A Closer Look at Google's Updated Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
- From an SEOs Point of View
Google recently released an updated version of the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. For top tier Search Engine Optimization professionals (SEOs), the guide, though it's meant for beginners, is a confirmation of the Best Practices they have already been implementing. For those employing SEOs to improve their own sites visibility, the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide should serve as a reference when choosing a firm or deciding whether to keep their current SEO agency.
While the full details of dynamic search algorithms are closely guarded secrets, top search engines like Google rely on the ability of quality Websites to shine through and be visible to searchers. Before Google released the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, which was originally meant for internal use, you needed to rely on Google insider and blogger Matt Cutts for an inside peek into Google's practices. Now organizations that seek search visibility via ethical practices can use the guide to their advantage.
For experienced SEOs, the recommendations within the guide aren't novel ideas in the world of search engine optimization. However, in the new Guide, Google publicly acknowledges some SEO techniques that were considered relevant, but were never confirmed by the source. Some of the most beneficial SEO topics are:
- Organic word of mouth buzz
- Promoting your own content
- The penalties of poor link building practices
- Creating mobile versions of your site
Improving in these areas, in addition to abiding by previously recognized Best Practices, will boost your Website's search engine visibility.
Organic Word-of-Mouth Buzz
Creating relevant and timely content on your Website and promoting this content by way of Social Media Marketing channels is a gateway to seeing SEO results. Before the explosion in popularity of social media sites, search engine visibility by way of viral word-of-mouth was a non-issue. However, Google now recognizes that the breadcrumbs of online buzz lead to relevant, compelling Websites. Within the guide, Google writes:
- "Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors ... Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site's reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without quality content."
Especially now, since this SEO practice has been confirmed by Google, it's vital that your Website have an active presence in social communities and Blogs. In addition, the content that you post needs to be relevant to your audience.
Penalties of Poor Link Building Practices
Link building is an important optimization technique. How SEOs go about it often clearly divides high quality, ethical SEOs from the "quick-fixers." No matter what anyone tells you, it's not smart to buy links or to spam. Doing so is essentially breaking one of Google's laws and the practice is punishable for parties on both ends:
- "If you're willing to vouch for links added by third parties (e.g. if a commenter is trusted on your site), then there's no need to use nofollow on links; however, linking to sites that Google considers spammy can affect the reputation of your own site."
To build your own site's visibility, quality links that aid your search visibility need to be attained naturally by being spread by humans rather than automated processes. The same applies to those attempting to link to your site. So don't give spammy links space on your Website.
Promoting Your Own Content
According to the Starter Guide, it's a good practice to publicize your own Website links:
- "Google understands that you'd like to let others know about the hard work you've put into your content. Effectively promoting your new content will lead to faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject."
However, Google also notes that, as with any SEO technique, taking this advice to the extreme will actually harm the credibility of your site and reduce your search visibility. Google recommends that these links be spread naturally.
Mobile Website Practices
With the advent of Smartphone technology, Google understands that it's necessary to take into account your Mobile Audience when building your brand's Website. However, as with any SEO technique, be sure your practices are ethical. Google stresses that your Website should be designed around potential visitors, not around search engines.
- "If you redirect users, please make sure that the content on the corresponding mobile/desktop URL matches as closely as possible … We occasionally find sites using this kind of redirect in an attempt to boost their search rankings, but this practice only results in a negative user experience, and so should be avoided at all costs."
In short, the Google SEO Starter Guide confirms that you can't fool Google into giving your Website good search visibility. Good SEO requires substantial time, effort, and knowledge of quality optimization techniques. However, there are many organizations out there who try to outsmart the system. They cut corners, stuff keywords, buy links and promise impossible results. So, when choosing an SEO, know the basics of ethical Website optimization practices in order to make a wise choice.