Google Style Guide

Reading Between the Lines of Google’s Own Style Guides

Digital marketing teams are always talking about the importance of producing quality content. But how does one measure quality content? Isn’t it a different thing to different people? Better yet, how does Google’s search engine define high-quality content? Up until recently, it was always a secret, but not anymore.  

Google recently released several different style guides. These guides were once internal documents that Google used to define what it considered to be engaging content. Understanding these guides will help you produce the types of content that will help you get ranked higher in searches. Here are some of the takeaways that will help your digital marketing team produce engaging and thought-provoking content

Images

Yes, eye-catching imagery and visuals always help to make your content stand out. However, it’s not just about having images, but more about the type of images you include. Use scalable vector graphics (SVG) files or crushed PNG images. Ensure that all images include alt text for readers who can’t see the image or for those that don’t want to see the images. Try to use as many high-resolution images as possible. Next, use style attribution to control the left and right justification of images on each page. For HTML programming, ensure that you never put the <img> inside a <p>.

Tone

Google prefers content with a friendly, conversational tone. Avoid using buzzwords and too many metaphors as Google's algorithm may not be able to decipher what you are saying. Don’t over-complicate your writing so that only a select few can understand. Tone down the technical jargon. Keep it simple, straightforward and on point. Short, concise and clear sentences are best. Remember that not all readers are native English speakers, so elongated text and run-on sentences can easily confuse users. 

Be sure to use descriptive link text by incorporating phrases within the link that clearly define what the reader will see once they click. Avoid using phrases like “click here” or “download this document”, and never include the URL as a link within your content. 

Language & Grammar

Never write in the first person. Second person narrative is a must. Focus on using an active voice whenever possible and use standard American spelling and grammar. Google provides a list of their preferred spelling of certain words. Avoid using abbreviations. Small spelling errors may not sound like much, but they are easily picked up by Google’s algorithm. More importantly, bad spelling implies you’re not paying attention, have not taken the time to produce quality content, and don’t care enough to check. 

Formatting, Punctuation, and Organization

Digital marketing teams love producing numbered and bulleted lists. They break down the content into manageable chunks and allow users to zero-in on what interests them most. Google considers numbered and bulleted lists as a critical part of their organizational style guide. They want to see introductory sentences for upcoming lists to give them context. Finally, always put user interface (UI) elements in bold as it creates a better user experience. 

Adopt these same rules each time you release a new content piece. Double-check and triple-check your content before publishing, and always make sure your content has no spelling errors, is easily understood and can easily be interpreted by all. 

If you would like to learn the SEO best practices for out-of-stock products on your site, then you should check out this SEO Guide.

Sara Leaf
About the Author

Sara Leaf

Sara joined the Elite SEM Atlanta office as one of the founding team members of the SEO division. She is Google Analytics certified and along with her accounts, also manages content creation and production for the division. Sara is an avid college football fan (go Dawgs) and a self-diagnosed television addict.

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