With all the focus clearly on links and link building in the search engine optimisation field it easy to forget about the importance of focused keyword content and a clean site architecture.
On page optimisation often gets left behind in the online marketing discussions but thankfully Google have given a huge and in my opinion very effective reminder.
Google have recently released an SEO report card based on improving the optimisation of their product pages.
Within the report are some vital insights and reminders to us all about page optimisation and URL structure.
If you want to read the report please download it here: Google SEO Report Card
I thought it would be a good idea to run through some of the points within the report as they are useful to both bloggers and webmasters in general.
I know you have heard it all before but here are few things you may not have heard of:
- Only the first 60 characters of a title tag give any real ranking benefit
- Sometimes users click links based on brand, so use your brand name in the title tag
- Google wants you to use keywords users will search
I know the last point is a little lame, but there are still some ‘keep it natural’ fundamentalists out there. Just write it for users, don’t use keyword tools. Keep it natural.
News flash! Google wants you to use searched keywords. This is not writing for engines because who ultimately invents these terms?
Google go through the usual reminders about being descriptive and keeping the title tag accurate and to the point, but you’ve heard all that before.
As it’s only the first 60 characters that count it is important when writing blog posts to make your first 6 – 9 words as optimised as possible, or if you use thesis you can customise the title tag of each post.
Google made it official that META keywords don’t count at the end of last year, however they have now confirmed that the description is also a waste of time for ranking purposes. However, I and many other SEO’s always recommend using your main keywords in the description tag as they are bolded and this increases the chances of clicks.
These are the little links that appear below your main link in Google like so;
Please note that your site will only get these once Google trusts the domain and classes the info as authoritative
Google gives us some nice suggestions for optimising the type of site links we have appear in Google;
- Use a strong hierachial Structure
- Make use of descriptive anchor text
- Avoid deep directories
Let’s talk about each of these points a little;
This is fairly straight forward, if you want an important/relevant page to appear as a site link in Google then you need to link to the page from your strongest pages, normally this means your top level domain. An ecommerce site should look to optimise their best selling product pages in the site links.
If you still find low quality pages are being used as site links, you can remove them directly from webmaster tools.
Descriptive anchor text
I have been shouting about this for years but it always gets brushed under the carpet, probably because it has a low ranking value.
The fact is that internal descriptive anchor text may not pass link juice but still pass relevance. I spoke some months ago about using descriptive internal linking to create indented listings and proved it with my ‘bing seo‘ page.
Don’t go silly with these and stuff target keywords in but try to use them whenever appropriate, Google clearly clarifies that “read more” and “click here” links are worthless and this is something the search giants do not recommend.
Very simple don’t bury your best content in a deep file.
/file1/file2/file3/file4/my-great-content/ – Never going to be a site link
301’s vs 302’s
Ok if you have ever got in the world of redirects you will know there are a few different ways to do it.
301 = Permanent Redirect
302 = Temporary Redirect
You should always try to use permanent redirects, if not and you use a temporary redirect Google will consider both URL’s to be of use and index both. This can provide a bad user experience and cause duplicate content issues.
There is a load more detail in the report including advice on;
Alt tags = Yes they are still important, keep it descriptive and keyword rich
Canonical = Use the rel=”canonical” link to help Google know your main URL’s and also make sure internal links point to the canonical URL, this helps stop duplicate URL issues and content from arising.
If you find 30 minutes you should definitely read through the report, very interesting.