Sunday, December 4, 2022

Goodbye Google Webmaster Guidelines, Hello Google Search Essentials

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Google is officially rebranding the Webmaster Guidelines as “Search Essentials,” which comes with a simplified refresh consisting of only three sections.

In addition to making the former Google Webmaster Guidelines easier to understand, Google’s motivation behind the refresh is to move away from the term “webmaster.”

Google has gradually removed “webmaster” from its branding over the past few years. For example, “Google Webmaster Central” was rebranded as “Google Search Central.”

“Webmaster” is a dated term, Google says, and doesn’t include all content creators who want to see their content rank in search results.

Many former guidelines are moving to specific sections within the Google Search Central website.

Google Search Essentials now consists of three categories of points covered in the former Webmaster Guidelines.

The three categories covered in Google Search Essentials include:

  • Technical requirements
  • Key best practices
  • Spam policies

We’ll look at the categories in more detail in the sections below.

If you don’t read any further, the most important thing to know is nothing has fundamentally changed.

There’s nothing new you need to learn if you’re already familiar with the former Google Webmaster Guidelines. Google Search Essentials contains the same information in a different format.

With that in mind, let’s look at what’s included in Google Search Essentials.

Technical Requirements

There are few technical things you need to do to a web page to get it into Google Search.

Google says most sites pass the technical requirements without trying.

The technical requirements are as follows:

  • Googlebot isn’t blocked
  • The page works (it’s not an error page)
  • The page has indexable content

In other words – publish content in a format Google can index and make sure Google can access it.

That’s the bare minimum for getting a webpage into Google’s index.

On the other hand, getting a webpage to rank takes more work. Let’s move on to the new section covering key best practices.

Key Best Practices

The key best practices in Google’s Search Essentials are additional considerations for creating content that’s easier for people to find in search results.

Google’s key best practices include:

  • Create helpful content.
  • Use keywords people would search for and place them in prominent areas, such as titles, headings, and alt text.
  • Make links crawlable.
  • Tell people about your site.
  • Follow specific best practices for images, video, structured data, and JavaScript.
  • Enhance how your site appears in search with rich snippets.
  • If you have content you don’t want to be found in Google Search, block it from Google’s crawlers.

Spam Policies

The section on spam policies covers behaviors and tactics that can lead to a page or website getting ranked lower or de-indexed from Google Search.

Google’s spam policies include the following:

  • Cloaking
  • Doorways
  • Hacked content
  • Hidden text and links
  • Keyword stuffing
  • Link spam
  • Machine-generated traffic
  • Malware and malicious behaviors
  • Misleading functionality
  • Scraped content
  • Sneaky redirects
  • Spammy automatically-generated content
  • Thin affiliate pages
  • User-generated spam
  • Copyright-removal requests
  • Online harassment removals
  • Scam and fraud

Most of the above topics were taken from Google’s former Quality Guidelines and other related existing guidelines.

The full page contains content rewritten by Google’s Search Quality team, using precise language and specific examples that are relevant in 2022.

Google believes the updated guidance will “help site owners avoid creating content that Search users absolutely hate.”

You can refer to the official changelog for more on what’s new in Google Search Essentials.


Source: Google Search Central, Google Search Essentials

Featured Image: Jay Fog/Shutterstock



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