When users Google for a service online, relevant businesses want their website to be highly visible. Using search engine optimization (SEO), companies can increase their chances of landing on the first page of a relevant search result. To rank higher, it’s important to look at how search engine developers decide on website relevance. Here are five SEO rules Google recommends.
1. Create unique page titles and descriptions
Page titles tell users and search engines what the content is about. Unique title tags, e.g., “About Us” or “Contact Us,” should be used to describe page content and are what Google uses to distinguish one page from the rest. Google recommends brief but descriptive titles and avoiding vague, non-relevant, or shared title tags.
Similarly, websites should also provide a unique description summarizing key page content. Google displays meta-descriptions under a page title if they are relevant to a user’s search, so websites want to avoid using generic or shared page descriptions and instead offer terse, clarifying information.
2. Improve URL structures
URLs appear on a search engine page, too. Easy-to-read URLs can lead to improved website crawling or indexing, which is done by search engine bots. Google recommends using lowercase words, not numbers, in a URL; it’s more understandable for users and search engines, and it can encourage visitors to link to the content. This applies to directories as well — websites should organize directory structure names so that visitors can easily tell where they’re at. Google also recommends assigning just one URL to a page to avoid users accessing the same page via multiple URLs.
3. Make a website easy to navigate
Optimized website navigation can help users quickly find information and services they need. Navigation also helps search engines see how individual pages are related to the overall website. Best practices include making the page hierarchy flow: allow users to go from general content to more specific content easily; using mostly text rather than images for navigation links to increase accessibility; creating an HTML site map on web pages, and having a custom 404 page that guides users back to a website.
4. Offer quality, exclusive website content
Google recommends websites offer fresh and exclusive content and services, “Interesting site will increase recognition on their own.” In addition to quality content focused on user needs, Google also emphasizes content structure using better anchor text, optimizing images, and using heading tags appropriately.
In general, anchor text should tell people and search engines what the linked page is about; anchor text should be descriptive, concise, and formatted to let visitors know that there’s a link. Images, as well, should have brief and descriptive filenames instead of a generic name like “pic1.jpeg”, and they should be accompanied by an alt text, so readers understand the content even if images don’t load. Google encourages websites to supply an image sitemap for Googlebot to read as well.
For heading tags, they’re recommended for emphasizing important text and structuring content, though they should also be used sparingly, so the content flows for readers.
5. Improve minor website details
Here are some more components that can improve SEO:
Robot.txt. Use robot.txt to restrict pages that search engines access; for example, when a website doesn’t want to show a particular page in a search result.
Rel=”nofollow”. Websites can use rel=”nofollow” to make sure content like blog comments, which might be irrelevant, aren’t read by search engines. It can also be used if a website doesn’t want to connect its name with a linked content.
Mobile website. Google asks developers to treat mobile sites separately from desktop websites as indexing algorithms differ. Mobile pages require special configuration for indexing. Follow Google’s Mobile-first indexing for more information.
Website promotion. Instead of focusing on increasing backlinks, Google recommends taking advantage of social media platforms and connecting a website to its related community.
Webmaster tools. There are plenty of free webmaster tools available for improving website performance and indexing: Google’s Webmaster Tools, Yahoo! Site Explorer, Bing Webmaster Tools. To analyze website traffic, developers can take advantage of Google Analytics and Website Optimizer.
SEO Focused on Consumers
The mentioned SEO rules provide a brief overview on how to help improve a website’s performance, ranking, and traffic. For more detailed guidelines, web developers can read Google’s official SEO Starter Guide.
It’s important to note that content relevance is a priority in search engine results. Most SEO rules are written to encourage companies to effectively and communicate with online customers. Search engines creators themselves put users’ best interest first; Google makes that very clear: “Search engine optimization is about putting your site’s best foot forward when it comes to visibility in search engines, but your ultimate consumers are your users, not search engines.”