This is second in the five-part series on ethical SEO. The first one contained tips for making a blog popular with ethical SEO practices. The present post is extension of the same; the do’s and don’ts given here are based on the process of web-search as explained by Google itself and the advice periodically offered by it. The next two posts will expand on some of these, and the last post will help in taking some desirable SEO actions that look difficult to people not comfortable with technology.
In this post, we discuss the practices that Google likes and the ones it hates. We are not weighing Google vis-à-vis Yahoo, Bing and other search engines here. But the reality is that at present Google is the industry leader in the search domain and therefore doing something that this giant search engine hates means low reputation and low popularity, even chances of being penalized. Moreover, Google has been quite transparent about what it likes and what it hates.
When search engines [as well as reputed directories] look at content on the web – including text, images, links, comments, archives, tags/ labels, affiliation, advertisements, messages… – they look for relevance and quality in deciding value of that content. They do not like manipulative tricks – tricks that are employed to fool search engines and directories into seeing a poor web resource as one with high value.
What are the things on a blog that Google loves?
- Good content, written with the visitor in mind
- Frequent updation of content
- Relevant URL and blog name that clearly conveys the blog’s essence [‘Vegetarian-food-blog’ is fine for a food blog, not ‘fishy mentions’ or ‘tonguesite444’]
- A blog with its stand-alone URL [e.g. http://abcd.com versus http://abcd.blogspot.com or http://abcd.wordpress.com].
- Keywords [=words used by people for searching the web] in URL, blog title, description, headings and posts: when used sensibly
- Use of sensible description with images and video
- Visits from social network pages [e.g. Facebook, Google+]
- Presence of the blog in reputed web directories
- Meta description tag in the blog’s html. [If you are not sure of technical terms like this, look at the fifth article in this series.]
- Sitemap for the blog [Relevant for blogs maintained independently; Wordpress and Blogger would not require it unless you have played with their html.]
- Logical structure of content so that visitors find it easy to navigate the blog
- Sensible ‘anchor text’ [The text that is used for linking, e.g. ‘all-time great blogs’ in this sentence: Let me introduce some all-time great blogs to you.]
- Sensible naming of different pages and labels / tags/ categories [e.g. name of an archive page on ITB blog: ‘ITB.com/2012/making-search-powerful’ rather than ‘ITB.com/345865’]
- Backlinks [= links that other sites give to your blog] from reputed websites/ blogs. For example, if your blog gets a link from a website with a high PageRank, it will start ranking higher in search pages.
- Relevant internal links [=links to different pages or posts within the same blog]
- Google PR [Google’s PageRank is a very important number for SEO. A higher PR helps websites/ blogs get prime position on Google. It is especially so when somebody searches for a highly competitive keyword. In fact, PR captures many of the factors of good blog popularity listed above. Exactly how, Google doesn’t tell. Update: Google now rarely updates its PR; however, it remains an important measure of a blog / website's overall importance on the web.]
What do Google and its fellow search engines hate?
- Writing for search engines (not humans); keyword stuffing
- Blogs that purvey poor content and promise links back [e.g. article submission sites]
- Blogs with no relevant worthwhile content but advertisements, widgets and links
- Cloaking [It means presenting a poor website to search-engines as a valuable one, by way of tricky SEO.]
- Pages or sub-domains or domains with duplicate content [When content is duplicated so as to generate more pages for the same keywords.]
- Hidden links and keywords [When many links and keywords are put on a website with the sole purpose to show them to the search engine; the text is hidden to the visitor by making it very small or of background color.]
- Links to web resources with bad reputation [e.g. sites with poor content]
- Mutual, automatic, repetitive links as generated by link farms, link exchanges and bulk submission agencies
- Automated queries to Google [Such queries are often generated when you submit your blog to tools offering website analysis.]
- Too slow loading blogs [blogs on busy or low-bandwidth servers and those with too heavy content such as bulky images and videos]
- Private blogs [These are not likely to be crawled by search engine robots.]
Practices for which Google won’t penalize you but are not friendly to search optimisation
- Flash content [Many search engines are unable to read content presented in flash files.]
- Text embedded in images [Such text cannot be read by search engines.]
- Not putting archives, categories and other tools to segregate and bunch content on the blog
- Restricting comments on posts kills interactivity, popularity and search-optimisation.
- Long text without sub-headings [It is boring, and you also miss the opportunity to highlight relevant keywords.]
- Links that go blank
Articles in this series: