New Google SEO Guide 2021: find out what’s changing

A must read – For the first time in many years, Google has released a new version of its SEO startup guide.

Updated in 2021, originally launched in 2008 as a PDF, the Google SEO Guide is for anyone who owns, manages, monetizes or promotes online content via search.

Unlike its predecessor, this new guide is available in web format, and can therefore be consulted directly online. It condenses all the good SEO practices to follow to correctly index and reference the content of a website on search engines in 2022.

In its presentation article published on December 12 on its official blog, Google specifies that this reissue replaces both the old SEO starter guide, and the Webmaster Academy, whose content overlapped :

« The new SEO Getting Started Guide will replace these two historical resources. The updated version builds on the previously available document, but contains additional sections on the need to optimize website SEO, add structured data markup and create mobile-friendly websites. »

This reworked version therefore makes it possible to expand on information that has become obsolete, but also to resolve problems of redundant information. Note, however, that it does not include any new information on how Google algorithms work.

While it doesn’t contain any SEO secrets, this new guide lists the best practices and fundamentals of SEO in 2022. For both novices and SEO experts, this is a valuable resource that details the steps to follow to meet the criteria set by Google:

  • Indexing or non-indexing of web pages
  • Optimization of page display in search results
  • Organization of the tree structure of a website
  • Optimization of content (texts, links) and images
  • Adapting a site for mobile devices
  • Promotion of a website
  • Analysis of the performance and behaviour of Internet users


What’s new in Google’s SEO 2021 startup guide


Hiring an SEO

« Hiring an SEO is an important decision that can help you improve your site and save time. Be sure to consider the benefits to you, but also the damage that irresponsible SEO could do to your site. »

From the first chapter of this new SEO 2021 guide, Google recommends using an expert, SEO agency or consultant, to manage your SEO strategy, rather than taking care of it internally.

Google briefly details the type of services SEO professionals can provide, and then shares additional resources, such as this video explaining how to hire an SEO :



The reason Google makes this recommendation is very simple: it ensures that your website is fully search engine friendly. This is also why Google recommends hiring an SEO as early as possible, to ensure that a website is built for search engines from the start.


Mobile-friendly website

« It can be difficult to view and use the classic version of a site on a mobile device. Therefore, having a mobile-friendly website is essential for your online presence. »

Keep in mind that the first SEO guide was launched more than 10 years ago. Since then, many developments have taken place in terms of technology and mobile SEO.

Google’s previous guide focused on SEO best practices for websites with separate mobile pages, which was the most common practice at the time.

But in almost a decade, Google has released new algorithm updates related to mobile search engine optimization. In this reissue of his guide, the section on mobile optimization has been completely reworked to reflect the current state of the mobile web.

This addition says a lot about the general behaviour of users. Half of all Internet traffic now takes place on a smartphone or tablet. In 2022, a mobile-optimized website is no longer optional, but absolutely necessary!

So it makes sense that the updated SEO guide presents best practices for creating responsive websites that all devices can access.

Google also encourages mobile optimization testing and mentions more recent innovations such as AMP pages.


Learn more about Google AMP and our
best practices to optimize your website for mobile and Google


Links to other sites

« Beware of links to other sites. The reputation of your site can be passed on to another site to which you link. »

The link ecosystem is essential for SEO, but since the launch of the first SEO guide, a lot of abuse has occurred.

In this revised version of the guide, a warning on the use of links has been added.

Specifically, Google advises to be careful about the websites you link to. In particular, the search engine warns about the most common ways in which users can take advantage of another site’s reputation, for example by adding links in comments.

In order to fight against these spam links and other negative netlinking practices, Google describes how to combat them by using the “nofollow” attribute.


Discover also
how to protect your website against spam


Extract length in SERPs

« The fact that our snippets are longer does not change the basics of writing a description tag. They should generally inform and interest users with a short, relevant summary of what a particular page is about. We’re now displaying slightly longer snippets, which means we could display more than one meta description tag. »

In this new SEO guide, the tips for writing the meta description remain basically the same.

However, it should be noted that since the beginning of December, the maximum length of the excerpts in the search results has increased. Previously limited to about 160 characters, snippets can now be up to 320 characters, as a Google spokesperson recently confirmed to Searchengineland, and Danny Sullivan, Google’s new SEO manager:



However, there is no need to modify or update your meta descriptions to make them longer, if the current tags are adequate. Indeed, the extracts are most often generated dynamically according to the user’s request, the content of the meta description AND the visible content on the page. If Google suggests a longer excerpt, it is likely that this content will be automatically extracted from the page.


Adding structured data

« Structured data is code that you can add to the pages of your site to describe the content to search engines, so they can better understand what is on your pages. Search engines can use this interpretation to display your content in a useful (and eye-catching) way in search results. »

The last new feature of this SEO guide version 2021: structured data markup. As Google explains, it not only makes it easier for search engines to crawl and understand your content, but it also makes it possible to display richer snippets in the SERPs.

Structured data can also be used to provide relevant results in other formats. For example, if you want your customers to know if your business is closed or open at the time of their search, or if you want to provide users with easy links to your social networks, adding structured data markup will make this type of information directly accessible in search results, and help you attract the right kind of customers.

To set up structured data on your site, Google describes the procedure to follow and refers to the use of several tools, such as the data marker.


See also our guide to adding structured data to your website



These are just a few of the new additions to the new Google SEO Getting Started Guide. To learn more, we recommend that you read it carefully.

For now, it is available in nine languages: English, German, Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Turkish. Sixteen more languages are expected to be added “very soon”.


You can also check out the old PDF version of the Google SEO Getting Started Guide:

0  commentaire Sarah Laurent, Thursday 2 September 2021
Communication, SEO

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