Google Webmaster SEO Guidelines For Beginners

Posted by Harshad

Google Webmaster SEO Guidelines For Beginners

Google Webmaster SEO Guidelines For Beginners

Posted: 27 Jan 2014 07:01 AM PST

After launching a new site online it can be a hassle dealing with marketing efforts and the typical SEO practices but just creating a Sitemap is not always going to be enough to see quick results. If you want Google to crawl through your website there are a number of ideas you should understand. Many of the ideas may seem like common sense but keep each of these steps in mind after launching a new project online.

Google logo in NYC CtrlAltDelete event sign photograph

Many of these ideas I have put together by going through various Google support articles. These SEO techniques are handed down from the pioneers of search engine technology. Many of these tasks can be completed within a day and it’ll get your website off on the right foot.

I would advise webmasters to at least research some of these ideas if you are unfamiliar with the topic. Google has a lot of powerful methods for organizing content, along with Google Webmaster Tools which can dramatically increase the traffic flow onto your website.

Starting with Semantics

Although this advice won’t help much if you have already coded a theme, your website semantics play a sizable role when marking up your content. Headers, unordered lists, and other typical HTML elements are used to define the type of content on the page. Be sure you are always writing code with semantic HTML tags and similar attributes.

Google will reward your page content and help to determine important keywords throughout the body text. This can be used as a Description when displaying in search results if you do not have a meta tag in your document head area.

In the past I have written about HTML5/CSS3 coding and most of the syntax is easy to memorize. It is just worth pointing out that Google really does consider HTML semantics important to your ranking – so pay careful attention when building your website from the ground-up!

Purposeful Meta Tags

Obviously webmasters should be familiar with the use of meta tags. The most important tags focus on your page description and keywords list, but there are some other settings you might find important. This Google support article on meta tags outlines some of the more basic ideas. You place these tags in your document head so the information can be parsed quickly.

facebook documentation open graph connect developers

There is also a new method of organizing data called the Open Graph protocol. This allows webmasters to specify more detailed information about each page on the website. The property names will start using the suffix og: like og:image, og:url, og:description, among many other variations. The og:image tag is really interesting because the value can be scraped by thumbnail generators on sites like Facebook and Reddit.

These extra meta tags allow blogs to publish a specific featured image which may then be “pushed” onto other similar services. Another one of the alternative tags you could also use is <link rel="image_src" href=""> which may be added together with the Open Graph image meta tag.

This is just one example of a very handy piece of source code for your pages. But I would advise all webmasters to brush up on some of the latest metadata tags and find out if any of them could be purposeful to your website project(s).

Content Indexing

After launching your website online, the next big step is to build content. This is the reason people are visiting your site, because of videos, blog posts, images, or other interesting tidbits that you are publishing. The fastest way for Internet users to find this content is by interacting directly with a search engine like Google.

And this brings me to a key point of building content which is the ability to be easily indexable. Obviously semantic HTML is crucial and you can only benefit by including other SEO practices like alt/title tags for images. But there are some other resources you should be aware of to further aid search engines with the task of crawling over your webpages.

What is Robots.txt?

The best way to dive into Robots.txt is by reading through this Google support article. The topic is not confusing but it is important when it comes to indexing pages on your site. The txt file uses a standard naming convention setup to help bots figure out which pages are okay to index, and which pages should be ignored. Let me use an example from the support article to help explain this concept:

User-agent: * Disallow: /folder1/ User-Agent: Googlebot Disallow: /folder2/ 

These two blocks are both separate entries in a single Robots.txt file. The User-agent specifies which indexing bot the rule applies to, and the Disallow value is the file/folder which should not be indexed. Other common User Agents include bingbot for Bing and slurp for Yahoo!. I would also recommend skimming this blog post for a more complete list of user agents.

This file only requires customization when you are blocking certain pages or folders. Otherwise it is fine to just leave all pages indexable by default. This is the most basic Robots.txt file you should create and the codes would look like this:

User-Agent: * Allow: / 

Why Build a Sitemap?

One other very important step for indexing requires a sitemap. This is typically an XML document named sitemap.xml located in your website’s root directory. However there are no absolute rule from Google and they will crawl through any Sitemap regardless of the filename. This will list all of your website’s pages, sub-pages, blog posts, categories, tags, and other pieces of content. This file could be generated manually or you could use an online XML Sitemap Generator instead.

