Google just posted a new resource on its developer blog intended to help startups with the basics of search engine optimization (SEO).
Google dominates the search-engine space in the U.S. with 70 percent market share, so optimizing your site to land a good ranking in Google search results is vital. And where better to learn how to improve your Google ranking than from the source?
The tips range from simple, such as setting up a Google Webmaster Tools account and verifying your site ownership so that Google can inform you of any problems accessing your site, to the less obvious, such as doing a domain background check to ensure that whoever owned your domain before didn’t taint your web address with spammy content, scams, or even malware.
SEO expert Graeme McLaughlin of Optamo reviewed Google’s suggestions and provided a few more.
While McLaughlin agrees that running a background check on a domain is a good idea, he advises that startups also do test searches for their brand and to check for close variants: “Look at what Google auto-suggests, as this can often take clicks away from your site in the early days.”
And don’t forget Bing, says McLaughlin. “Bing also offers webmaster tools, so validate your site there, too.”
Another key suggestion from Google: keep page content focused on one topic. Google says that every single page on your site should have a unique topic, unique title, unique meta description (nonvisible text that states what a page is about), relevant keywords in the web address, and good descriptive text in every link on the page.
Google says a high degree of uniqueness will result in a better user experience on your site, which is true, but it also helps Google’s search engine clarify when to return a page on your site in response to a query.
As far as site speed is concerned, you can’t ever have enough. Google cites an Akamai study saying that two seconds is the customer acceptability threshold for e-commerce sites, but that “Google aims for under a half-second.”
McLaughlin concurs. ”As a startup, invest in solid hosting, as downtime not only affects SEO but also potential coverage. If you get some exposure, customers or investors could visit a site that is dead on arrival.”
As far as social media marketing is concerned, Google counsels restraint, suggesting startups “create an identity on key sites,” as opposed to every site, and “focus your energy where your audience hangs out.” (Could that “hang out” phrase be code for Google+, which includes Google Hangouts for video conferencing?)
Finally, Google cautions on shady or black-hat SEO schemes. Buying links and participating in link exchanges are danger signals to Google’s ranking algorithms, and this could negatively impact your standing in search results.
Here’s the video, and the slides are here: