Content Guidelines

Many people believe that discovering the website features that Google values most is the holy grail of SEO and that this knowledge is as elusive as it is desirable.  This is simply not the case.  Although there are over 200 factors that Google considers when ranking web pages for a given term, Google clearly outlines a set of best practices in its Webmaster Guidelines.  This week, we will look at each section of the guidelines starting with a brief summary of the design and content section.

1. Use text links and a clear hierarchy - Quite simply, make sure that your site uses text links in the form of a css menu or links embedded in content.  Avoid Javascript menus that restrict the ability for spiders to crawl your site.  Use a good linking structure and folder structure across your site.  Link all your major pages from your index page and ensure that all pages that you want indexed are linked in your site.

2. Use Site Maps - Always create an XML site map and submit it to Google.  You can then monitor crawl stats via webmaster tools and avoid any potential indexing issues that your site may develop.  Also create ROR site maps, URL lists and html site maps where appropriate.

3. Describe content accurately and write information rich pages - Make sure that your site titles and descriptions are succinct and that there is consistency between the words in these meta tags and the content on the page.  Give substance by ensuring that there is a significant amount of unique content on all of your main pages. Avoid spamming at all costs.

4. Include keywords in your content - This is a no-brainer but instead of focusing on keyword density try optimising around themes.  Include synonyms, word variations and related words, which will show the search engines that you are discussing a theme rather than spamming a phrase.  If you write quality content, this will occur naturally.  Ensure keywords are included in meta structure, headings, paragraph tags and links.

The rest of the design and content guidelines will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog.

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