TL:DR: An Abridged Version of Google’s SEO Starter Guide
Appearing on the first or second page of search engine results is still the Holy Grail for websites. When you build a website, it is with your users in mind. But it is just as important to align your SEO strategy with your website as one of your users will be search engines. 
A recent survey of over 500 businesses revealed that, in the UK, 32.2% don’t have an SEO strategy. Without a strategy, your SEO activity is likely to be more haphazard and less effective in boosting growth. In addition, the opportunity to put your business at the top of search queries is significantly reduced. 
To assist businesses, Google has launched their SEO Starter Guide to help get to grips with how search engines work in understanding your content, how SEO tactics can help users find your company online, and encourage them to visit your site via the search engine listing. 
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Google's SEO Starter Guide 

Google’s SEO Starter Guide is based around its Search Essentials, which detail the most important parts that help to boost your website’s eligibility to appear on search queries. Obviously, there’s no guarantee, but there are several levels to mastering SEO that Google has identified: 
How Google Search works 
Crawling and indexing 
Ranking and search appearance 
Monitoring and debugging 
This creates a rather long document, so, to help you, we’ve created an abridged version that you can refer to time and again. 

How does Google work? 

It uses ‘crawlers’ that constantly explore the web to find and identify pages that can be added to Google’s index. Most published websites will be found by crawlers and automatically added. 
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How long until I see results from adjustments? 

Depending on the size of the change, some can take just a few hours to take effect, while others may take a few weeks. The reason is that Google will assess if your new content benefits users. If they deem that it is, you will see an impact. If not, you may need to re-do the changes to make a difference. 
If you’re not sure if your content is listed, search on site:search operator on Google, and if you see results pointing to your site, your content is listed. 
Ideally, you want Google to view your web pages the same way a user will. So, if any pages are hiding certain components that Google might not understand, they might not show in search results or rank well. Check using Google’s URL Inspection Tool in Search Console

Organise your website to help Google 

When building your website, make sure it is organised logically, so it is easy for users, including Google, to understand. 
Use descriptive URLs. 
Group topically similar pages in directories. 
Reduce duplicate content. 
Ensure the text is well-organised and easy to read. 
Make sure the content is unique to your business. 
Keep content up-to-date. 
Write content that is helpful, reliable and people-led. 
Use keywords/phrases that users search for; some may have the same meaning. 
Avoid ads that are distracting. 
Link to relevant resources and/or pages. 
Make sure the link text is clear and tells users about the page you're linking to. 
Google search of it'seeze

Consider how your site will look in search results 

There are several different visual parts to a Google Search listing, which you can adjust to capture a user’s attention. Two key elements are the Title Link and the Snippet. 
The Title Link is the headline and can help persuade users to click on your listing. So, make sure the title is unique to the page, clear and concise, and accurately describes the content on the web page. 
Underneath the Title Link is the Snippet, a short description of the target web page and is another step in encouraging the user to click through to your website. The Snippet is usually sourced directly from the content on the web page, so you have control over the content. It can also be sourced from the meta description, so make sure it includes the relevant details and is unique. 

Add and optimise images as well as videos 

Images and videos add a visual element to your search engine listing and help users, including Google, to identify your web page content. Make sure they are high quality, are a ‘best match’ for the content, are sharp, clear and placed as close as possible to the relevant text. 
Don’t forget to optimise your images and videos by adding descriptive alt text to each that connects it to the content. This way your user, i.e. Google, can understand the context of the image/video to the content. 
two women on a podcast

Promote your website's content 

With the right level of website promotion, your content will be discovered online more quickly and rank better in search engines. Ways to do this include: 
Via your social media channels 
Through community engagement 
Using offline and online ads 
By word-of-mouth 
However, be patient, as it can take time to build awareness and engage your audience. Don’t be tempted to increase website promotion if results aren’t immediate. You can do more harm than good; you don’t want your audience to get tired and fed up. 

What to avoid, according to Google 

SEO has evolved significantly over the past few years, and what might have worked in the past is not likely to work now. What was once considered best practice has now changed and may no longer be effective. So, here are Google’s tips on what to avoid when developing your SEO strategy. 
Meta keywords are no longer used by Google Search. 
Keyword stuffing, a repetition of certain words over and over again, is a big no and goes against Google’s spam policies. 
Make sure your subdomains and/or subdirectories make sense for your business and site topics, not the search engine. 
When selecting your domain name or URL path, do what’s best for your business and follow best marketing practices. In terms of ranking, keywords in the domain name or URL don’t have much impact other than appearing in breadcrumbs. 
PageRank is not the only Google ranking signal. Google’s algorithms use multiple ranking factors. 
Having content accessible under different URLs (web pages) is not a problem; copying content from other websites is another matter entirely and will trigger a ‘manual action’. 
There is no defined number of headings on a page that will make a difference in ranking a web page. The order of headings also makes little impact. The same applies to content – there is no minimum or maximum – varying the words to generate naturally written content and avoiding repetition will have more effect because you use more keywords. 
E-E-A-T (Experience; Expertise; Authoritativeness; Trustworthiness) is not a ranking factor. 
SEO is continually evolving along with user demands and digital advancements. It's important to regularly review and maintain your website’s SEO strategy and use valid structured data on your web pages to boost your search ranking. A good way to monitor and optimise your website’s performance is through Google’s Search Console
At it’seeze, our network of experienced website consultants throughout the UK and Ireland are experienced in building websites that not only reflect your business but are fully SEO-optimised to ensure your web pages are indexed and ranked by Google. Get in touch with us today to start your it’seeze journey. 
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