Google wants to help you, not punish you
Despite what people might think, Google is not the source of all evil (let’s ignore data collection and buying companies with military contracts for one moment). From a search perspective, it’s easy to blame and accuse them of unfair practices when rankings change or traffic takes a hit.
The truth is that Google wants to create a clean, healthy and honest Internet where good content is shared freely amongst the people. How does it do that? It helps improve the quality of websites.
Google is producing never-ending volumes of material for people to use to improve the quality of their site. The company wants sites to follow this advice, as it will improve websites. It only ever punishes sites that throw caution to the wind and disregard the rules, and it promotes the sites that follow the rules and listen to their advice.
So here are the sources of information straight from Google, all of which are free, that webmasters, SEOs and bloggers should all be using to help improve their sites.
If you don’t have a Google Webmaster Tools profile, and your site is not being tracked or measured, STOP READING THIS NOW AND SIGN UP FOR IT!
You’re back? Good!
Google Webmaster Tools is an incredibly powerful platform that lets you track a lot of information on how Google sees your site. It can list how many pages have been crawled vs. indexed, what pages are broken on your site, any server issues Google has encountered, as well as some basic click through rate data.
While not as deep as analytics, the information Webmaster Tools provides is incredibly useful as it will still allow designers, developers and webmasters to make informed decisions when changing parts of a site or running maintenance checks.
The first line of the Google Webmaster guidelines states that “Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site”. Wow, simple, straight to the point, and incredibly useful, however I’m willing to bet this practically sacred document has either been glanced at and then forgotten, or simply never read at all.
The guide is comprised of multiple sections, each covering in detail different ways of helping a site improve its quality, content and construction. The document is extensive, but never daunting. It is well worth the read, and it has enough information in it to ensure that its readers will learn a few good pieces of information that will really help you out.
Listen to Matt Cutts
Matt Cutts has gone three for three in mentions on my blog posts, and it’s more than likely that if I keep talking about search, he’ll keep popping up. For those not in the know, Matt Cutts is the head of Google’s web spam team, and it’s his job of keeping the search results clean and fair.
Whether you like what he has to say or not, especially if you’ve ever engaged in any questionable link building tactics, it is worth following him on Twitter, Google+, reading his blog and finally subscribing to Google Webmaster Help YouTube channel.
His word is essentially law in the SEO industry, and he helps to make search more accessible to those not familiar with the ins and outs of the search industry or technical know how.
So they were just three of many ways that Google offers help to sites and site owners. There is a whole wealth of information out there that is just waiting to be read, analysed and implemented, so get reading!
Think we missed something obvious, or have any questions? Let us know in the comments below.