Google Guidelines for SEO Services: Best Practices or Standardized Optimization?

Link for Guidelines

"Webmasters who spend their energies upholding the spirit of the basic principles will provide a much better user experience and subsequently enjoy better ranking than those who spend their time looking for loopholes they can exploit." Google Guidelines, 2008

There's been an argument for a long time among SEO services revolving around whether or not there should be SEO standards. Specifically, the debates question whether a set of standards is actually a "best practices" list or an inhibiting factor for SEO. Now throw into the equation the fact that Google has published a set of "optimization guidelines." Is this “best practice” or SEO inhibition?

Something to consider: Google is the number one search engine - the big Kahuna. They are Big Momma in the SEO house, and whatever Big Momma says and wants, Big Momma gets. So…If Google says, "This guide will help make your website more 'crawlable’, and these are the basic guidelines for optimizing for our search engine", then should we really be worrying about semantics? Does it really make a difference if they're “best practices” or constricting standards?

Better yet, as companies that provide SEO services, aren't we obligated by our positions to at least look them over? I mean if anyone is the expert on what works and doesn’t work, wouldn't it BE Google?

Google Guidelines for Optimization
Those in the SEO community who provide SEO services may or may not agree with the guidelines. After all, SEO is a school of many theories. However, most, if not all, of these guidelines make sense; to turn away because you don't want to be hemmed in by rules or structure is to turn away from success for your clients. So here is what you should:

• Make every page accessible with at least one static text link. Definitely "best practices" for SEO services and web designers. Just like users, engines don't like to have to search for informational pages.

• Have information-rich pages that describe your content well. Again, "best practices". For example, what good is it to have a site with information that isn't related?

• Use text to display important content instead of images. While you can put text over an image, using an image to display the text cuts down on the effectiveness of the copy your SEO services provide.

• Check your site with a text browser. If you can't see all of your site because of fancy flash and script, neither can Google.

• Use an XTML Sitemap. For those sites that are too complicated to be crawled, an XTML Sitemap is especially helpful. If the spiders get lost, they can refer back to the sitemap.

• Don't try to trick the search engines to improve ranking. If you wouldn't feel comfortable explaining what you've done for a client to a competitor, don't do it.

Not only are the guidelines clear about “do's", but they set out their list of “don’t’s” as well. These include: cloaking, automated queries, and pages with irrelevant keywords (to name a few).

This is just a small portion of the list; there are many more tips in the Google guidelines. So, to all the other SEO services out there I say, forget semantics (unless it's semantic web) and read the guide. Whether best practices or SEO standards, the guidelines are there to show us the way.

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