Google SEO Report Card Summary
To help webmasters to improve the ranking and the look of their site in the SERPs, Google posted a consolidated record of best practices.
This PDF file can be downloaded and printed, here is a summary.
I - Presentation of search results
To improve the way the link on your page is displayed, you can act on the <title>, description and other meta tags, and the organization of the headings.
The statistical reality is:
- 68% of the titles contain just the product name, the topic.
- 20% of the titles have the product name plus more information not directly related to him.
- 10% of the titles have the product name plus essential keywords.
- 1% do not contain a non descriptive text.
- 1% describe something other than the content.
A title can have a length of 60 characters. They should be all used. It should contain the essential keywords on the product (in a sentence).
The title should be a summary of the description: some users look only the title in results pages.
The title and meta description should have a descriptive content, to inform users. You must think about what users are searching.
Meta tag: The noodp directive tag in <meta spam content="noodp"> helps prevent use of the title and description from Dmoz.org when it is not updated.
It is contained in <meta content="">. Its length must correspond to the two lines of snippets in result pages.
- 67% of pages have no description tag.
- Only 33% have the tag.
The content of this tag may be used for the results page and it is essential when the page do not contains enough text to build a description (only pictures).
Try to make a description that can create user interest, to describe the content and why it is useful.
It is possible to help the emergence of site links under the title and snippet, in the SERPs.
- 56% of results did not show sitelinks.
- 44% have.
- 30% have but they are not descriptive.
To have a better chance to obtain sitelinks:
- A hierarchical site structure.
- Internal links have an anchor descriptive of the linked page.
- Not too many nested subdirectories and too "deep" pages.
If sitelinks displayed in SERPs are not relevant, you can block them in webmaster tools (GWT).
II - URLs and redirects
To avoid duplicate content, you should use <link rel="canonical" href="url to index" >.
- 41% use a subdirectory dedicated to a product/project/topic.
- 29% use a subdomain.
- 30% are files on the sole domain.
For those who use a subdirectory:
- 19% without slash at the end.
- 5% with a slash with a redirect on an index file, which is correct.
- 15% without slash and 301 redirect to a subdirectory or file, which is correct.
III - Page Optimization
What you can optimize:
- For the logo, an alt attribute and link.
- Titles and subtitles.
- Names of image files.
- The content and keywords.
- Anchor of internal links.
- 61% pages contain textual headings (not images).
- 29% do not.
- 35% do not have <h1> tag.
Titles should describe the content of sections and contain all the essential keywords.
The <h1> tag should be used for the main title of the page and reflect its overall content.
- 59% of logos do not have a link on the site.
- 38% have only a link that is the canonical link on the homepage.
- 18% do not have alt attribute.
The logo image must have an alt attribute. The content thereof is similar to the site's title (that of the home page).
- 67% of internal links have a descriptive anchor of the linked page.
- 33% have a generic anchor (like "About" etc..).
The anchor should have a description of the page being linked similar to the title of this page. All title rules apply to them as well.
- Google's SEO Report Card. The full document.
- Duplicate content and canonical. Penalties for duplicate content and the use of a tag to avoid them.