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Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide
Who is this guide for?
If you own, manage, monetize, or promote online content via Google Search, this guide is meant for you. You might be the owner of a growing and thriving business, the webmaster of a dozen sites, the SEO specialist in a Web agency or a DIY SEO ninja passionate about the mechanics of Search : this guide is meant for you. If you’re interested in having a complete overview of the basics of SEO according to our best practices, you are indeed in the right place. This guide won’t provide any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices outlined below will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is often about making small modifications to parts of your website. When viewed individually, these changes might seem like incremental improvements, but when combined with other optimizations, they could have a noticeable impact on your site’s user experience and performance in organic search results. You’re likely already familiar with many of the topics in this guide, because they’re essential ingredients for any web page, but you may not be making the most out of them.
You should optimize your site to serve your users’ needs. One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content. Search Engine Optimization is about helping search engines understand and present content. Your site may be smaller or larger than our example site and offer vastly different content, but the optimization topics we discuss below should apply to sites of all sizes and types. We hope our guide gives you some fresh ideas on how to improve your website, and we’d love to hear your questions, feedback, and success stories in the Google Webmaster Help Forum1.
We hope you will enjoy the content and we hope to hear and integrate your feedback via our Google support Forums
Feel free to save, print off the guide responsibly and re-share it: let’s improve the quality of the web.
The Google Search Quality team
- Index – Google stores all web pages that it knows about in its index. The index entry for each page describes the content and location (URL) of that page. To index is when Google fetches a page, reads it, and adds it to the index: Google indexed several pages on my site today.
- Crawl – The process of looking for new or updated web pages. Google discovers URLs by following links, by reading sitemaps, and by many other means. Google crawls the web, looking for new pages, then indexes them (when appropriate).
- Crawler – Automated software that crawls (fetches) pages from the web and indexes them.
- Googlebot – The generic name of Google’s crawler. Googlebot crawls the web constantly.
- SEO – Search engine optimization: the process of making your site better for search engines. Also the job title of a person who does this for a living: We just hired a new SEO to improve our presence on the web.
Are you on Google?
Determine whether your site is in Google’s index – Do a site: search for your site’s home URL. If you see results, you’re in the index. For example, a search for “site:wikipedia.org” returns these results2.
If your site isn’t in Google – Although Google crawls billions of pages, it’s inevitable that some sites will be missed. When our crawlers miss a site, it’s frequently for one of the following reasons:
- The site isn’t well connected from other sites on the web
- You’ve just launched a new site and Google hasn’t had time to crawl it yet
- The design of the site makes it difficult for Google to crawl its content effectively
- Google received an error when trying to crawl your site
- Your policy blocks Google from crawling the site
How do I get my site on Google?
Inclusion in Google’s search results is free and easy; you don’t even need to submit your site to Google. Google is a fully automated search engine that uses web crawlers to explore the web constantly, looking for sites to add to our index. In fact, the vast majority of sites listed in our results aren’t manually submitted for inclusion, but found and added automatically when we crawl the web. Learn how Google discovers, crawls, and serves web pages.3
We offer webmaster guidelines4 for building a Google-friendly website. While there’s no guarantee that our crawlers will find a particular site, following these guidelines should help make your site appear in our search results.
Google Search Console provides tools to help you submit your content to Google and monitor how you’re doing in Google Search. If you want, Search Console can even send you alerts on critical issues that Google encounters with your site. Sign up for Search Console5.
Here are a few basic questions to ask yourself about your website when you get started.
- Is my website showing up on Google?
- Do I serve high-quality content to users?
- Is my local business showing up on Google?
- Is my content fast and easy to access on all devices?
- Is my website secure?
You can find additional getting started information on http://g.co/webmasters6
The rest of this document provides guidance on how to improve your site for search engines, organized by topic. You can download a short, printable checklist of tips from http://g.co/WebmasterChecklist7.
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