Webmaster Help Center

Webmaster Guidelines

Following these guidelines will help Google find, index, and rank your site. Even if you choose not to implement any of these suggestions, we strongly encourage you to pay very close attention to the "Quality Guidelines," which outline some of the illicit practices that may lead to a site being removed entirely from the Google index or otherwise penalized. If a site has been penalized, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google's partner sites.

When your site is ready:

Design and content guidelines

Technical guidelines

Quality guidelines

These quality guidelines cover the most common forms of deceptive or manipulative behavior, but Google may respond negatively to other misleading practices not listed here (e.g. tricking users by registering misspellings of well-known websites). It's not safe to assume that just because a specific deceptive technique isn't included on this page, Google approves of it. 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.

If you believe that another site is abusing Google's quality guidelines, please report that site at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/spamreport. Google prefers developing scalable and automated solutions to problems, so we attempt to minimize hand-to-hand spam fighting. The spam reports we receive are used to create scalable algorithms that recognize and block future spam attempts.

Quality guidelines - basic principles

Quality guidelines - specific guidelines

If you determine that your site doesn't meet these guidelines, you can modify your site so that it does and then submit your site for reconsideration.


How can I create a Google-friendly site?

Things to do

Our webmaster guidelines provide general design, technical, and quality guidelines. Below are more detailed tips for creating a Google-friendly site.

Give visitors the information they're looking for

Provide high-quality content on your pages, especially your homepage. This is the single most important thing to do. If your pages contain useful information, their content will attract many visitors and entice webmasters to link to your site. In creating a helpful, information-rich site, write pages that clearly and accurately describe your topic. Think about the words users would type to find your pages and include those words on your site.

Make sure that other sites link to yours

Links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. When returning results for a search, Google combines PageRank (our view of a page's importance) with sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google counts the number of votes a page receives as part of its PageRank assessment, interpreting a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

Keep in mind that our algorithms can distinguish natural links from unnatural links. Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and think it would be helpful for their visitors. Unnatural links to your site are placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to search engines. Some of these types of links (such as link schemes and doorway pages) are covered in our webmaster guidelines.

Only natural links are useful for the indexing and ranking of your site.

Make your site easily accessible

Build your site with a logical link structure. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.

Use a text browser, such as Lynx, to examine your site. Most spiders see your site much as Lynx would. If features such as JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, frames, DHTML, or Macromedia Flash keep you from seeing your entire site in a text browser, then spiders may have trouble crawling it.

Consider creating static copies of dynamic pages. Although the Google index includes dynamic pages, they comprise a small portion of our index. If you suspect that your dynamically generated pages (such as URLs containing question marks) are causing problems for our crawler, you might create static copies of these pages. If you create static copies, don't forget to add your dynamic pages to your robots.txt file to prevent us from treating them as duplicates.

Things to avoid

Don't fill your page with lists of keywords, attempt to "cloak" pages, or put up "crawler only" pages. If your site contains pages, links, or text that you don't intend visitors to see, Google considers those links and pages deceptive and may ignore your site.

Don't feel obligated to purchase a search engine optimization service. Some companies claim to "guarantee" high ranking for your site in Google's search results. While legitimate consulting firms can improve your site's flow and content, others employ deceptive tactics in an attempt to fool search engines. Be careful; if your domain is affiliated with one of these deceptive services, it could be banned from our index.

Don't use images to display important names, content, or links. Our crawler doesn't recognize text contained in graphics. Use ALT attributes if the main content and keywords on your page can't be formatted in regular HTML.

Don't create multiple copies of a page under different URLs. Many sites offer text-only or printer-friendly versions of pages that contain the same content as the corresponding graphic-rich pages. To ensure that your preferred page is included in our search results, you'll need to block duplicates from our spiders using a robots.txt file. For information about using a robots.txt file, please visit our information on blocking Googlebot.


How can I create a Google-friendly URL structure?

A site's URL structure should be as simple as possible. Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers). For example, if you're searching for information about aviation, a URL like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aviation will help you decide whether to click that link. A URL like http://www.example.com/index.php?id_sezione=360&sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1, is much less appealing to users.

Consider using punctuation in your URLs. The URL http://www.example.com/green-dress.html is much more useful to us than http://www.example.com/greendress.html. We recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs.

Overly complex URLs, especially those containing multiple parameters, can cause a problems for crawlers by creating unnecessarily high numbers of URLs that point to identical or similar content on your site. As a result, Googlebot may consume much more bandwidth than necessary, or may be unable to completely index all the content on your site.

Common causes of this problem

Unnecessarily high numbers of URLs can be caused by a number of issues. These include:

Steps to resolve this problem

To avoid potential problems with URL structure, we recommend the following:


Make sure that your TITLE tags and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.

