Although this guide is 2 years old, I thought it would be a great piece of information to share and to go through on our blog. 90% of this guide is still relevant and we use a lot of these techniques still and can really help with improving a sites ranking in the search engines if you want to try and help your own rankings.
I am not going to go through the whole 32 page document in the post, but there will be some screen shots of some of the really important parts. Below is exactly what you will find in the guide. If you are unsure what the GoogleBot is, this is how Google reads your website and displays it in their Search Engine.
Page Titles Best Practices
Create unique title tags for each page – This is always one of the first things we do to a website when they start with us. Either the web design or the previous SEO company has created a single Title tag (usually being the business name) and multiplied it over the entire website. Google love uniqueness, if every page has the same title, Google will presume that every single page is about the same thing and when the page content has only a tiny percentage of relation to the title your page will be have a low quality score which can harm your rankings. Title tags are also what users click on to enter your site, so you want to make sure that your title is enticing enough for users to want to click on your website.
Getting further down the guide, there is a whole section on ‘Improving the structure of your URL’s’ – another major parameter that always needs to be dealt with when starting a new SEO campaign. A previous post on URL Structure can be found in our blog that goes into this which is more relevant to 2012.
The HTML sitemap should be put onto your website to help users, you should list every single page on your website and how to get there so if a user gets lost, they can always go to the HTML sitemap to find the page they are after.
The XML sitemap is purely for Google, the XML sitemap allows Google to read your site faster and view more pages when they visit. It is written in a way that Google understands faster than HTML and saves time for the Googlebot to search your site, as you are given them your important pages you want indexed before the lesser important ones (ie, the contact page).
Make the most of FREE webmaster tools
This is the closest you are going to get to Google, you can find out if your site has any errors as well as get suggestions from Google of what you need to do with your titles and descriptions to make sure they are read correctly. This is where you add your XML sitemap and generate a robots.txt file. In webmaster tools you will also find top search queries into your website as well as the links that are being picked up into your site. You can view your site the way Google sees it and although we haven’t received any of these, if your site is in violation of Google’s quality guidelines – this is where you will be notified.