different products that need to be classified under multiplecategory and subcategory pages?A breadcrumb is a row of internal links at the top or bottom of thepage that allows visitors to quickly navigate back to a previoussection or the root page (1). Many breadcrumbs have the mostgeneral page (usually the root page) as the first, left-most link and listthe more specific sections out to the right.Navigation is very important for searchenginesPlan out your navigation based on yourhomepage404 (page not found error)An HTTP status code (see page 12). It means that the server could not find the webpage requested by the browser.XML SitemapA list of the pages on a particular website. By creating and sending this list, you areable to notify Google of all pages on a website, including any URLs that may have beenundetected by Googles regular crawling process.GlossaryEnsure more convenience for users byusing ‘breadcrumb lists’(1) Breadcrumb links appearing on a deeper article page on our site.1900-19491950-19992000-present(root)aboutarticles200820092010price-guidesnewsshopThe directory structurefor our small website onbaseball cards.10
  • 11. OptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisSEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureLinksWebmaster Tools a preferred domain Generator Script to Sitemap files what happens when a user removes part of your URL -Some users might navigate your site in odd ways, and you shouldanticipate this. For example, instead of using the breadcrumb linkson the page, a user might drop off a part of the URL in the hopesof finding more general content. He or she might be visiting, butthen enter intothe browsers address bar, believing that this will show all news from2010 (2). Is your site prepared to show content in this situation or willit give the user a 404 (page not found error)? What about moving upa directory level to site map (lower-case) is a simple page on your site that displays thestructure of your website, and usually consists of a hierarchical listingof the pages on your site. Visitors may visit this page if they arehaving problems finding pages on your site. While search engineswill also visit this page, getting good crawl coverage of the pages onyour site, its mainly aimed at human visitors.An XML Sitemap (upper-case) file, which you can submit throughGoogles Webmaster Tools, makes it easier for Google to discoverthe pages on your site. Using a Sitemap file is also one way (thoughnot guaranteed) to tell Google which version of a URL youd prefer asthe canonical one (e.g. or; more on whats a preferreddomain). Google helped create the open source Sitemap GeneratorScript to help you create a Sitemap file for your site. To learn moreabout Sitemaps, the Webmaster Help Center provides a useful guideto Sitemap files.Allow for the possibility of a part of theURL being removedPrepare two sitemaps: one for users, onefor search engines(2) Users may go to an upper directory by removing the last part of the URL.?xml version=1.0 encoding=UTF-8?urlset xmlns= of an HTML site map and an XML Sitemap. An HTML site map can helpusers easily find content that they are looking for, and an XML Sitemap can helpsearch engines find pages on your site.11
  • 12. Make your site easier to navigateImproving Site StructureBest PracticesCreate a naturally flowing hierarchycreating complex webs of navigation links, e.g. linking every page on your site to every other pagegoing overboard with slicing and dicing your content (so that it takes twenty clicks)Avoid:Make it as easy as possible for users to go from general content to the more specific content theywant on your site. Add navigation pages when it makes sense and effectively work these into yourinternal link structure.For navigation, the focusshould be on simplicityand ease of use!Use mostly text for navigationControlling most of the navigation from page to page on your site through text links makes it easier forsearch engines to crawl and understand your site. Many users also prefer this over other approaches,especially on some devices that might not handle Flash or JavaScript.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 allpages on a site via normal text links, this will improve the accessibility of your site; more on howGoogle deals with non-text filesAvoid:FlashWeb technology or software developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated. It is able tocreate web content that combines sound, video and animation.JavaScript A type of programming language. It can add dynamic features to webpages and is used by many web services.Drop-down menu A system in which one chooses content from a menu. When oneclicks on the menu, the list of choices are displayed in a list in a drawn out manner.Accessibility The ability for users and search engines to access and comprehendcontent.User experienceThe experience gained by a user through using products, services, etc. Emphasis isplaced on providing an experience truly sought after by the user, such as enjoyment,convenience and comfort.HTTP status codeA code that expresses the meanings of responses from the server when computersare conveying information to each other. The code is allotted as three numerical digits,with a different meaning depending on the number used.Glossary12