Your title tags and alt attributes contain important information that Google uses when indexing your site. Descriptive information will give us good information about the content of your site. In addition, text contained in your title tag can appear in search results pages, and useful, descriptive text is more likely to be clicked on by users.

Title tags

First of all, make sure your title tags are descriptive and accurate, and that each page has a descriptive title tag. Consider the title tag a place to showcase the most important topic for each page. However, be careful not to add too many keywords, as this could be considered keyword stuffing.

Not so good:

<title>Home</title>

Better:

<title>Webmaster Central home page</title>

Best:

<title>Webmaster Central home page | Search engine
 tips and tools for webmasters</title>

To be avoided (may cause your site to be perceived as spam):

<title>Webmaster Central seo optimization search engine search
 engine google websearch google searchresults improve search results
seo optimize search searching serps</title>

Alt attributes

The alt attribute is used to describe the contents of an image file. It's important for several reasons:

Not so good:

<img src="puppy.jpg" alt=""/>

Better:

<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy"/>

Best:

<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="Golden Retriever puppy fetching a stick">

To be avoided (may cause your site to be perceived as spam):

<img src="puppy.jpg" alt="puppy dog baby
dog pup pups puppies doggies pups litter puppies dog retriever
 labrador wolfhound setter pointer puppy jack russell terrier
puppies dog food cheap dogfood puppy food"/>

We recommend testing your content by using a text-only browser such as Lynx.


Does Google index dynamic pages?

Yes, Google indexes dynamically generated webpages, including .asp pages, .php pages, and pages with question marks in their URLs. However, these pages can cause problems for our crawler and may be ignored. If you're concerned that your dynamically generated pages are being ignored, you may want to consider creating static copies of these pages for our crawler. If you do this, please be sure to include a robots.txt file that disallows the dynamic pages in order to ensure that these pages aren't seen as having duplicate content. In addition, you might consider creating and submitting a detailed Sitemap. This is an easy way for you to submit all your URLs to the Google index and get detailed reports about the visibility of your pages on Google. You can automatically keep us informed of all of your current pages and of any updates you make to those pages. Please note that submitting a Sitemap doesn't guarantee that all pages of your site will be crawled or included in our search results.


Working with Flash, images, and other non-text files

In general, search engines are text based. This means that in order to be crawled and indexed, your content needs to be in text format. This doesn't mean that you can't include images, Flash files, videos, and other rich media content on your site; it just means that any content you embed in these files should also be available in text format or it won't be accessible to search engines. The examples below focus on the most common types of non-text content, but the guidelines are similar for any other types: Provide text equivalents for all non-text files. This will not only increase Googlebot's ability to successfully crawl and index your content; it will also make your content more accessible. Many people, for example users with visual impairments, who use screen readers, or have low bandwidth connections, cannot see images on web pages, and providing text equivalents widens your audience.

Images

  • Don't embed large amounts of text inside images. Googlebot won't be able to index the text in these images. Provide detailed captions and descriptions of images you use - this is the text that Google will use to index your site.
  • Use detailed alt text to describe the content of your images. Googlebot cannot read text embedded in images. Therefore, alt text is a useful way to give Google information about an image.

    Not so good:

    <img src="image1.jpg" alt=""/>

    Better:

    <img src="image1.jpg" alt="puppy"/>

    Best:

    <img src="image1.jpg" alt="Golden Retriever puppy fetching a stick"/>

    Flash, Silverlight, and other rich media formats

    Flash and Silverlight (like other rich media formats) are inherently visual, which can cause some problems for Googlebot. Unlike some Internet spiders, Googlebot can read some rich media files and extract the text and links in them, but the structure and context are missing. Also, rich media designers often include content in the form of graphics, and because Google can't detect words included in graphics, it can miss important keywords. In other words, even if we can crawl your content and it is in our index, it might be missing some text, content, or links.

    If you do plan to use Flash, Silverlight, or other rich media formats, here are some guidelines that can help prevent problems.

    Video files

    Googlebot cannot crawl the content of video files, so it's important that you provide information about videos you include. Consider creating a transcript of the video you want to include, or provide a detailed description of the video inside your HTML. If you have video content, you can host it on Google Video, YouTube, or a number of other video hosting providers. Searchers can view Google Video or YouTube videos directly from the Google search results page.

    IFrames

    IFrames are sometimes used to display content on web pages. Content displayed via iFrames may not be indexed and available to appear in Google's search results. We recommend that you avoid the use of iFrames to display content. If you do include iFrames, make sure to provide additional text-based links to the content they display, so that Googlebot can crawl and index this content.

    Other file types

    Google can index most types of pages and files.


    2008 Google