Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO guide for web developers

SEO guide for web developers

It is important to make your content searchable because it makes it more relevant to the users who view your content. This is called search engine optimization (SEO), which can attract more interested users to your site. If Google search is having a hard time understanding your page, you are likely missing an important traffic source.

This guide covers what developers can do to make sure their sites work well with Google Search. In addition to the items in this guide, make sure your site is secure, fast, accessible to everyone, and works on all devices.

Find out how Google sees your site

To get started, test your site in a mobile friendly test to see how Googlebot sees your site. Googlebot is a Google web crawler that finds and adds new and updated pages to the Google index. To learn more about this process, go to How Google Search Works.

You might be surprised to find that Googlebot does not always see everything it sees in the browser. In the following example, Googlebot does not know any images on this page because the page uses a JavaScript function that Googlebot does not support.

user name

This is how users see the page. Users can view images and text in the browser.


google bot

This is how Googlebot displays the page. Googlebot is not aware of any images on this page because the page uses a JavaScript functionality that Googlebot does not support.


Googlebot goes from a URL to a URL that follows links, sitemaps, and redirects. Googlebot treats each URL as if it were the first and only URL it sees on your site. To ensure that Googlebot can find all URLs on your site:

  • Please use <a href>a valid URL. Ensure that all pages on the site are accessible through links from other discoverable pages. Ensure that your referral link includes text or, for images, an alt text attribute relevant to the landing page. Traceable links are tags with an extension
  • Create and submit sitemaps to help Googlebot crawl your site smarter. A sitemap is a file in which you provide information about the pages, videos, and other files on your site and the relationships between them.
  • For JavaScript applications with a single HTML page, make sure that there is a URL for each screen or piece of content.

See how it uses JavaScript

Although Googlebot implements JavaScript, there are some differences and limitations that you should be aware of when designing pages and applications to understand how crawlers access and display your content. Learn more about JavaScript SEO basics or how to troubleshoot JavaScript related search issues.

To learn more about how Googlebot handles JavaScript when crawling, rendering, and indexing, watch the following video.

Keep Google updated when content changes

To make sure Google finds new or updated pages quickly:

If you’re still having trouble getting your pages indexed, check the server logs for errors.

Don’t forget the words on the page.

Googlebot can only find content that is textually visible. For example, Googlebot cannot see the text of a video. To make sure that Google search understands your page’s topic:

  • Make sure to express your visual content in the form of text.
    For example, a product category page with a list of T-shirt images with no text context around each image is less than optimal. Product category pages must include descriptive text for each image.
  • Make sure every page has a descriptive title and a meta description . Unique titles and meta descriptions help Google show users the relevance of your page, which in turn increases search traffic.
  • Use semantic HTML . While Googlebot indexes HTML, PDF, images, and video content, it does not index content that requires a plug-in (eg Java or Silverlight) or on-board content. Instead of using plugins, use semantic HTML markup for your content whenever possible.

Tell Google about other versions of your content

Googlebot does not automatically know that there are multiple versions of your site or content. For example, mobile and desktop versions, or international versions of your site. To make sure that Google is serving the correct version to users, you can:

Control what content Google sees

There are several ways to block Googlebot:

  • To prevent Googlebot from finding your page, limit access to your content to registered users (for example, use a login page or protect your page with a password).
  • To prevent Googlebot from crawling your pages, create a robots.txt file.
  • To prevent Googlebot from indexing your pages and still allowing crawling, add
    noindexa banner tag file.

If your content is not showing up in Google search and you want it to appear, follow these steps:

  • Check if Googlebot can access the page using the URL Inspection tool.
  • Test your robot.txt file to see if you are inadvertently preventing Googlebot from crawling your site.
  • Check the HTML file noindexfor meta tag rules.

Enable rich results for your site

Rich results can include layouts, images, or other interactive features that can help your site stand out in search results. You can help Google understand your pages better and display rich search results by providing clear clues about what a page means with on-page structured data. If you’re not sure where to start, explore our gallery of available features.


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