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Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Search engine optimization important basics

Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

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Who is this guide intended for?

it will be of interest to you if you own or manage online content, generate income with it, or advertise it using Google Search. But also for everyone who runs a growing and successful company, has various websites, as well as for SEO specialists in web agencies or self-made SEO experts, this guide is exactly the right reading. And even if you want to get a comprehensive overview of the basics of search engine optimization according to our best practices, you should read on. However, this guide holds – unfortunately! – no secrets ready that will automatically catapult your website to first place in Google search results. But if you follow the best practices, search engines can hopefully crawl the content of your website better,

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is often about making small changes to parts of your website. Individually, these changes can be viewed as incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they can significantly improve your website’s user experience and performance in organic search results. You are probably already familiar with many of the topics in this guide because they are essential to any website, but you may not have reached your full potential.

Your website should be useful to your users and every optimization should further increase this purpose. One of these users is a search engine that helps other users discover your content. The aim of search engine optimization is that search engines can better understand and present the content of your website. Your site may be larger or smaller than our sample site and may have completely different content, but don’t worry: the optimization topics in this guide apply to sites of all sizes and types. We hope you find some new ideas for improving your website here, and we look forward to your questions, feedback, and success stories to share with us on the Google Search Central Help Forum.

Started

glossary

This is a brief glossary of key terms used in this guide.

  • Index : All websites that are known to Google are stored in the Google index . In the index entry for the respective page, its content is described and the Internet address (URL) is given. Indexing is the process of Google getting a page, reading it, and adding it to the index: Today Google indexed several pages on my website.
  • Crawling : the process of finding new or updated web pages. Google follows links, reads sitemaps, and uses many other methods to find URLs. Google crawls the web, finding new pages, and indexing them when necessary.
  • Crawler : automated software that crawls, retrieves and indexes pages from the web.
  • Googlebot : the common name of Google’s crawler. The Googlebot is constantly crawling the internet.
  • SEO : Search Engine Optimization – the process by which your website is improved specifically for search engines. Also the job title of a person who works in the field of search engine optimization: We have just hired a new SEO to improve our presence on the web.

Are you on google

Check if your website is in the Google index

Do a site:Search for the URL of your website’s home page. If you see results, the website is in the index. For example, a search provides these results.

If your website is not indexed on Google

Even though Google searches billions of web pages, it is inevitable that some websites will not be recorded. When a website is ignored by our crawlers, it is often for one of the following reasons:

  • The website is not sufficiently linked to other websites.
  • You have just published the website and it is too early for the next regular crawl by Google.
  • The structure of the website makes it difficult for Google to effectively crawl the content of the page.
  • Google received an error message while trying to crawl your website.
  • Your policies are blocking Google from crawling the site.

What do I have to do to get my website to appear in search results?

Adding your website to Google search results is free and easy. You don’t even have to submit your website to Google. Google is a fully automated search engine that uses web crawlers to continuously crawl the web and find websites to add to our index. The vast majority of the websites listed in our results are not submitted for inclusion manually but are automatically detected and added when the Googlebot crawls the web. This is how Google recognizes and crawls websites and includes them in the search results

The guidelines for webmasters show you how to create a Google-friendly website. While there is no guarantee that our crawlers will find a particular page, following these guidelines can help your site appear in our search results.

The Google Search Console offers you helpful tools with which you can submit content to Google and check your status in Google Search. You can also have Search Console send you notifications about critical issues on your website that Google detects. Register with Search Console

Once you answer the following basic questions, you can be sure that you have considered the most important points right from the start:

  • Will my website appear in Google search?
  • Am I offering quality content to users?
  • Is my company location visible on Google?
  • Can users access my content quickly and easily on all devices?
  • Is my website safe?

You can find more information on how to get started at https://g.co/webmasters

The remainder of this document provides guides, categorized by topic, on how to improve your website for search engines. You can download a short print version of the checklist with tips from https://g.co/WebmasterChecklist.

Do you need an SEO expert?

An SEO professional is someone who is specially qualified to improve your website’s visibility on search engines. If you follow this guide, nothing will stand in the way of optimizing your website. In addition, you should think about an SEO expert who can help you review your pages.

Hiring an SEO professional is a big decision that can potentially improve your website and save time. Find out about both the potential benefits of engaging an SEO professional and the disadvantages of not acting responsibly for your website. Many SEO experts, as well as other agencies and consultants, offer practical services for website owners:

  • Review of the content or structure of your website
  • Technical advice on website development – for example on hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript
  • Content development
  • Management of online campaigns for business development
  • Keyword research
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographic locations

Before you start looking for an SEO expert, you should do some research and familiarize yourself with how search engines work. We recommend reading this guide in its entirety, and especially the following resources:

If you want to use the services of an SEO expert, the following applies the earlier, the better. The best moment is when you are planning to redesign your website or create a new website. Together with the SEO expert, you can ensure that your website is designed from the ground up to be search engine friendly. A good SEO professional can also help improve an existing website.

