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What is Google looking for?
Google doesn’t actually publish a detailed manual telling you exactly how to optimise your website that would be too easy. What it does do is issue guidelines which you can now can look at on the actual Google website.
Basically Google is looking for quality websites with quality content which offer a tangible benefit to the people visiting that website.
Play by Google’s rules and your website wins. Try sneaky tricks to try and suddenly increase your website visibility within the search engines and Google will likely find out and it will end up hurting your website rather than helping it.
White hat vs. black hat SEO
White hat SEO uses techniques that are acceptable to Google and other search engines, while black hat SEO uses techniques that go against the terms of service published by Google and other major search engines.
If you employ an SEO company that uses black hat techniques you may find that instead of being easy to find, your website may disappear from search engines altogether as search engines such as Google, will penalise websites that use techniques that they consider attempts to spam their listings.
There are numerous examples of companies who have been de-listed by Google or have had the search engine results moved down the page compared to their competitors. Even large well-known companies such as BMW have had their details removed altogether from Google when they use techniques that Google disapproved of.
Google webmaster guidelines
Google does not produce specific guidelines on how to optimise your website to achieve maximum search engine visibility. What it does do, is to issue a series of guidelines that you should read and absorb.
In simple terms if you do what Google asks you to do then your website will do better within the search engine results.
Google also warns you against using practices that it considers attempts to spam its index of search results. If you engage in practices that go against the terms of service published by Google, you cannot be surprised that eventually your website may be penalised by Google and your website position within the search engine will suffer.
There are a number of Google blogs that you can subscribe to, so you can keep up to date with search engine optimisation trends and techniques.
Content is king
Google is on record as saying it wishes to see high-quality websites doing well on the Internet, rather than low-quality, spam driven websites that are purely designed to sell advertising.
Simply having good content and ignoring basic SEO aspects is not enough. You need both. Combining quality up to date content with professional SEO techniques means that in the long term your website should do well and show up well within search engine results.
The higher the quality of your website content, the more likely it is that others will link to your website, without you having to ask them. The more links you have and the higher the quality of links to your website the better. Quality links are an important SEO factor.
An important component to the site ranking mechanism from Google is what is called ‘freshness’. Basically freshness relates to new website content. If Google sees that you are regularly changing or adding new content to the website, it will take more interest in that website, and all things being equal the website will rank more highly within the search engine results.
This does not mean you have to make changes every single day but it is advisable to add new content on a fairly regular basis. At the end of the day, Google is looking to reward high-quality websites with a high listing in the search engine results.
In the early days of the Web, website designers used all sorts of tricks in order to help speed the loading of each webpage. These days the majority of people accessing the Web will have access to some form of broadband connection, so you should find that even graphic heavy websites will load quite fast.
However you should be aware that Google lists the loading speed of a webpage as one of the important factors in determining the position of a Web page within the search results.
There are numerous programs available to help you measure the loading speed of your pages and you should pay particular attention to your homepage, index.html.
Typically the sorts of things that will slow down the loading of a Web page include items such as large pictures, large flash files and video or audio files.
You should avoid having a very large home page containing lots of text and pictures. If you think your homepage looks too large, consider moving some content to existing pages or create new pages and link to these from the home page.
Quality back links
A very important factor within your SEO efforts is securing as many back links as possible to your website. Ideally these back links should be one way links from other websites to your website.
Reciprocal links are where you share links with another website so that they will link to your website in exchange for a link from your website to their website. Reciprocal links are far less valuable than one way links.
Even more important than the number of links, is the quality of the links from other websites, to your website. A link from a website with a high PageRank is much more valuable than many links from websites with a PageRank of one or two.
It is important that somewhere on each page within your website you have a text link to other pages within your website. This link should include links to your homepage and the site-map page.
Many websites use special technologies such as Flash or Java as part of their menu navigation systems. In some cases the search engines will not understand these menu navigation systems and you might find that while the home page is listed within the search engine, no other pages are listed. The search engine does not recognise the technology involved in linking to other pages on your site. This is why you should always have at least a few plain text links on every page in your website.
Using your keyword phrases in your page text
An error we see over and over again as search engine optimisation consultants is people telling us that the website cannot be found after using a search phrase such as:
Gas plumber Perth.
When we look at their home page we find they don’t use the words gas, plumber or Perth. So it may seem obvious but if you don’t actually use these words within the text on your website then Google is going to assume that these words are not important to you and therefore they will not be important to Google either. Or to put it another way you won’t get found using this particular phrase, if you don’t have those sorts of words or related phrases within your website. Sounds obvious but you’d be amazed how often we see this sort of thing.
You should write the text that is displayed within your websites with the search engines in mind. Make sure you work your keyword phrases into your paragraphs. And the other thing is, don’t just concentrate on the homepage pay attention to all the other pages and make sure that the phrases that are important to you are actually used somewhere within the text of your website.
You can use different pages to concentrate on different keyword phrases. Another mistake we see over and over again is people trying to pack every single keyword phrase onto the homepage, it ends up looking awful, is hard to read and the search engines will look at it and go away confused.
Titles & description that matches page content
Each page within your website should have its own title and description and this title and description should carefully match the content of that particular page. A common error we see is that every single page or website contains the same title and description and Google does not like this at all. Google expects you to spend a bit of time giving unique titles and descriptions to every single page. Take a bit of time doing this and Google will reward you.