Google Says

You remember the childhood game, Simon says; the leader would say, “Simon says jump on one foot,” and you had jump on one foot. If you stopped, or if you did something Simon didn’t say, you were out. This article is an adaptation of the game, and it is called Google Says. In Google Says, we will see how following information from Google can bring your website to the top of the Google search results organic listings.

I want to preface this article by saying that one should not assume everything Google says is practical, nor is it the only method of getting websites to the front page of the organic free results. Use this as more of a foundation building plan.

Since we are building a foundation, we should start toward the beginning of search engine optimization and building websites for users. You will first need a domain name for your new website.

Google Says: [0099] Certain signals may be used to distinguish between illegitimate and legitimate domains. For example, domains can be renewed up to a period of 10 years. Valuable (legitimate) domains are often paid for several years in advance, while doorway (illegitimate) domains rarely are used for more than a year. Therefore, the date when a domain expires in the future can be used as a factor in predicting the legitimacy of a domain and, thus, the documents associated therewith.

As we can see Google tells us in their March 2005 patent filing release that Google considers websites with one (1) year registrations to be related to spam websites. As such you should register your domain name for a period of five (5) years or more, the closer to ten (10) the better, but since most businesses in the offline world work with views five (5) years ahead this length should be fine.

Next you will need somewhere to host your website!

Google Says: [0100] Also, or alternatively, the domain name server (DNS) record for a domain may be monitored to predict whether a domain is legitimate. The DNS record contains details of who registered the domain, administrative and technical addresses, and the addresses of name servers (i.e., servers that resolve the domain name into an IP address). By analyzing this data over time for a domain, illegitimate domains may be identified.

What Google is trying to tell us is registration contact and technical information related to your web site’s hosting server will for legitimate businesses stay the same year to year, and Google by indexing this information and comparing it each year can determine whether a domain is used to give users information or to spam their search results.

So in order to build the solid foundation make sure you are not switching servers often, The best server environment is a dedicated server that you control and is set up properly to allow easy crawling by the various search engine spiders. If you cannot afford a dedicated server look for a reliable web host with near perfect up time ratings and offers dedicated Internet Protocol (IP) address, which has much the same effect as a dedicated server.

Next we need to build our website and Google provides us with some definite steps we should take to ensure our success in getting pages found on the Internet.

Google Says: Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.

For those of you using flash or JavaScript navigation and find some search spiders like googlebot only crawling your index page, it is due to the fact that googlebot cannot crawl the flash or JavaScript. It can’t follow the links to other pages on your site.

Google Says: Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map is larger than 100 or so links, you may want to break the site map into separate pages.

Again we want to use text links on our sitemap pages so that googlebot can crawl the links and award the proper Google PageRank as well. If you are using flash or JavaScript navigation, build a link from your home page to your sitemap page so the bot can crawl all your pages easily.

Google Says: Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.

This is a biggie folks and many do not understand this simple instruction. When Google says to write information rich pages to accurately describe your content it does not mean for you to copy someone else’s writing and use it on your website. Nor does it say to buy a software program to scrape content from different websites and make pages from these. You need to write original content that is clear and concise. Googlebot understands what is jibberish very well, and it usually sends your pages to the supplemental index.

Google Says: Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.

This is more important than many realize. Doing some research here will pay dividends in the long run. While you will see keyword terms like “Amboy pizza Jersey New Perth shop” and these will be easy to attain front page rankings on the search results organic pages, typically few real people like you and I would type a search like the above. It would typically be written as “Perth Amboy New Jersey pizza shop” a term more likely to drive traffic to a pizza restaurant in Perth Amboy.

Google Says: Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images.

Again we see where googlebot does not crawl text in flash, JavaScript nor any graphic images. Also by following Google Says here there is a mutual benefit extended to other search engines, since those search spiders also usually do not crawl these areas.

Google Says: Make sure that your TITLE and ALT tags are descriptive and accurate.

When writing Title tags you only want to use 96 characters or about twelve (12) words, such as “Perth Amboy New Jersey Pizza Restaurant Take Out Delivery” Also change your titles per page like so “Pizza Shop Perth Amboy NJ Offers Pizza Food Eat In Free Delivery”

As for Alt image tags, there is a fine line here. Alt image tags are meant for those with vision accessibility issues and related text to speech reading software. The software reads what is in the image ALt tag to the user so we want to use “pizza shop logo image” and not pizza, pizza shop, pizza restaraunt, fresh pizza, fresh dough, pizza, calzone, pizza image. Doing this is seen as spam and will result in a filter to lowered results.

