avgjoegeek.net’s Guide on How to Make Your Blog Google Friendly

ajg-vert-logoI was so tired of hearing about the algorithm changes that Google has been making this year with Penguin and Panda. They’ve been making my head spin! So I went out and researched directly from Google on what they do and do not want to see on your blog. These tips are to help you avoid getting dinged by Google and should help you not only be setup for Google but provide a better visitor experience when they visit your blog. Read on for avgjoegeek’s Guide How to Make Your Blog Google Friendly

I’ll be covering the following topics in this article:

  • High Quality Content
    • What is considered “High Quality Content”? I provide the basics on what is considered high quality vs. low quality content.
  • Page Layout
    • I go into how Google shows you how visitors see your site and some tips on how you can go about fixing your site.
  • SEO
    • I provide some basic information about SEO – Search Engine Optimization and some basic tips on how to go about using SEO for your own blog.
  • Social Media
    • I briefly discuss how Social Media is starting to be used by Google on how to rank your authority and trust in relation to your site.
  • Site Speed
    • I discuss how site speed can help or hinder your page rank.  Also I provide some tools and links on how to fix them.
  • Link Building
    • Some common sense tips on how to go about link building in the post Panda/Penguin world of Google.
  • Stuff to Avoid
    • These are tips on what you should avoid doing with your own blog so you can avoid getting penalized by Google.

As you can see this is a lot of material to cover. I would suggest bookmarking the link and taking it in chunks instead of trying to read the whole thing at once!

High Quality Content

Quality ContinentThis first tip for having a Google Friendly Blog? High Quality Content. Yes, Content is still what should be the main focus of your blog above everything else. You should have high quality content that caters to what visitors want to read about when they find your article.

So what is considered High Quality Content?

Well according to Google’s Webmaster blog you should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the information your presenting trustworthy?
  • Is it Grammatically correct? No typos or poor use of Grammar?
  • Do you consider yourself an expert about the topic you are writing about? Or are you at least an enthusiast who has done their homework?
  • Do you have a bunch of articles that are all pretty similiar in nature.
  • Have you scraped content from other sites and copy/pasted them to your own site without siting the original material?
  • Is your article too short, lacking information, and appears to be quickly tossed together?
  • Does your article look like it was hastily put together?
  • Can you see your article being printed in a magazine or newspaper?
  • Do you write about both sides of a subject?  (i.e. Apple vs. Android)
  • Would you trust the site with your credit card number?
  • Are you tricking visitors to read your article by misinforming them in the title or link?
  • And there are a bunch of other things on the article itself you should ask!

Google’s Webmaster Blog states the following about low-quality content:

One other specific piece of guidance we’ve offered is that low-quality content on some parts of a website can impact the whole site’s rankings…

Although I personally do my best at writing informative articles, as I go back through my own site I see that I am guilty of “fluff”. These are the articles that either are very light on content, word count, information, or they just plain suck. Since this means they could be hurting my own rankings for Google. I’ll need to go and either re-work them or remove them entirely from the site.

So the first step in ranking well with Google? Write informative, properly written, grammatically correct, trustworthy content that visitors want to read.

Page Layout and Above the Fold

bsize-blog-basic

Above the Fold

This is the overall design of your blog. Not only do you need a clear design that is easy to navigate. You have to watch how you are placing content and ads on your site.

Google is watching how it looks like and taking this into account. Do you have too many ads “above the fold”?  This can now hurt your ranking with Google if they think your site has too many ads.

Above the Fold

This innocuous term means do users have to scroll down your site to find what they are looking for. The closer the content is to the top of the screen the easier it will be for visitors to find what they are looking for. The reasoning behind this is due to the fact that although screens have gotten considerably larger over the years so has the use of mobile devices. So it is important to have information that is readily accessible as close to the top of your site as possible.

There is a tool to find out how your own site performs now. It is the Browser Size Analysis Tool within Google Analytics. Look below on how how to access the tool for your own site.

Note: You will need a Google Analytics Account in order to use this tool.

Go to Google Analytics

  • Click on the Content section on the left.
  • Go down to the In-Page Analytics window.
  • On the toolbar on the screen click on the “Browser Size” button on the top right.
  • You will see a highlighted section indicating what the highest percentage of users see when they visit your site.

For me using this tool tells me a few things about avgjoegeek.net:

  • I need to make the overall header narrower than it currently is.
  • I should either use a smaller ad above the articles or remove it altogether.
  • I  need to research at possibly looking into a theme that supports a responsive layout which would be ideal for mobile users.

The one thing to take away from this is be aware of how your content is presented on your own site. If you have too many ads above the fold? Time to re-consider how you have them placed so you can increase your rank with Google.

