New Google guidelines for site owners

Google last launched a page in 2002, with a set of guidelines for site owners that gave an overview of best practices when it came to building a site. They named it  “Webmaster Guidelines”. Since then they have added a lot of information to these guidelines to help site owners build the site that’s right for their users who visit through Google Search.

There has been many changes since 2002, so they have launched a refreshed, simplified version of the Webmaster Guidelines, and have changed what they call it as well.

The New Google Search Essentials 

What’s changed

The refresh comes with a few changes. Since the whole Search Central site is, by definition, a set of guidelines and best practices, we simplified the site by moving many of the former guidelines to specific sections where they belong. Then, they introduced a categorisation of the points covered in the former Webmaster Guidelines:

  • Technical requirements
  • Spam policies
  • Key best practices

A new focused section on the technical requirements

The technical requirements are few and simple: publish content in a format that Google can index, and allow Google to access that content. This is the bare minimum for getting into Google’s search results; we do realise however that there’s more to getting your site indexed and served, and they encourage creators to also think about the key best practices.

Spam Policies: more examples and new topics

The spam policies cover common forms of spam and behaviour that could lead to a site ranking lower or not appearing at all in Google web search results. 

Most topics were taken from the former “Quality Guidelines” and other closely related existing guidelines published on Search Central that were originally stand-alone, like malware and hacked content. 

The new additions and notable modifications are:

  • New deceptive behaviour related-topics such as misleading functionality
  • New section on other behaviours that can lead to demotion and or removal, such as online harassment, and scam and fraud
  • Consolidated topics related to link spam and thin content

They asked the Search Quality team to rewrite the content to address spam that they see on the internet today, and when possible, use more precise language, and add more concrete examples that are relevant in 2022. The new version will help site owners avoid creating content that Search users absolutely hate.

Key best practices for success

Finally, the key best practices are a set of practices that they believe people really should consider when creating sites. While following the requirements can get (and keep!) sites in Search, it’s the best practices that breathe life into sites so they can be more easily found through Search.

You might have also noticed that over the past couple of months they have been moving pages around on Search Central. They organised the information into a more logical structure, and consolidated similar pages, but generally haven’t changed the content.