For a detailed overview of whether you need an SEO professional and the points to look out for, see Do you need an SEO professional?.

Help Google find your content

Make sure your website can be found by Google – this is the first step in indexing the website. The best thing to do is to submit a sitemap. A sitemap is a file that resides on your website and informs search engines of new or changed pages on your website. Learn more about creating and submitting a sitemap

Google also finds pages through links from other sites. To find out how to encourage users to visit your website, see Make your website known.

Tell Google , which pages not to crawl

Unwanted crawling of non-sensitive information using robots . txt block

A “robots.txt” file informs search engines whether they can access parts of your website and thus crawl it. This file, named robots.txt, will be placed in the root directory of your website. It is possible that pages blocked by robots.txt can still be crawled. Therefore, use a more secure method for sensitive pages.

# brandonsbaseballcards.com/robots.txt
# Tell Google not to crawl any URLs in the shopping cart or images in the icons folder,
# because they won't be useful in Google Search results.
User-agent: googlebot
Disallow: /checkout/
Disallow: /icons/

You may want certain pages on your website not to be crawled because their display in search engine results doesn’t make sense to users. With the user-friendly robots.txt generator of the Google Search Console, you can create the file “robots.txt” if you want to prevent search engines from crawling your pages. Note: If your website has subdomains and you do not want to crawl some pages on a particular subdomain, you will need to create a separate robots.txt file for that subdomain. For more information, see Introduction to robots.txt Files.

Here you can read how to block access to your content.

To avoid:

  • Google crawls your internal search results pages, because users don’t like it when they just click on a search engine result to get to another search results page on your website
  • Allow URLs that are created due to proxy services to be crawled

Use more secure methods for sensitive information

The robots.txt file is neither a suitable nor an effective way to block sensitive material. It just tells crawlers who are programmed to behave in a way that the pages are not intended for them. However, your server is not prevented from sending these pages to a browser that requests them. One reason for this is that search engines can still point to the URLs you have blocked if there are links to these URLs on the Internet, for example in referral logs. In this case, only the URL is displayed without a title or snippet. In addition, the instructions in the robots.txt file can be disregarded by non-compliant or criminal search engines that do not recognize the Robots Exclusion Standard.

In these cases, use the tag noindexif you don’t want the page to be displayed on Google, but you don’t mind that a user can access the page via a link. If you really want to be on the safe side, use suitable authorization methods – for example, the mandatory entry of a user password – or remove the page completely from your website.

Make your content understandable for Google (and users)

Allowing , that Google can see the page as a user

When the Googlebot crawls a page, the page should be presented to it in the same way as it would to a user. Allow the Googlebot to access the JavaScript, CSS, and image files used by your website at any time for optimal rendering and indexing. If your website’s robots.txt file prevents these assets from being crawled, it immediately affects our algorithms for rendering and indexing your content. This can result in suboptimal rankings.

Recommended action: Use the URL checking tool. You can see your content exactly as the Googlebot sees and renders it. It will also help you identify and fix some indexing issues on your website.

Create unique and correct page titles

<title>tag is used to tell users and search engines the subject of a particular page. The <title> tag must be placed within the <head> element of the HTML document. You also need to create an individual title for each page on your website.

<html>
<head>
    <title>Brandon's Baseball Cards - Buy Cards, Baseball News, Card Prices</title>
    <meta name="description" content="Brandon's Baseball Cards provides a large selection of
    vintage and modern baseball cards for sale.
    We also offer daily baseball news and events.">
</head>
<body>
...

Create meaningful titles and snippets for search results

If your document appears on a search results page, the content of the title tag may appear on the first line of the result. If you are not familiar with the parts of a Google search result, you should watch the video on building a search result.

In the title of the homepage, you can include the name of your website or your company and other important information such as your location or perhaps some of the main focuses or offers of the company.

Describe the content of the page correctly

Choose a natural-sounding title that effectively communicates the subject matter of the page’s content.

To avoid:

  • Selection of a title that has no relation to the page content
  • Using standard titles or unspecified titles such as “Untitled” or “New Page 1”

Create a unique title for each page

Make sure that every page on your website has a unique title. This is how Google knows how the page differs from the other pages on your website. If your website has separate mobile pages, you should also use descriptive titles for the mobile versions.

To avoid:

  • Use the same title for all pages on your site or for a large group of pages

Short , but use descriptive titles

Titles can be both short and informative. If the title is too long or is classified as less relevant for other reasons, Google may only show part of it or an automatically generated title in the search result. Google may also display different titles depending on the user’s query or the device they are searching for.

To avoid:

  • Using extremely long titles that are not helpful to users
  • Overloading title tags with unnecessary keywords

descriptionUse meta tag

In the meta tag description, the topics dealt with on the relevant page are summarized for Google and other search engines. The title of a page can contain multiple words or a phrase. The descriptionmeta tag a page, however, can contain one or two sentences, or even a short paragraph. Like the <title>tag, the meta tag is also placed descriptionwithin the <head>element of the HTML document.