SEO

SEO TipsHow I hate to see this term SEO or Search Engine Optimization. I have literally gone nuts trying to understand the mysticism and voodoo behind this one term. How to get your page to show on Google’s top 3. I won’t be going into crazy detail about this or tips on how to guarantee you getting to the top 3. What I will do is give you some sound advice that I found from Google itself.

Article Writing

So you have this great topic you want to write about. You spend hours writing it up. It is chock full of information that you know people will love to read. It is well-written and grammatically correct. It is just the write length so readers can easily scan the article.  You’ve used proper headings for the article. And you even have some great images and a video to go along with it.

This is all fantastic! But you forgot all about SEO. For me SEO stands for – how will people search for your article? Is there a keyword or words that might be needed to help people find it?  In order to help visitors find your article and still remain Google friendly I would focus on the Post Title and the Meta Description tag.

Post Title

This is the first thing that Google looks at (content wise) when crawling your site. It will take any keywords it finds in the title. So it is a fine line with coming up with a title that is not only interesting but includes the keyword or words you want visitors to search for.

Meta Description

If you are using Yoasts WordPress SEO  Plugin or have a WordPress that supports this field. The Meta Description is super important for you to not only get ranking but possibly increase your visitor’s click through rate to your article!  Check out this YouTube video about Meta tag usage and their relevance with Google.

If you spend that extra time in the Meta Description area? Google might end up using it instead. Just be honest and make sure it matches the subject matter of your article! And you might want to try testing different ones out to see how they work as well.

Note: Meta Tags are not even considered in Search Engines any more! I would still use them though, but sparingly!

Social Media

Social MediaWith the changes that Google has made it is now taking into consideration how Social Media plays in how popular your article is. I know that Google is looking at Google +, Twitter, and Facebook.  So it is even more vital that you have a high level of social engagement with your blog now. The more +1’s, Shares, Likes, and Re-Tweets an article gets – the better your authority and trust will be with Google and it can assist withing Searches. Over time we will see how heavily Google actually relies on this as a determination of page rank – but there is no time like the present to start working on your social networks.

Ana from TrafficGenerationCafe has a great article on how you should go about getting started and how to go about it:

Traffic Generation Cafe – The Un-Massive Guide To Getting Massive Traffic

To learn more on how Social Media is being used with Google (and Bing) I would check out the following articles as well:

SearchEngineLand – What Social Signals Do Google and Bing Really Count?

and Matt Cutt’s YouTube video on the subject:

http://youtu.be/ofhwPC-5Ub4

Site Speed

Although this isn’t high up on Google’s radar it does help if you have a fast loading site. Not only for Google but for your visitors! If you have a slow loading page you will end up losing potential visitors to your site.

I personally use CloudFlare to help mitigate this. It is a free CDN service that helps cache the static content on the site as well as load any type of external scripts after the content is loaded. It has cutdown the over all load time a lot!

Read More: Cloud Flare Review | Does it Really Work?

Some helpful links:

It is interesting to note that Google determines page speed by users who opted in to downloading their browser toolbar. So the data is just a small sampling of your actual visitors. I would use it as a guide and keep an eye on it. But don’t stress over it too much as it will only affect your overall ranking if your site is loading REALLY slow.

Link Building

LinksThis is such a touchy subject now. It used to be you just wildly with abandon try and bulk up on creating backlinks that link back to your blog and your page rank would go up and up. Now with the changes Google has made it is now a virtual minefield that could hurt your site’s overall ranking. I would follow these basic tips when building up your backlink profile to avoid getting dinged by Google!

  • Quality over Quantity – Make sure that sites that link back to you are of high quality. Meaning they are real sites and not a site that has a bunch of low quality content, or is setup just to provide link exchanging or back linking.
  • Relevance – Make sure the backlinks are to sites that are in relation to the content of your site.
  • Link to your site internally as well as externally. Google loves to see your content linked. But do it right! Just don’t randomly place links to other articles that don’t have any relevance to your current article!
  •  Mix Up Your Anchor Text- If you are trying to rank for a specific set of keywords you want to change it up instead of using the same words over and over. Google will look at this as possible link spam and you could get dinged for it.
    • For example if your trying to rank for purple widgets – you would use that as your anchor text.
      • But what you need to do now is change it up by doing things like:
      • Check out the latest in purple widgets.
      • These purple widgets are great!
      • Purple Widgets are a lot better than the Blue Widgets I used in the past.

I know… silly but hopefully you get the general idea!

The last thing you want to do is add the “nofollow” tag inside of links like affiliate links, advertising, or any other links you think would be potentially harmful. I personally use a WordPress plugin call GoCodes which changes the affiliate link so it is easier for the visitor to read but makes them “nofollow” as well!

