Does Google’s webmaster guidelines website follow Google webmaster guidelines?

Posted on April 13, 2016

 

Google’s webmaster guidelines are there to help web designers and developers create websites that get noticed by Google. But how do you find out whether or not your website actually follows the guidelines?

Varvy

Go to varvy.com and enter the domain name you’d like to check. It could be yours, or one of your competitors. After around 30 seconds a report appears that details 14 areas covered by the Google webmaster guidelines. Factors of the site that comply with the guidelines have green headings, and items that need changing have yellow headings, with particular faults displayed in orange coloured text. After any highlighted issues have been fixed, your website should follow the Google guidelines.

The Varvy service is free and the site also has a very good summary of the Google guidelines.

As an experiment I put Google’s webmaster guidelines website into Varvy to find out if their site follows its own guidelines. You can try this out for yourself by entering the following into Varvy:


https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en

Googlebot access

The guidelines say:

“Allow all site assets that would significantly affect page rendering to be crawled: for example, CSS and JavaScript files that affect the understanding of the pages.”

Google’s webmaster guidelines home page passes this test as it has no resources that cannot be read.

Mobile Devices

Google wants websites to view correctly on a mobile device. Text needs to be legible; tap targets large enough and content should fit inside the screen without needing to horizontally scroll.

The Google website fails on one issue according to Varvy. On small screens the tap targets are too small. This means for people with large hands or amply sized fingers (like myself) it’s difficult to click on the correct links.

Security

The guidelines want websites, if possible, to have secure HTTPS settings. Google defaults to HTTPS so satisfies this condition.

Accessibility

Google wants all pages to be useful for visually impaired readers so that sites can be read by site readers. Google fails on this because some of the HTML code is not valid.

Tut tut Google.

Page speed

Google wants you to optimise page loading times for speedy downloads. This requires compression systems, small and efficient HTML, JS and CSS code and optimised images. The server needs a fast response time with the visual content prioritised. Google does all of this but it does have browser caching issues.

Sitemaps

Sitemaps need to be both search engine and user friendly and Google passes on both these points.

If Modified Since

Although the guidelines say ‘Make sure that your web server correctly supports the If-Modified-Since HTTP header.’, their own website does not do this according to Varvy.

Paid links

Adverts that send the Google robots away from your site are not a good idea unless there are ‘nofollow’ instructions. Google’s site does not have any paid links so it is not an issue.

Valid HTML

The guidelines want there to be no HTML errors. Varvy found 13 HTML errors on the Google site!

For the technical savvy here are 3 of the reported errors:

error: A “meta” element with an “http-equiv” attribute whose value is “X-UA-Compatible” must have a “content” attribute with the value “IE=edge”.
error: Attribute “st-ve” not allowed on element “div” at this point.
error: The “itemprop” attribute was specified, but the element is not a property of any item.

Number of links

The guidelines do not want too many links on a page. Google has 53 which is not excessive.

Findable links

All pages on a website need to be reached from a link on other pages. Google’s page does have findable links.

Conclusion

The Google webmaster guidelines home page does a pretty good job of adhering to its own guidelines, but in Varvy’s opinion, the site is not free of all issues – which is surprising.

There is no guarantee that Varvy is 100% accurate in its findings, as it’s just a free tool. Try putting your own website into Vary and see how well it does.

Darren Jamieson

Technical Director at Engage Web
Darren is Technical Director at Engage Web, as well as being a co-founder of the company. He takes a hands-on approach to SEO and web design, helped by more than 15 years’ experience in these fields.

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