<html>
<head>
    <title>Brandon's Baseball Cards - Buy Cards, Baseball News, Card Prices</title>
    <meta name="description" content="Brandon's Baseball Cards provides a large selection of vintage and modern baseball cards for sale. We also offer daily baseball news and events.">
</head>
<body>
...

What are the benefits of descriptionmeta tags?

Type meta tags descriptionplay an important role because Google may use them as snippets for your pages. Note that we say “possibly” because Google may use a relevant section of the visible text of your page to match a user’s search query. It’s always description a good idea to add meta tags to each page – in case Google can’t find a good selection of text to use in the snippet. Check out the Google Search Central blog for informative posts on optimizing snippets with better descriptionmeta tags. There’s also a handy article on how to create meaningful titles and snippets.

Example of a simple search result with a blue link for baseball cards
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 12

 Summarize page content correctly 

Write a description that is informative and interesting for users when they descriptionsee your meta tag as a snippet in a search result. descriptionThere is no minimum or upper limit for the text length in a meta tag. However, we recommend that it is of sufficient length so that the text is displayed in full in search and contains all the relevant information users need to assess whether the page is useful and relevant to them. Note, however, that users may see snippets of different sizes depending on the type and location of the search.

To avoid:

  • Writing a description meta tag that is unrelated to the content on the page
  • Use general descriptions such as “This is a web page” or “Baseball cards page”
  • Descriptions that consist entirely of keywords
  • Copy the entire document description content into the meta tag

Use unique descriptions for each page

If you set a different description meta tag for each page, it will help both users and Google – especially with search queries where users can visit multiple pages in your domain, e.g. When searching with the operator site: However, if your website has thousands or even millions of pages, it is likely, not possible to manually description create meta tags for all pages. In this case, you can description automatically generate meta tags based on the content of each page.

To avoid:

  • Use the same description meta tag for all pages on your site or for a large group of pages

Heading tags use , to highlight important text

Use meaningful headings to identify important topics and thereby create a hierarchical structure for your content. This is how you help users to find their way around your document.

Imagine , to write an outline

Much like writing an outline for a large document, think about the main and sub-items on the page and determine where it is appropriate to use heading tags.

To avoid:

  • Placing text in heading tags that is not helpful in defining the structure of the page
  • Use heading tags in places where other tags like <em> and <strong> make more sense
  • Irregular switching between different headline tag sizes

Don’t use too many headings on one page

Use heading tags where it makes sense. Too many heading tags on a page can make it difficult for users to get an overview of the content and see where one topic ends and another begins.

To avoid:

  • Using excessive heading tags on a page
  • Very long headings
  • Use of heading tags as a pure design element for text without any structure becoming apparent

Add markup for structured data

Structured data is code that you can paste on the pages of your website to describe their content to search engines. This enables them to understand the content of the pages better. Search engines can use this knowledge to present your content in an appropriate (and eye-catching!) Form. This, in turn, can help you attract exactly the right customers for your company.

Image of a search result that has been enhanced using a star rating based on structured data
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 13

For example, if you have an online shop and markup a single product page, we can better see that the page is about a bike, its price, and customer reviews. For relevant searches, this information may appear in the search results snippet. We call these rich search results.

We not only use the markup for structured data in rich search results, but we can also use it to display relevant results in other formats. For example, if you have a physical store, opening hours markup allows potential customers to find you exactly when they need you. They also find out whether your store is open or closed at the time of the search.

Google search result for "ice cream parlor" showing rich search results made possible by structured data
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 14

You can markup many business-relevant elements:

  • Products you offer
  • Your location
  • Videos about your products or your company
  • opening hours
  • Event and appointment lists
  • Recipes
  • Your company logo and much more

A full list of supported content types can be found here.

We recommend that you use structured data to describe the content with the markup for all supported representations. You can paste the markup in the HTML on your pages or use tools like Data Highlighter and the Markup Help.

Check markup with the Rich Search Results test

Once you’ve marked up your content, you can use the Rich Search Results test to see if there are any bugs in the implementation. You can either enter the URL where the content is located or copy the HTML that contains the markup.

To avoid:

  • Use of invalid markup

Use the data highlighter and markup help

With Data Highlighter, you can try out structured markup without changing your website’s source code. It’s a free tool built into Search Console that supports some of the content types.

If you want to prepare the markup code to be copied and pasted onto the page, try the markup help.

To avoid:

  • Modifying the website’s source code if you’re not sure you want to implement markup

Keep track of the performance of the marked pages

The various rich search results report in Search Console show how many pages with a certain markup were recognized on the website, how often they appeared in search results, and how often users clicked them in the last 90 days. It also lists errors detected by Google.

To avoid:

  • Adding markup data that is not visible to users
  • Creating fake reviews or adding irrelevant markup

Manage appearance in Google search results

Correctly structured data on the pages also qualify them for many special functions in the Google search results, including star ratings or unusual results. For more information, see the gallery of search result types available for your page.