Google Says: Check for broken links and correct HTML.

If you were running a real bricks and mortar business, you wouldn’t have broken pieces of stuff all over the floors of your store or business. It’s the same thing in web pages. Broken links or poor html coding of pages will cause the search spiderbots to trip and get hurt, thus not able to crawl your page. This is a liability which, while you won’t hear from a lawyer, Google and other search engines will not recommend your website to other customers.
Validate HTML code at http://validator.w3.org. Also, be sure to validate CSS code if used.

Google Says: If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a “?” character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.

This is a topic worthy of several articles which I cannot cover here, as much as I would like to. If you are using a dynamic on a Unix server, you maybe able to use a Mod Rewrite to change dynamic URLs to static on the fly. You can find more information on doing this here. You will also need to check with your web host provider. If using Windows servers, you would need to do an Isapi Rewrite and should consult your web hosting provider about this issue.

Next once we have the pages built we need to have them placed on the internet and have them found by the search engines.

Google Says: Have other relevant sites link to yours.

Now the important factor here is relevant, links to your site should be related to your website in some way that is based on common sense, using our New Jersey pizza shop, linking the pizza shop to a Boise Idaho “slip and fall” law office would not make much sense to most of us, so the search spiders will not see this as a logical link but more of an attempt to influence rankings. Now if you were to link the pizza shop with a cardboard pizza box manufacturer or a pizza oven installer this would be reasonable and the spiders would see it that way as well.

Google Says: [0077] The dates that links appear can also be used to detect “spam,” where owners of documents or their colleagues create links to their own document for the purpose of boosting the score assigned by a search engine. A typical, “legitimate” document attracts back links slowly. A large spike in the quantity of back links may signal a topical phenomenon (e.g., the CDC web site may develop many links quickly after an outbreak, such as SARS), or signal attempts to spam a search engine (to obtain a higher ranking and, thus, better placement in search results) by exchanging links, purchasing links, or gaining links from documents without editorial discretion on making links. Examples of documents that give links without editorial discretion include guest books, referrer logs, and “free for all” pages that let anyone add a link to a document.

Next there is the amount of links you want to build. Natural links take time to develop and the search engines know this. As such adding 100s of links per month is usually not seen as a good thing to the search spiders and usually results in a filter being applied to your website with lowered rankings.

I wrote about links and how I do not see much value in them in helping to attain front page results in the organic search results listings. Read the article for more information. And this still holds true. I have rarely built links for my clients, and because of this most of my clients have never suffered any sort of “google sandboxing” effect. Once the site is crawled and indexed, then links can be added in moderation.

Google Says: Don’t participate in link schemes designed to increase your site’s ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or “bad neighborhoods” on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links.

What google is telling us here is that taking part in a reciprocal link exchange will be of little value and if it is intended to influence search rankings will earn you time in the corner so to speak. Others may link to you from poor quality websites and there is little you can do to stop this, however you do not have to link back, that is where the penalties come in when you take part in these schemes. Then you are a willing participant.

Google Says: Submit a sitemap as part of our Google Sitemaps (Beta) project. Google Sitemaps uses your sitemap to learn about the structure of your site and to increase our coverage of your web pages.

This sitemap is different than the one you build for users. It is used to help Google crawl and index the world wide web in a more efficient manner, While Google states the use of Google Sitemaps does nothing to effect rankings, it has always been my thought that making Google’s life easier is going to have some positive effect. Even if it is only good karma, it can’t hurt like other things people try.

Google Says: Submit it to Google at http://www.google.com/addurl.html.

This step is not needed if you build a link from a high-value and Google-friendly website. In fact there have been some who feel that allowing the search engine spiders to find your site on their own by crawling links is of more value to your web sites rankings.

Now that our site is ready, we want to be able to test and measure the results in the search engines.

Google Says: Don’t use unauthorized computer programs to submit pages, check rankings, etc. Such programs consume computing resources and violate our Terms of Service. Google does not recommend the use of products such as WebPosition Gold™ that send automatic or programmatic queries to Google.

There are several sites that will check your rankings for free on the search engines, and some will require a Google API key. First you will need to get a Google Account. Once you have your API License Key you can use the Google API’s to check rankings or as mentioned above find software that uses your API License Key.

By following what Google has to say over time you will find your website drawing targeted traffic that you want as well as enjoying popularity in the major and secondary search engines. The quotes I used are from two documents in particular, which have more information for those curious enough to poke around.

Google speaks to webmasters.
Google’s Patent Filing release of March 2005.

Google+ Comments

Google+ Comments