You should be familiar with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It used to be the most comprehensive documentation from Google which spelt out the dos and don’ts of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). It became outdated and Google has replaced it with Search Essentials, a new set of rules about what you need to do and what you need not do if you will perform well with SEO.
They go much more in-depth with what they like and don’t approve of. Well, as we know with Google, it can sometimes just provide a broad view and not be too detailed or specific. Whatever be the case, every clue from Google provide some real advantage which should help your SEO efforts, after all, no one can better guide your SEO efforts than Google.
Before we delve further into how Google Search Essentials is beneficial for your SEO, it is important that we understand the main goal of SEO and what Google expects us to do in optimizing websites for the search engines.
What is SEO
SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimization. It simply means the process of improving your website to increase its visibility in the search engines when people make searches. You would have done good SEO if your website ranks at the top of the search engines and you would have performed poorly if the reverse is the case with your website.
Good SEO and Bad SEO
Good SEO are the practices that follow and adhere to the prescriptions of Google while bad SEO are those that violate the guidelines set by Google.
Some Good SEO Practices
Covering a topic on good SEO can be daunting. It should be mentioned here that the ey aspects of good SEO which we have mentioned here is by no means exhaustive. However, it is important that we briefly touch on some very critical aspects of your SEO which you basically need to pay particular attention to.
Further reading: 10 Unwholesome Practices That Hurt Your Website Ranking
Search engines love fresh, quality original content that provide detailed answers to the questions searchers seek answers to. When you help search engines with the right answers and content that help them meet the needs of searchers, then the search engines reward you with higher ranking. It is advisable to make content development a part of your overall digital marketing strategy and improve on it to produce the best content for searchers.
Further reading: A Search Engine Friendly Guide to Link Building
Quality Link Building
Link building as an SEO strategy can be very sensitive and needs to be understood and conducted within the right context. Deliberate and aggressive link building may come with some temporary gains but can hurt your overall search engine performance overtime. Google wants to see that your links were earned, not bought or obtained through an exchange program. Google wants to see that your link is deserving and adds value to the content in which it appears. So, obtaining links through doorways, exchanges, massive link acquisition and other manipulative and spammy methods can hurt very badly.
We have provided a detailed guide on the best ways to build links for SEO in this article: Best link building strategies recommended by industry experts
Good Page Title and Description
Good page title and description are critical aspects of your on-page SEO. Page title is a ranking factor. On the other hand, the page description tag is not used in ranking. However, the description tag helps Google understand your page and the topic it covers. We recommend that you keep page titles under 55 characters. If inevitable, try to keep them under 60 characters. Though there will be no penalty if this length is exceeded, we consider these length as optimal for good SEO and search performance. Keep in mind that the page title can have a significant impact on your click through rate which tells Google about how much your content attracts users.
Further reading: 4 Ways to Build Quality Backlinks to Your Website
Good website speed is an important ranking factor. Google has placed a lot of weight on user experience and the speed of a website is one of the factors it uses to measure a website user experience.Google wants its search results to present users with fast websites that impresses users and keeps them online longer. Most users abandon a website that is slow and loads in more than 5 seconds.
Further reading: Understanding the Google Link Spam Update
Mobile friendliness is another user experience measure. Google wants to serve users with websites that resolve properly on all devices including mobile devices of all sizes. Fortunately Google has also provide a free mobile friendly test tool and Google Search Console can also analyze and give you insights into pages that have usability issues to help you address problems with your website mobile friendliness.
We have provided a detailed article on on-page SEO in this post titled: The Ultimate Guide to On-Page SEO
Some Bad SEO Practices
Generally, Google frowns at SEO practices that attempt to manipulate its search results and ranking algorithm. Bad SEO practices simply focus on ranking gains and not desirous of enriching the search results and providing rich and appropriate responses to the answers searchers seek. Here are a few SEO practices Google mark as bad.
This involves presenting something different to the search engines while serving human visitors a different content. It is manipulative and will definitely attract Google’s hammer.
In desperation to rank for a particular keyword or set of keywords, some website owners over use keywords in their content. Google frowns at this.
Exact Match Domains and Keywords
Using exact match keywords in domain names and anchor texts can attract Google’s penalty. Google wants you to be natural and allow its algorithm to rank your content not based on some smart moves you have made.
Further reading: Google Exact Match Keyword Penalty Explained
Google wants the content it ranks in its search results, especially those ranked at the top, to provide as much satisfactory answers as possible. It wants users to be satisfied with the content it serves. So, Google has started devaluing thin content that fail to provide as much information to help users find the answers they seek. So, just going straight to an answer and doing so in one paragraph is no longer a good practice. You need to provide some background and help users full or better understand the topic or subject matter. Simply bear in mind that Google love detailed content.
This involves posting links in forms, comment posts and such other practices without regard to the context. In other words, do not use forums, blogs,, comment posts and other similar measures to build links. Google considers them to be spam.