Typically this process can be a pain because free webapps will limit the number of pages to be included within the sitemap but the best alternative is to run your website on a CMS like WordPress, then use an automated Sitemap plugin.

This can be regenerated as frequently as you need to include the latest pages on your website. And it can help to rank your pages by order of importance relative to others (like the homepage). Using the right plugin will require less than a couple minutes to create your sitemap and it is an important benefit to Google’s indexing.

wordpress xml sitemaps plugin open source

Steps for Getting Recognized

Now that we have all these nice files and meta tags in a new website, how do we tell Google and Yahoo! and the others that we are online? Thankfully many of the sitemap plugins can automatically ping these search engines letting them know about the new content. However there are other methods for getting your content recognized by Google.

The first place you might try is Webmaster Tools URL Crawler where you can submit a brand new domain into their queue. It may take a bit longer because of the tremendous amount of submissions. But it will get through eventually and this is a sure-fire way to let Google know your website is live and online.

Google submit your content online webmasters business owners publishers

Check out the Google Webmaster’s page on submitting content which offers resources for various types of media. Google is the most-used search engine out of all the options and it is a smart move to build content around their guidelines.

More specifically, their article on webmaster guidelines focuses on the content design, content quality, and the frontend code. Ensure that you have each of these ideas covered and you will have nothing to worry about when Google comes around to crawl your website.

Structured Data Testing

There are some new ways of marking up HTML content which helps crawlers understand the various types of media in your page. The 2 most popular solutions are Schema and Microformats. Google has stated that they plan to support both formats and these are equally valid syntax within your webpages.

Schema is the newer kid on the block with a much more detailed library of documentation. I prefer Schema because it allows developers to specify unique blocks of data on each page. These could be images with thumbnails, author biographies, pieces of music, company information, really anything you can think about may be organized into Schema markup. Microformats are less specific but may still be used to organize the same content blocks.

I really want to emphasize that writing structured data into your HTML is optional and not a requirement. It is a brilliant idea because it helps machines understand the various forms of media so that they can be presented quickly in video/image searches. But also for pulling extra metadata when searching for information on a company, person, movie, etc.

google structured markup helper webapp tool schema

Google Webmasters actually has a markup helper tool that lets you import a webpage and start dynamically marking up content. It is an amazing webapp for beginners because it also generates perfect HTML syntax for embedding this content back into your website.

These rich data formats are confusing at first and many people do not like the idea of more bloated HTML content. But it really does make a difference with search rankings, along with Google’s credibility rank for your website. If you ever need to check a page on your website, use this structured data testing tool also managed by Google. It will scan any webpage and pull out the various Schema/Microformats so that you can review possible errors in the markup.

Using Google Webmaster Tools

The online service Google Webmaster Tools is a really popular web application. It helps Google to organize various statistics on your websites and also crawl through content for search indexing. As if that wasn’t enough, GWT can also provide health warnings and report missing/broken pages. And there are newer features being added frequently.

google webmasters tools homepage webapp layout

If you have never used Google Webmaster Tools or don’t know exactly how it works then I hope to bridge the knowledge gap with these GWT marketing tips.

Why Use GWT?

Realistically Google Webmaster Tools is the best collection of SEO/SEM analytics and testing webapps on the market. There are very few reasons to not use GWT, unless you just don’t have a Google account, which is still not a good reason to skip over some of the most powerful ranking tools for your website! I have noticed that just by validating a new website in GWT it can rank a lot higher for related search queries.

Google seems to hold a higher degree of merit for websites that have been verified in GWT. It takes less than 15 minutes and your website will forever be capturing very helpful statistics on search keywords, SERP rankings, dead URLs, and other handy bits of data.

I want to provide a quick walkthrough for webmasters who have never used the tools before. We can outline the process of getting started and follow with the more important resources that everybody should know how to use.

Verify your Website

Right after joining Google Webmaster Tools you need to submit and verify your first website. This process can be completed through a number of methods. This support article goes over the steps but the 2 easiest solutions are to include a custom meta tag in your document head, or to upload a custom HTML verification file to the server. Either method should take less than 5 minutes and the process is almost instantly recognized by Google.

