Google is your friend
If you already read a few SEO tutorials, you probably have a dubious
perception about Google and you might think I am insane to write an article
with such a weird title. “Google is your friend… you gotta be kidding! I
can’t wait to see what title you will give to your article about
Believe it or not, I am serious. Google is your friend. Here is the way I
see things: Your primary goal as a webmaster is to provide useful
information to web surfers. Google’s primary goal is to help web surfers
find useful information. In the end, both Google and you want to help web
surfers in their quest for information. Additionally, there is no risk of
conflict and competition between you and Google as you both provide a
different and yet complementary service to the end user. This means that
your goals and Google’s goals are perfectly aligned. If your goals are
perfectly aligned with Google’s goals, then it makes perfect business sense
to consider Google as a friend and work with Google to build a constructive
If you agree with that, then you will agree that trying to fool Google
doesn’t make sense. You should on the contrary do your best to help Google
do its job.
Firstly by being honest and trustworthy with Google. A strategic business
partnership cannot work for long if one of the partners starts lying and
cheating. You should therefore always provide true and genuine information
to Google in your meta tags and you should avoid deceptive black hat SEO
techniques like keyword spamming etc.
Secondly, you should do everything you can to help your visitors get the
information they are looking for. Remember that your customer is also Google’s
customer. Therefore if you make your customer happy, it will indirectly make
Now that we are in the proper mind frame, let’s have a look at how you can
work with Google to have your web site appear in the position it deserves in
the search results.
The title tag should be a brief description of your web page. Write the
title tag with the web surfer in mind. If the title tag is written in such a
way that it will be useful to web surfers, then chances are it will also be
useful to Google to help its search engine find out whether your page is
relevant to a specific search.
Sure, it might help if high value keywords are included in the title tag.
However, you should make sure the keyword appears in the Title Tag in a very
natural way. Never stuff keywords in meta tags…
Write a different title for each page. I know it can be tedious if you have
a very large web site but it does help Google figure out which page of your
web site is most relevant to a specific keyword.
<meta name="description" content=" “>
Here again, you should write the description with the web surfer in mind. If
the description is helpful to the web surfer, then Google will probably also
find it useful. You should also keep in mind that although the content of
the description tag is not displayed in any way by the web browser, other
webmasters are very likely to copy-paste your description when they link to
your site. It is therefore very likely that some web surfers will read your
description before deciding whether or not they should go and visit your
You should also write a different description for each page as this will
help Google understand what the different pages of your site are about.
<meta name="keywords" content=" “>
Here again, you should write a different keyword tag for each page. Make
sure to only include relevant keywords. Don’t stuff the meta tags, don’t
cheat, don’t deceive. That’s the kind of little detail that could turn a
constructive business partnership sour.
No index tag
<meta name="robots" content="noindex">
This tag is very important. When present, it tells Google that this page
shouldn’t be indexed. You should add this tag to pages that are of little
interest to web surfers and Google: contact page, pages containing legal
not interested in parsing the blablabla written by your lawyer and you will
make Google happy by helping keep the googlebots away from that boring
Alt and longdesc tags
<img border="0" src="jpg/pink-elephant.jpg"
width="375" height="281" alt="Pink elephant" longdesc="Pink elephant in a
When you insert an image in a web page, it’s important to add an ALT tag.
The text in the alt tag will appear if for some reason the browser doesn’t
download the image and this will improve the browsing experience of your
visitor. The Alt tag will also help Google figure out what the image and
therefore the surrounding text is
about. You can also add a longer description in the LONGDESC field.
Again make sure the information you feed into these 2 fields is relevant and
Chances are you never heard of this tag, at least not in the context of SEO.
IPTC tags are embedded in jpg file and provide information about the photo
or image: Title, Description, Keywords, GPS coordinates, Time and date the
picture was taken etc… I don’t know for sure whether Google actually reads
IPTC tags but it seems very likely it does.
For example, if you google the keyword “seahorse”, not only Google will give
a you a list of web sites relevant to that keyword, but Google will also
provide some “image results for seahorse”. If you click on that link, you
will have a list of 223,000 photos of seahorses that Google dug out from
3,440,000 web pages that deal with that marine animal. Google might figure
out what the photos are about by reading the file name and by reading the
text located on the same web page. However it’s more likely that Google
actually reads the IPTC tags.
Now if Google reads the IPTC tags to figure out which photo should appear in
its “Image results”, then we can speculate Google will also use that
information to figure out what the web page is about. This is only
speculation and only Google knows whether it’s true or not. End of the day,
everything you read about Google and SEO is mostly speculation. Best thing
to do, is to put yourself in Google’s shoes and see if it would make sense
to parse IPTC tags. I don’t know about you, but if I were a googlebot, I
would parse IPTC tags and use that information to help figure out what the
page is about.
Anyway, it won’t cost you a dime to edit the IPTC tags of your jpg files. At
the very least, it will probably help your friend Google sort out which
photo should appear in the “Image Results” and it might also help Google
figure out what the whole web page is about.
Needless to say that you should be truthful and honest when editing the IPTC
tag… Don’t add the keyword “sex” if your photo shows a banana.
Never cheat, never lie, never deceive. You don’t want to break your
friendship with Google.
If you want to know more about IPTC tags and how to edit them, then check
particular page on our
Microstock Photography web site.
Other meta tags
I don’t know whether actually Google reads the meta tags below but it’s
probably better to include them and provide accurate genuine information.
The language meta tag might help Google although if it’s not present, I am
pretty sure googlebots are clever enough to figure out the difference
between Norwegian and Hindi.
<meta name="author" content=" ">
<meta name="copyright" content=" ">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=windows-1252">
<meta http-equiv="Content-Language" content="en-us">
URL, folder name and file name
The URL, the folder names and file names should be as descriptive as
possible. This will help your visitors and Google understand the
arborescence of your web site. Google parses hyphens as spaces and you
should therefore separate words with a hyphen; for example:
Submit your site to human edited web directories
You probably know that Google uses a fully automated algorithm to rank
sites. Sites listed on Google search results were not checked by Google
employees. To compensate this lack of human touch, Google likes to see if
your site was approved for listing on human edited web directories.
You will find below a list of human edited web directories. It’s important
to note that we only listed directories that offer free listing. Google
doesn’t see much value in paid listing: if your site is really good, why
would you have to pay to have it listed?
All Search Directory Search Engine