In 2002, Google launched the “Webmaster Guidelines,” which outlined the best practices for site owners in building a website. Since then, a lot has changed in the digital landscape, prompting Google to refresh and simplify the guidelines. In October 2022, Google announced the release of the “Google Search Essentials” to replace the outdated “Webmaster Guidelines.”
The new name was chosen to highlight the importance of the points covered on these pages and to include all creators on the internet who wish to see their content in Google Search, rather than focusing on just one slice of visitors. The Google Search Essentials have been reorganized into three main sections: technical requirements, spam policies, and key best practices.
The technical requirements cover the basics of publishing content in a format that Google can index and allowing Google to access that content. The spam policies section includes examples of common forms of spam and behavior that could lead to a site ranking lower or not appearing in Google web search results. The new additions include deceptive behavior-related topics such as misleading functionality, new sections on other behaviors that can lead to demotion and/or removal such as online harassment and scam and fraud, and consolidated topics related to link spam and thin content.
Finally, the key best practices section highlights the set of practices that site owners should consider when creating sites. While following the requirements can get sites in Search and keep them there, the best practices breathe life into sites, making them more easily found through Search.
The Google Search Essentials are designed to make it easier for site owners to understand the guidelines and focus on things that matter for their site.