Search engine optimization basics
The term “search engine optimization” was invented through a gradual process by industry pioneers that initially coined the phrases “search engine design” and “search engine positioning” (Sullivan 2004).
It refers to the promotion of a webpage to the higher ranks (typically first page) of any search engine results returned by a search engine to a web user that types in a particular keyword or key phrase.
Google search engine optimization
Optimizing a website for the Google search engine results pages (i.e. Google SERPS) is usually a priority given Google’s dominant worldwide market share as a search engine (McGee 2013).
Google has produced numerous guidelines on SEO for webmasters. The Search Engine Starter Guide is the main guide that has been produced. Other guides including the following were developed to as further explanations and clarifications (Google 2013):
- Webmaster Guidelines;
- Google Friendly Sites;
- More Guidance on Building High Quality Sites;
- Site Not Doing Well in Search.
In addition to these general guidelines, other guides list Google’s policies and provisions for indexing and ranking in their search results.
In general, Google representative statements and industry opinions expounded as responses to requests for help by webmasters and website owners in the Google Products Forum have indicated that compliance with the guidelines should allow a website to rank high in the Google SERPS.
Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide
In summary, the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide provides the following guidelines:
- use title tags within head tags
- unique title tags for each page
- titles should not be longer than 70 letters long
- summarise the content of page through the use of meta tag
- use friendly URLs
- avoid URL nesting
- one version of URL to reach the document
- use breadcrumbs for convenience of users
- HTML and XML site maps for users and search engines respectively
- natural navigation structure for the site
- quality, unique and exclusive content
- search engine friendly anchor texts
- optimize images by using the alt attribute
- create proper headings structure (H1, H2, etc)
- use rel=”nofollow” for outbound links
- configure mobile sites for mobile search
- increase backlinks to increase site value (through natural means)
- make use of social media without spamming