Interpreting Google’s Recent Webmaster Guidelines Update

Google have decided to make some changes in their latest rendition of the Google Webmaster Guidelines. Below is a comprehensive list detailing the main changes and how they will affect different users. We have used a ‘**’ symbol to indicate where removed text was once positioned.

The Opening Paragraph

One single line ‘Even if you choose not to implement any of these suggestions’
has been removed;

‘Following the General Guidelines below will help Google find, index, and rank your site. ** We strongly encourage …’

How Google Finds Pages

The evidence that has been amounting for sometime that Google are taking alt image text into account in SEO ranking; maybe the extraction of the sentence, ‘Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.’ is further proof of this.

Sitemaps & Human-Readable Sitemap

Google have raised the importance of having a site map that is readable by humans as well as the regular site map;

‘…provide a page with a human-readable list of links to these pages …’

Maximum Number of Links Per Page

Google have stopped being vague and have specified the amount of links per page that it sees as reasonable;

‘Limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable number (a few thousand at most).’


There are a few minor changes to this section, but a slightly larger one saying that they recommend that you also use robots.txt for crawl budget purposes.

‘Use the robots.txt file on your web server to manage your crawling budget by preventing crawling of infinite spaces such as search result pages.’

Googlebot Reads Text in Images

Google have done a 180 degree flip on the use of text in images. Instead of advising against relying upon it, they are advising that you now do it. The following sentence has been removed;

‘The Google crawler doesn’t recognise text contained in images.’

<title> and ALT Attributes

An addition of the word, ‘specific’ has been made here.

Clear Hierarchy

A slight change in wording shifts the onus more over to the designer;

‘Design your site to have a clear conceptual page hierarchy’

Broken Links & Valid HTML

Changing the word ‘correct’ for the word ‘valid’ should actually make a world of difference.

‘Ensure that all links go to live web pages. Use valid HTML.’

Blocked Resources

The language of this section has been revised meaning that causing the rendering of a page to be different is the main focus.

NoFollow Advertisements

Google have changed the language in this section making it less confusing and have removed the statements about AdSense and Doubleclick.

Page Loading Times

The rewording of this section brings the page speed to the forefront of importance;

‘Optimise your page loading times. Fast sites make users happy and improve the overall quality of the web’

Design for Multiple Devices & Browsers

Google recommends that webmasters design for an array of different devices, i.e. tablets, mobiles etc.

Visual Impairments

Google have really focused on making the web more user friendly to visually impaired users. A great step in the right direction for making the internet accessible to everyone.

These additions, although most are small, may affect you personally so it is vital that you keep them in mind with your future online dealings.


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