Google Webmaster Guidelines is a set of recommendations from the search engine that help sites get indexed and ranked in the SERPs. The main guidelines that Google insists on are the quality guidelines. If a website violates any of Google’s quality guidelines, it can be de-indexed or have its ranking lowered, depending on the severity of the violation.
If SEO is the prerogative of sites to improve their visibility and generates more than 53% of the traffic of online sites, it must be recognized that it requires a lot of work and time before bearing fruit.
It is also governed by rules that SEOs and webmasters must follow, or risk seeing their clients’ sites completely banned from search engines.
Formerly known as the Google Webmaster Guidelines, these requirements are the framework within which the SEO community can optimize their sites and propel them to the top of the results.
As a site owner, SEO specialist or online marketing professional, it is therefore in your best interest to seek to understand the guidelines contained in the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
In this article, we’ll learn what the Google Webmaster Guidelines mean and why it’s important for you to read them. We then go through the guidelines contained in the Google Webmaster Guidelines and how each one helps your site.
Chapter 1: What is Google Webmaster Guidelines?
This chapter discusses the definition of Google Webmaster Guidelines as well as why site owners should care about it.
1.1 What are Google Webmaster Guidelines?
Commonly referred to as “Google SEO Guidelines”, Google Webmaster Guidelines is Google’s set of guidelines for webmasters and site owners in relation to its search engine.
These webmaster guidelines include general best practices that will make it easier for Google to index and rank your website.
Based on these guidelines, site owners will also be able to improve their positions in search results.
While these guidelines fall into two categories, general guidelines and quality guidelines, they also have content-specific provisions.
The content guidelines vary depending on the type of content you have on your site (e.g. images, videos, etc.).
As for the quality guidelines, they list all the methods that could result in your page being removed from search engine results pages.
But if these disincentives don’t deter you, exceeding the guidelines can also result in a penalty from Google.
Note that the purpose of these guidelines is to help you avoid writing content that would be considered spam, and instead write something appealing to humans.
But this is not as easy to do as it is to say, as it can be difficult to create websites that meet the Google Webmaster Guidelines.
On the other hand, there are also guidelines that ensure that your site will not appear in search results.
1.what are the consequences if SEOs or webmasters go against the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
Google has published its general guidelines for webmasters to define the framework for compliant search engine optimization. If you follow these rules, your website will avoid penalties and get a high ranking.
This is because the search engine seeks to provide quality results to people searching online. The better the sites that appear on the SERPs, the more satisfied users are with Google. This satisfaction builds trust in the search engine.
High quality websites also lead to an increase in organic web searches, which benefits both the website and the users.
This is why Google has guidelines for webmasters that clearly state what practices are and are not allowed in search engine optimization.
If a website, directory, or entire domain violates these guidelines contained in the Google Webmaster Guidelines, that site may be penalized.
The penalty is usually only temporary, and will be removed as soon as the violation of the guidelines is corrected.
For example, if a website is caught participating in spam activities, there is a chance that the domain will be removed from the search engine index.
1.how does Google Webmaster Guidelines help you optimize your site?
These guidelines help webmasters and SEOs improve their site’s ranking. Through the Google Webmaster Guidelines, Google sets the rules for what can and cannot be published.
These guidelines also show practices that may not result in immediate ranking loss, but could still end up causing your site to fail.
That being said, if you notice that your site traffic or search queries are decreasing, you can check to see if any of your content, links, etc. are violating the guidelines on an individual level
Google is constantly improving its ability to detect spam, which makes it harder for underground SEOs to get away with their shenanigans.
In other words, if you’re an SEO specialist, it’s not worth taking shortcuts that risk being spotted by Google.
According to Google, the following actions that webmasters can avoid will result in poor quality content.
Chapter 2: Google Webmaster Guidelines: General Guidelines
This chapter is dedicated to Google’s general guidelines for webmasters.
2.1. What are the Google Webmaster Guidelines?
The “General Guidelines” section provides advice on how to ensure that Google can find and understand your web pages, as well as how to make them easy for users to navigate.
Each of these ways is important enough to dedicate an entire blog post to, but for now we’ll just summarize them.
By looking at the webmaster guidelines, it will give you a better understanding of how you can use SEO to achieve your goals.
2.2. Helping Google find your site
First of all, you need to check if Google finds your website. To check if your website appears in Google’s search results, all you have to do is perform a simple search.
Then type in Google “site:[your domain name]” and you will get the results for your site only.
For example, we can type “site:twaino.com” in the search bar to see if our site is indexed by Google.
