Google made several introductions in 2013 – so many, that most SEO experts will still be talking about them well into 2014. Among these noteworthy introductions, are the “Quality Guidelines” that were added to the official Webmaster Guidelines earlier in the year. Here are some of the highlights of these guidelines, created by the San Francisco area SEO professionals at Crest Media.
First, Google wants webmasters to know that while its guidelines are meant to inform them about the most commonly penalized types of behavior, there are other manipulative techniques that could be penalized as well. Specifically, the entry states that, “Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here. It’s not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn’t included on this page, Google approves of it.”
What are the most commonly penalized tactics? There is a long list of warnings in the , but here are three that warrant further explanation.
Don’t automatically generate content. Commonly referred to as “auto-generated” content, this refers to text that has been programmatically generated rather than manually created by a human being. The purpose of auto-generated content is to “spin” content many times over so that keywords can be implemented into the pages without anyone having to write original and better content. Often, this content makes little sense to the reader because it is stitched together by an application.
Fortunately, auto-generated content has diminished in use because of Google Penguin. Unfortunately, deliberate content spinning still lives on in the form of copy and paste. If you copy/paste from competitor websites without adding sufficient value to the content before publishing, Google will regard this duplicate content the same way it regards auto-generated content. It’s a violation of the Quality Guidelines.
Don’t abuse your rich snippets markup. The rich snippet is the snippet of text that accompanies some search listings. Although author rich snippets that accompany articles are the type most users are familiar with, Google does reward other high quality sites with rich snippets. But because many websites abused their rich snippets by placing false or misleading information in them to manipulate SEO, Google announced in October 2013 that there would be a 15% reduction in the amount of rich snippets displayed. Sadly, this reduction also applies to Authorship.
According to the Quality Guidelines, all HTML must be marked up properly in order for a website to be eligible for rich snippets. The webmaster must not mark up content that is invisible to users, and may not mark up irrelevant or misleading content (i.e., fake reviews or content that does not relate to the topics on the page).
Don’t send automated queries to Google. Smart webmasters use analytical software tools, including automated query tools, to help them check the rankings for their keywords. But if too many automated queries come from the same IP address, Google may interpret that to mean the webmaster is trying to create a spike in his own rankings. In order to safely send automated queries to Google for legitimate analytical purposes, you must deploy the queries from a registered Google AdWords API account.
Staying compliant with Google Quality Guidelines
In order to avoid a rankings penalty, webmasters must make sure their websites comply with Quality Guidelines at all times. Every time a new SEO company or content creator comes on board, it is the webmaster’s job to make sure that guidelines are being followed. To speak with a San Francisco SEO company that knows Quality Guidelines inside and out, contact the professionals at Crest Media.