It’s important to build rank on all three major search engines (Google, Yahoo! and Bing) but let’s face it: Google is king, so Google optimization is important to search engine optimization that builds quality traffic. All search engines have things in common, but Google optimization is about identifying and taking advantage of the specific values used in Google’s search algorithm.
It used to be just a matter of paying attention to PageRank, but nowadays, PageRank is just one of many, many factors. Google doesn’t like to go into detail for fear that people will “game the system,” but good SEO does precisely that, buy researching Google’s behavior.
What makes Google optimization different? These are some (but not all – it’s a complex topic!) of the search engine’s distinct elements:
Webmaster Guidelines and Tools: Google optimization begins with looking at Google’s site guidelines, getting a Webmaster Tools account and following its rules. If you aren’t auditing and adjusting your site with Google Webmaster Tools you aren’t doing proper Google optimization, period. Recheck regularly to spot broken links and other issues. This is the foundation of your efforts – it supports everything else.
Emphasis on Freshness: The last update in 2009 really amped up the importance of fresh content. Not only did we notice our own clients content jump when it was newer, but Google has now integrated freshness into user options, so that people can specifically pick the most recent results, or results in a certain date range. Maybe it’s time to refurbish that old webpage of yours or add a blog!
Nofollow Behavior: Google created the nofollow tag and obeys it very strictly – from a certain point of view. Google actually does map the link, but doesn’t count it for the purpose of passing authority. SEO experts believed at one point that you could use this to “concentrate” site authority on a few key pages, but discussions with webspam head Matt Cutts revealed that your “link juice” splits between all links. Nofollow just doesn’t actually pass it to the linked page.
Speed Counts: Google has mentioned on several occasions that it would like a faster Web, and that it values sites that load quickly and cleanly. If your site loads slowly and inefficiently you need to tweak it until that problem’s been fixed. If not, your search position will suffer. Site structure, including the depth of subfolders, amount of scripting present and sheer code volume, are all factors to consider.
Like I said, this isn’t all that makes Google optimization different, but it’s a good start. If you want to see how it applies to your site, contact us for a free website analysis.