Google Webmaster Academy Study Guide
Google provides ample information on how to optimize your website for search engines. Here’s a crash course in a handful of points covered in Google’s Webmaster Academy.
The most obvious question is: how do I ensure my website ranks on Google? You can easily see where your website currently ranks by performing a Site Search. Type in “site: domainname” on Google. If there are fewer pages than what you have on your site, then Google is having difficulty accessing all of your webpages. It could also be that Google hasn’t discovered those pages yet, but if your website has been running for a few years, this likely isn’t the case. If on the other hand, nothing comes up in your search results, there could be a number of things going on. One of the causes could be the robots.txt file, which is a document that tells search engines which pages to omit – this is useful for admin pages, private pages, etc. If you have recently purchased your domain, it may not be functioning correctly if the previous owners of that domain produced spammy content, paid for off-shore back links, etc. If that’s the case, then log on to Webmaster Tools page, add your site, verify your site and file a reconsideration request. But every case is different, so consider that there may be other factors at play.
If your page is among the search results but not performing as well as you’d like to, there are a number of things that you can do. First, focus on your user experience – that means, the easier it is for users on your page to browse your website, the easier it is for Google to index those pages. Site navigation can be improved by adding a navigation bar and a search bar to your site. Make your text large, clean, and easy to read.
Once you’ve covered the basics of SEO, focus your content on the users and not on the Google crawler:
- Do you have original, well-written content?
- Do you have a variety of content that is interesting and informational?
- Have you explained your business and your services/products well? Is there any room for confusion?
- Why should users choose your service or product over your competitors? What sets you apart?
- Do you have a blog, and is it current and full of inner links?
- Are you constantly evaluating your own work?
Once you’ve created your site and started working with Webmaster Tools, a great way to familiarize yourself is the Webmaster Message Center. Message Center provides you site-specific information to help you troubleshoot problems with your site. If you’re looking for any kind of information to help you improve your site through search results, you’re in the right place. The Crawlers page of Webmaster Tools lets you know if Googlebots and other Search Engines and users are able to access your website’s content. There are many different types of crawlers, but they generally fall into two categories – Site Errors and Specific URL Errors. Site Errors mean that Google cannot access your site at all, which is often caused by robots.txt file. These are often critical issues that need to be resolved as soon as possible. Specific URL Errors occur when the crawler is facing problems with select pages of your site. Some URL Errors can be caused by server errors. A common URL Error is a Not Found Error, which means someone is trying to access a page from your site which does not exist, often due to a broken link. This kind of error to is generally pretty common and nothing to worry about. Different action is required to resolve each type of error – the best way to troubleshoot is look up the error code in your Webmaster Tools account. Easy peasy.
As you start building your website, you should create social media sharing platforms. Many websites can build great relations with the new and existing customers by arranging competitions, sharing stories and accomplishments and announcing new offers. Interacting with your customers and industry partners in an engaging way can have phenomenal implications for your business. Social media provides a faster, more fun way to interact with your audience, and drive traffic to your website. If your website is the meat and potatoes, social media is ice cream. Yum.
So, what else do you need to know?
- People often ask what they can do to ensure Google finds their entire site’s hosted content. One of the best ways to do this is to create a site map. A site map is a list of all the pages on your site and is designed to make search engines discover and better understand your content, as well as improve Google’s future services. It helps direct Google to exactly what you would like to be found. You can create a sitemap by hand, but it can be daunting. Or you know, we can do that for you.
- Be wary of spam. We’re not just taking about flashy ads that make all-encompassing generalizations – although those do impact your relationship with Google a lot. Some of the most common examples include posting irrelevant (or reposted) content on your website, spammy posts on forum threads, and users who post spammy content as comments on blogs or webpages. Irrelevant backlinks are also a huge culprit. You may not always delete these comments in a timely fashion, so there are ways to deject/monitor this sort of spam. Want to chat about it?
- Syndicated content is content that is copied from another site. Plagiarism is a huge issue, and Google doesn’t really like duplicated content. If you are going to take ideas or concepts from a competitors, make sure to re-write it into a new piece of writing, complete with some of your own ideas and insight. Other websites copy completely random and irrelevant content to increase traffic. Do not do this. It will likely negatively impact your relationship with Google.
A violation of the Webmaster rules can negatively impact the search results of your site, and might even result into the removal of the site from Google search results and Google Adwords. Google strives to serve it’s users with high-quality, relevant information. These guidelines are imposed to provide the best user experience. It’s imperative to follow these rules to ensure your website maintains good standing with search engines. Do you have questions on how to properly optimize your website for search engines? Talk to one of our Toronto SEO professionals today. Hey, we are certified Google partners.