As with all major changes, earlier this year Google opted to quietly update the Webmaster Guideline. This is the first place where anybody interested in SEO should go to stay informed about Google SEO best practices.
Although Google, for many years, challenged webmasters over the world to follow the Webmaster Guidelines in an attempt to rank sites properly. Google was “flexible”, leaving the webmasters to decide whether or not to implement them. However, things have changed, and Google has now removed the statement: “even if you choose not to implement any of these suggestions”, meaning that there is now no longer a real choice for webmasters in whether or not to follow the guidelines.
Another major change is the formatting. The Guidelines are now broken down into three core elements, clearly separating tasks that would support the finding, crawlability and User Experience Processes.
Of these the User Experience Process is the most important. Google has been advocating the importance of a faster more universal website with the capability to run across multiple browsers and devices for a long time. Many suggestions were passed to webmasters via the Google Webmaster Hangouts, but Google never took official stances. Now it seems they may have blended a couple of these ideas, recommending a “mobile first” design approach in tandem with the “always accessible” website concept meaning that regardless of the project, UX cannot be underestimated anymore.
Of course, given their interest in improving security over the net, Google couldn’t miss HTTPs off the guidelines. This was initially pushed via the SPDY protocol release to arrive alongside their most recent changes in the ranking infrastructure, which now prefers HTTPs website to HTTP one (unless differently stated). The additional time required while exchanging the secure certificate and establishing the connection is minor when compared to the benefit of increasing customer’s trust.
Finally, it is worth remembering that very recently Google also updated the Webmaster Tool Help section, changing the layout and adopting the “material design” making it more informative and usable.
Interestingly Google seem to have contradicted one of their own guidelines now recommending limiting links on page to a “reasonable number” quoting an estimate as a few thousand.
A page with a huge number of links can be confusing, complicated for a screen-reader and cause poor hierarchy. This could be an oversight, but maintaining the traditional SEO recommendation of one hundred links per page would likely negate these issues.
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