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Review of Google Starter Guide to SEO

Author's avatar By Dave Chaffey 12 Jan, 2009
Essential Essential topic

I have finally made time to read the Google Starter Guide to SEO PDF which was published in November. This is a summary of the recommendations.

I had a quick check back in November to see whether it added to conventional wisdom on best practice, i.e. what any competent SEO would advise.

On a second, detailed reading, it doesn't add anything to standard best practice, but its value is in educating non-SEO specialists through it's summary of the main issues and nice use of examples. It also helps validate your advice, so make relevant sure content owners and designers take a look.

If you haven't had a chance to read ityet, I can save you time - these are the main issues addressed.

Summary of Google-recommended SEO practices

Some of the important points from the Google Starter Guide which we find are often neglected by designers or content owners are:

  • 1. Ensure that the CMS supports unique <title>s and the content owners know the create unique titles for each page
  • 2. Use descriptive keywords in page URLs.
  • 3. Create a simple (shallow) directory structure avoiding nesting beyond 3 or 4 levels at most.
  • 4. Use text-links to link relevant pages, for example through links in page body copy or breadcrumb navigation with the anchor text referencing the main topic of the destination page. Be aware of use of the rel="nofollow" link and deploy to reduce comment spam for links to external sites posted by users.
  • 5. Create pages themed around a particular topic but using subheads, i.e. <h2> and <h3> to show sub-topics.
  • 6. Label images with alternative text (alt="image description") and descriptive filenames. The Guide notes that search engines do use this as a cue particularly when the image links to another page.
  • 7. Create an HTML sitemap with links to all (or the most important pages)
  • 8. Create quality content and services to attract links, aka Linkbaiting
  • 9. Create unique fresh content. The guide doesn't elaborate on whether this will attract more frequent visits from Google's robots.
  • 10. Use Google Analytics to review which pages are working to attract which keywords to your site.
Author's avatar

By Dave Chaffey

Digital strategist Dr Dave Chaffey is co-founder and Content Director of online marketing training platform and publisher Smart Insights. 'Dr Dave' is known for his strategic, but practical, data-driven advice. He has trained and consulted with many business of all sizes in most sectors. These include large international B2B and B2C brands including 3M, BP, Barclaycard, Dell, Confused.com, HSBC, Mercedes-Benz, Microsoft, M&G Investment, Rentokil Initial, O2, Royal Canin (Mars Group) plus many smaller businesses. Dave is editor of the templates, guides and courses in our digital marketing resource library used by our Business members to plan, manage and optimize their marketing. Free members can access our free sample templates here. Dave is also keynote speaker, trainer and consultant who is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Digital Marketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing. My personal site, DaveChaffey.com, lists my latest Digital marketing and E-commerce books and support materials including a digital marketing glossary. Please connect on LinkedIn to receive updates or ask me a question.

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