Thoughts on the new Webmaster Guidelines

Google has just updated its Help Center with renewed Webmaster Guidelines. In an effort to increase awareness, a few more details are now given to webmasters.  A very welcome addition is the official positioning on the Rich Snippet manipulation, which gives an indication that this issue is being more closely followed by Google.

Besides a few clear examples of hidden text and unnatural linking techniques, the focus of the new communication was also on the need of original, high quality content in place (or in complement) of content that is:

  • auto-generated,
  • scraped,
  • or affiliate-based.

One aspect that is still a bit unclear in these guidelines is the one related to making “reasonable efforts to ensure that advertisements do not affect search engine rankings.” Since the Page Layout algorithm improvement has come into effect earlier this year, you could expect some mention of the use of advertisement on-page. Hence the rules of common sense remain as the only recommendation:

  • to not fill (especially the upper part of) your webpages with ads,
  • and to keep considerable organic content above the fold.