Further reading: Understanding the Google Link Spam Update
Links are very valuable to Google and website owners understand that links can help build up a website ranking position. But Google hates link purchases and other forms of link acquisition that a unnatural. The advise is that you should allow other websites to link to you because of the value your content offers to there discussions.
Google Search Essentials and SEO
If you understand Google Search Essentials (GSE) as the new name and an improved version of the old Google Webmaster Guidelines, then you will agree that it definitely has a role to play in your SEO. Google says a lot has changed in SEO and the update is absolutely necessary.
So, what are the major changes? Here are some key takeaways.
The most important documentation from Google on how SEO should be conducted is now guided by Google Search Essentials. This change can be considered similar to the changes Google made in 2015 when it changed Webmaster Tools and called it Search Console.
Google introduced a new section covering what it expects from people and the ind of content format that Google search can access and publish.
Automatically Generated content
The document spends a lot of time covering automated content. These are content that are generated by program software or codes. Google is showing more preference for human generated content instead of machine generated content. Of course, no matter how good a machine can be, it cannot replace human capacity and creativity.
This is not a total condemnation of machine generated content or automatically generated content. But if such a system is used for a head start, you need to manually modify the content to give it the proper context, make it more meaningful and useful and improve its quality with the human creativity.
Here is what shared about what it Hates about Automatically Generated Content:
- Text that makes no sense to the reader but contains search keywords
- Text translated by an automated tool without human review or curation before publishing
- Text generated through automated processes without regard for quality or user experience
- Text generated using automated synonymizing, paraphrasing, or obfuscation techniques
- Text generated from scraping feeds or search results
- Stitching or combining content from different web pages without adding sufficient value
Note: Google is not saying that Artificial Intelligence (AI) content is all bad. What Google is saying is that they have a problem with auto-generated content because it has a quality issue. So, in other to rank well as expected by Google, you will have a few options:
- Write content yourself
- Get someone to help create your content
- Use an AI tool to create content, and then humanly to modify it extensively to improve its quality, readability and above all, to meet the quality standard expected from Google.
If you choose option 3 there are still a few things you should consider especially if your content wouldn’t rank:
- Expand upon the length manually. Automatically generated content are mostly short. You can add more words and make it more useful.
- Add in personal experiences – story telling can make your article more creative, interesting and easy to understand. You can build in quality with some personal experiences on the subject matter.
- Make your content fresh – If you generate your content with AI, you will likely be dealing with something that is not really new. But honestly, it is so hard to find an entirely new content. They are recreated in most cases. But you can make your content more interesting with new statistics, new data and information that make your content more interesting.
Google’s interest is very clear and it states that in a release it calls helpful content update, recommends that you should create content for human readers and not to impress Google.
Google has updated its guide on spam. Although Google has made it’s position on spammy content uite clear before this update, it makes some specific examples for issues like deceptive behavior, link spam, online harassment, and scam and fraud, the company told us.
To boost your content marketing efforts, you should be interested in content types and how you can expand your reach with the different content types. Reading is becoming less popular and according to the American Phycological Association, less than 20% of teens read a book, magazine or newspaper daily. Yet more than 80% say they use social media daily which suggest an increasing use of video content.
So, Google is likely to adjust its policies in line with what is expected in the future. You also need to build content with these in mind.
Google mentions a few things that are common with local SEO practices.
- Lists of phone numbers without substantial added value
- Blocks of text that list cities and regions that a web page is trying to rank for
- Repeating the same words or phrases so often that it sounds unnatural.
A lot of companies target different locations and cities to attract more traffic and sales. In most cases, they just duplicate pages and make some few edits on the city name and some few information. Google is likely to be cracking down on such content in future.
We recommend that if you wish to promote content for neighboring cities to make more money, then you need to create fresh pages with unique content. It will save you from the shock of a Google penalty.
Key best practices
Google Search Essentials publishes some key best practices for people to consider when creating content. This covers:
- Link spam.
- Malware and malicious behaviors.
- Hacked content.
- Thin affiliate pages.
The new sections include:
- Misleading functionality
- Copyright-removal requests
- Online harassment removals
- Scam and fraud
Google Search Essentials do not all contain new things. Most content in the document are not new but makes some really interesting clarifications that help the understanding of Google quality standards.
The key takeaways:
- AI generated content are not a good quality. Google is very interested in content value. Where content is generated automatically, there is need to manually adjust them and add quality and creativity with more content, statistics, data and make better content for humans.
- Use other content types apart from text content because although SEO today is more of text-based content, users are showing more interest in content types like videos and images. Google could adjust its focus in the future so its better to take these into consideration when developing content.
- Google considers some local SEO practices as not reflecting its quality standards, users just creating duplicate pages to gain traffic could be a reason to devalue websites in search.
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