Am I doing this right?
It’s a question we field all the time from businesses that want their site to rank well in Google searches – while still delivering a great experience for human users.
With so much bad SEO advice floating around the internet, it can be tough to determine the best SEO strategy for your business. So today, we’re going straight to the source. Below, we summarize basic steps for optimizing a website Google will find, index, and rank well for the right kind of user searches.
The Basics: Google’s Rules for SEO Optimization
Secure your website with HTTPS.
The internet can be a dangerous place; hackers are continually probing sites to steal sensitive data. Securing your site with HTTPS protects your site and visitors, and it’s essential to ranking well on Google. In this post, we explain in greater detail why both SSL and HTTPS are important to your website.
Create a simple URL structure.
When it comes to organizing your website content into pages, the KISS (Keep It Simple, Stupid) method is the smartest choice. Google recommends that you organize your content so that URLs are named and constructed logically, as overly complex URLs can cause indexing issues (i.e., issues with the way Google identifies and lists your website pages, so they can be properly retrieved and served to users).
Qualify outbound links when necessary.
To prevent Google from penalizing your website, identify the following types of outbound links with the appropriate attribute values in the <a> tag:
- Links that are advertisements or paid placements (i.e., paid links)
- Links that are user-generated content (i.e., comments, forum posts, etc.)
- Links that you’d rather Google not associate your site with
Check for browser compatibility.
Most users will view your website using a browser on their computer or mobile device. Each browser interprets code slightly differently, so it’s important to:
- Test your site’s appearance and functionality in multiple browsers (on desktop and mobile).
- Write good, clean code using valid HTML and CSS.
- Specify your character encoding, so browsers properly render the text on your pages.
- Follow Google’s guidelines for using Flash and other rich media, so your content is easier for search engines to crawl – and more accessible to users who use assistive technology such as screen readers.
Avoid publishing duplicate content.
Google rewards sites with original, reader-friendly content with higher search rankings. And sites that attempt to manipulate search engine rankings or win more traffic by publishing deliberately duplicated content.
Make sure you’re not shooting yourself in the digital foot by unintentionally housing non-malicious duplicate content on your website such as:
- Discussion forums that generate duplicate versions of content (for computers and mobile devices)
- Storing content shown or linked via multiple unique URLs
- Printer-only versions of web pages
If you have a legitimate business reason for housing multiple pages of duplicate content on your site, take steps to indicate your preferred URL for indexing the primary version of each page with canonicalization.
Is there more to Google’s SEO guidelines?
Absolutely. We’ve barely scratched the surface! If you want to learn more, check out these related posts on search engine optimization:
Need a smarter SEO strategy?
SEO is continually evolving. How can you create content that’s reader-friendly and follows Google’s webmaster guidelines?
Trust our experts! BARQAR uses a strategic, 6-step approach to ensure your SEO stays dialed in. Contact us for a free SEO audit, and we’ll show you how to dominate search. And sell more!