Google recently released a list of 23 guidelines for Web site owners, to help them build Google-friendly Web pages. These aren't Google's exact rules (which would be too complex to explain anyway), but they are probably the most specific guidelines Google has ever given to Web site owners.
The nice thing is that, even if your Web site isn't based on getting tons of Google traffic, these guidelines are still useful. Why? Because Google's biggest piece of advice is this:
"... focus on delivering the best possible user experience on your websites, not on what you think are Google's current ranking algorithms."
So with that in mind, let's look at Google's guidelines ...
I've grouped them into three categories, omitted a few that aren't relevant to most of us, and slightly re-worded them so you can use them as a checklist.
1. Does the page provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results?
2. Does the page provide original content or information, original reporting, original research, or original analysis?
3. Does this page provide a complete or comprehensive description of the topic?
4. Does this page contain insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious?
5. Is this the sort of page you'd want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend?
6. Would you expect to see this material in a printed magazine, encyclopedia or book?
7. Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site (not just created by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines)?
8. Is this article written by an expert or enthusiast who knows the topic well?
9. Is the site a recognized authority on its topic?
10. Would you recognize this site as an authoritative source when mentioned by name?
11. Would you trust the information presented in this article?
12. Has the page been checked for spelling, stylistic, or factual errors?
13. Was the page edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
14. Are the pages produced with great care and attention to detail?
15. Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
How does your site stack up?
As you can see, Google's guidelines are about the content of your pages, not about META tags, incoming links, keyword density, URL naming, and the other "tricks" you sometimes hear about from search engine marketing "experts". This should be music to your ears! Google is telling you not to worry about all those tricks and gimmicks. Instead, focus on writing high-quality content that positions you as an authority.
If you're truly an expert, authority or thought leader - that's a cinch!