Google Updates Their Webmaster Guidelines To Include Details On Rich Snippet Abuse

Google has published “information for webmasters” as least as far back as 2001. The original information included “do’s and don’ts” and “fact and fiction”.

Google Guidelines

In 2003, Google expanded this information to include a specific set of “webmaster guidelines”:

 Google Guidelines

Google Guidelines

In 2006, www.google.com/webmasters became Google Webmaster Central, and the information for webmasters became a complete help center with lots of details and explanations.

Google has continued to refine and evolve their information for site owners over the years, both to provide information about what’s new and to provide further clarity. This week, they’ve updated their guidelines and help center again.

The main change was to add guidelines around rich snippets.

If the rich snippets markup on a page is spammy, misleading, or otherwise abusive, our algorithms are much more likely to ignore the markup and render a text-only snippet. Keep in mind that, while rich snippets are generated algorithmically, we do reserve the right to take manual action (e.g., disable rich snippets for a specific site) in cases where we see actions that hurt the experience for our users.

Examples and details were added to several of the existing guidelines. For instance, the detail about link schemes had these examples added:

    • Text advertisements that pass PageRank
    • Links that are inserted into articles with little coherence, for example: most people sleep at night. you can buy cheap blankets at shops. a blanket keeps you warm at night. you can also buy a wholesale heater. It produces more warmth and you can just turn it off in summer when you are going on france vacation.
    • Low-quality directory or bookmark site links
    • Links embedded in widgets that are distributed across various sites, for example: Visitors to this page: 1,472 car insurance
    • Widely distributed links in the footers of various sites

While the guidelines have been updated, the spirit behind them hasn’t changed. Write great content for your audiences and don’t try to manipulate search engine algorithms.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | Google: SEO | Google: Webmaster Central | Top News

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About The Author: is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. She built Google Webmaster Central and went on to found software and consulting company Nine By Blue and create Blueprint Search Analytics< which she later sold. Her book, Marketing in the Age of Google, (updated edition, May 2012) provides a foundation for incorporating search strategy into organizations of all levels. Follow her on Twitter at @vanessafox.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn



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  • http://steveplunkett.com @steveplunkett

    Thanks for the history recap.. great info =)

  • Travis Prebble

    Are there any guidelines on lists of articles with intro text? I marked up a control that lists the latest posts on my site for headline, thumbnailURL, articleBody (the intro text), author and dateModified, but I’m wondering if Google will find that overkill since there could be 20 on a page and they’re all pointers to the full article. Not that it matters much right now as Google isn’t displaying snippets for Article schema.

  • Travis Prebble

    Are there any guidelines on lists of articles with intro text? I marked up a control that lists the latest posts on my site for headline, thumbnailURL, articleBody (the intro text), author and dateModified, but I’m wondering if Google will find that overkill since there could be 20 on a page and they’re all pointers to the full article. Not that it matters much right now as Google isn’t displaying snippets for Article schema.

  • Yousee

    The examples provided will be of great help.

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