Google Guide: Making Searching Even Easier
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Creating Content

Following each tip on creating content is information about how I developed Google Guide and improved its content.

Create useful high-quality material that is of interest to users.

Back in 2002, I created Google Guide to get feedback on material I was developing for a tutorial book on Google search for most users' use just a fraction of Google's capabilities.

The goal of Google Guide is to make searching even easier for novices and experienced users.

Design your website for the blind and deaf, not for spiders or search bots.

Search bots can't see visuals or hear sound files. Make your titles, anchor text, and ALT tags descriptive and relevant.

Nelson Blachman, my father, is blind and is a wonderful reviewer and beta tester for Google Guide.

Present information in more than one way.

People have different needs and preferences. That's why Google Guide presents material in different formats, e.g.,

Studying Google Guide logs, I've learned which pages are most popular among users and I'm focusing my attention on providing users more of what they like.

Design names of pages to reflect what's on the page.

Google considers the text in the URL when indexing the page.

A few years ago I replaced unhelpful names with more descriptive ones.

Include words on your web pages that users are likely to specify in a query when searching for your content.

I strive to convey information concisely and clearly, rather than incorporate particular words on my pages.

Design your site logically. Include site maps. Link to each page that you want accessible from a search engine.

Google Guide includes links from one page to the next and previous pages, a table of contents, a navigation bar, topic links at the beginning of each part, summaries, and links to relevant material both from Google Guide and outside sources.

Usually Google Guide opens a new browser window when a user clicks on a link outside of Google Guide.

Submit a sitemap so that Google will know about the structure of your website.

Google Sitemaps provides helpful statistics and information to it's users, including:
  • top search queries that most often return pages on each site
  • pages that Googlebot had trouble crawling
  • common words in each site
  • common works in external links to each site

Strive to keep your pages short and about at most a few topics.

A user is more likely to find what she seeks on a short page and material of interest is more likely to be on the user's screen.

Sparingly use dynamic content, e.g., JavaScript, Flash, DHTML, etc.

Search engine spiders are able to index plain text and html more easily than flashy pages. Googlebot tends not to crawl pages that consist only of dynamic content and pages that have dynamic content in navigation links in the page. Such pages are likely to be left out of Google's index and search results.

I initially wrote Google Guide in HTML. Jerry Peek and I are translating Google Guide into DocBook.

Correct misspellings.

Users are more likely to search for the correct spelling.

Seek feedback and use it to improve your site.

Users and web logs are great sources for feedback. To encourage suggestions and corrections, I respond to email quickly and acknowledge those who contribute ideas that improve Google Guide.

Learn from your logs.

Check your web logs. Try to figure out how and why users are coming to your site. If you suspect that users may seek information that isn't on your site, consider adding it.

I noticed that users were choosing the Google Guide Stock Quotes page after entering the query [ Google stock symbol ].

So I added, at the top of the page,

Looking for Google's stock symbol? It's GOOG on Nasdaq. Click here for Google's stock price or search for it on Google.

Google  search box with [ goog ].
Eliminate errors.

Check your web logs and run one or more website validators, e.g., W3C Validation Service, to identify problems with the coding of your website. Remove broken links and correct invalid html. Check Google Sitemaps to find out whether search bots are able to crawl your site.

When putting together content for this page, I came across wonderful pages on creating content for websites, including:


This problem set will give you practice in developing and improving material for you web site. For hints and answers to selected problems, see the Solutions page in the Appendix.

  1. Sign up for Google Sitemaps.
  2. Find spelling mistakes by running a spelling checker. Find html errors by running a website validator, e.g., the W3C Validation Service. Check for error messages in your web logs and in Google Sitemaps. Correct your website errors.
  3. For each page on your website that consists entirely of dynamic content, e.g., JavaScript, Flash, DHTML, etc., or has dynamic content in a navigation link, create a new page without that dynamic content.
  4. Develop a high-quality information-rich page for your website whose name is relevant to its content.
  5. Present information from a page on your website in a different format, e.g., a cheat sheet or a quiz.
  6. Create a web page with names of friends and colleagues whose contact information you desire. On the page, ask these people (or anyone who has their contact information) to get in touch `with you.
  7. When these people run vanity searches, i.e., search for themselves, they may run across your page and get in touch with you.

    At the 30th Asilomar Microcomputer Workshop in 2004, Bill Cheswick suggested this approach to searching for people if you don't find them in Google's phonebook.

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For Google tips, tricks, & how Google works, visit Google Guide at
By Nancy Blachman and Jerry Peek who aren't Google employees. For permission to copy
& create derivative works, visit Google Guide's Creative Commons License webpage.