  • 13. SEOBasicsOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisImprovingSiteStructureBest PracticesHave a useful 404 pageUsers will occasionally come to a page that doesnt exist on your site, either by following a broken linkor typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page that kindly guides users back to a workingpage on your site can greatly improve a users experience. Your 404 page should probably have a linkback to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. Googleprovides a 404 widget that you can embed in your 404 page to automatically populate it with manyuseful features. You can also use Google Webmaster Tools to find the sources of URLs causing notfound errors.allowing your 404 pages to be indexed in search engines (make sure that your webserver isconfigured to give a 404 HTTP status code when non-existent pages are requested)providing only a vague message like Not found, 404, or no 404 page at allusing a design for your 404 pages that isnt consistent with the rest of your siteAvoid:Put an HTML site map page on your site, anduse an XML Sitemap fileletting your HTML site map page become out of date with broken linkscreating an HTML site map that simply lists pages without organizing them, for example by subjectAvoid:A simple site map page with links to all of the pages or the most important pages (if you havehundreds or thousands) on your site can be useful. Creating an XML Sitemap file for your site helpsensure that search engines discover the pages on your site.LinksHow Google deals with non-text files 404 page widget of URLs causing not found errors HTTP status code
  • 14. Offer quality content and servicesOptimizing ContentCreating compelling and useful content will likely influenceyour website more than any of the other factors discussed here(1). Users know good content when they see it and will likely want todirect other users to it. This could be through blog posts, social mediaservices, email, forums, or other means.Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your sitesreputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes withoutquality content.Think about the words that a user might search for to find a piece ofyour content. Users who know a lot about the topic might usedifferent keywords in their search queries than someone who is newto the topic. For example, a long-time baseball fan might search for[nlcs], an acronym for the National League Championship Series,while a new fan might use a more general query like [baseballplayoffs]. Anticipating these differences in search behavior andaccounting for them while writing your content (using a goodmix of keyword phrases) could produce positive results. GoogleAdWords provides a handy Keyword Tool that helps you discover newkeyword variations and see the approximate search volume for eachkeyword (2). Also, Google Webmaster Tools provides you with the topsearch queries your site appears for and the ones that led the mostusers to your site.Consider creating a new, useful service that no other site offers. Youcould also write an original piece of research, break an excitingnews story, or leverage your unique user base. Other sites maylack the resources or expertise to do these things.Interesting sites will increase theirrecognition on their own(1) A blogger finds a piece of your content, likes it, and then references it in a blogpost.(2) The Google AdWords Keyword Tool can help you find relevant keywords on yoursite and the volume of those keywords.Social media serviceA community-type web service that promotes and supports forging connectionsamong fellow users.Google AdWordsAn advertising service which places relevant advertisements on search results pagesand other content. When a user searches for keywords using Google, AdWordsadvertisements related to those keywords are displayed on the right, top and/orbottom of the search results pages alongside the organic search results.GlossaryAnticipate differences in usersunderstanding of your topic and offerunique, exclusive content14
  • 15. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisBest PracticesStay organized around the topicIts always beneficial to organize your content so that visitors have a good sense of where one contenttopic begins and another ends. Breaking your content up into logical chunks or divisions helps usersfind the content they want faster.dumping large amounts of text on varying topics onto a page without paragraph, subheading, orlayout separationAvoid:Improving content andservices should be apriority, regardless of thetype of website!Write easy-to-read textwriting sloppy text with many spelling and grammatical mistakesembedding text in images for textual content- users may want to copy and paste the text and search engines cant read itAvoid:Users enjoy content that is well written and easy to follow.Create fresh, unique contentNew content will not only keep your existing visitor base coming back, but also bring in new visitors.rehashing (or even copying) existing content that will bring little extra value to usershaving duplicate or near-duplicate versions of your content across your site- more on duplicate contentAvoid:LinksKeyword Tool search queries content text from users content primarily for your users, notsearch enginesinserting numerous unnecessary keywords aimed at search engines but are annoying ornonsensical to usershaving blocks of text like frequent misspellings used to reach this page that add little value forusersdeceptively hiding text from users, but displaying it to search enginesAvoid:Designing your site around your visitors needs while making sure your site is easily accessible tosearch engines usually produces positive results.15
