If you follow the SEO and Internet Marketing space at all you will have probably heard of the newly updated Google Search Quaity Guidelines PDF that was released this past week. If you an experienced IMer you probably also know that these guidelines don’t offer any silver bullet or hidden key to the secrets of the Google Algorithm. In fact, they could be considered to be a type of propaganda in the everlong information wars that is being waged by the Big G against the collective psyche of webmasters. Nonetheless, there are some insights that could prove useful for longterm visions and plans, as well as confirmations best practices in web design.
What Exactly is this Thing?
The guide they provided was first provided a few years back (2012 I believe, but don’t quote me on that) and it was first considered “leaked” to the press. Google did this in order to drum up interest and intrigue about the guide and get webmasters to consume it as if it were a highly valued piece of competitive intelligence. It is not. It was released (leaked) purposely so that Google can spread far and wide the vision it has of what the web should look like (but which it must resort to manual reviewers to accomplish, since their algorithms are consistently being gamed).
Can We Learn Anything From It?
Depends on what you have to learn. A novice SEO should certainly consume it and try to glean any insights they can from it. I would warn against novice SEOs trying to actually learn SEO from Google, this has to be done through testing, testing and more testing. Reading Google’s publications serves a different purpose from actually learning how to do SEO today. It may help you learn how to do SEO for next year and beyond.
What do I mean by that? Well, knowing what Google is considering to be a good web experience is likely equivalent to how they are going to try and program their algorithm in the coming years. Even if what they say is best today doesn’t actually translate into what ranks today, it may eventually translate into what ranks next year. So it’s a good piece of reading in order to get into their heads a bit. I just wouldn’t go so far as to use it to base any current strategy off of. That job is reserved for testing and testing some more.
A friend of mine put it rarely nicely, he works at an SEO Kansas City company and as such has had some experience dealing both with people new to SEO as well as people who are diehard followers of everything Google has to say: “If you following everything Google says, it will lead you to a very successful and expensive AdWords Program”. Google doesn’t really care about your SEO, it’s not how they grew to make 60 billion a year and control the worlds Internet traffic. It cares about money and it gets all its from advertising. So whenever they publish something, that always has to be at the back of your mind.
You’re Giving Me Mixed Signals, Bro.
I hear you, and here is the deal: Read it for what it’s worth, an accurate portrayal of what Google thinks is a good web experience and how it would instruct humans to rate websites. They will incorporate this, potentially, into future algorithm updates. Do not, however, bend to their will and use this as a guide for creating all your web properties. For that, you should stick to doing your own testing or relying on some credible 3rd testing and literature.