With all that being said though? I have joined a blog network that isn’t just used for helping my backlink profile. I use it as a community to help me network with other bloggers!  That is Blog Engage and has not been dinged by Google.

Backlinking Tips to Avoid

I took these directly from Google’s article here for what you should avoid when creating back links back to your blog.

  • Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
  • Excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”)
  • Linking to web spammers or unrelated sites with the intent to manipulate PageRank
  • Building partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
  • Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
  • Low PR Directories or Link Exchange sites.

DisAvow Links in Webmaster Tools

Now if you have issues  with bad links you can now disavow them. I would be VERY CAREFUL about using this tool. And unless you know for a fact that you have a bad backlink  that has been flagged as spam you can submit to have it removed.

You can go to the page directly here to submit the bad link to be removed.  For 99% of the people reading this? You do not need to go here ever.

To read more about the tool: Google Webmaster Blog – A New Tool to Disavow Links

Stuff to Avoid

NOThese are some basic common sense tips you should avoid using in your own blog. They are considered spam and will negatively affect your blog’s ranking and visitor experience.

Keyword Stuffing – This is a no brainer. Don’t put in a thousand words that have no relevance to the article. Use a few keywords that sum up the article – I have been trying to stick to around 5 words now.  Even if Google states they aren’t looking at these any more it would still be wise to use them judiciously.

Link Cloaking – This is different than making affiliate links easily readable. This is where you intentionally say the link goes to Article A and then re-directs to Article B instead.

Link Hiding – This is where you use tactics like making the link the same color as the site background.  Don’t do it! Either show the link or don’t have the link at all.

Paid Links – Using sites like Fiverr or paying for your site to be blasted out to a million low rank sites is not only bad it could get your site de-indexed from Google!

“Thin Content” – To me this is highly debatable on what is considered “Thin”. To me these are articles that hold no value, or are created to try and pad a blog or site with content. Articles that have a lot of words but don’t really convey any real information.

Duplicate Content – Don’t ever copy other peoples/sites content to your own. EVER. If you wish to cite a piece from an article you can do that as long as you post a link where you received the information. But blatantly copying content from other sites is just plain stupid.

 Re-Cap

It is my hope that you found this article useful and it helped de-mystify what Google is doing. These are tips that I received directly from Google itself. Although I’m sure the rules will continually change following these tips should at the very least point you in the right direction!

Kim Garst from her Social Media Branding FB page has the best advice about blogging:

Blogging isn’t a numbers game, it’s a people game! Don’t focus so much on the # of visitors; instead focus on WHO makes up the crowd…the individual. What do they look like, what are their needs, etc. If you do this you will create something that grows but more importantly, something that impacts others!

If you follow these words of wisdom you can’t miss!

As always if you have any questions please leave a comment and I will do my best to answer them!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • Sally Brown

    Hi Jason,

    For the first time, I read all the way through and understood everything! For me, this is outstanding. Your article is well written and organized very well. You write in terms that I (who am not a technical person) can read and understand. Thank you! I will be bookmarking this to refer back to, and will follow your blog as well. Sally

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

      Sally thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you enjoyed the article. It was my hope to demystify all the craziness surrounding what Google has done recently and list what they want to see on a blog.

  • Jena Isle

    Wow, Jason, this is what I can call quality article. You’ve given crucial pointers in this article. I find it very useful, especially writing about quality content. I have a regular day job, and I usually write my post within 30 minutes because I had to budget my time among my countless chores. These include babysiting a one-month old baby. :D :D :D My purpose is to once or twice daily, so Google’s crawlers would crawl my site more often. I just see to it that my post should not be less than 100 words.

    I can see now, though, that I also have to add more information and words. That’s probably one of the reasons I wasn’t able to duplicate my earnings. I’ll try my best but I know my limited time would be a problem again.

    Thanks for this wealth of information. I bookmarked your site.

    By the way, I replied to one of your comments on @Holly’s post about Twitter. Ciao!

    • Jena Isle

      That should be:

      My purpose is POST to once or twice daily…

      • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

        JenaIsle – I completely understand the time crunch! I have a 2yr old and my wife works full time too. I’m up at the crack of dawn and go until 9:00pm. I’m lucky to find time to post too. This article took a few days of researching and making sure I had it correct before I posted it.

        But not all posts have to be monster guides like this. A good article can be done with around 300 words. This should be enough in most cases. Users want quick bits of information that is helpful to them though. That is the key. If you can target your article to match what the visitor was looking for? That is considered Quality Content according to Google

        That and don’t cheat! I could have probably said the same thing in those three simple words lol.

        Thank you for dropping by and commenting! Hopefully the lil’ one will give you a longer nap period so you can blog more!