  • 16. Write better anchor textOptimizing ContentAnchor text is the clickable text that users will see as a result of a link,and is placed within the anchor tag a href=.../a.This text tells users and Google something about the pageyoure linking to. Links on your page maybe internal—pointing toother pages on your site—or external—leading to content on othersites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easierit is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the pageyoure linking to is about.Suitable anchor text makes it easy toconvey the contents linkedCSSAbbreviation for Cascading Style Sheets; a language for defining the design and layoutof a web page.Text styleFormatting, such as the font, size and color of the text.Glossarya href= Ten Rarest Baseball Cards/aThis anchor text accurately describes the content on one of our article pages.WebsiteBaseball cards product pageToppageBaseball cardNewsBaseball card Baseball cardProduct listThe linked pageis about baseballcards.Googlebot UserWith appropriate anchor text, users and search engines can easily understand whatthe linked pages contain.16
  • 17. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisBest PracticesWrite concise textAim for short but descriptive text-usually a few words or a short phrase.writing long anchor text, such as a lengthy sentence or short paragraph of textAvoid:Both users and searchengines like anchor textthat is easy tounderstand!Choose descriptive textwriting generic anchor text like page, article, or click hereusing text that is off-topic or has no relation to the content of the page linked tousing the pages URL as the anchor text in most cases- although there are certainly legitimate uses of this, such as promoting or referencing a newwebsites addressAvoid:The anchor text you use for a link should provide at least a basic idea of what the page linked to isabout.Format links so theyre easy to spotMake it easy for users to distinguish between regular text and the anchor text of your links. Yourcontent becomes less useful if users miss the links or accidentally click them.using CSS or text styling that make links look just like regular textAvoid:Think about anchor text for internal links toousing excessively keyword-filled or lengthy anchor text just for search enginescreating unnecessary links that dont help with the users navigation of the siteAvoid:You may usually think about linking in terms of pointing to outside websites, but paying more attentionto the anchor text used for internal links can help users and Google navigate your site better.17
  • 18. Optimize your use of imagesOptimizing ContentImages may seem like a straightforward component of your site, butyou can optimize your use of them. All images can have a distinctfilename and alt attribute, both of which you should takeadvantage of. The alt attribute allows you to specify alternativetext for the image if it cannot be displayed for some reason (1).Why use this attribute? If a user is viewing your site on a browser thatdoesnt support images, or is using alternative technologies, such asa screen reader, the contents of the alt attribute provideinformation about the picture.Another reason is that if youre using an image as a link, the alt textfor that image will be treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link.However, we dont recommend using too many images for links inyour sites navigation when text links could serve the same purpose.Lastly, optimizing your image filenames and alt text makes it easierfor image search projects like Google Image Search to betterunderstand your images.Instead of having image files spread out in numerous directories andsubdirectories across your domain, consider consolidating yourimages into a single directory (e.g. This simplifies the path to your images.Use commonly supported filetypes - Most browsers support JPEG,GIF, PNG, and BMP image formats. Its also a good idea to have theextension of your filename match with the filetype.Image-related information can beprovided for by using the alt attributeScreen readerSoftware for speaking on-screen information or outputting to a Braille display.ASCII languageAbbreviation for American Standard Code for Information Exchange. A characterencoding centered on the English alphabet.GlossaryStore files in specialized directories andmanage them using common file formats(1) Our image wasnt displayed to the user for some reason, but at least the alt textwas.(2) It is easier to findthe paths to images ifthey are stored in onedirectory.(root)imagesaboutarticlesnews200618