If your site is not indexed, there are two reasons why your website does not appear on Google: it has not been crawled by the search engine or it is blacklisted.
However, it is possible to ask Google to crawl your site, but before doing so, you need to check a few things. In fact, if a website is substandard, Google may remove it from the search results completely.
Similarly, if you use sneaky SEO tactics, your site could be blacklisted.
The best thing to do is to update your site and then contact Google to have it analyzed.
2.3. create a sitemap
Google needs to be able to index the important pages of your website, so that users can easily find them when they make a query. To do this, it’s up to you to create a sitemap file containing links to those specific pages.
Although Google has strict site standards, there are many resources available to help you create an effective sitemap.
Popular websites for generating sitemaps include sitemaps.org, xml-sitemaps.com and writemaps.com.
In addition, Google recommends not exceeding a certain number of links per page. In other words, if you want to add a few thousand links, that would be the maximum. However, most pages don’t need that many links.
2.4. Help Google understand your website
You can help Google understand that your website is high quality by adding elements to understand your content.
This means adding headlines, subheadings, images and videos to your content. You also need to format your site so that it is organized and clean.
Make sure your website is easily accessible to Googlebot, Google’s web crawler, because it is a robot.
A website with too many elements and a confusing layout will be considered low quality by Googlebot if it has trouble crawling the site.
2.5. Site design
Design hierarchy is an important factor to consider when creating your website.
In order for your website to be visible on search engines, make sure your content management system creates pages and links that are easily accessible and usable by Googlebot.
In addition, it should be noted that Google works by first understanding the content of a page. It processes information about a site by using structured data.
Structured data is a way to describe your site to make it more understandable to search engines.
Indeed, to describe your site to search engines, you must use a vocabulary that presents the content in a way that Google can understand.
And the vocabulary used by Google is nothing else than Schema.org, a language that translates your content into a code that the search engine can easily process.
Google reads the code and uses it to display search results in a specific and much more precise way.
That said, by formatting your site using structured data, you’re going to allow Google to better understand its different parts.
2.6. Google content guidelines
As per Google’s webmaster guidelines, try to place important content at the forefront of your website. This means placing your essential information so that it is easy to find on your website.
While Google isn’t going to punish you for using tabs and sections, the search engine prefers to see content presented in a default layout.
One method to get around this is to place the most important content on the homepage. Using this method gives you a well-maintained website with your most important content at your fingertips.
2.7. Help visitors use your website
The success of your website undoubtedly depends on two key factors: its ability to be user-friendly and to offer resources.
If your site is difficult to navigate, users are more likely to close its tab. Like Google, everyone understands that easy-to-use websites are preferable to difficult and confusing ones.
So the Google Webmaster Guidelines would like your site to be more user-friendly and faster. Speed can even have a significant effect on site engagement and performance.
By the way, a mobile website loading speed of 10 seconds increases the bounce rate by 123% compared to a loading speed of one second.
Typically, Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool is used to prevent users from leaving your site.
To help users navigate your site with ease, you should also consider making it mobile-friendly.
Mobile devices have become an inseparable part of our lives, and as of Q2 2022, mobile traffic accounts for 58.99% of global web traffic, which is more than half of global web traffic.
Given this high usage of mobile, it’s essential that you focus on delivering a seamless website UX on mobile devices.
This means taking into account when designing your site the different types and sizes of devices it will appear on.
Since the process of rendering a site differs between desktops, tablets, and smartphones, you need to ensure that your site displays correctly on each. Otherwise, you’ll lose significant traffic.
Google offers a“Mobile-Friendly” test to see if your website works on mobile devices.
2.8. Google’s Website Security Guidelines
Google Webmaster Guidelines also makes some recommendation on site security. To that end, it is suggested (but not required) that you secure your website connections with HTTPS.
This protocol encrypts all interactions between your visitors and your site. This practice aims to preserve the security and confidentiality of information when it is exchanged.
Data encryption is necessary to protect users from eavesdropping by third parties, tracking of activities, theft of sensitive information such as credit card data, etc.
2.9. Check browser compatibility
If you want your website to rank well in search results, browser compatibility is important.
Depending on the browser used, a person may see a different version of your website due to the way each browser decodes the code.
By testing your site in different browsers, you can ensure that all users will have a positive experience when accessing your site.
With analytics services like Google Analytics, you can determine which browsers are most popular among your website visitors.
Chapter 3: Google Webmaster Guidelines: Content Guidelines
Because content is king online, Google Webmaster Guidelines has certain provisions that frame the creation and publication of content.