Organize your website’s hierarchy

How do search engines use urls?

Search engines need a unique URL for every single piece of content so that they can crawl and index this content and refer users to it. For different content, for example, different products in a shop, and modified content, for example, translations or regional variants, separate URLs must be used so that they are displayed accordingly in the search.

URLs are generally divided into different sections:

protocol://hostname/path/filename?querystring#fragment

Example:

https://www.example.com/RunningShoes/Womens.htm?size=8#info

Google recommends https://using the HTTPS ( ) protocol for all websites whenever possible. The hostname represents the location where your website is hosted. It usually uses the same domain name that you would use for email. Google differentiates between the versions with and without “www”, for example www.example.com or just example.com. When adding your website to Search Console, you should add both the versions with http://and https://as well as the versions with and without “www”.

The path, file name, and query string determine which content is accessed on your server. These three parts are case-sensitive, which is why FILEthis would lead to a different URL than file. The hostname and protocol are not case-sensitive. The upper or lower case would therefore not play a role there.

A fragment, in this case #info, generally indicates which part of the page the browser is scrolling to. Since the content is usually the same regardless of the fragment, search engines generally ignore any fragments used.

When referring to the start page, a trailing slash after the hostname is optional, as it leads to the same content. https://example.com/ and https://example.com are therefore identical. In the path as well as in the file name, a trailing slash would be treated as a different URL and would indicate either a file or a directory. For example, is https://example.com/fish not the https://example.com/fish/ same as.

Navigating a website is important so that visitors can quickly find the content they want. They also enable search engines to better identify what content the website owner considers important. Although Google’s search results are mapped at the page level, Google also wants to be able to classify the role a page plays in the larger context of the website.

Example of a useful page hierarchy for a website
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 15

Plan navigation based on the home page

All websites have a home or root page, which is usually the most visited page on the website and the starting point for navigation for many visitors. If your website has more than a handful of pages, think about how visitors get from a general page, your home page, to a page with more specific content. Do you have enough pages on a particular subject area that it would be useful to create a page that describes those related pages – e.g. Main page -> Entry for further information -> specific topic? Do you have hundreds of different products that need to be broken down into multiple category and sub-category pages?

Use navigation paths

A navigation path is a line of internal links at the top or bottom of the page that visitors can use to quickly return to the previous section or the root page. For many navigation paths, the most general page – usually the root page – appears as the first link on the far left, and the more specific sections are listed further to the right. We recommend that you use appropriate structured data markup when displaying navigation paths.

Website with the navigation path showing the current page hierarchy
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 16

Create a simple navigation page for users

A navigation page is a simple page on your website that shows the structure of your website. It usually consists of a hierarchical list of the pages on your website. This is the page that visitors can go to if they have trouble finding pages on your site. Search engines also access this page in order to crawl as many pages as possible on your website. However, it is primarily aimed at visitors.

Naturally create a flowing hierarchy

Make it as easy as possible for users to get from general content to the more specific content they’re looking for on your site. Add navigation pages when it makes sense and works them effectively into your internal link structure. Make sure that all pages of your website are accessible via links and that no internal search function is required. If necessary, create links to related pages so that users can find similar content.

To avoid:

  • Create complex webs of navigation links, for example by linking each page of your website to all other pages
  • Too small-scale structuring of content so that it can be accessed from the start page e.g. Can only be reached after twenty clicks

Use text for navigation

Using text links to do most of the page-to-page navigation on your site will make it easier for search engines to identify and crawl your site. If you’re building a page using JavaScript, use a elements with URLs as href attribute values ​​and generate all menu items as the page builds instead of waiting for user interaction.

To avoid:

Create a navigation page for users and a sitemap for search engines

Provide users with a simple navigation page for your entire site – or the most important pages if you have hundreds or thousands of them. Create an XML sitemap file to make sure that search engines recognize the new and updated pages on your site and list all relevant URLs along with the dates of the last modification of the main content.

To avoid:

  • Outdated navigation page with broken links
  • Creating a navigation page on which pages are only listed without being sorted – for example by topic

Show useful 404 pages

Occasionally, users come to a page that doesn’t exist on your website – either through a broken link or by entering a wrong URL. With a custom 404 page that easily redirects users to a working page on your website, you can significantly improve user-friendliness. If necessary, you can also set a link to your home page and provide links to popular or similar content on your website. You can use the Google Search Console to find sources of URLs that are causing “not found” errors.

To avoid:

  • Index your 404 pages in search engines by configuring the web server to return a 404 HTTP status code, or – for JavaScript-based websites – noindex adding a tag in case nonexistent pages are requested
  • Block 404 pages from crawling via the robots.txt file
  • Returns an unspecified message such as “not found” or “404” or no 404 page at all
  • Using a design for the 404 pages that doesn’t match the rest of your site

Simple URLs convey information about content

By creating descriptive categories and filenames for the documents on your website, not only can you organize the website better, but you can also create simpler, more user-friendly URLs for those who want to link to your content. Very long and cryptic URLs that contain few recognizable words can be daunting to visitors.