Once you have the site verified, you’ll gain full access to the dashboard. There will not be any statistics yet and it will take a few days for Google to compile the initial results. But GWT is great at finding potential security problems in your website, along with other issues like duplicate page titles. But my extra favorite feature is allowance of more than one website owner. You can include other webmasters into a website from the Manage site menu on the GWT homepage.

Important Statistics

Before Google can gather statistics we need them to locate all the pages on our website and start analyzing traffic sources. To add a sitemap right into GWT go to the website dashboard and then click Optimization > Sitemaps. This page lets you submit a direct sitemap URL and will also provide stats on your total number of pages.

Underneath the Optimization menu there are a number of great analysis tools. Content Keywords will display the most repeated keywords and their significance on each page of your site. HTML Improvements will list potential warnings for duplicate or missing tags in your pages. Both of these pages are nice to check every so often but the information isn’t crucial to the health of your website.

search queries graphs using webmaster tools

Some other areas you may look into are Traffic > Search Queries and Traffic > Links to your Site. The search queries are almost similar to Google Analytics results except that you can see a total figure of the daily number for each query. This data can help you understand the market cap on some topics, or how you could edit meta title/description tags for capturing a higher percentage of search visitors.

The statistics found in “Links to your Site” are a bit more useful than internal links. The page will outline a table of URLs which point back to your homepage or other pages on the site. Obviously this means you can find a table of “most linked content” on your site and determine which pages are being naturally linked elsewhere. GWT will even provide the link text when available.

google webmaster tools indexed pages graph charts statistics

One other interesting data graph can be found in Health > Index Status. This will catalog the number of pages Google can index each day. When you notice this graph trending up and to the right, it means Google naturally finds new content on your site and is successfully building an index on your content.

Website Optimization

Now the other big area that GWT helps with is general health and potential warnings on your site. The Health > Malware page is not often used unless Google contacts you about a malware problem. This will actually cause a big warning page to appear on your site from Google search results, and it is best to fix any malware problems as they come up (hopefully not too frequently).

But more common bugs may be found in Crawl Stats & Crawl Errors. The errors page will notify about pages which send back a 404 error, among other problems with the DNS connectivity. On the Crawl Stats page you can find even more graphs discussing the average number of pages crawled in a day, along with the number of KB transferred and latency time during each request.

These numbers are important for managing your website’s health but there is only so much optimization you can do with page speed.

google webmaster tools crawl pages graphs charts

You can also determine these stats in real-time using Fetch as Google (Health > Fetch as Google). The tool does what you might expect: it shows you a webpage exactly how a Googlebot will see the page. There are only certain times you may find this useful but the results are incomparable with other webapps. And it is nice to know that Google offers webmasters so many unique tools for organizing, indexing, and verifying website content.

Another important part of optimization is re-evaluating title and description tags on each page. Sometimes when you are ranking for keywords the title tag may not capture people’s interest, and so you may notice a very small CTR percentage.

I recommend using this optimizer tool for previewing how your title tags will look in a Google search page. The purpose is to build content that is easy for people to understand at a glance. Write titles that you think will answer queries which Google users are searching for.

Other Helpful Articles

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide may be useful to webmasters and will remain relevant years into the future. These common SEO methodologies should work for any type of website whether it’s a business, blog, or ecommerce store.

And trends are always changing, but these indexing/optimization techniques should be around for many years within the Internet industry. Ideally this article will serve as a reference guide but I may have glossed over some other important features.

If you can think of other crucial tips for for new websites please share with us in the post discussion area below.


6 Tips And Tricks To Get The Most Out Of Snapchat

Posted: 27 Jan 2014 05:01 AM PST

Are you a Snapchat user? Did you know that Snapchat has a daily upload count of 400 million messages? That clearly makes it one of the most popular messaging apps today. If you enjoy using Snapchat as well, there are actually some hidden features and tricks that will make you love using it even more.

Snapchat App

In this post, we have got for you 6 tips and tricks to get the most out of Snapchat. From using filters for your photos to viewing the same Snap one more time, you’re bound to pick up some useful tips from the list. So let’s jump right in and start Snapchatting!