  • 19. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisBest PracticesSupply alt text when using images as linksIf you do decide to use an image as a link, filling out its alt text helps Google understand more aboutthe page youre linking to. Imagine that youre writing anchor text for a text link.writing excessively long alt text that would be considered spammyusing only image links for your sites navigationAvoid:Learn how to optimizeimages on your site!Use brief, but descriptive filenames and alt textusing generic filenames like image1.jpg, pic.gif, 1.jpg when possible—some sites with thousandsof images might consider automating the naming of imageswriting extremely lengthy filenamesstuffing keywords into alt text or copying and pasting entire sentencesAvoid:Like many of the other parts of the page targeted for optimization, filenames and alt text (for ASCIIlanguages) are best when theyre short, but descriptive.LinksGoogle Image Search Sitemap an Image Sitemap fileAn Image Sitemap file can provide Googlebot with more information about the images found on yoursite. Its structure is similar to the XML Sitemap file for your web pages.19
  • 20. Use heading tags appropriatelyOptimizing ContentHeading tags (not to be confused with the head HTML tag or HTTPheaders) are used to present structure on the page to users. There aresix sizes of heading tags, beginning with h1, the most important, andending with h6, the least important (1).Since heading tags typically make text contained in them larger thannormal text on the page, this is a visual cue to users that this textis important and could help them understand something aboutthe type of content underneath the heading text. Multiple headingsizes used in order create a hierarchical structure for your content,making it easier for users to navigate through your document.Use heading tags to emphasize importanttext/headbodyh1Brandons Baseball Cards/h1h2News - Treasure Trove of Baseball Cards Found in Old Barn/h2pA man who recently purchased a farm house was pleasantly surprised ...dollars worth of vintage baseball cards in the barn. The cards were ... in newspapers and were thought to be in near-mint condition. After ... the cards to hisgrandson instead of selling them./p(1) On a page containing a news story, we might put the name of our site into an h1tag and the topic of the story into an h2 tag.Best PracticesUse headings sparingly across the pageUse heading tags where it makes sense. Too many heading tags on a page can make it hard for usersto scan the content and determine where one topic ends and another begins.excessively using heading tags throughout the pageputting all of the pages text into a heading tagusing heading tags only for styling text and not presenting structureAvoid:Imagine youre writing an outlineplacing text in heading tags that wouldnt be helpful in defining the structure of the pageusing heading tags where other tags like em and strong may be more appropriateerratically moving from one heading tag size to anotherAvoid:Similar to writing an outline for a large paper, put some thought into what the main points and sub-points of the content on the page will be and decide where to use heading tags appropriately.Heading tags are an importantwebsite component forcatching the users eye, so becareful how you use them!HTTP headersIn HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol), different types of data that are sent off beforethe actual data itself.emAn HTML tag denoting emphasis. According to standard, it will indicate emphasisthrough use of italics.strongAn HTML tag denoting strong emphasis. According to standard, it will indicateemphasis through use of bold print.WildcardA character (*) that takes the place of any other character or string of characters..htaccessHypertext access file, a file that allows you to manage web server configuration.Referrer logReferrer information that is written into the access log. When it is traced, one can findout from which sites visitors arrived.Glossary20
  • 21. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisMake effective use of robots.txtDealing with CrawlersA robots.txt file tells search engines whether they can accessand therefore crawl parts of your site (1). This file, which must benamed robots.txt, is placed in the root directory of your site (2).You may not want certain pages of your site crawled because theymight not be useful to users if found in a search engines searchresults. If you do want to prevent search engines from crawling yourpages, Google Webmaster Tools has a friendly robots.txt generator tohelp you create this file. Note that if your site uses subdomains andyou wish to have certain pages not crawled on a particularsubdomain, youll have to create a separate robots.txt file for thatsubdomain. For more information on robots.txt, we suggest thisWebmaster Help Center guide on using robots.txt files.There are a handful of other ways to prevent content appearing insearch results, such as adding NOINDEX to your robots meta tag,using .htaccess to password protect directories, and using GoogleWebmaster Tools to remove content that has already been crawled.Google engineer Matt Cutts walks through the caveats of each URLblocking method in a helpful video.Restrict crawling where its not neededwith robots.txtUser-agent: *Disallow: /images/Disallow: /searchUse more secure methods for sensitive contentYou shouldnt feel comfortable using robots.txt to block sensitive or confidential material. One reasonis that search engines could still reference the URLs you block (showing just the URL, no title orsnippet) if there happen to be links to those URLs somewhere on the Internet (like referrer logs). Also,non-compliant or rogue search engines that dont acknowledge the Robots Exclusion Standard coulddisobey the instructions of your robots.txt. Finally, a curious user could examine the directories orsubdirectories in your robots.txt file and guess the URL of the content that you dont want seen.Encrypting the content or password-protecting it with .htaccess are more secure alternatives.Best PracticesKeep a firm grasp onmanaging exactly whatinformation you do and dontwant being crawled!