URLs like the following are confusing and unappealing:

https://www.brandonsbaseballcards.com/folder1/22447478/x2/14032015.html

A meaningful URL is more user-friendly and easier to understand:

https://www.brandonsbaseballcards.com/article/ten-rarest-baseball-cards.html

URLs will appear in the search results

Also, keep in mind that a Google search result usually shows a document’s URL in some form near the document title.

Google can easily crawl all types of URL structures, even if they are quite complex. Even so, it is a good idea to invest the time to set URLs that are as simple as possible.

Use words in urls

URLs with words that are relevant to the content and structure of your website make it easier for visitors to navigate your website.

To avoid:

  • Use long URLs with unnecessary parameters and session IDs
  • Common page names like page1.html
  • Overuse of keywords like baseball-cards-baseball-cards-baseballcards.html

Create a simple directory structure

Use a directory structure that organizes your content and makes it easy for visitors to navigate your website. Also, try to specify the content type in the directory structure that can be found under each URL.

To avoid:

  • Too much nesting of subdirectories, e.g.  .../dir1/dir2/dir3/dir4/dir5/dir6/page.html
  • Use directory names that are unrelated to the content

Use only one URL version to access a document

If you want to prevent some users from linking to one URL version and others to another URL version, you should primarily use a URL in the structure and refer to it and link your pages internally. Otherwise, the reputation of the content in question could be split across the URLs. If you find that users are accessing the same content via different URLs, you can remedy the situation by setting up a 301 redirect from non-preferred URLs to the dominant URL. If forwarding is not possible, you can also use the link element rel="canonical".

To avoid:

  • Access from pages from subdomains and the root directory to the same content, e.g. domain.com/page.html and sub.domain.com/page.html

Optimize content

Make your website interesting and useful

When you create compelling and useful content, it is likely to have a bigger impact on your website than any of the other factors discussed here. Users recognize good content when they see it and then likely want to refer other users to it too. Possible channels here are blog posts, social media, emails, forums, or other channels.

Organic search, or word-of-mouth, will help build your website’s reputation with both users and Google. That rarely works without high-quality content.

Creating interesting new content can generate links from other websites.
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 17

Know what readers want – and give it to them

What terms could a user search for to find your content? People who know a lot about a topic are likely to use different keywords in their searches than someone who is new to the topic. For example, a long-time football fan might search for “FIFA”, the acronym for the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, while a new fan might search for a more general search query such as “football final”. If you know these differences in search behavior and take them into account when writing your content – with a good mix of keyword phrases – you can get good results. Google Ads has a handy keyword planner, with which you can find new keyword variations and see the approximate search volume for each keyword. In addition, the Google Search Console provides you with the top search queries that your website appears for and shows the queries that brought the most users to your website in the performance report.

Consider z. For example, whether you want to offer a new, useful service that is not offered on any other website. Or you could write an original research text, publish an exciting news story, or use the skills of your unique user base for you. Other websites may lack the resources or experience for such projects.

Write legible text

Users love content that is well-written and understandable.

To avoid:

  • Writing unprofessional texts with many spelling and grammar errors
  • Embarrassing or poorly written content
  • Embed text in images and videos for text content: People may want to copy and paste the text and search engines cannot read it.

Organize topics clearly

It is always beneficial to organize the content so that visitors know exactly where one topic begins and another ends. Breaking your content down into logical sections or areas can help people find the content they want more quickly.

To avoid:

  • Large amounts of text on different topics without paragraphs, subheadings or layout separations on one page

Create up-to- date , unique content

New content not only ensures that your previous visitors come back, but also brings new visitors to your website.

To avoid:

  • Editing or even copying existing content that offers little added value to the user
  • Duplicate or almost duplicate versions of content on your site

Learn more about duplicate content

Optimize content for users , not search engines

If you design your website to meet the needs of your visitors and make sure that your website is easily accessible to search engines, you will usually get good results.

To avoid:

  • Include numerous unnecessary keywords that target search engines but are annoying or nonsensical to users
  • Blocks of text such as “common misspellings that lead users to this page” that are of little value to users
  • Misleading hiding of text from users , but it is displayed to search engines

Boost user confidence

People like to visit your website when they feel it is trustworthy.

A website with a good reputation is trustworthy. Hence, you should build a reputation for competence and reliability in a specific area.
Let your users know who publishes your website and delivers their content, and explain what your goals are. If you run a shopping website or any other website that conducts financial transactions, it should contain clear and unambiguous customer service information to help users solve problems. If it’s a news site, make it clear who is responsible for its content.

The use of suitable technologies is also important. If a shopping website does not secure the purchase confirmation page with a secure connection, users of the website cannot trust the website.

Demonstrate professional competence and commitment

The level of professional competence and commitment that a website embodies increases its quality. Let people who are familiar with the topic create or edit your website content. By specifying knowledgeable or experienced people as sources, users can e.g. recognize that they can trust the content of an article. On pages with scientific topics, the established consensus should be followed if such a consensus exists.

