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2.4 Follow our Webmaster Guidelines
Webmaster Guidelines offer best practices for you to help Google understand your site. The guidelines provide tips on how to create high quality sites that Googlebot, our web crawler, can access, understand, trust, and display in search results. If someone else is making your site, make sure they are fully aware of these guidelines.
Webmaster Guidelines is divided into 3 sections:
- Design and content guidelines
- Technical guidelines
- Quality guidelines
Design and content guidelines
It’s good practice to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links on your site. Google and other search engines focus on text that can be found and read on pages. The words on a page help search engines understand what a page is about and the context in which it might be useful to a potential searcher. If you use images for textual content, consider using the "alt" attribute to include a few words of descriptive text since Googlebot doesn't recognize text contained in images. Also think about the words users would type to find your pages and make sure that your site actually includes those words. As always, check for broken links and correct HTML. Broken links or pages that don’t show up correctly can frustrate visitors to your site.
A robots.txt file gives instructions to search engine crawlers about what pages to crawl or not crawl. If you don't have pages that need to be blocked from crawling, you don't need a robots.txt file. We recommend that you use a robots.txt file to prevent crawling of pages that don’t add much value for visitors, such as search results pages or other auto-generated pages. Sometimes webmasters accidentally tell search engines not to crawl their sites with a misconfigured robots.txt file. Make sure this doesn’t happen to your site! You can test if Google can access pages on your site by using the robots.txt Tester tool. Browsers sometimes do things differently so you should also test your site in different browsers to make sure that it appears correctly.
Quality guidelinesOur guidelines are important if you want your site appearing and ranking well in Google search. The quality guidelines are especially important because they outline some of the illicit practices that could result in your site being removed from Google’s index.
Here are some basic principles of our quality guidelines:
- Make pages for users, not for search engines: When you make changes to your site, make sure you’re doing so to enhance the user experience, not to try to rank better in search results. A useful question is, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
- Don't deceive your users: Don’t do anything sneaky that your users won’t appreciate, such as automatically redirecting your users to pages or sites they did not intend to visit.
- Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings: Would you feel comfortable explaining what you've done to a website that competes with you or to a Google employee?
- Create high quality and original content: see Module 1.4 Create Valuable Content For Your Audience as a refresher.
Familiarize yourself with all of our guidelines. Learn more by reading the Webmaster Guidelines section of our Help Center and by watching the video below.