(1) All compliant search engine bots (denoted by the wildcard * symbol) shouldntaccess and crawl the content under /images/ or any URL whose path begins with /search.(2) The address of our robots.txt file.allowing search result-like pages to be crawled- users dislike leaving one search result page and landing on another search result page that doesntadd significant value for themallowing URLs created as a result of proxy services to be crawledAvoid:Linksrobots.txt generator robots.txt files of each URL blocking method Exclusion StandardA convention to prevent cooperating web spiders/crawlers, such as Googlebot, fromaccessing all or part of a website which is otherwise publicly viewable.Proxy serviceA computer that substitutes the connection in cases where an internal network andexternal network are connecting, or software that possesses a function for thispurpose.21
  • 22. Setting the value of the rel attribute of a link to nofollow willtell Google that certain links on your site shouldnt be followedor pass your pages reputation to the pages linked to.Nofollowing a link is adding rel=nofollow inside of the links anchortag (1).When would this be useful? If your site has a blog with publiccommenting turned on, links within those comments could pass yourreputation to pages that you may not be comfortable vouching for.Blog comment areas on pages are highly susceptible to commentspam (2). Nofollowing these user-added links ensures that youre notgiving your pages hard-earned reputation to a spammy site.Many blogging software packages automatically nofollow usercomments, but those that dont can most likely be manually edited todo this. This advice also goes for other areas of your site that mayinvolve user-generated content, such as guestbooks, forums, shout-boards, referrer listings, etc. If youre willing to vouch for links addedby third parties (e.g. if a commenter is trusted on your site), thentheres no need to use nofollow on links; however, linking to sitesthat Google considers spammy can affect the reputation of yourown site. The Webmaster Help Center has more tips on avoidingcomment spam, like using CAPTCHAs and turning on commentmoderation (3).Combat comment spam with nofollowAutomatically add nofollow to commentcolumns and message boards(2) A comment spammer leaves a message on one of our blogs posts, hoping toget some of our sites reputation.Be aware of rel=nofollow for linksDealing with CrawlersComment spammingRefers to indiscriminate postings, on blog comment columns or message boards, ofadvertisements, etc. that bear no connection to the contents of said pages.CAPTCHACompletely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.Glossarya href= rel=nofollowComment spammer/a(1) If you or your sites users link to a site that you dont trust and/or you dont wantto pass your sites reputation, use nofollow.(3) An example of a CAPTCHA used on Googles blog service, Blogger. It canpresent a challenge to try to ensure an actual person is leaving the comment.22
  • 23. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisDealingwithCrawlersLinksAvoiding comment spam the robots meta tag use of nofollow is when youre writing content and wishto reference a website, but dont want to pass your reputationon to it. For example, imagine that youre writing a blog post on thetopic of comment spamming and you want to call out a site thatrecently comment spammed your blog. You want to warn others ofthe site, so you include the link to it in your content; however, youcertainly dont want to give the site some of your reputation from yourlink. This would be a good time to use nofollow.Lastly, if youre interested in nofollowing all of the links on a page, youcan use nofollow in your robots meta tag, which is placed inside thehead tag of that pages HTML (4). The Webmaster Central Blogprovides a helpful post on using the robots meta tag. This method iswritten as meta name=robots content=nofollow.About using nofollow for individualcontents, whole pages, etc.htmlheadtitleBrandons Baseball Cards - Buy Cards, Baseball News, Card Prices/titlemeta name=description= content=Brandons Baseball Cards provides alarge selection of vintage and modern baseball cards for sale. We also offerdaily baseball news and events inmeta name=robots content=nofollow/headbody(4) This nofollows all of the links on a page.Make sure you have solidmeasures in place to dealwith comment spam!23