Provide a reasonable amount of content for your topic

In order to create high-quality content, you need to invest a significant amount of time, effort, expertise, and/or talent/skill. Make sure that the content is factually correct, clearly formulated, and comprehensive. Let’s think of your site as a recipe: You should provide a full recipe that is easy to follow, not just an ingredient list or a superficial description of the dish.

To avoid:

  • Too little content for the purpose of the page

Avoid distracting advertisements

We know that advertising has to be visible. At the same time, however, it must not distract your users or prevent them from focusing on the website content. Avoid advertising, supplementary content, or interstitial pages (pages that appear before or after the expected content) that make the website difficult to use. More information on this topic

To avoid:

  • Distracting advertising on your pages

Use links wisely

Write meaningful link text

Link text is the visible text within a link. This text informs the users and Google about the content of the page to which you are linking. You can include internal links on your page that point to other pages on your website, or external links that lead to content on other websites. In both cases, the better your anchor text, the easier it is for users to access the linked page and the better Google can recognize the content of this page.

Diagram with recommendation for useful link text on your website
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 18

With a suitable anchor text, the content of the linked pages can be easily recognized by users and search engines.

Choose meaningful text

Create an anchor text that gives at least a basic idea of ​​the content of the linked page.

To avoid:
  • Write general anchor text such as “Page”, “Article” or “Click here”
  • Use of text that is not related to the topic or has no relation to the content of the linked page
  • Predominantly using the page URL as anchor text, although there are certainly legitimate use cases for this, such as advertising or referring to the address of a new website
Write concise text

Try to write short but meaningful texts – usually, a few words or a short phrase are sufficient.

To avoid:
  • Write a long anchor text, e.g. a long sentence or a short paragraph of text

Make it easier for users to distinguish between normal text and the anchor text of the links. If users overlook or accidentally click the links, this reduces the usefulness of your content.

To avoid:
  • Use CSS or text styles where links look just like normal text

You can usually think of links as links to external websites. However, if you focus more on the anchor text used for internal links, it will make it easier for users and Google to navigate your site.

To avoid:
  • Use anchor text with excessive keywords or anchor text that is too long for search engines only
  • Creating unnecessary links that do not help the user navigate the website

Be careful when creating links to other websites

They can partially transfer the reputation of your website to another website if your website is linked to that one. Sometimes users can take advantage of this by adding links to their own website in your comment areas or forums. It could also be that you are negatively mentioning a website and don’t want to transfer a reputation to it. For example, imagine you are writing a blog post about comment spam and you want to bring attention to a website that has recently posted spam comments on your blog. You want to warn others about the website and therefore include the respective link in your content. However, you certainly do not want to transfer a call from your website to the other via the link. In this situation, it is recommended to use nofollow.

Another example of a scenario where the attribute can come in nofollowhandy is in widget links. If you are adding a third-party widget to your website to encourage interaction, you should check to see if it contains links that you do not want to include on your website with the widget. Some widgets may add links to your website that does not meet your editorial needs and contain anchor text that you as the website owner may not be able to control. If you cannot remove such unwanted links from the widget, you always have the option nofollow to deactivate them with. If you are creating a widget for the features or content you provide, make sure that they are included in the standard code snippet for links nofollow lock in.

If you want to “nofollow” all links on your page, you can insert the tag <meta name="robots" content="nofollow"> in the <head> tag for the page. For more information on robots meta tags, see our documentation.

With nofollowaction against spam comments

If you want to instruct Google not to answer the call of your site or to pass it on to the linked sites, set the value of the attribute of rel a link to nofollow or ugc. If you want to ignore a link, add the element rel="nofollow" or a more specific attribute ugc in its anchor tag, as shown in the following example:

<a href="http://www.example.com" rel="nofollow">Anchor text here</a>

or

<a href="http://www.example.com" rel="ugc">Anchor text here</a>

In what cases would this be useful? If your website has a blog that has public comments enabled, your reputation could benefit from links within those comments that you may not want to be responsible for. Areas of the page where blog comments are posted are very susceptible to comment spam. If you ignore these user-added links with “nofollow”, you will ensure that your site’s hard-earned reputation is not carried over to a spam website.

Illustration of a user comment with external links
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 19

Automatically nofollowadd comment columns and forums

In many blogging software packages, links in user comments are automatically nofollow ignored by. Where this is not the case, the relevant links can most likely be edited manually for this purpose. This recommendation also applies to other areas of your website with user-generated content, such as guest books, forums, so-called shout boards, content that comes from other sources, etc. If you are willing to guarantee for links added by third parties, for example, if a commenting person is classified as trustworthy on your website, you must Link not with nofollow to ignore. However, links to websites that are considered spam by Google can damage your own website’s reputation. The Google Search Central documentation has more tips on how to protect yourself from spam comments. For example, you can use CAPTCHAs and activate comment moderation.

Image of a CAPTCHA pop-up
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 20

Optimize images

Use HTML images

Use HTML image elements to embed images in your content.