  • Ken

    Your floating social buttons are messing with my phone browser… Samsung galaxy… Other than that, a good read as usual

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

      Ken,

      Yea – I’m aware of it. Unfortunately I dunno if I can turn it off or not. It is a bit annoying! Thanks for stopping by! Make sure to share it so more people can read it!

  • Magic Webs

    One of the essential things that a website should have is it’s Google Analytics account. Learning how it is used is of very much use to improve one’s site. The way the ads are placed in a site should be considered in every device that could be used in browsing the site. Though Google may be using specific algorithms, we should always take note on the intensity of our site to the customers and not just merely because of Google.

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

      Good points. You definitely need to have Google Analytics and Google’s Webmaster Tools as well. One tells you the health of your site, the other will tell you when Google’s bots find something wrong :-)

  • Shalu Sharma

    Very good ways to make your blog good friendly. Some basic SEO can go a long way. Some good tags, keywords and density can help tremendously. Social media is playing a huge role now and hence it pays to be active on social media out there.

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

      Sharma,

      Thanks for dropping by! I agree simple SEO is probably the best tips still. I tried to make this guide as complete as possible. If you do everything on the list you will make Google happy and avoid their Penguin and Panda updates.

      Every article I submit has some very light SEO in it and I tend to place fairly well for the most part. I’ve been surprised that a lot of what I write shows up a the top 3 too! But I do my best to write for the people who are going to be reading the content first and worry about SEO second.

  • Ehsan Ullah

    Hey Jason, Thanks for writing on this. The quality and unique post, simple and clean design, clean page layout are some of the simple things that you must consider in order to make your blog Google friendly. Getting good SERP ranking in 2012 is really hard after those updates, but If you put hard work and do all the things rightly than there’s a chance.

    BTW, Thanks for your comment on my blog.

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

      I think if anything the little guy has benefited the most from these updates. Why? Because I have a lot of articles that are showing up higher in the rankings. And I only do what is listed here! I try and not over-do it either. The keyword I use for SEO is usually less than 3% on the article itself and I try and write some great META Descriptions as that seems to be the magic key to all of the recent updates!

      And no problem – you wrote a great article about Google Authorship. One thing though. If you use Yoasts SEO plugin? He’s added rich snippets to help with G+ and Google Authorship now!

  • Ana Hoffman

    Wow, Jason; nicely done! It seems like you’ve covered the grounds pretty well, and I, too, just learned about the browser tool. Probably because I never had to worry about it… lol

    Isn’t it amazing that so many people could read this simple guide, yet never do one thing about it and then wonder why Google slams them?

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

      Thanks Ana!

      I could have probably split this into a series but wanted to create a “complete” guide that includes everything! I get so tired of seeing blogs that give bloggers piecemeal advice about what Google wants to see – so I went out and found the information from Google itself :-)

      The browser tool – the more I think about it – the more I realize that although you should always test, test, test, take it with a grain of salt. If you have a Responsive design or WP Touch – you should be OK already as I think the smaller browser sizes being used are from mobile users! For me I do want to have my header go on a diet. But realistically? About 90%+ of traffic to my site goes to an article directly and not to the front page so I’m not overly worried about it.

      Thanks again for dropping by!

  • David Hobson

    Great tips Jason, i just spent the couple of days working on the page load speed on my blog and have managed to increase it by a far bit.

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

      David, thanks for stopping by! Page speed has a big influence when it comes to Google and your Visitors! Getting the site to load as quickly as possible is one of the quickest fixes to help improve your blog.

      Of course you need to take the whole “Google Picture” into account in order to do well. By following what Google outlines not only benefits you but your readers as well!

  • Tom Jamieson

    Well researched and well written article. Nice to see the high quality content and building relationships are still the foundation of a good blogging strategy. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ avgjoegeek

      Tom – thanks! I wanted something very straight forward and not some tidbit. Hopefully I hit all the main points to help out other bloggers!

  • Tom Jamieson

    Well researched and well written article. Nice to see the high quality content and building relationships are still the foundation of a good blogging strategy. Thanks for sharing these tips!

    • http://avgjoegeek.net/ avgjoegeek

      Tom – thanks! I wanted something very straight forward and not some tidbit. Hopefully I hit all the main points to help out other bloggers!

  • Aditya saini

    It is the best to read and learn how you can increase page rank thanks Jason love your articles.

  • sadek

    Already knew some of them, will try to follow rest to make my blog more user friendly.

  • Aditya Saini

    Jason I think there are always some points which we always miss , though you have listed Many of them .

  • http://avgjoegeek.net/ Jason Mathes

    I think it’s impossible to make Google 100% happy. There are always going to be some things you can do to improve your blog :)