One of the documents that we always urge anyone interested in learning about SEO to read is the Google Webmaster Guidelines. It is essentially Google’s playbook on how to format your site to help the search engine to find, index and rank your pages.

From time to time Google updates this playbook by adding, updating and removing recommendations from their guidelines. Google has recently done just that. As you would expect, many of these updates have to do with security, speed and usability. Here is a quick breakdown of some of the more important additions and updates.

1.) Google has been expressing the importance of designing your site for mobile devices for some time now. This has finally made the Webmaster Guidelines:

“Design your site for all device types and sizes, including desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Use the mobile friendly testing tool to test how well your pages work on mobile devices, and get feedback on what needs to be fixed.”

2.) Another item that Google has recommended for awhile now, while not as definitively as designing for mobile, is using HTTPS to secure your site. This is now not just recommended, but apparently it’s viewed as a requirement now:

“If possible, secure your site’s connections with HTTPS. Encrypting interactions between the user and your website is a good practice for communication on the web.”

3.) If you’re using tabs on your site, make sure that the most important content is shown by default:

“Make your site’s important content visible by default. Google is able to crawl HTML content hidden inside navigational elements such as tabs or expanding sections, however we consider this content less accessible to users, and believe that you should make your most important information visible in the default page view.”

4.) While Google once recommended that the maximum amount of links on a page to be a few hundred, they have updated this recommendation to:

“Limit the number of links on a page to a reasonable number (a few thousand at most).”

5.) The importance of designing for users with visual impairments has been added:

“Ensure that your pages are useful for readers with visual impairments, for example, by testing usability with a screen-reader.”

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