Google Launches Webmaster Academy to Help Small Businesses Succeed

by / Thursday, 21 June 2012 / Published in Search Engine

Want to learn how to perform better in search results? If so, now Google can be your teacher.

Google launched its Webmaster Academy to help website owners do well in the search engines and grow their businesses.

The Academy is an all-inclusive resource that provides webmasters with the tools they need to establish a web presence. It discusses how Google ranks websites, what great content should look like, and how webmasters can use Webmaster Tools to their greatest advantage.

When you arrive on the Academy page you are greeted with this message…

“Welcome to Webmaster Academy! Our goal is to help you create great sites that perform well in Google search results.”

And this interface…

When you visit the site, you may glance past most of the introductory stuff, but for some of you it may be a good read. Google also publishes some interesting information on how to get your site indexed and crawled (more on that later). But, what I also found noteworthy was some updated information on how Google defines “great” content.

Google says “not to worry” about its algorithms when creating content. Your content should “deliver the best possible experience” so other sites will naturally link to it.

According to Google, you should ask yourself these questions when writing a post or article:
Would you trust the information in this article?
Is the article useful and informative, with content beyond the merely obvious? Does it provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis?
Does it provide more substantial value than other pages in search results?
Would you expect to see this in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
Is your site a recognized authority on the subject?

Wow! Those are big shoes to fill. How many of us write articles good enough to grace the pages of the encyclopedia? I guess it’s time to up our game.

Google also listed some problems…
Does this article have spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
Does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites?
Does this article have an excessive number of ads that interfere with the main content?
Are the articles short or lacking in helpful specifics?

These questions can give us some insight into Google’s ranking signals, though there is no mention of this.

The third question discusses the mass production of content. This was first introduced last year; however, it included an additional blurb (emphasized in bold):

Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care?

After the Penguin update and Google penalizing article directories and blog networks, I wonder how many downgraded sites were involved in some sort of article marketing or mass production. What do you think?
Make Sure Google Knows About Your Site

This next section identifies steps you can take to ensure you are putting your best foot forward for Google.

Step 1 – Make sure your site is indexed. Use in the search query box to see all of the pages Google has indexed.

Step 2 – Google instructs you to visit its Webmaster Guidelines if your site was indexed and does not show up. You may have violated its terms

Step 3 – If you are indexed but your site is lower in the rankings than previously, here are some tips:
Make sure Google can crawl your site

Make sure your content is useful and relevant

One way to do this is by checking your “Search queries” tab under “Traffic” in your Google Webmaster Tools account. There you will find the keywords people are using when they visit your site. A low CTR (click through rate) could mean that your content is not relevant enough to the specific keyword.

When visitors land on your site, they are assessing whether or not your site fulfills their desire. The keyword gives you an idea of what the searcher wanted to see. Is your content relevant to the search? The “Search Queries” section will help you answer this question.

Tip: Use this data also to discover how people are finding your site. Focus your content efforts on some of the most popular keywords and discover new ones as well.

The “HTML Improvements” page under “Optimization” in your Webmaster Tools account will tell you if you have any non-indexable content. It will also assess your metadata which is important when telling Google what your site is about.

Google also recommends following its image guidelines when publishing images on your site.

These are some of the highlights of Google’s Webmaster Academy. There is much more to read and digest, some of which you may already know. But, it’s worth taking a glance. Sometimes we forget the basics and need a quick refresher.