Google put forward some basic quality principles in their webmaster guidelines, which are designed to outline some of the things that webmasters should not engage in to attempt to rank their sites better in search engines.
They also call out some specific spam issues which cause problems, but by following the basic principles fully you wouldn’t need to worry about those.
They don’t really go into much detail in the webmaster guidelines however so below you will find listed the titles and a fuller description of what they mean to you and your site.
Each point highlighted in a grey is taken directly from the Google Webmaster Guidelines, the descriptions underneath each are intended as practical examples and descriptions of what each means.
If any of the points are still unclear, or you don’t know how or why they apply to your site, then just post a question in our community!
[well]Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.[/well]
This is the core principal of white hat SEO. If you only think about your sites users when creating content and pages for your site, by definition you won’t do anything that could be considered outside their guidelines.
On the other hand, if you start producing pages with the intention of them being interpreted in a certain way by the search engines then you run the risk of being banned from them.
Ask yourself before you launch a new page:
a) “Does this page fulfil a need that my site visitors have?” or
b) “Does this page exist just to attract visitors from the search engines?”
If your purpose is closer aligned to the second of those two options, then its not “white hat”.
[well]Don’t deceive your users.[/well]
A pretty obvious piece of advice to most, but purposeful deceit or misleading people won’t be a long term path to success. You might think that tactics like this may gain you customers in the short term, but you won’t have a business in the long term.
Google have made great strides over the past couple of years in sentiment analysis of reviews and links pointing at websites, and if you have lots of bad reviews and unhappy customers, its likely in 2014 to negatively impact on your sites rankings, costing you customers and money.
[well]Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. [/well]
This guideline really covers any “off site spam” such as buying links to boost your rankings. Its true that many websites have managed that for years, but with every google update over 2012 & 2013 more and more of them have been penalised and either dropped significantly in the rankings, or been removed entirely.
Five years ago you might have found it quite easy to get away with this kind of approach, but in 2014 you are more likely than ever to have your site banned. If that were to happen, getting back in the index is ever harder, so its simply not worth the hassle when you can concentrate on doing things right and building a better business for the long term.
[well]Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.[/well]
Quality. This is where it comes in.
Since the dawn of ecommerce, some 15 odd years ago, there have been two kinds of site. Those that have innovated, perfected and broken new ground. Then there have been those that have copied, replicated, eroded margins & just “got by”.
Let me ask you to do one thing. Look at your whole site, try and work out why someone would rather buy something from your site compared to any of the hundred million other websites out there.
Are you offering something totally unique? Are you providing an amazing user experience? Are you offering the best price for whatever you are selling?
The internet is an amazing thing, it allows consumers to quickly look at any number of websites. It allows choice. While it opens up incredible new markets, unless there is some reason why your site is better than the huge amounts of competition then you’re always going to find it hard to compete.
Why should someone use your website?
Unless you have a clear idea why, you can’t expect customers too either.