  • 24. It seems the world is going mobile, with many people using mobilephones on a daily basis, and a large user base searching on Google’smobile search page. However, as a webmaster, running a mobile siteand tapping into the mobile search audience isnt easy. Mobile sitesnot only use a different format from normal desktop sites, butthe management methods and expertise required are also quitedifferent. This results in a variety of new challenges. While manymobile sites were designed with mobile viewing in mind, they weren’tdesigned to be search friendly.Here are troubleshooting tips to help ensure that your site is properlycrawled and indexed:If your web site doesnt show up in the results of a Google mobilesearch even using the site: operator, it may be that your site has oneor both of the following issues:1. Googlebot may not be able to find your siteGooglebot must crawl your site before it can be included in our searchindex. If you just created the site, we may not yet be aware of it. Ifthats the case, create a Mobile Sitemap and submit it to Google toinform us of the site’s existence. A Mobile Sitemap can be submittedusing Google Webmaster Tools, just like a standard Sitemap.Notify Google of mobile sitesSEO for Mobile PhonesConfigure mobile sites so that they can beindexed accuratelyVerify that your mobile site is indexed byGoogleMobile SitemapAn XML Sitemap that contains URLs of web pages designed for mobile phones.Submitting the URLs of mobile phone web content to Google notifies us of theexistence of those pages and allows us to crawl them.User-agentSoftware and hardware utilized by the user when said user is accessing a website.XHTML MobileXHTML, a markup language redefined via adaptation of HTML to XML, and thenexpanded for use with mobile phones.Compact HTMLMarkup language resembling HTML; it is used when creating web pages that can bedisplayed on mobile phones and with PHS and PDA.Glossary(1) Example of a search for [baseball cards] on Google’sdesktop search (above) and mobile search (left). Mobilesearch results are built for mobile devices and aredifferent from standard desktop results.Make sure your mobile site isproperly recognized by Googleso that searchers can find it.24
  • 25. ImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersPromotionsandAnalysisSEOBasicsSEOforMobilePhonesGoogle’s mobile search page operator Sitemap using Google Webmaster Tools DNS Lookups to verify Googlebot Webmaster Guidelines Googlebot may not be able to access your siteSome mobile sites refuse access to anything but mobile phones,making it impossible for Googlebot to access the site, and thereforemaking the site unsearchable. Our crawler for mobile sites isGooglebot-Mobile. If youd like your site crawled, please allowany User-agent including Googlebot-Mobile to access yoursite (2). You should also be aware that Google may change its User-agent information at any time without notice, so we dont recommendchecking whether the User-agent exactly matches Googlebot-Mobile (the current User-agent). Instead, check whether the User-agent header contains the string Googlebot-Mobile. You can alsouse DNS Lookups to verify Googlebot.Once Googlebot-Mobile crawls your URLs, we then check for whethereach URL is viewable on a mobile device. Pages we determinearent viewable on a mobile phone wont be included in ourmobile site index (although they may be included in the regular webindex). This determination is based on a variety of factors, one ofwhich is the DTD (Doc Type Definition) declaration. Check that yourmobile-friendly URLs DTD declaration is in an appropriate mobileformat such as XHTML Mobile or Compact HTML (3). If its in acompatible format, the page is eligible for the mobile search index.For more information, see the Mobile Webmaster Guidelines.Verify that Google can recognize yourmobile URLsSetEnvIf User-Agent Googlebot-Mobile allow_uaSetEnvIf User-Agent Android allow_uaSetEnvIf User-Agent BlackBerry allow_uaSetEnvIf User-Agent iPhone allow_uaSetEnvIf User-Agent NetFront allow_uaSetEnvIf User-Agent Symbian OS allow_uaSetEnvIf User-Agent Windows Phone allow_uaOrder deny,allowdeny from allallow from env=allow_ua(2) An example of a mobile site restricting any access from non-mobile devices.Please remember to allow access from user agents including “Googlebot-Mobile”.!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC -//WAPFOLUM//DTD XHTML Mobile 1.0//EN xmlns= http-equiv=Content-Type content=application/xhtml+xml;charset=Shift_JIS /(3) An example of DTD for mobile devices.25
  • 26. One of the most common problems for webmasters who runboth mobile and desktop versions of a site is that the mobileversion of the site appears for users on a desktop computer, orthat the desktop version of the site appears when someoneaccesses it on a mobile device. In dealing with this scenario, hereare two viable options:When a mobile user or crawler (like Googlebot-Mobile) accesses thedesktop version of a URL, you can redirect them to the correspondingmobile version of the same page. Google notices the relationshipbetween the two versions of the URL and displays the standardversion for searches from desktops and the mobile version formobile searches.If you redirect users, please make sure that the content on thecorresponding mobile/desktop URL matches as closely as possible(1). For example, if you run a shopping site and theres an access froma mobile phone to a desktop-version URL, make sure that the useris redirected to the mobile version of the