1. Edit Pictures on Snapchat

Photos snapped with Snapchat are kind of grainy, and there used to be no in-app photo filters to help improve the pictures’ quality. But it’s a different story now, as you can now enable filters from within Snapchat to improve your pictures’ quality slightly.

Also, Snapchat previously only allowed users to add photo captions in a regular font size. But now you can use a large font size as well by enabling special text.

Enable Smart Filters & Visual Filters

To enable Smart Filters and Visual Filters, go to Settings > Manage and tick on Smart Filters and Visual Filters.

With Smart Filters enabled, when you take a picture with Snapchat, you can add either time, temperature, or speed into your picture by swiping to the left or right.

Smart Filters

You can also try the Visual Filters, which come with a black & white filter and a vintage style filter.

Visual Filters

Use Large Font Size

To use the large font size for your photo captions, just enable special text in Settings > Manage. Once you have it enabled, just tap on the "T" button at the top right corner of the screen after entering a photo caption and you’ll see the large font size applied on the text.

Using Large Font Size

2. View the same Snap Again With Replay

It’s a well-known fact that Snapchat only allows you to view a Snap once, before it gets deleted from your phone. But there’s now a new feature that allows you to re-view a recent Snapchat in your stream, once per day. This feature is called Replay and can be activated in Settings > Manage.

View The Same Snap Again With Replay

As for now, Snapchat does not notify your friends if you decide to view their Snaps a second time. So don’t be afraid to try out the feature.

3. Change the Number of best Friends

On Snapchat, the people you message the most frequently are automatically added to your list of Best Friends. And by default, the number of friends on your Best Friends list is 3, but you change it to 5 or 7. To do that, just head over to Settings > Manage, tap on # of Best Friends, and select either 3, 5, or 7.

Change The Number of Best Friends

This is a useful feature if you want to quickly send Snaps to your best friends without having to search for them.

4. Download Snaps To Your Device

[Android only] You would need to install Xposed Frameworks so that you can use Xposed modules such as KeepChat to automatically save received snaps, stories and sent snaps. The developers of KeepChat also claim that your friends will not receive any report of you taking screenshots of their Snaps.

Download Snaps to Your Device

The KeepChat developers constantly update the module to ensure its compatibility with Snapchat’s latest official updates. If you have any problem or issue with KeepChat, you can visit the original thread here.

5. Link/Unlink Username With Mobile Number

You may have heard of the recent Snapchat’s data breach that resulted in 4.6 million usernames and phone numbers being leaked from their server. So if you’re interested in opting out of having your username linked to your mobile number, head over to Settings, tap on Mobile number and untick "Link username to mobile number".

Link/Unlink Username To Mobile Number

Take note, however, that unlinking your mobile number from your username doesn’t actually remove your mobile number. As of now, you would still need to have one number attached to your Snapchat account if you had decided to put one previously. Don’t worry too much though; although you can’t remove it, you can at least replace it with a different phone number.

6. Delete Snapchat Account

If unlinking your username from your mobile number doesn’t ease your worries about your data security, you may also delete your Snapchat account and make a new one (with a different username, of course).

To delete your account, just go here (make sure to log in first) and you’ll see that your username has already been filled in the box, so you only need to enter your password and click on Delete My Account to do just that.

Delete Snapchat Account


A Look Into: Setting Up Local Server with AMPPS

Posted: 27 Jan 2014 02:01 AM PST

MAMP is the most popular application in OSX to run local server; for Windows users, WAMP or XAMPP is likely the most widely used options. These 3 applications are sufficient for the job. But if there is another tool that can make a developer’s job faster and more efficient, we’d jump on that tool at every chance.

Recently, we came across an application called AMPPS. It is packed with loads of feature, and it does more than just run a local server. If you are currently looking for an alternative app, let’s check out what AMPPS has to offer, and see how to deploy a website in a local computer with it.

Getting Started

Similar to the 3 applications mentioned above, AMPPS is packed with Apache, MySQL, and phpMyAdmin which let us run and develop PHP-based web locally in the computer. In addition, AMPPS also includes MongoDB, Python, and RockMongo to cater to wider tech needs and preferences.

Furthermore, AMPPS comes with Softaculous that allows us to install web applications in the shortest way possible with the auto-installer. At the time of this writing, there are more than 280 web apps that can be installed through Softaculous which includes WordPress, Drupal, Mangento, and even the new blogging platform Ghost.

