How Google wants you to optimize your site- Part I

Google really does want you to focus on Search Engine Optimization.  They offer a starter guide to SEO and provide help in the Google webmaster help forum.  If you follow their advice and do what they like for you to do your site will be included, and better yet, receive higher search ranking.  That is, after all, what we are all looking for, right?

The following questions were asked by users on Google’s Moderator Beta, Ask a Google Engineer.  Rather than having you search for the info yourself, this two-part article will walk you through some of the highlights.

Question #1: Does Google Really Care about SEO?

According to Google’s search guru Adam Lasnik, the answer is a resounding yes.  He states, “Just like in any industry, there are outstanding SEOs and bad apples.  We Googlers are delighted when people make their sites more accessible to users and Googlebot, whether they do the work themselves or hire ethical and effective professionals to help them out”.

Question #2: What is the URL structure preferred by Google?

Matt Cuts responded that “I would recommend long-haired-dogs.html, long_haired_dogs.html and longhaireddogs.html in that order.  If your site is already live on the web, it’s probably not worth going back to change from one method to another, but if you’re starting a new site, I’d probably choose the URLs in that order of preference.  I can only speak for Google; you’ll need to run your own tests to see what works best with Microsoft, Yahoo and Ask.

Question #3: Is Google Using a TrustRank algorithm?

It has been suggested many times that if a bad neighbor site links to yours, your site’s “trustrank” will be lowered, resulting in lower search ranking and visibility.  The answer is no.  If this were indeed the case any competitor could do significant damage to your website by submitting your link to these bad seed websites to lower your standing with Google.  Google did consider trade marking the term “TrustRank” but it was not in the context you think of when you hear the term.  Rather, Google planned to use it for an anti-phishing filter but gave up the trademark in 2008.

According to Matt Cutts “We try very hard to make it hard for a competitor to hurt another competitor.  (We don’t claim that it’s impossible; because for example someone else could steal your domain, either by identity theft or by hacking into a domain, then do bad things to the domain.)  But we try hard to keep one competitor from hurting another competitor in our ranking.”

Question #4: Will Google learn how to identify paid links without making webmasters use “nofollow”?

Google does ask its users to report paid links, but it also uses its algorithms.  So the answer is yes, as Matt Cutts explains.  “We definitely have worked to improve our paid-link and junk link detection algorithms.  In our most recent Page Rank updates (9/27/2008) for example, there are some differences in Page Rank because we’ve improved how we treat links, for example.”  He goes on to say that “the “nofollow” attribute on links is a granular way that site owners can provide more information to search engines about their links, but search engines absolutely continue to innovate on how we weight links as well.”