Google recently rolled out some refreshed guidelines for site owners. With this new and refined outline, Google hopes to aid us bloggers and business owners in our never-ending pursuit of creating content that ranks well on Google.
But what are these new guidelines? And what does it mean for your brand? With this post, we hope to provide you with the answers to these questions so you can continue to improve your website and rank higher on Google.
The New Google Website Guidelines
Back in 2002, Google launched a page they called “Webmaster Guidelines.” The page provided a list of requirements and suggestions for creating Google-friendly websites. They have continued to grow and expand upon this page for the last twenty years.
This leads us to today, where Google is revamping its website guidelines and changing its name. The name change came as a result of the term webmaster being outdated:
“. . . “webmaster” is an outdated term and very few people identify with it. For the new name we wanted something generic, something that’s not focusing on just one slice of our visitors, but rather all creators on the internet who wish to see their content in Google Search.”
The name change makes sense. Google Search essentials is more all-encompassing than the previous title. But that begs the question, what are these search essentials, anyway?
They have created three categories detailing the new guidelines and recommended practices.
1. Technical Requirements
These are simple, and easy to get right. For your website to show on search results, Google requires that your website:
- Hasn’t blocked Googlebot. If your website has a blocker preventing Google from scanning it, your site won’t be eligible to rank.
- Isn’t broken. Google doesn’t index pages that have server error pages.
- Has indexable content. This means that the textual content on your website must be in a format Google can read. This is most formatting types.
2. Spam Policies
It’s no secret that Google will penalize website with excess spam. But trying to figure out what is and isn’t spam can leave you scratching your head. Google search essentials has set out to clear the air on some of that confusion. These are some types of spam that might result in your site being penalized:
Cloaking is the act of misleading search engines or potential users by redirecting them to unexpected pages. If Google suspects your website of containing these redirects, you may get penalized for it.
Doorway is a term used by Google to refer to intermediate pages that satisfy no one. Doorways occur when somebody creates multiple bait pages, each with a slightly altered title that all direct to one generalized page. These pages are misleading, and the content is often vague, which leaves the user dissatisfied.
Some other types of spam include:
- Hacked content
- Hidden texts and links
- Keyword stuffing
- Link spam
- Machine-generated traffic
- Malware and malicious behavior
- Misleading functionality
- Scraped content
- Sneaky redirects
- Spammy automatically-generated content
- Thin affiliate pages
- User-generated spam
- Copy-right removal requests
- Online harassment removals
- Scam and fraud
3. Key Best Practices for Success
While these aren’t considered requirements, Google believes that following these key practices will breathe life into your website that would be missing otherwise. People should consider these practices if you hope to make their website the best it can be.
- Write content that is designed to help readers above all else. Creating people-first content has a positive impact on SEO results.
- Use keywords in titles and headings to help Google better understand your content. You can find ideas for target keywords using SEO software.
- Optimize your content to make sure videos, images, tables, and links are optimized and eligible to be scanned by Google.