Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) PDF Starter Guide

Google's Search Engine Optimization (SEO) PDF Starter Guide

Google revamped it's Search Engine Optimisation Starter Guide in December 2017, but didn't provide a pdf version of it, which is how I'd prefer to consume it.

Click here to view it on Google Drive and download it

Link for those who are careful with what they click on

I hope you find it as useful as I do.

My 30 minute notes can be found below. Please print it and use it as a checklist for 2018!

30 minute Google SEO pdf Starter Guide summary

Google’s SEO pdf starter Guide 30m Summary (new things since 2013’s pdf)

Aim: to optimise your site to server your users’ needs.

Most of those users are your audience.

One of those users is a search engine, which helps other users discover your content. Designing your site around your visitors' needs while making sure your site is easily accessible to search engines usually produces positive results. 

Jobs an SEO employee/agency can do for you:

  • Review of your site content or structure
  • Technical advice on website development: for example, hosting, redirects, error pages, use of JavaScript
  • Content development
  • Management of online business development campaigns
  • Keyword research
  • SEO training
  • Expertise in specific markets and geographies

Google's SEO best practices

  • Accurately describe the page's content
  • Create unique titles for each page
  • Use brief, but descriptive titles
  • Accurately summarize the page content
  • Use unique descriptions for each page
  • Imagine you're writing an outline
  • Use headings sparingly across the page
  • Check your markup using the Structured Data Testing Tool
  • Use Data Highlighter
  • Keep track of how your marked up pages are doing
    We recommend using breadcrumb structured data markup 29 when showing breadcrumbs.)
  • Create a naturally flowing hierarchy
  • Use text for navigation (not images or animations with links)
  • Create a navigational page for users, a sitemap for search engines
  • Show useful 404 pages (but don't index them)
    (These should show a link back to the homepage, as well as link to your most popular recent content if appropriate)
  • Use words in URLs
  • Create a simple directory structure
  • Provide one version of a URL to reach a document
  • Know what your readers want (and give it to them) 
  • Write easy-to-read text
  • Organise your topics clearly
  • Create fresh, unique content
  • Write good, concise and descriptive link text
  • Format links so they're easy to spot
  • Think about anchor text for internal links too
  • Combat comment spam with "nofollow" 
  • Optimise your images
  • Use the "alt" attribute (especially when using images as links)
  • Use brief but descriptive filenames and alt text
  •  Help search engines find your images with an image sitemap.
  • Use standard image formats (Use commonly supported filetypes - Most browsers support JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and WebP image formats)
  • Make your site mobile-friendly
    (Be aware of mobile first indexing which Google has been experimenting with since 2016)
  • Use responsive web design to make your website mobile friendly.
  • Know about social media sites
  • Reach out to those in your site's related community
  • Analyse user behaviour on your site
  • Get insight into how users reach and behave on your site
  • Discover the most popular content on your site
  • Measure the impact of optimisations you make to your site, for example, did changing those title and description meta tags improve traffic from search engines?
  • Analyse your search performance and user behaviour
    (Using Search Console won't help your site get preferential treatment; however, it can help you identify issues that, if addressed, can help your site perform better in search results.)
  • Promote your website
    (Effectively promoting your new content will lead to faster discovery by those who are interested in the same subject.)

With Google's search console service, webmasters can:

  • See which parts of a site Googlebot had problems crawling Test and submit sitemaps
  • Analyze or generate robots.txt files
  • Remove URLs already crawled by Googlebot
  • Specify your preferred domain
  • Identify issues with title and description meta tags
  • Understand the top searches used to reach a site
  • Get a glimpse at how Googlebot sees pages
  • Receive notifications of quality guidelines violations and request a site reconsideration

note: Microsoft's Bing Webmaster Tools also offers free tools for webmasters.


Consider using AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

If your site serves lots of static content (like blog posts or product landing pages) across multiple pages, consider implementing it using  AMP 48  (Accelerated Mobile Pages). It's a special flavor of HTML that ensures your site stays fast and user friendly, and can be further accelerated by various platforms, including Google Search.

Mobile site configuration

Regardless of which configuration you choose to set up your mobile site, there are key points that you should take note of:

  1. If you are using Responsive Web Design, use meta name="viewport" tag to tell the browser how to adjust the content. If you use Dynamic Serving, use the Vary HTTP header to signal your changes depending on the user-agent. If you are using separate URLs, signal the relationship between two URLs by <link> tag with rel="canonical" and rel="alternate" elements. 

  2. Mobile pages that provide a poor searcher experience can be demoted in rankings or displayed with a warning in mobile search results. This includes but is not limited to  full pageinterstitials4 9 onmobilethathinderuserexperience. (i.e. Pop-up ads!) read more here

Producing content

Consider creating a new, useful service that no other site offers. You could also write an original piece of research, break an exciting news story, or leverage your unique user base. Other sites may lack the resources or expertise to do these things. 


Bonus tip: Trailing Slashes

When referring to the homepage, a trailing slash after the hostname is optional since it leads to the same content ("" is the same as ""). For the path and filename, a trailing slash would be seen as a different URL (signaling either a file or a directory), for example, "" is not the same as "". 

Can Merton and Sutton Borough Council foot the £230m South Wimbledon Tramlink Extension funding deficit?

Can Merton and Sutton Borough Council foot the £230m South Wimbledon Tramlink Extension funding deficit?

Canada's 'cottage country lifestyle' in the UK

Canada's 'cottage country lifestyle' in the UK