Google has recently replaced its Webmaster Guidelines with Search Essentials. These guidelines were created to help marketers understand how to make the most of SEO. However, the guidelines were somewhat vague with suggestions of what marketers should do or not do to rank with favour on the search engine with ubiquitous reach.

The new Search Essentials are somewhat more direct. These guidelines are intended to continue to help marketers rank highly on Google’s search results. They may or may not have an effect on the ranking results of other search engines. But, as the majority of people use Google, an estimated 1 billion people, it is the largest market and therefore, the most important for most online businesses.

Let’s take a closer look at the guidelines and the parameters provided so your marketing and SEO rank with the new Google algorithm.

Content types

Audiences are reading less, and engaging online with alternative forms of content that make it easier for people to absorb information, fast. This is generally through visual content.  According to a recent survey, less than 20% of teens read books, magazines or newspapers daily, but more than 80% use social media daily. The content they are consuming online is video.

Gen Z is turning to TikTok and Instagram for search results. For this reason, it is important that marketers understand how to index their content to rate on Google and return the right results. The key is cataloguing and indexing which is easily recognised by Google search and returns your content as the first page, top 10 choices.

Google’s Search Essentials explains how you can help Google understand the type of content you are creating. As all marketers know, SEO does only include text-based content but also takes into account things like schema markup on websites. Use the code guidelines for images and videos to ensure your site is a top choice for Google searches.

Your meta tags, outbound links, crawlable links and other information are detailed behind your visual content. The ‘Crawling and Indexing’ section of the guidelines gives explicit advice on how to use your visual content to improve your SEO.

Automated content

There are a lot of tools that provide AI-generated copy and Google has an algorithm to detect and rate that content. However, the code can detect more than just the amount of content on a website. It has become more sophisticated and is now able to detect the quality of the content – it can detect AI-generated content.

Google has made it clear that when it comes to AI-written content, it can detect:

  • Text that contains search keywords but is grammatically incorrect or incoherent
  • Auto-translated text published without review
  • Autogenerated text that provides no value to the user
  • Text generated from scraping feeds or search results
  • Text cobbled together from various sources with no cohesion, and no overall message or value

AI-generated content is not content. It is filler used by companies unwilling to invest in workers. Content created by writers is not always high quality, but again, that depends on the investment your business is willing to make. Content that expresses the value of your business, connects with your audience and elevates the quality of your website is always written by a professional person – and never an AI.

For content marketing to be meaningful and reach your target audience, you need to:

  • Write original high-quality content
  • Invest in a writer or team to produce content that is error-free and meaningful

AI-generated content tends to be error-filled, impersonal, scant in length and overall, inaccurate. While many digital marketing businesses are now offering access to AI-content creation tools, they require a large amount of work to be usable. The tools are great for analysis of your existing content and understanding what topics rank on search engines, but they are not great for generating usable content, and Google will penalise your search ranking if you attempt to use this content to boost your keyword quota.

Local SEO

While Google has not explicitly said these tips are about local SEO, they have made it clear that the following additions to your website will negatively affect your local SEO:

  • Lists without substantial added value, such as phone numbers or addresses
  • Blocks of text that list cities and regions
  • Word or phrase repetition that is unnatural or unnecessary.

Many companies have multiple locations, while others will create more than one page for multiple regions to improve SEO traffic. Such sites copy and paste from the parent site, and add blocks of text with different addresses according to the region. This does little to add value to the customer experience. Businesses that do want regional pages need to be sure to create original content for each website that also adds value to the customer experience by making it more specific to the needs of customers in that region.

The goal of SEO is to rank ahead of your competition. For local SEO, this means getting more meta with your content and really targeting the people in that region as customers different from those in another region that you serve. Without this differentiation, Google is likely to start to lower the ranking of sites that are too similar in content.


Search Essentials is Google’s most recent handbook about how to improve your website ranking potential using the right codes, meta descriptions, content types and keywords.

It is important that marketers consider how these tips can affect their SEO. Monitoring the changes, checking the analysis and adjusting your website content and descriptions as Google’s SEO suggestions will help you reach more Google users, who make up about 1 billion of the people using the internet every day.