Google News teaches SEO best practice

The big news this week is not Penguin, once again. Google have been promising us an update for two months now, and it’s still a no-show. Your best bet is to keep your SEO tight and check your site weekly for stray links or other bits that might rank it badly.

In the meantime, there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while. Many people claim that there’s no such thing as an actual list of SEO “best practices.” One of our clients sent me an email he got from Google itself, and it proves those doubters wrong. This email was meant for those sites trying to get featured on Google News, but it gives hints that can apply to the SEO practices on any site. It’s a list of best practices to let site owners know what Google likes best when it crawls their sites.

Some of these news site owners have been upset because Google has changed the title of their page after listing it. The reason can be found in that list from Google: namely, a rule that titles should be between two to 22 words long. If your title is one word, or if it’s two or three lines long, Google’s likely going to change it.

Other advice for site owners follows basic SEO common sense. Make sure your page title matches your H1 title, and match it to your URL as closely as possible. Put your key phrase in images and alt text. Never put a link in your heading. That’s just kicking a reader outside as soon as he walks in the door.

It’s a good list that shows Google’s using the same basic rules for specialised sites that they are for ecommerce websites and other online property.

Jim Stewart is a leading expert in search engine optimisation. His business StewArt Media has worked with clients including Mars, M2 and the City of Melbourne.


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