While content can be published in a variety of forms, we will discover the main content guidelines.
3.1. Publish your own unique content
In order to meet Google’s webmaster guidelines, it is in your best interest to publish original content.
Many website owners don’t realize that automatically generated or duplicated content can actually hurt their rankings.
Instead, Google checks to see if the content was written by a human for other humans and if it is original. The search engine wants to see a given content on a single URL.
If you publish duplicate content, your search engine ranking could suffer and you could even face legal repercussions.
But with original and quality content, the search engine will be able to promote your site through higher search engine rankings.
3.2. Use followed and unfollowed links
It is common knowledge that backlinks improve both the referral traffic and the ranking of a site.
The value of your website is based on the number of hyperlinks you have in your content. If the website you link to in your content is of poor quality, it can lower your ranking.
Google Webmaster Guidelines states how sites can pass juice to another site or not.
By using a no-follow link, you can stay away from a website. A no-follow link is a backlink that tells Google to ignore it.
If you need to link to a website, whether for credit or as an example, use these links.
Use a follow link most of the time unless you are one hundred percent sure that a website will not affect your rankings. Follow-up links can help validate your claims and are often viewed favorably by Google.
3.3. Use great pictures
Images are an effective way to break up long sections of text in your content. Make sure that any images you use on your website are high-resolution and clear.
For Google Webmaster Guidelines, websites with clear images are more likely to appear on the first page of a Google search.
They want their website to display only high quality, professional photos that are relevant to the topic of the article.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need an expensive camera to get your website ranked high.
The cameras on most smartphones are good enough to be used for SEO purposes.
If you don’t feel like taking your own photos, don’t worry, royalty-free options are widely available online.
Always be careful about the photos you post, making sure they are high quality, relevant to your content and that you have legal permission to use them.
Shutterstock is for example an online photo platform where you can buy royalty-free photos, illustrations, vectors and videos for your website. This tool has the advantage of adding more context to your content.
In addition, there are many ways to enhance the images on your site, including adding captions. Remember to use Alt tags to describe your images.
In fact, Google often does not know the content of the images, so the Alt text is important to present the images you add to your content.
Moreover, in a context where image search is in vogue, you increase the chances that your photos appear in the results by using Alt tags. Thus, these images can be a source of traffic for you.
Remember that a good user experience with images on your website includes context and placement next to relevant text.
3.4. Make videos accessible
Videos are very important these days when it comes to site optimization. According to one statistic, video results are 50 times more likely to be ranked organically in Google than text results.
So, if you want your video to be a success, make sure that it is widely exposed online. For Google to give your video the exposure it deserves, it needs to understand the key points of your video.
There are several ways Google can see your video and get information from it. For example, it can crawl the video and extract a thumbnail or preview.
Google can not only read the text in a file, but also understand the audio and video content. Google can also get information about your video by reading the text on the page as well as the meta tags you have added to the page.
Google Webmaster Guidelines has a number of provisions for videos. Google can therefore improve the ranking of your video if you respect these provisions. The search engine actually reads the text on the page as well as the meta tags you’ve included.
If you already have a YouTube channel, for example, these types of videos are always ready to be crawled.
Whenever you post a YouTube video to your website, be sure to include a site map of the video or structured data so that Google can easily find the YouTube video embedded on your page.
There are two basic requirements you need to be aware of when it comes to ranking in video search results.
In order for your video to be effective, you must create a high-quality thumbnail image as well as consistent content in your sitemap.
For each video to be published, it must reside on a page that is accessible to everyone and not clogged with a robots.txt or noindex file. Similarly, a user should not have to go through a login process just to watch a video.
In addition, embedding subtitles will make it easier for Google to determine the essence of your video
Chapter 4: Google Webmaster Guidelines: Quality Guidelines
The majority of Google’s webmaster guidelines focus on quality. Quality is a top priority for Google, so much so that it devotes an entire section to quality control guidelines.
The search engine strives to provide its users with the highest quality websites in search results. In this chapter, we learn about the Google Webmaster Guidelines in relation to quality.
4.1. Avoid covert SEO tactics
As you may know, it is possible to be blacklisted from Google’s query results.
By using SEO techniques allowed by Google, you can stay safe while maintaining a high ranking.
That’s why it’s recommended to stick to Google’s webmaster guidelines if you want to maintain a strong online presence.
But when you make use of the so-called black hat practices, it can lead to penalties from Google. You should then stay away from underhanded or unethical website ranking practices.
Even if you use them inadvertently, these practices can hurt your ranking and decrease the chances of visitors discovering your site.