HTML elements <img>or <picture>use

Semantic HTML markup helps crawlers find and process images. The element also <picture> allows you to set different options for different screen sizes with regard to responsive images. With the attribute loading="lazy" for images, the loading time of your page can be shortened for the users.

To avoid:

  • Using CSS to display images to be indexed

alt-Attribute use

For images, provide a descriptive filename and alt attribute description. The alt attribute allows you to specify alternative text for the image if for some reason it cannot be displayed.

Illustration showing the usefulness of good alt text on an image
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 21

Why should this attribute be used? When a user views your website using assistive technology such as a screen reader, altinformation about the image is provided in the content of the attribute.

There’s another reason: when you use an image as a link, the alternate text for that image is treated similarly to the anchor text of a text link. However, we do not recommend using too many images for links in your site’s navigation when text links could serve the same purpose. In addition, image search projects like Google Images get more meaningful information about your images when they optimize their image filenames and alternative text.

Short , but use meaningful file names and alt text

The same applies to filenames and alt texts as to many other page elements that are optimized for optimization: those that are short but descriptive are best.

To avoid:
  • Using generic filenames like image1.jpgpic.gif and 1.jpg – if your website has thousands of images, auto-naming the images might be useful for you
  • Specifying very long file names
  • Excessive use of keywords in alternate text or copying and pasting entire sentences

If you want to use an image as a link and provide alternative text, Google will get more meaningful information about the linked page. Just imagine that you are writing anchor text for a text link.

To avoid:
  • Writing excessively long alternate text that would be considered spam
  • Exclusive use of image links for the navigation of your website

Help search engines find your images

With a picture sitemap, you can provide the Googlebot with further information about the pictures on your website. This can increase the likelihood that your images will appear in Google Images results. The structure of this file is similar to the XML sitemap file for your web pages.

Use standard picture formats

Use commonly supported file types – most browsers support JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, and WebP image formats. In addition, the file extension should match the file type.

Optimize your website for mobile devices

The world is mobile today. Google search is mainly used on mobile devices. However, the desktop version of a website can be difficult to view and use on a mobile device. For this reason, a mobile-friendly website is essential to your online presence. At the end of 2016, Google began using the mobile version of a website on a trial basis for ranking, parsing structured data and generating snippets.

Differences between devices

  • Smartphone : In this document, the term “mobile device” refers to smartphones such as Android devices, iPhones or Windows Phones. Mobile browsers are similar to desktop browsers: they can represent a large part of the HTML5 specification, except that they are designed for small screen sizes and that content is practically always displayed in portrait orientation.
  • Tablet : We consider tablets to be a class of their own, which is why we usually exclude tablets when we talk about mobile devices. Tablets usually have larger screens. As a result, users expect a website to look like a desktop browser rather than a smartphone browser, unless content is optimized for tablets.
  • Multimedia phone: These are phones with browsers that can render pages with code that conforms to XHTML standards and that support HTML5 markup and JavaScript / ECMAScript, but may not include all of the HTML5 standard’s extension APIs. Typically, this applies to the browsers on most non-smartphone 3G enabled cell phones.
  • Feature Phones : On these phones, the browsers lack the functionality to render normal desktop web pages encoded using standard HTML. This includes browsers that can only render cHTML (iMode), WML, XHTML-MP, etc.

While our recommendations are directed towards smartphones, we encourage multimedia phone and feature phone website owners to follow this advice at their own discretion.

Choose a strategy for mobile devices

There are several ways to optimize your website for mobile devices. Google supports various implementation methods:

Once you’ve created a mobile-optimized website, you can use the mobile-optimized test offered by Google to see if the pages on your website meet the criteria to be flagged as mobile-optimized in Google search results. You can also review the Search Console mobile experience report to troubleshoot mobile experience issues that are affecting your website.

If your website has a lot of static content such as blog posts or product landing pages on several pages, it could be useful to implement AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages). This is a special HTML variant that keeps your website fast and user-friendly and can be further accelerated by various platforms, including Google search.

Configure mobile sites , that they can be properly indexed

Regardless of the configuration, you choose to set up your mobile website, keep the following important points in mind:

  1. If you work with dynamic delivery or have a separate mobile website, signal Google if a page is formatted for mobile devices or if a corresponding variant is available for mobile devices. This enables Google to display your content in search results to targeted mobile users.
  2. If you use responsive web design, you use the tag meta name="viewport" to tell the browser how the content should be adapted. With dynamic provisioning, use the Vary HTTP header to signal your changes depending on the user agent. If you’re using separate URLs, indicate the relationship between two URLs using the <link> tag and the rel="canonical" and elements rel="alternate".
  3. Make sure your resources can be crawled. If page resources are blocked, Google may get an incomplete picture of your site. This often happens when the robots.txt file is blocking access to some or all of the page resources. If the Googlebot does not have access to the resources of a page, for example with CSS, JavaScript or images, we may not be able to determine whether the page is optimized for display in a mobile browser. In this case, it may not be displayed correctly to mobile users when searching.
  4. Avoid common mistakes that could frustrate mobile users. This includes, among other things, non-playable videos.
  5. Mobile pages whose search is not user-friendly fall behind in the search results or are displayed with a warning in the mobile search results. This includes, among other things, full-page interstitials on mobile pages that impair user-friendliness.
  6. Ensure full functionality on all devices. Mobile users expect the same functionality – such as comment and payment functions – and content on mobile devices as well as on all other devices that are supported by your website. Make sure that in addition to text content, all important images and videos are embedded and accessible on mobile devices. For search engines, provide all structured data and other metadata for all versions of the pages, such as titles, descriptions, link elements and other meta tags.
  7. Make sure that the structured data, images, videos, and metadata available on your desktop website are also included on the mobile website.

