Last week Google updated it’s “Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide” (Link to the new guide below) for the first time in 7 years…SEVEN YEARS! The guide has been the most relied upon resource on the web for anyone interested in optimizing their website to perform better in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Is this newly updated guide for you? Were you even aware that there was an “official” SEO guide from Google?
“If you own, manage, monetize, or promote online content via Google Search, this guide is meant for you. You might be the owner of a growing and thriving business, the webmaster of a dozen sites, the SEO specialist in a Web agency or a DIY SEO ninja passionate about the mechanics of Search : this guide is meant for you. If you’re interested in having a complete overview of the basics of SEO according to our best practices, you are indeed in the right place. This guide won’t provide any secrets that’ll automatically rank your site first in Google (sorry!), but following the best practices outlined below will hopefully make it easier for search engines to crawl, index and understand your content.” ~ Google
Judging by Google’s own words, and knowing you, my readers…yes, you’ll want to go and have a very close look at the new guide. If you are nostalgic like me, or you just want to compare the new guide with the old one to see how much has changed, here’s a link to the complete PDF file you can download – Google’s Old SEO GuideAfter 7 Years, Google Updates It’s SEO Starter Guide! See It Here: http://bit.ly/2kn0S2E Click To Tweet
Think back 7 years. In technology, this is a virtual lifetime. Remember how the web looked and behaved? Remember your cell phone and how you utilized it 7 years ago? Google itself is only 18 years old…and so very much has changed. Google announced 2 years ago that mobile searches officially outnumbered desktop searches and that gap has only grown since. The newly updated guide now addresses Mobile Strategy and best practices. This may be one of the most valuable updates to the guide in my opinion. For instance, it’s good to know that Google recommends responsive web design over the other available mobile site solutions.
Structured Data is also discussed extensively. I will attest to the fact that over 90% of my client’s websites either overlook or handle this important discipline altogether. Adding structured data markup to your site’s pages allows you more control over how your pages are understood and displayed by Google. With added markup data on a page, Google is likely to include that data in a snippet they call “rich results”. Given the choice, you definitely want “rich results” displayed as opposed to generic looking results like most of your competitors.
The above two points that I highlighted are just a fraction of the new information and best practices discussed in the guide. There are no silver bullets and no secrets revealed in the update that will easily fix all of your SEO problems. However, the guide is the best resource available to help you to understand and implement the tactics and practices that will help the world’s largest search engine understand and properly display your website in search results.
Without further ado, the link to the new guide:
Do You Need An SEO?
In the newly updated guide, Google also makes an effort to help you understand whether or not you need to hire a professional SEO. Below, I have included some additional information and resources (all from Google) to further empower you to make that decision wisely.
Below is a Google video with some advice on hiring a professional SEO. Some of the highlighted takeaways from a viewer named Jimmy Winskowski are pretty golden:
- An SEO’s potential is only as high as the quality of your business or website.
- In most cases, SEOs need four months to a year to help your business implement implement improvements and see potential benefit.
- “Doing what’s good for SEO is also doing what’s good for your online customers”.
- If you have complex legacy systems, then good search friendly best practices likely involve paying off your site’s “technical debt.”
- When hiring an SEO, conduct a two-way interview to make sure they’re genuinely interested in your business. Check their references. Ask for (and expect to pay for) a technical and search audit.
- You should expect an SEO to ask some of these questions: What makes your business, content, and/or service unique? What does your common customer look like, and how do they currently find your site? How does your business make money, and how can search help? What other channels are you using? Who are your competitors, and what do they do well?
- An audit may/should include the following: Identifying an issue. Providing the suggested improvement. An estimate on the time/money investment needed to implement the improvement. The estimated business impact. A plan for iterating and implementing secondary changes.
- A technical audit should identify issues related to the following: Internal linking, crawlability, URL parameters, server connectivity, and response codes.
- If you’re not ready to commit to implementing SEO improvements, you’re not likely to see any results no matter whom you hire.
Google also has a very informative article below this video on their support page that will help to educate you on some of the best practice questions to ask a potential SEO and some advice on what to be weary of. Please do have a look at this “Do You Need An SEO?” article before hiring anyone.
Are you interested in having a discussion about possibly hiring me (If you don’t get help from us, please get it somewhere) to handle your SEO? Please feel free to contact us. We’d be more than happy to schedule a brief phone conversation to explore this with you.
Please do share this post with any and all who may be interested in this very important update from Google.