There are many search engine optimization (SEO) steps to take in order to get a website ranked high in the search engines. One of the most important steps is getting a website friendly with Google, the number one search engine. Below are 25 best practices for making a website Google’s best friend.
1. A website needs to have unique content because Google does not like duplicate content. A lot of websites are built using templates, and therefore they have similar copy, images and code. Also a lot of websites try to steal copy from existing companies’ websites, so using a tool like Copyscape to check this occasionally is good practice to safeguard your website.
2. Having too many misspelled words can make Google think a website is not professional or useful. A resource like Respelt.com can help spell check copy when updates are being made.
3. Use proper and unique page titles for every page. Page titles are one of Google’s top rankings signals. A proper page title can tell Google what the page is about. Learn more with the Title Tag Guide.
4. Write meta descriptions for every page. Meta descriptions are short paragraphs – under 160 characters – that display under the page title in the search results. Meta descriptions don’t influence rankings but can help with click-through rates (CTRs) if presented nicely. Meta Description Guide
5. Add alt tags for every image. Alt tags are attributes of images that describe the image. Google cannot read or interpret images so it uses alt tags to understand the context of the image.How to write alt tags.
6. Set up a Google Plus business page and add the website link in the “about” section. This helps Google establish perusal authority. Google Plus business page setup.
7. Link the website back to the established Google Plus business page with rel=”publisher” tags. Also add rel=”publisher” to links pointing to your other social media profiles like YouTube and Facebook. These tags tell Google you are the publisher or owner of this content. This can also help with content theft and displaying your brand’s official social media profiles in the search results. How to add rel=”publisher”.
8. Register the website with Google webmaster. Google Webster Tools.
9. Set up structured data on the website. Structured data passes attributes and data to Google that explains a list of products. For example, with a product page, structured data will pass the price, manufacture, items remaining, etc. This helps Google display the correct information in search results. Google Guide for Structured Data.
10. Add new, unique content regularly. It does not have to be daily but at least once a month. This is part of an iterative design process we are applying to Web design and development at M/C/C.
11. Make sure a website does not have any broken links or links pointing to harmful websites. Broken links can make it difficult for Google to correctly crawl a website and pass the correct authority to other pages. Check your links tools.
12. Make sure the website is www or non-www. Not both. Technically these are two different websites, as www can be considered a subdomain. Having both www and non-www can cause a website to have duplicate content in Google’s eyes. Guide to setup redirects.
14. Monitor your error logs. Also monitor 404 errors via Google webmasters tools. 404 errors will not hurt your rankings but provide a bad user experience. Google will also have a hard time crawling and indexing your website completely. Errors can also let you know if you have any broken links.
15. Test the speed of the website, especially the homepage. A slow webpage can hurt your Google rankings and is not user-friendly. Page Speed Testing Tool.
16. Check to see if there are any HTML errors and all markup is valid. Incorrect HTML can make it hard for Google to crawl a webpage and index it. WC3 Validation Tool.
18. Set up a robots.txt file. This tells the Google crawl bots which pages are okay and not okay to crawl. Guide to Robots.txt.
19. Send a sitemap.xml to Google via webmasters. This lets Google know of all your webpages.
20. If your website also contains a blog or links to a website that you do not want Google to pass authority to add rel=”nofollow. This tells Google that you don’t want to pass authority to this site. How to add rel=”nofollow”.
21. Don’t keyword stuff. Keyword stuffing is the practice of loading too many keywords in the copy. Try to make sure none of the same words occur in more than 3 percent of total copy. This does not include stop words such as the, of, you, a, him, when, etc.
22. Add the website to the Open Directory Project (DMOZ). DMOZ is an open directory run by select individuals on the Internet, similar to Wikipedia. Google uses it to verify company information.
23. Add a contact phone number and address to the website. Make sure they are both regular copy and not an image, as Google cannot read images. Also make sure the website’s contact page is correctly labeled so Google can determine this is the correct information.
24. If the website also hosts a blog, make sure to link to prior blog posts within each new individual post.
25. Do link to http://mccom.com. Just kidding, but we would appreciate it.