Google has issued what they are calling an SEO Report Card, an effort to provide Google’s product teams with ideas on how they can improve their products’ pages using simple and accepted optimizations. This is very interesting, because as you might recall, a while back on the Vizion Interactive Search Engine Optimization blog I wrote about how Google issued a Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, set up an example web site, and used a 302 Temporary Redirect. Matt Cutts from Google explained that Google had done this “on purpose”. And then later on they changed that redirect. Go figure.
Anyhow, this Search Engine Optimization Report Card that Google is issuing now on themselves is written by one of the same Google employees, Brandon Falls, who originally wrote the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.
Let’s take a look at Google’s SEO Report card, the elements of their web properties that they have decided to publicly rate, and the rating that they have given them.
Title tag format and length
10%(10 / 100) Needs improvement
Description meta tag use
33%(33 / 100) Needs improvement
Google sitelink triggering for [google product]
44%(44 / 100) Not for grading
Appealing Google sitelinks
32%(14 / 44) Needs improvement
Clear main page result on Google for [google product]
89%(89 / 100) Excellent
Directory form, www.google.com/product(/)
59%(41 / 70) Not for grading
46%(19 / 41) Not for grading
www.google.com/product, add ‘/’, 301s
26%(5 / 19) Needs improvement
54%(22 / 41) Not for grading
www.google.com/product/, remove ‘/’, 301s
68%(15 / 22) Satisfactory
Convert to subdomain form, product.google.com/, 301s
54%(22 / 41) Not for grading
Subdomain form, product.google.com/
41%(29 / 70) Not for grading
Convert to directory form, www.google.com/product(/), 301s
36%(10 / 29) Needs improvement
https:// in canonical 7%(7 / 100)
Not for grading
First off, I’m very happy that they are aware of the 301/302 redirecting issue and can handle it when we redirect our domain names or URLs from an old URL to a new URL using a 301 Permanent Redirect. Apparently, though, based on this SEO report card, Google themselves are not doing a very good job at setting up the redirects. Yahoo! Search still has a major issue with 301 Permanent Redirects, just take a look at the backlinks to my domain name, www.BillHartzer.com and you’ll see what I mean. I have several URLs redirecting with a 301 to various pages on BillHartzer.com and they still cannot deal with 301s properly after all of these years. That’s one reason why I’m glad that Bing is going to be powering Yahoo! Search soon. The sooner the better.
The title tags on Google’s web properties gets what I would call an F grade. Definitely a fail. Only 10 percent? You would think that one of the most important elements of a web page on Google.com would be optimized. But apparently not.
There are several items on the list that are indicated as “not for grading”. Why would Google purposely not grade these elements, like canonical tags and canonical issues, as well as subdomains? Perhaps Google does not want to “go into that” can of worms right now? And what about the directory area? Not for grading because again, it’s an issue that they don’t want to address right now for certain reasons? Does “not for grading” mean that there is some part of the current algorightm that they don’t want to talk about?