Google Changes Ranking Advice, Says Build Quality Sites Not Links

Google recently updated their rankings article within the Google Webmaster Help documentation to keep Google consistent with their general message that webmasters should focus on CONTENT and not on LINKS.

The new article includes the following:

In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites that users will want to use and share.

The previous article had a line that read:

In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.

For more information about improving your site’s visibility in the Google search results, please visit Webmaster Academy which outlines core concepts for maintaining a Google-friendly website. You can read the full article on Google Changes Ranking Advice, Says Build Quality Sites Not Links on Reach Engine Land.

Do you concentrate more on building links to your site or on providing content for your viewers?

The Inconvenient Truth About SEO

If you own and/or maintain a website, is one of your biggest aspirations to be No 1 with Google? According to the latest article from Smashing magazine by Paul Boag "Whatever you do, don’t spend money on aggressive search engine optimization (SEO)."

The inconvenient truth is that the best person to improve your ranking is you. Unfortunately, that is going to take time and commitment on your part. The answer doesn’t lie in hiring a SEO company to boost your website ranking for Google. The problem starts with the term “search engine optimization” and the misconceptions surrounding it.

SEO isn’t rocket science. As a website owner/designer, you should not be optimizing your site for search engines. You should be optimizing for the people who visit your site. After all, that is what Google is trying to do and what it advises YOU to do with its webmaster guidelines:

“Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.”

How can you do that? By following Google’s advice:

“Create a useful, information-rich website, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.”

The article goes to list some of the things you can do to provide useful content for your viewers. Any reasonably well-designed website will be accessible to Google. Also, if you take accessibility seriously and design your site to be accessible to ALL of your visitors then you will also make a website accessible to Google.

You can read the entire article The Inconvenient Truth About SEO at Smashing magazine.

15 Title Tag Optimization Guidelines For Usability and SEO

I recently came across an article on the Usability Geek’s blog 15 Title Tag Optimization Guidelines For Usability and SEO that I thought might be of help in working on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for your site.

The <title> tag defines the title of the document and the <title> element is required in all HTML/XHTML documents. It should describe the content of your page in a concise manner.

Screenshot of title tag.

Screenshot of <title> tag

Why is the title tag important?

The text content you place between the <title> </title> tags is important for the following reasons”

  • Web browsers display the information within the tags as the label on the browser tab (newer browsers) or as title of the web page in the browser’s window title (older browsers.)
    Title displayed at top of browser window.

    Title displayed at top of browser window

    Title Tag displayed in tabs of browser.

    Title Tag displayed in tabs of browser

  • Search engines: As the clickable headline for listings on Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs)
    Title tag displayed as search engine results.

    Title tag displayed as clickable link in search engine results.

  • Search engines use the title tag content to determine the topic of the web page. Search Engine spiders analyze the content of the page title and then translate the page topic.
  • Social bookmarking sites and Web browsers: To assign a default value to bookmarked web sites.
  • Your viewers use the content of the title tag to identify the web sites that are likely to contain the information they are searching for within the list of web sites on a SERP.
  • Viewers use the title to locate the tab in their web browser which contains the site they want to view.
  • Viewers use the title to find the web site they have bookmarked in their browser.
  • Viewers use the title info to determine whether a web site that others have bookmarked in a social bookmarking web site is worth checking out.

The Do’s

  1. Place your keywords at the beginning as the search engines give more importance to the first words in the title tag than those used later.
  2. Use keyphrases instead of keywords
  3. Use modifiers like “cheap,” “reviews,” “free,” as many users will use them as part of their search term. Example: free CSS templates.
  4. Use numbers. Example: 10 free CSS templates rather than free CSS templates
  5. Separate your keywords with hyphens (-) or pipes (|) if you are a web designer, then the keyphrase “web-design” will associate you with search queries for “web design” and “webdesign”.
  6. Include Acronyms. Example: DWT for Dynamic Web Template
  7. Each and every page on your site should have a unique page title. The content of your title tags should reflect the content of the PAGE not the SITE!
  8. Best title naming convention for the homepage. Avoid The and Welcome
  9. Best title naming convention for other pages: Start the title with  words or phrases that describe what the page is about then followed by the company name at the end of the title. NOTE: To my way of thinking, this would depend on the site – business or personal.

The Don’ts

  1. Do not make the content in the title tag longer than 69 characters.
  2. Do not place too many keywords. “Keyword stuffing” as it is called can cause the search engines to penalize you.
  3. Do not use stop words such as “by”, “it” and “as”.
  4. Do not use a lot of commas.
  5. Do not use special characters.
  6. Do not overuse synonyms.

Remember, a optimized title tag is just ONE part of the entire search engine optimization process. Visit Usability Geek to read 15 Title Tag Optimization Guidelines For Usability and SEO in its entirety.

Google and Search Engine Optimization

"What are some simple ways that I can improve my website’s performance in Google?" There are lots of possible answers to this question, and a wealth of search engine optimization information on the web, so much that it can be intimidating for newer webmasters or those unfamiliar with the topic. We thought it’d be useful to create a compact guide that lists some best practices that teams within Google and external webmasters alike can follow that could improve their sites’ crawlability and indexing.

Google is offering a 22 page Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide in pdf format for you to download and use covers around a dozen common areas that webmasters might consider optimizing.

According to SitePoint, three of the more important ones are:

  1. Create unique, accurate page titles – This is probably THE MOST IMPORTANT! How many times have you seen New Page 1 or Untitled 1 at the top of your browser. You should have a unique title for each page on your site.
  2. Make use of the “description” meta tag – Meta descriptions should summarize accurately the page’s content. You should avoid writing descriptions that do NOT relate to the content of the page. Descriptions should be 160 characters or less and be unique for every page on your site.
  3. Improve the structure of your URLs – While Search Engine friendly URL’s are not a MUST, they are recommended.

Download Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

Read SitePoint On-page SEO – The Google Way

If you are using Expression Web as your web editor, you can easily add the Page Title and Meta Description to your pages. With the page open in Expression Web > right click > Page Properties

Page Properties Dialogue Box