In October, Google said “Goodbye” to its Webmaster Guidelines for good, changing them officially to “Search Essentials.” This change came after several significant shifts that Google has done this year.
Google introduced Webmaster Guidelines about two decades ago, in 2002, but now they have let the name go for good, significantly changing the tools’ guidelines. Professional marketers anticipated this major shift because it is not only a name change but a new form of simplification in the overall format of the tools. In this article, we will take a closer look at what has changed and what it means for professionals in the field and site owners.
In August 2022, Google made another major update and introduced “People-first Helpful Content.” It naturally preceded the Google Search Essentials, as it complements the new “key best practices” we will elaborate on more in this article. “Helpful content” essentially means providing useful information, primarily for people and meeting their specific needs and requirements, instead of generating content that can rank better on search engines, packed with keywords, but without being useful for people.
The motivation behind this significant change isn’t only to replace the term “webmaster” but also to simplify and expand. In a nutshell, it means that Google has made it easier to understand these tools.
Google Search Essentials now consists of three sections. And it is intended for more than webmasters, it is also helpful for website owners, developers, publishers, content creators, etc. In the past few years, Google gradually stepped away from the “Webmaster” term, rebranding it first to Google Search Central and now to Search Essentials.
What Has Changed Essentially?
As mentioned earlier, this new update by Google has added new clear terms and better, simplified guidelines to follow in just three sections. The update includes:
New Technical Requirements Section
Google created this section to make it easier for people to understand how to publish content so that it can be indexed and accessed by Google. There are three main requirements for Google to index a webpage now.
- Googlebot isn’t blocked
- The page works without errors
- The page’s content is accessible and indexable
Although these requirements aren’t hard to achieve and are considered the bare minimum for Google to access and index a website, published content needs to be in a format that’s easy to comprehend by users, and getting a good ranking will take a lot more effort. That leads us to the next section.
New Spam Policies Section
Google’s new spam policies update focuses on content creation. It’s meant to avoid creating content that isn’t helpful for people who use Google search. It is necessary to mention that this spam policy already existed on Google Search Central before its rebranding to Google Search Essentials and was under “Quality Guidelines.” However, there are a few new additions, including online harassment, scam, and deceptive behaviour, making it clear what quality content shouldn’t include.
Check out some of primary Google’s spam policies are the following:
- Hacked, spammy, and automatically-generated content
- Content with keyword stuffing
- Machine-generated traffic
- Copyright removal requests
- Hidden text and links on the website
- Link spam or User-generated spam
Key Best Practices Section
Under this new section, Google offers more intuitive and less complicated guidance for people to follow when creating content for websites ensuring that they provide helpful information. Google has listed that content needs to serve people for it to be found more easily on Google Search.
You can see here some the main key best practices, which include:
- Create helpful content for people
- Make links accessible for Google’s crawlers
- Enhance website appearance with rich snippets
- Use keywords that people search for in titles and headings
In our practice, implementing successful keywords in our SEO strategies shows that they can do wonders for your website.
What do marketers think about Google Search Essentials Guidelines?
After Google sent Webmaster Guidelines to the past, introducing Google Search Essentials, professionals in the field were eager to share their opinion on this significant shift. Marie Haynes, one of the leaders in the SEO industry, shared a few great strategies to boost Google performance for websites following Google Essentials documentation. One of her major points is to follow strictly and stay up to date with Google’s spam policies and refer to “key best practices’ guidelines” to make content that ranks higher.
When it comes to content, Neil Platel, one of the top influencers on the web, commented on the new Google Essential’s set of requirements and focused on AI-written content. He said that it isn’t about Google not liking content written by AI, but it needs to be significantly modified by a content writer so that it is useful for people. Platel also mentioned that content needs personality to rank higher on the search engine. In his commentary, he also emphasised video content, stating that it is becoming a vital part of any website. In his opinion, Google already realises that the future of SEO is not only text-based content. That’s why Google Essentials includes guidelines for images and videos to help content creators ensure good SEO results, regardless of how Google adjusts its requirements in the future.
With this update, Google is now making it easier for site owners and content creators to engage with users and rank better by providing helpful information for people. It has updated its guidelines and policies that include harmful behaviour leading to websites ranking lower or de-indexing and introduced new “key best practice guidelines” for specialists to follow to enhance the website’s performance on Google Search.
As the new generations rely primarily on short video content to gather information, we anticipate the future changes that Google will implement in its guidelines regarding content creation. Since they released shorts on YouTube with over 1.5 billion viewers today, we welcome the changes yet to come. If you want to adapt and stay on top of the digital waves of transformation, don’t hesitate to contact us and discuss the successful marketing strategies that will help you achieve your goals.