If you want to learn more about underhanded SEO tactics that can penalize your website, read our blog post titled “Black hat SEO“.
To stick to the SEO tactics recommended by Google’s webmaster guidelines, you can also check out our content on “SEO Strategies“.
4.2. Monitor your site for hacking
When you don’t protect your site from hackers, all the content you’ve worked hard to create could be at risk.
In order to secure your site, there are some best practices you can follow. There are many software tools available for monitoring websites.
Alertra, for example, helps you identify accessibility issues on your site. Ntop is also a network survey tool that allows you to see how much your network is being used in real time.
If you want to comply with Google’s webmaster guidelines, pay special attention to the security of your website. Only quality sites that meet Google’s security standards are displayed to users.
And when your site shows any sign of hacking, Google will demote it in search results.
4.3. Report spam
Google Webmaster Guidelines also has provisions for spam. If there is spam in the comments of your web pages, you are responsible for it. Spam can easily find its way to your website if you are not careful.
Make sure to check comments regularly so that you can remove the ones that are spam
To avoid this type of comment, set up an approval process where you have to approve every comment left by a user.
To prevent bots from leaving comments, you can add a reCAPTCHA to your website.
If you have a blog, consider creating a team of overseers and administrators to foster a community.
Rest assured, you’re not the only one who cares about your site, a regular group of followers can help protect your account from spam.
By reporting unwanted comments or threads, your administrators can save you time and prevent spam from taking over your site.
User reputation systems help keep your community clean by distinguishing trustworthy users from abusive spammers.
You can avoid looking like a spam site to Google by blocking spammers if you add robots.txt or noindex to your website, as mentioned above.
Some of your best content may not show up on search engines if you don’t take steps to avoid this.
In short, it’s best to set up a filter or a group of administrators to protect your site from unwanted comments.
4.4. create content for humans
Google has repeatedly said that website owners should generate content for visitors, not for search engines.
Your main goal with your site should be to answer the questions of your site visitors and provide value to them.
While you should strive to rank in the search engines, that should not be your ultimate goal.
If you want to succeed, learn what humans like first, then use SEO strategies.
Chapter 5: Google Webmaster Guidelines: General Website Guidelines
It’s true that your content must be of high quality, but the site itself must also meet the general guidelines. The way your site is organized and the different web pages are also important to Google.
In this chapter we find out what the search engine says in the Google Webmaster Guidelines about websites.
5.1. Use simple URL structures
A myriad of websites have unnecessarily complicated URL structures, which often include several numbers, symbols or layers.
Google has stated that it prefers simple URL structures to complex ones. For example, a URL like this is far too long: https://exemple.com/resources/que-faut-il-savoir-sur-les-directives-de-google-pour-les-webmasters.
Ideally, a shorter, simpler URL would be “https://exemple.com /resources/category/resources/google-webmasters-directives
5.2. Don’t cloak test pages
Cloaking is a tactic that Google has mentioned in their webmaster guidelines.
It involves creating a different variant of your web page than what Google and other visitors see.
Google has stated that you should never use cloaking, even if you are just testing. Your site can be removed from search results if you use cloaking for any reason.
5.3. Determine if your website is designed for children
In an effort to make the internet a healthy space, Google Webmaster Guidelines gives instructions for protecting the privacy of children.
So, if you run a site whose target audience is children, make sure it is properly child-friendly by updating your Google settings.
Google has created a specific tag for websites aimed at the little ones to ensure compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. By doing so, your chances of getting a higher ranking increase.
5.4. Never buy or sell links
One of Google’s guidelines for webmasters is to never buy or sell backlinks. Website owners often buy or sell backlinks in order to improve their site’s ranking and generate revenue.
However, this is against the guidelines. Buying and selling links from other websites is dangerous, as you risk being banned from their search results.
But if someone pays you to mention their products or services on your site, you can always link to their website. This is called an affiliation.
By making sure that this link is not followed, it will show that the link was not created for SEO purposes.
All in all, the Google Webmaster Guidelines are extremely useful for SEO practice. It includes Google’s guidelines as to where webmasters should be as well as the search engine’s expectations for content, quality and website.
Site owners and SEOs should then refer to its guidelines when they have concerns about SEO expectations and ethics. This will help avoid breaking Google’s rules and getting banned from the SERPs altogether.
Through this content, we have tree the various guidelines contained in the Google Webmaster Guidelines and the precautions to take to avoid going against these guidelines.
We hope this content can help you preserve your site and improve your ranking. You can also share it with your friends to help them maintain their site according to Google’s recommendations.