Search engine optimization is a topic which is changing constantly. With every new method implemented by Google and other search engines it needs to be reconditioned. Therefore Google created a guideline to stay tuned to SEO.

Google's Guide to SEO

First of all Google supports individual and fitting titles of homepages. To emphasize this title a title-tag should be added to it, which causes that this content will appear as first sentence in the search results. A unique title should be used for every page of the website, not only for the title page. Therefore it is important not to use the same title for every page. Headlines such as “Unnamed” or “Page 1”, as well as long headlines, are not favored.

Google recommends utilizing the Meta-Tag “description”, which makes it possible to create a summary for search engines. This is useful in case that Google cannot find a useful part of the website to create a Snippet. Here it is also important to develop an individual summary for every page instead of using the same.

As the URL is shown in the search results as well it is important to improve it. Long and confusing URLs should be avoided, because it might discourage users. Instead the URL can be used to arouse interest through including key words.

Another important aspect for SEO is the navigation of a website. It needs to be organized logical to provide an easy use of the site. Therefore it is recommended to cluster similar contents to one page and to create a comprehensible hierarchy of the contents, primary using text.

Additionally there is the possibility of using “breadcrumb navigation”, which is the path of a user shown on the top or bottom of a site to make it easier to get to a previous page. Google advises to create a HTML site to provide an easy get along for visitors. On the other hand an XML site is necessary to offer the search engines a useful guide to find all sites. In addition there is the possibility to create a useful 404-site in case of visitors using a non-existing link, which should include a link to the starting page or site with a similar content.

Furthermore it is required to develop high-quality content of a website. As users tend to recommend appealing contents, especially through social media, it is easier for interesting pages to get well-known and therefore ranked higher in the search results. Also the differing expertise in certain fields is important to consider. This means that people with diverse backgrounds of a topic will search varying for the topic. To reach all these users it is necessary to use diversified key words. The anchor text is another crucial part of a webpage. This is the text to be clicked to get to a certain link. The better the anchor text, the better understandable is the content of the link. It is also important to format the text different to the standard text to catch the user’s and the search engine’s eye.

Pictures are as well an important aspect of a website. If consumers are using a technology which cannot show pictures, it is important to create an “alt”-attribute, which shows an individual text when the picture is not shown. This feature facilitates the picture searches of search engines. Therefore the pictures should have individual names and short descriptions instead of calling them “Pic 1” or similar. The possibility of gathering all pictures into one catalog makes the path to them much easier. To use common formats of pictures is crucial to make them best visible for different technologies. For search engines it is recommended to create a picture-sitemap, which is similar to an XML-site.

Another important aspect of websites is the headlines. Therefore it is necessary to use different sizes of fonts to attract the visitor’s attention to the important parts. There are six different sizes beginning from <h1> up to <h6>. The headlines should be used cautious because only then it helps the user to see what is important and not.

If there are pages of the website which should not be crawled by Google and other search engines, these can be blocked through utilizing ”robots.txt” in the main catalog. This is not useful for data which should be hidden from users; therefore a password is a better protection.
To avoid distrustful websites taking part in a website’s reputation it is necessary to change the “rel” value to “nofollow”. It shows search engines that a website is not agreeing on another page being linked to it. This is mainly useful for comments, blogs, forums and other parts where individual users can add information to a site. For these parts of a website the “nofollow” can be positioned automatically.

Nowadays the creation and correct update of mobile websites are increasingly important. As the format and the administration are different to normal websites it is important to make sure that Google and other search engines recognize the mobile version. Therefore it is necessary to create a XM-sitemap for the mobile website and to submit it to Google. A problem for mobile pages can be that a site is only accessible by mobile gadgets and therefore not by the Googlebot, which is responsible to crawl a website and to create the search results. There are several possibilities to guide users of mobile gears to the right version of a website. There is the chance to forward the user over the desktop version to the mobile site. Whereas it is a good possibility to increase the ranking for the search results, it is less user-friendly. Another alternative is to fit the content to the user technology through the user-agent, whereas both sites use the same URL.

To increase the reputation and the search engine ranking of a website it is also important to advertise for the page correctly. This means that it is necessary to get useful links, for example in social media sites or in user blogs. In addition it is useful to put the name of the website on business cards, posters and letters. A regular newsletter for regular users and important contacts is another important way to get known.

There are free webmaster-tools which are useful for improving a webpage. Crawling can be optimized through them, as they show in which parts there are problems to crawl through them, problems with meta-tags and the site-links, which are used for the search results. Google Analytics indicates how users get to a page and which parts are the most read. In case of an optimization it can show if there is a change in users and their behavior on the website after the change.

These facts are showing in general how search engine optimization works and how it can be improved. For further information download the Google SEO Guide [PDF].

Guideline to stay tuned to SEO
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Eva Pfisterer

Die Gastautorin Eva Pfisterer kommt aus dem Salzburger Land und studiert Tourismus im vierten Semester an der FH Salzburg, wobei sie die ersten zwei Semester in den Niederlanden absolviert hat. Davor hat sie die Modeschule in Hallein absolviert.

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