Bill Hartzer

Takeaways from Google’s Updated Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide

A while back, I took a long hard look at Google’s first version of the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

Google has now updated their Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, along with some interesting information: interesting if you read between the lines ,so to speak, in the document. I will point out my observations and the big takeaways from this new version, but first, some history about the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide.

About two years ago, Google came out with its first version of the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide, as written by a Google employee named Brandon. I spent some time going through the document and read it thoroughly. As you might recall, I actually found that Google had some serious issues with how they had set up the example website, Brandon’s Baseball Cards. Google actually failed to abide by their own recommendations. In fact, they set up BrandonsBaseBallcards.com as a 302 redirect (not a 301 Permanent Redirect) and after I pointed that out they finally fixed it. And, if you go to www.BrandonsBaseBallcards.com, you’ll see that it’s redirected (with a 301) in the proper manner.

Now, we have a new version of the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide. As my buddy Barry points out, one of the better takeaways from this new version is the updated Googlebot.

The best part of the Google Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is actually the three major takeaways from this SEO Guide. A lot of the information in this Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide is not new. But, there are three things we need to pay attention to:

– Google equates word-of-mouth buzz with building your website’s reputation. (This is new!)
– Linking to spammy sites can hurt your website’s reputation (not new, but still worth noting)
– Promote your content effectively (yes, you can self-promote your stuff!)

Let us take a look further at exactly what Google says in the updated Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide and why I think it’s important.

First of all, we all know that links tend to be the “bread and butter” of ranking well in the search engines, mainly Google. As search engine optimization specialists or search engine optimizers (whatever you want to call us), we have always known that getting links to your website and “deep links” to your website’s content (links to pages other than your home page) is a good thing. But, this is the first time that Google has officially, publicly, acknowledged the fact that word-of-mouth buzz (on social media web sites) helps build your website’s reputation. Here is exactly what they say in the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide:

Organic or word-of-mouth buzz is what helps build your site’s reputation with both users and Google, and it rarely comes without
quality content.

So, this might be an indication that you need to start adding content to your website that you can then spread virally and by word-of-mouth. If you want to go one step further, think of the possibilities of this: Does Google give extra weight to links that are being shared on social networking websites? Hmmmm… Even if those links are ‘nofollow’ links? Hmmmm. Interesting concept.

Another thing that is worth noting is the fact that Google states that linking out so spammy websites can hurt your website’s reputation. This is certainly nothing new. Here is what they say:

However, linking to sites that Google considers spammy can affect the reputation of your own site.

All I am going to say here is that you need to go get an link checker script like Xenu or even OptiSpder and check all of the outgoing links on your web site. If you do not trust them or there are broken links then they absolutely must be fixed. Especially this can be a bothersome issue if you have a blog. You might consider removing all of the outgoing links on your blog comments totally, like I have on this particular website.

Another interesting revelation from this update of the Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide from Google is the fact that Google comes out and says that promoting your own content may help. Here is what they say:

Effectively promoting your new content will lead to faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject. As with most points covered in this document, taking these recommendations to an extreme could actually harm the reputation of your site.

If you know me and have been following what I have been preaching and actually implementing on a regular basis, you already know that once you add content to your website you must promote it. I have no problem tweeting about my new blog posts, or even writing other blog posts about my blog posts and adding links on other web sites to my blog posts. And, yes, this appears to be the first time that Google has come out and said that it may help your website if you effectively promote your own content.

So, when you add content to your website, don’t be afraid to Tweet on Twitter about it. Or even add it to a few of your favorite social bookmarking websites. It might just help your search engine rankings and search engine optimization. After all, Google says it’s okay!

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