Google's Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

I recently came across a wonderfully rich resource on search engine optimization (SEO) called Google’s Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. Originally written by Google for their internal teams, they decided to generalize the recommendations so that it would be useful to any website author or owner.

Access the guide from Google’s SEO page, or download the PDF directly [552 KB].

While the recommendations might already be known to you, they are still worth reviewing. Among Google’s tips for good organic SEO:

  • Create unique, accurate page titles
  • Make use of the “description” meta tag
  • Use appropriate URL structure
  • Make your site easier to navigate
  • Offer quality content and services

One notable omission is the recommendation to use the “keywords” meta tag. That’s because Google does not use the “keywords” meta tag in web ranking, and has in fact ignored it for years due to abuse.

Our web search (the well-known search at that hundreds of millions of people use each day) disregards keyword metatags completely. They simply don’t have any effect in our search ranking at present.

For more on the “keywords” meta tag see Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking from the Google Webmaster Central blog (posted Monday, September 21, 2009).

If you are a web designer or web developer with clients who look to you for SEO-related advice, consider giving them a copy of the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide—it’s a great summary of how to optimize websites for search engines, and it’s available for reuse under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.

Google's SEO Starter Guide

Google now offers a guide in PDF form to get you started with SEO best practices. The guide is chock full of great tips on navigation, meta elements, website promotion, headings, and much more.

So, the next time we get the question, “I’m new to SEO, how do I improve my site?”, we can say, “Well, here’s a list of best practices that we use inside Google that you might want to check out.”

Read more and download the PDF guide at Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Google’s SEO Starter Guide.

SEO Guide for Designers

I field a lot of questions about search engines and SEO (search engine optimization), so I’d like to point to a great resource for understanding SEO basics: SEO Guide for Designers. When I found this on Nick La’s Web Designer Wall, I realized it was a great resource for basic SEO learning—even for non-designers.

Many of the tips should be obvious to you if you maintain websites on a regular basis, but if you are a non-technical website owner or maintainer, bookmark the article and reference it when you are working on your website marketing and optimization.

(Also see my 2006 post Search Engine Rankings for Your Site.)