Google Webmaster Guidelines You May Be Overlooking
By John Metzler
Most webmasters have visited Google's Webmaster
Many of the suggestions are obvious: Don't use frames; Don't employ
cloaking techniques or scripts designed to trick search engines;
Create a search engine-friendly site map; Get incoming links from
other quality web sites. But us webmasters can be a cocky bunch
and will let our own pre-conceived notions get the better of us
This refresher is for all you (ie. us) webmasters
and search engine optimizers who have a set method of designing
and/or promoting web sites and who consider yourselves experts in
your field. Experts you may be, but it is never a bad idea to review
the basics from time to time.
- Make sure your pages have less than 100 links.
This won't be too difficult unless you display product lists without
breaking them up into separate pages (which should be done for your
visitors let alone search engines!) or have a link partners page
or a site map. If you have more than 100 outbound links, you may
want to review your linking practices unless you have compiled a
comprehensive list of high quality and relevant resources for your
- Dynamically-generated content can create session
IDs and URLs that contain a "?" character. Check your
database administration settings to make sure that you aren't forcing
search engine spiders to begin a new session each time they visit
your site. Note: Preventing spiders from starting
a session on your site may have negative effects if you use a third
party for web site credit card processing. Always check with these
services before making any changes of this nature.
- Web designers still utilize images as a way
of displaying headings or other important areas of text instead
of simple HTML simply because they think the Book Antiqua font with
a drop shadow improves the aesthetics of the site. While branding
and clarity are always paramount, keep in mind that multiple fonts
used on the same page can have a negative impact on readability.
And the more text written in HTML that can be read by search engine
spiders, the better. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) also provide a
way of attaining the look you want while keeping the code clean
and in search engine-readable format.
- "Make sure that your TITLE and ALT
tags are descriptive and accurate." Most webmasters assume
that by using keywords in the page title that are relevant to the
page's topic, that they are adhering to the rules. But that last
word in quotes is the most important: Accuracy. It is standard practice
for search engine optimizers to make sure that if a word is used
in a page title, that it also shows up in the main body of the page
as well. Not doing this means that Google may be interpreting your
page titles as inaccurate or at worst, trying to manipulate its
- Use 301 redirects to let visitors know if a
URL has changed. Many people still use the "meta refresh"
command. This is an outdated command that has been utilized in the
past for unethical purposes. While visitors can be directed to the
new page the same way with either method, Google specifically mentions
using a 301 redirect. More information on how to implement this
redirect can be read at
- Google suggests you submit your site to the
Yahoo! directory. Why would Google urge its users to pay a direct
competitor of theirs $299 USD a year? It is safe to say that web
sites included in the Yahoo! directory are not trying black hat
SEO techniques such as free-for-all link exchanges, cloaking, multiple
domains showing duplicate content, and so on. Companies that spend
money promoting their web site should receive a vote of legitimacy
from search engines. As difficult as it might be for some small
business owners to bite the bullet with Yahoo's yearly cost, having
Google recognize that you have paid for directory listings will
increase the chances that your site will rank well.
- "You should never have to link to an
SEO." If you are hiring a search engine optimizer to help
you with your site's rankings, be careful they do not insist on
linking your site to theirs. The only reason for this is to help
the SEO's own link popularity. If anything, it will detract from
the SEO efforts. Not the most brilliant suggestion from a company
claiming to help you, is it?
It is recommended that you read Google's entire
webmaster guidelines if you are developing a new site. The above
points are ones that a lot of webmasters may have overlooked, and
if you're included in that group don't worry: just fix the issues
and remember them for next time you work on a web site.
An expert at organic SEO, John Metzler has held executive positions in SEO firms since 2001. He offers ethical search engine optimization services at FreshPromo.ca.
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Other SEO articles:
:: Why Optimize Your Site for Search Engines?
:: Google's New SEO Rules
:: What Constitutes a Complete and Effective SEO Campaign?
:: Keeping Your Website Content Relevant
:: Getting Back To SEO Basics
:: Google PageRank: Not Worth The Worry
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