Best practices

  • Test your mobile pages with the Mobile Optimization Test to see if your website is mobile-friendly from Google’s perspective.
  • If you’re using separate URLs for your mobile pages, test the URLs for both mobile and desktop to make sure the redirect is recognized and crawlable.

For more information, see Google’s guide to mobile optimization.

Promote your website

Most links to your website will be added gradually as people find your content in a search or in other ways, and then link to it. However, Google also knows that you want to let others know as quickly as possible how much work you’ve put into the content. By effectively promoting your new content, people interested in the same topic will discover your new content faster. As with most of the points covered in this document, these recommendations should be implemented with a sense of proportion. Too much forcing could damage your website’s reputation.

A blog post on your own website letting your visitors know about newly added element is a great way to get new content or services into circulation. Website owners who follow your website or your RSS feed can also pick up on the corresponding message.

Additionally, the effort you put into promoting your business or website offline can bear fruit. For example, if you have a company website, make sure you include the URL on your business cards, letterhead, posters, etc. You can also send newsletters to customers at regular intervals to inform them of new content on the company website.

As the owner of a retail store, you should enter the relevant information on Google My Business in order to better reach customers on Google Maps and in Google Search.

Example of a rich Google search result for physical stores
Guide for Search Engine Optimization (SEO) 22

Know about social media

Interested groups of people can now find relevant content more easily on websites based on user interactions and sharing.

To avoid:

  • Promote every tiny piece of new content you create – better focus on big, interesting elements
  • Including your website in link exchange programs that artificially increase the ranking of your content within the framework of these services

There are likely to be a number of websites that cover topics similar to yours. As a rule, it is advantageous to seek communication with these sites. Popular topics in your niche or community will give you ideas on what additional content to offer or how you could build a good community resource.

To avoid:

  • Sending link requests to all websites related to your topic
  • Buying links from other websites with the aim of getting a higher PageRank

Analyze search performance and user behavior

Analyze search performance

Major search engines, including Google, offer free tools for website owners to analyze their search engine performance. At Google, this tool is the Search Console.

The Search Console offers two important categories of information: Can Google find the content? How is my content performing in Google search results?

Your website is not receiving preferential treatment due to the use of the Search Console. However, Search Console may be helpful in identifying issues that, when resolved, can help your site perform better in search results.

With this service, website owners can

  • determine in which areas of a website the Googlebot had problems crawling,
  • Test and submit sitemaps,
  • analyze or generate robots.txt files,
  • remove URLs already crawled by the Googlebot,
  • specify the preferred domain,
  • Problems with the meta tags title and description identify,
  • Recognize top search queries that brought users to a website,
  • find out how the Googlebot sees pages, and
  • Receive notifications of quality policy violations and request a re-examination of the website.

With the Bing Webmaster Tools, Microsoft also provides free tools for website owners.

Analyze user behavior on your website

If you’ve improved the crawling and indexing of your website using Google Search Console or other services, you probably want to learn more about your website’s traffic as well. Web analysis programs such as Google Analytics are a valuable source of information for this. You can with it

  • Get information about how users get to your website and behave there,
  • identify the most popular content on your website and
  • Measure the impact of optimizations you make on your website, such as whether changing title and description meta tags has increased the number of hits via search engines.

For advanced users, the information from an analysis package combined with data from your server logs can provide even more comprehensive information on the interaction of visitors with your documents – e.g. with additional keywords that searchers could use to find your website.

additional Information

Google Search Central
Blog Keep up to date with the latest news with the Google Search Central Blog. Find out about updates to Google Search, new Search Console features, and more.

Google Search Central
Help Forum The website owner product forum is where you can post questions about problems with your website and get tips on building quality websites. There are many experienced writers active in this forum, including product experts and sometimes Google employees.

Google Search Central on Twitter
Follow us for the latest news and resources to help you build a great website. Google Search Central’s YouTube Channel
This is where Google employees answer your questions in hundreds of helpful videos for website owners.

How Google Search
Works Here’s what goes on behind the scenes when you search for something on Google.

Reaching New Customers Online
If you run a small business, you can register for a website for free. Thanks to a partnership between Google and Homestead, small businesses can register a website for one year for free.

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