Google’s Webmaster Guidelines were launched in 2002 and, to state the obvious, a lot of things have changed since then. In a major refresh, Google has updated and simplified the guidelines, which are now called Google Search Essentials.
It defines Search Essentials as follows:
“The Google Search Essentials make up the core parts of what makes your web-based content (web pages, images, videos, or other publicly-available material that Google finds on the web) eligible to appear and perform well on Google Search.”
Google has consolidated the existing guidance, moving many of the former guidelines to specific sections where they belong. The rewrite and update includes new sections on technical requirements and key best practices.
Search Essentials is split into 3 sections:
- Technical requirements
- Spam policies
- Key best practices
Google says the technical requirements are “few and simple”. It basically comes down to publishing in a format Google can index and allowing Google to access that content, which is the bare minimum for getting into Google’s search results.
This replaces the Quality Guidelines section of the Webmaster Guidelines. It has been refreshed to include more relevant, concrete examples and uses more precise language.
Most topics in this section were taken from existing guidance in the former Quality Guidelines and guidelines published on Search Central.
Notable additions and modifications include:
- Link spam: Consolidates previous pages on Paid links and Link schemes.
- Malware and malicious behaviors: Consolidates information that was previously in the Security section on our site.
- Hacked content: Consolidates information that was previously in the Security section on our site.
- Thin affliliate pages: Consolidates previous pages on Thin content and Affiliate programs.
New sections include:
- Misleading functionality
- Copyright-removal requests
- Online harassment removals
- Scam and fraud
Google strongly advises people should consider key best practices when creating a website. Some core practices which can have the most impact on your ranking and appearance in Search include:
- Create helpful, people-first content
- Use relevant keywords that people would look for in your content and page optimization
- Make your links crawlable
- Tell people about your site, products and services
- Enhance how your site appears in search by enabling suitable features.
- Block any content you don’t want appearing in the search results.
Google says it has been reorganizing the information on Search Central to make a more logical structure, consolidating and moving pages around. However, the content in those areas generally hasn’t changed.