With it, we can also create domain names for the websites that we created, instead of using the default name localhost.

Installing AMPPS

AMPPS is a free application, and available for both Windows and OSX. Download it here, and follow the installation instruction as per your OS. Run it, then open the AMPPS Admin. Ensure that the Apache and MySQL have been started.

Then, open your Browser and go to localhost/ampps. This is the page where things like installing apps, setting up password for AMPPS, creating database as well as managing domain names are done.


On the left hand side, as shown in the above screenshot, you can see that there are several categories of Apps ranging from Blogging, CMS, E-Commerce to Educational apps.

As an example, we will install Magento. It is an e-commerce platform that is very well-suited for big-sized and complex online stores. Before proceeding, we need to create a domain name for it.

Creating a Domain Name

Click the Add Domain icon. In this case, let’s name it store.dev, you can, of course, freely name the domain. Note, if you are currently having Pow running in your system, you have to uninstall it. Otherwise, the domain will not be accessible, and will just return a Not Found error.

Select the "Add an entry to Host File ?" to register then domain name into the hosts file.

Upon clicking the Add Domain, you will be prompted with your Administrator credential username and password, as it attempts to write the hosts file.

At this point, we are done adding the domain name. You can try it in the browser to make sure that it is accessible. If it is not, it’s likely that you have another application that occupies the virtualhosting as well, such as Pow. If you have that installed, uninstall it.

Installing Magento

Get an app installed and running with AMPPS is so easy with the one-click auto-installer tool. And as mentioned, we are going to install Magento. So, let’s head over to Ecommerce > Magento and click the Install button.

Fill the required setups, and (again) click the Install button at the very bottom of the page.

The process may take a while, and if this is the first time you install Magento or any other apps, AMPPS will have to download the package source. When the process is complete, the website should be accessible, as follows.


We are done.

It took me less than a minute to install Magento. Compared to the traditional way, which could take around 10 to 15 min, this is really a time-saver. It also eliminates most of the hassle (setting up Magento can be distressing; been there).


As you can see above, AMPPS comes with a Domain Manager, and an auto-installer tool for hundreds of web apps. In addition, there are literally a bunch of free features that we haven’t explored yet. By comparison, I think AMPPS could really be a better alternative to MAMP, WAMP, and XAMPP.


Reblog Content From Other Sites using &#8220;Press This&#8221; Bookmarklet

Posted: 26 Jan 2014 11:01 PM PST

Among all the features in WordPress, Press This could probably be one of the least known. Have you heard about it? Even though it has been included since the early versions of WordPress with the name of Press It, not many people use it as a blogging tool.

Press This is a bookmarklet. By using Press This, you can grab bits of content, images, links, or embedded video that you find interesting from any websites, and then use them as part of your new post. In the other word, it is also known as a Reblog, like what you do in Tumblr.

Getting Started

Press This can be found under the Tools > Available Tools side-menu of WP-Admin. Drag and drop it onto the bookmark bar.

Using Press This

Simply highlight the content that you want to grab, and hit the Press This bookmark. A new window with the WordPress content editor will appear.

As you can see above, Press This grabs the highlighted content, and automatically populates the Title field with the Post Title. In addition, it also includes the link source of the content, which makes crediting the source very easy for us. This is also helpful when we need to verify content copyright, policy and permissions before adding the content onto the blog.

To add images, click the “Image” icon. It will grab all pull-able images from the source. Press This will also copy the image into your blog when it is inserted into the post, instead of linking it from the source.

Click on the next icon to embed video. A new text field will slide down; this is where you put the code to embed the video. If you run Press This in a video-sharing site like Youtube.com, this field will automatically be populated with the code.

Press This Reloaded

Some functionalities in the Press This content editor have been removed. What remains are the WYSIWYG Editor, which also has been simplified but if you want the full-fledged content editor, you can install Press This Reloaded. Once installed you have to re-add Press This to the bookmark bar from Tools > Available Tools.

With Press This Reloaded, you can add Featured Image, and the WYSIWYG Editor now shows an Advanced Toolbar. When you are done, you can save your post as Draft, or Publish it immediately.



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