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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 mothers-in-law!

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 strategic partnership.

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 Google happy.

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.

Title Tag

<title> </title>

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.

Description Tag

<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 site.

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.

Keyword Tag

<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 small prints (Terms and Conditions, Privacy Policy etc). Google is obviously 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 stuff.

Alt and longdesc tags

<img border="0" src="jpg/pink-elephant.jpg" width="375" height="281" alt="Pink elephant" longdesc="Pink elephant in a bathtub">

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 accurate.

IPTC tags

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 out that 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






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