What Are Google’s Quality Guidelines?

If you own or manage a website, you know that getting to the top of a search engine’s page rankings is very important. Without a high ranking, your page can get lost among the other hundred million pages out there. But how do you know how a search engine like Google rates your page? How does Google classify types of content, and what does it consider quality content? Is there anything you can do to get to the top and stay there? And what are the things that Google finds so egregious that will make them take action against your website? The good news is that Google does have specific guidelines they use to rate your page and rank your site. And following their guidelines can aid Google in locating, indexing, and ranking your website.

Basic principles

Google’s quality guidelines contain some pretty basic principles that ensure search engines are providing users with the most diverse information and the best quality possible. Here are Google’s basic principles to follow when building a website and creating content for it:

1)  Create pages primarily for users. Do not make your pages just for search engines.

2)  Never deceive users.

3)  Avoid tricks that are intended to improve your site’s search engine rankings. First, think of how comfortable you would feel explaining what you’ve done to a Google employee or to a website that competes with yours. You can also ask yourself questions like, “Does this help my users?” or “Would I do this if search engines did not exist?” 

4)  Think about the qualities that make your website valuable, engaging, and most of all, unique. One of the most important things you can do in improving your website’s rankings is to make it stand out from others in your field.

What to avoid

There are several practices Google finds deplorable when it comes to creating websites, especially is they’re manipulated solely to gain better page rankings. Here are some of the most common illicit practices that will cause Google to take action against you:

Cloaking

Cloaking refers to the practice of displaying URLs or content that is different to search engines than you display to human users. It provides Google’s users with different results than they expect, and for this reason it is a serious violation of Google’s Webmasters Guidelines. An example of cloaking is when a website contains key words or text in pages only when the user-agent requesting the page is a search engine and not when it is a human user.

Sneaky redirects

Similar to cloaking, this is when a website sends a visitor to a different URL than the one they requested to be sent to, and it’s considered an illicit practice when it is done for reasons other than when consolidating several pages into one or when moving your site to a new address. A redirect that violates Google’s guidelines is when your site deceives search engines or displays content to human users that is different than what is made available to Google’s spiders or crawlers. When this is done, a search engine might index an original page instead of following the redirect, but users will be taken to the deceptive redirects target page. An example of a redirect is when desktop users will receive a normal page, while mobile users are redirected to a totally different page that is actually a spam domain.

Irrelevant keywords

This is called ‘key word stuffing,’ and it’s bad no matter how you’re using it. It refers to the practice of loading pages with key words in an attempt to wield a better ranking in Google’s search results. Often, content writers will stuff content in order to make blogs or articles more relevant so they will be more easily picked up in search engines. Deceptive key word stuffing often happens inorganically, with pages being filled with key words or numbers without substantial added value or relevance to content. Key words are often repeated over and over in a manner that is not natural to the text. It is important to create informative and useful content that utilizes key words properly in the most appropriate form of the content.

Consequences

If Google finds any of these or other illicit practices, your site may be removed entirely from the Google index. It can also be negative impacted by Google’s algorithm or manual spam action. If a site is affected by a spam action, it is possible that it may no longer appear in Google’s, or any of its partner, sites. Google’s guidelines are not, however, comprehensive. Just because their guidelines do not mention a particular deceptive behavior, does not mean it will not respond negatively if other misleading practices are found.

There isn’t much when it comes to websites that’s more important than getting a high page ranking. Because the higher up your site goes, the more page views you’ll get. Following Google’s quality guidelines is essential in helping Google find and rank your website. And that can help you get your page higher up in Google’s search engine. The simple truth is that webmasters who uphold the spirit of Google’s basic principles in an effort to please their users are more apt to be seen positively by Google and receive better rankings. If you need assistance with these and other issues, an SEO expert is an excellent place to go for assistance.

 

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