Google have written a very helpful Guide to SEO

If you don’t read anything else, read this Guide!

Regular reader’s will know, I always try and keep in mind that website’s are for visitor and not search engines and if you put their needs first you won’t go far wrong.

So it’s nice to read the same advice on the introductory page of this SEO Guide from Google, which goes on to point out that your visitors are “the main consumers of your content and are using search engines to find your work”.

The Guide seems to be aimed at webmasters and website designer’s and clearly displays the information in both words and pictures where possible.

Read in conjunction with other SEO resources

I think that website owner’s would also do well to read the Guide, although it does get a bit technical sometimes for the lay person. However read in combination with other online SEO resources such as the Google Webmaster Tools Help Centre and to some extent the information on this site, website owner’s should be able to gain a reasonable grasp of the main points.

SEO Basics, meta title and description tags

It starts with the SEO basics and then outlines the importance of accurate page titles and description meta tags.  It then looks at the importance of developing a website structure that visitors and search engines can understand. This will help the search engines get a better idea of what the website is about.

Google likes good quality content

The next chapter is about content and more importantly making sure it has the text and keywords that again support the visitor and help Google. The message is quite simple: offer good quality content that users will like and everything else will fall into place.

Anchor text a misunderstood roadmap through your website

The Guide also outlines the importance of anchor text. This is the clickable text that users will see as a result of a link within content. Search engines generally like anchor text because it is a link that highlights some important words and takes the visitor to further information. I know from experience that making good use of anchor text can reap excellent rewards from search engines, especially if the links point to further pages within the same site.

Learn about “alt” tags in images

Likewise the Guide mentions the importance of adding effective “alt” tags to images and making sure this text is relevant to the image it is about. It also mentions that it is important to store your images in one easy to find folder and use commonly supported file types scuh as JPEG, GIF, PNG and BMP.

Heading tags are something that quite a few web pages lack, but are a simple way to ensure that users and search engines understand the importance of different parts of the text.

Will your website work for mobile search?

New to this edition is the chapter on mobile search. You’ll learn how to configure your website so it can be indexed by Google’s mobile search page and what to do if there is a problem indexing it.

How do you do backlinks?

Next is a chapter on promoting your website in the right way and tries to get a logical perspective on the whole subject of backlinks. I’ve long belivered that backlinks have been given a vastly overrated importance by website owner’s and the online marketing professionals alike. I’ve never really be convinced that simply getting backlinks for the sake of it offers much benefit and may in fact cause harm in the longer term.

The Guide does state that backlinks are important but only when they are the result of genuinely trying to promote your website. For instance making announcements via blogs and social networking sites can get your website noticed and also result in generating effective backlinks that Google will notice.

Google Webmaster Tools can be a big help

The final part of the Guide recommends making full use of Google Webmaster Tools and how it can help you find problems with you website and also carry out high level analysis with respect to keywords and how well your title and description tags are working on the search engines results page.

And finally…

So is this Guide worth reading and following its recomendations? I certainly think it is and to be fair to Google, you can take most of the points made and apply them equally effectivly to any search engines be it Google Bing or Yahoo.