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Introduction to the Google webmaster guidelines
The Google webmaster guidelines are a set of recommended practices provided by Google to help those seeking to be ranked, indexed and displayed by Google.
These guidelines are the foundation of all SEO efforts, and anyone wanting to rank well in Google should be following them. Some of the guidelines are common sense, some are very technical and all of them are very important to how your website ranks in Google. 1
Let's look at each one of them one by one...
Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.
Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.
Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.
Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.
Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site.
If Google can not see or understand your webpages, they can not be ranked in Google. Make sure your webpages are understood by Google.
The content of your robots.txt file tells search engine crawlers how they should visit your site. Don't block Google by mistake.
Paid links and advertisements should not pass pagerank. If it does on your webpages, you will likely be penalized.
Affiliate web pages need to have original useful content to rank well in Google results. Content provided by another website adds no value.
Blocking pages that do not add much value can really boost your rankings. Every page Google has indexed from your site should be amazing.
Auto-generated pages or content will not rank well in Google. Make sure your information is original and useful.
Who you link to and who links to you affects your ranking in the Google results. Make sure you are not in any bad neighborhoods. Link relationships are described in depth.
Spend time improving your webpages, not on SEO tricks or shortcuts. If you use tricks or shortcuts, you will be ranked lower than your competitors.
Cloaking is sending users to a different place than Googlebot or other search engine spiders. Make sure you are not doing this as this behavior is heavily penalized by Google.
Using hidden text or links on your webpages is easily detected by Google. Your site will be penalized if you do this.
Doorway pages are webpages that are "optimized" for particular keyword phrases and only exist to capture that keyword phrase in search engine results.
Using scraped or stolen content is against the Google webmaster guidelines and it is also against the law. Not a good idea.
Keyword stuffing is not only bad for your users, it is against the Google guidelines. Using keywords over and over unnaturally will not please your users.
Don't be mean. Adding viruses, trojans, or other badware to your webpages is a sure fire way to lose trust, traffic, and ranking.
Misleading or false information in your rich snippet mark up will result in lower rankings.
Too many links can overwhelm a user. Make sure every link has a truly good reason to be there.
Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.
Text is well understood by search engines, images are not. If you use images for important links on your page, they might not be understood or recognized as well as text is.
No one enjoys clicking on a link that seems to be exactly what they are looking for only to find that no web page is there.
Dynamic pages must be able to be understood by Google. They face special challenges which are described in this guideline.
Users hate being deceived. You hate being deceived. Google hates it too.
The if modified since http header lets Google know if your web pages have been updated.
Don't confuse Googlebot with session id's and other tracking methods.
It is very easy to add all kinds of content to Google. This guidelines tells you how.
by Patrick Sexton
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