page for the sameproduct, and not to the homepage of the mobile version of thesite. We occasionally find sites using this kind of redirect in anattempt to boost their search rankings, but this practice only resultsin a negative user experience, and so should be avoided at all costs.On the other hand, when theres an access to a mobile-version URLfrom a desktop browser or by our web crawler, Googlebot, its notnecessary to redirect them to the desktop-version. For instance,Google doesnt automatically redirect desktop users from their mobilesite to their desktop site; instead they include a link on the mobile-version page to the desktop version. These links are especially helpfulwhen a mobile site doesnt provide the full functionality of the desktopversion—users can easily navigate to the desktop-version if theyprefer.Guide mobile users accuratelySEO for Mobile PhonesRunning desktop and mobile versions ofyour siteRedirect mobile users to the correctversionHomepageProduct pageMobile versionHomepageRedirectRedirectMobile user(1) An example of redirecting a user to themobile version of the URL when its accessedfrom a mobile device. In this case, the contenton both URLs needs to be as similar as possible.Desktop versionProduct pageRedirectBeing automatically transported from one specified web page to another specifiedweb page when browsing a website.Glossary26
  • 27. SEOBasicsImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesPromotionsandAnalysisBe sure to guide the userto the right site for theirdevice!(2) Example of changing the format of a page based on the User-agent. In this case,the desktop user is supposed to see what Googlebot sees and the mobile user issupposed to see what Googlebot-mobile sees.WebsiteDesktop userGooglebotGooglebot-MobileMobile userMust be sameMust be sameDesktop contentsMobile contentsCan bedifferentSome sites have the same URL for both desktop and mobile content,but change their format according to User-agent. In other words, bothmobile users and desktop users access the same URL (i.e. noredirects), but the content/format changes slightly according to theUser-agent. In this case, the same URL will appear for both mobilesearch and desktop search, and desktop users can see adesktop version of the content while mobile users can see amobile version of the content (2).However, note that if you fail to configure your site correctly, your sitecould be considered to be cloaking, which can lead to your sitedisappearing from our search results. Cloaking refers to an attempt toboost search result rankings by serving different content toGooglebot than to regular users. This causes problems such as lessrelevant results (pages appear in search results even though theircontent is actually unrelated to what users see/want), so we takecloaking very seriously.So what does the page that the user sees mean if you provide bothversions with a URL? As I mentioned in the previous post, Googleuses Googlebot for web search and Googlebot-Mobile formobile search. To remain within our guidelines, you shouldserve the same content to Googlebot as a typical desktop userwould see, and the same content to Googlebot-Mobile as youwould to the browser on a typical mobile device. Its fine if thecontents for Googlebot are different from those for Googlebot-Mobile.One example of how you could be unintentionally detected ascloaking is if your site returns a message like Please access frommobile phones to desktop browsers, but then returns a full mobileversion to both crawlers (so Googlebot receives the mobile version).In this case, the page which web search users see (e.g. Pleaseaccess from mobile phones) is different from the page whichGooglebot crawls (e.g. Welcome to my site). Again, we detectcloaking because we want to serve users the same relevant contentthat Googlebot or Googlebot-Mobile crawled.Switch content based on User-agentGoogle mobile bedifferent27
  • 28. Promote your website in the right waysPromotions and AnalysisWhile most of the links to your site will be gained gradually, as peoplediscover your content through search or other ways and link to it,Google understands that youd like to let others know about the hardwork youve put into your content. Effectively promoting your newcontent will lead to faster discovery by those who are interestedin the same subject (1). As with most points covered in thisdocument, taking these recommendations to an extreme couldactually harm the reputation of your site.A blog post on your own site letting your visitor base know that youadded something new is a great way to get the word out about newcontent or services. Other webmasters who follow your site orRSS feed could pick the story up as well.Putting effort into the offline promotion of your company or site canalso be rewarding. For example, if you have a business site, make sureits URL is listed on your business cards, letterhead, posters, etc. Youcould also send out recurring newsletters to clients through the mailletting them know about new content on the companys website.If you run a local business, adding its information to Google Placeswill help you reach customers on Google Maps and web search.The Webmaster Help Center has more tips on promoting your localbusiness.About increasing backlinks with anintention to increase the value of the siteMaster making announcements via blogsand being recognized onlineRSS feedData including full or summarized text describing an update to a site/blog. RSS is anabbreviation for RDF Site Summary; a service using a similar data format is Atom.My blogWebsiteProduct pageGlossary(2) By having your business registered for Google Places, you can promote yoursite through Google Maps and Web searches.News: “I have a new card!”User’s blogs Social media serviceNewsletter, DM,Posters, etc.Online Offline(1) Promoting your site and having quality links could lead to increasing your site’sreputation.28
  • 29. ImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersPromotionsandAnalysisSEOforMobilePhonesSEOBasicsGoogle Places your local business PracticesKnow about social media sitesSites built around user interaction and sharing have made it easier to match interested groups ofpeople up with relevant content.Reach out to those in your sites relatedcommunityChances are, there are a number of sites that cover topic areas similar to yours. Opening upcommunication with these sites is usually beneficial. Hot topics in your niche or community couldspark additional ideas for content or building a good community resource.spamming link requests out to all sites related to your topic areapurchasing links from another site with the aim of getting PageRank instead of trafficAvoid:attempting to promote each new, small piece of content you create; go for big, interesting itemsinvolving your site in schemes where your content is artificially promoted to the top of these servicesAvoid:Is your site doing OK?29
  • 30. Make use of free webmaster toolsPromotions and AnalysisMajor search engines, including Google, provide free tools forwebmasters. Googles Webmaster Tools help webmasters bettercontrol how Google interacts with their websites and get usefulinformation from Google about their site. Using Webmaster Toolswont help your site get preferential treatment; however, it can helpyou identify issues that, if addressed, can help your site performbetter in search results. With the service, webmasters can:Make Googlebot crawling smoother by using Webmaster Toolssee which parts of a site Googlebot had problems crawlingnotify us of an XML Sitemap fileanalyze and generate robots.txt filesremove URLs already crawled by Googlebotspecify your preferred domainidentify issues with title and description meta tagsunderstand the top searches used to reach a siteget a glimpse at how Googlebot sees pagesremove unwanted sitelinks that Google may use in resultsreceive notification of quality guideline violations and request a sitereconsiderationIf youve improved the crawling and indexing of your site using GoogleWebmasters Tools or other services, youre probably curious aboutthe traffic coming to your site. Web analytics programs like GoogleAnalytics are a valuable source of insight for this. You can use theseto:High-level analysis is possible via Google Analytics and Website Optimizerget insight into how users reach and behave on your sitediscover the most popular content on your sitemeasure the impact of optimizations you make to your site- e.g. did changing those title and description meta tags improve traffic from search engines?Yahoo! (Yahoo! Site Explorer) and Microsoft (Bing Webmaster Tools)also offer free tools for webmasters.For advanced users, the information an analytics package provides,combined with data from your server log files, can provide even morecomprehensive information about how visitors are interacting withyour documents (such as additional keywords that searchers mightuse to find your site).Lastly, Google offers another tool called Google Website Optimizerthat allows you to run experiments to find what on-page changes willproduce the best conversion rates with visitors. This, in combinationwith Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools (see our video onusing the Google Trifecta), is a powerful way to begin improving yoursite.30
  • 31. ImprovingSiteStructureOptimizingContentDealingwithCrawlersSEOforMobilePhonesSEOBasicsPromotionsandAnalysisGoogle Trifecta questions or feedback on our guide? Let us know.Google Webmaster Help Forum posts by Googlers on how to improve your website.Google Webmaster Central Blog with in-depth documentation on webmaster-related issues.Google Webmaster Help Center how Google interacts with your website.Google Webmaster Tools, content, technical, and quality guidelines from Google.Google Webmaster Guidelines the source of your visitors, what theyre viewing, and benchmarkchanges.Google Analytics experiments on your pages to see what will work and what wont.Google Website Optimizer you dont want to go at it alone, these tips should help you choosean SEO company.Tips on Hiring an SEOMake the most of useful toolsand information!Except as otherwise noted, the content of this document is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.This booklet is also available in PDF format. You can download the PDF version at ...
  • 32. ©Copyright 2010 Google is a trademark of Google Inc.All other company and product names may be trademarks ofthe respective companies with which they are associated. out Googles SEOresources and tools.Google Webmaster Central Search32