It looks like Google may soon be changing its Webmaster Guidelines. Patrick Sexton from FeedTheBot claims to have spotted an updated version of the guidelines, and posted about them. However, he says, two Google employees told him that they were put up by mistake and "were not meant to go public yet."
Official Google Webmaster Guidelines gets updated
thanks to for sharing:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35769 here's a post about it too:
Official Google Guidelines Updated - Webmaster Advice
update: I have confirmed with two Google employees that these new guidelines were put up by mistake and were not meant to go public yet. I just happened to notice them and I naturally wrote about them...
(Click the timestamp to go to the comment thread.)
Google must have had some reason to pull the guidelines, so it's hard to say how much of what Sexton spotted is what Google will end up going with. The webmaster guidelines are obviously important, however, in ensuring that a site stays in Google's good graces and doesn't face getting penalized or hit by algorithm changes designed to enforce the guidelines. The Penguin update was geared towards enforcing the quality guidelines specifically (part of the Webmaster Guidelines).
According to the screen cap of Sexton's post, there is some new stuff about rich snippets, which are not currently mentioned on the Webmaster Guidelines page at all.
There are things like, "Review our recommended best practices for images, video and rich snippets," and "Avoid abusing rich snippets markup."
Things to avoid include: automatically generated content, participating in link schemes, cloaking, sneaky redirects, hidden text/links, doorway pages, scraped content, participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value, loading pages with irrelevant keywords, creating pages with malicious behavior (such as phishing or installing viruses, torjans or other badware," abusing rich snippets markup and sending automated queries to Google.
It says to "engage in good practices" like: monitoring your site for hacking and removing hacked content as soon as it appears, preventing and removing user-generated spam on your site.
Some other quotes from the post:
"Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field."
"Don't deceive your users."
"Avoid scraped content."
"Avoid automatically generated content."
"Monitor your site for hacking and remove hacked content as soon as it appears."
"Prevent and remove user-generated spam on your site."
This is all pretty basic and common sense stuff, but that's essentially what the guidelines are are about, for the most part, anyway.
I guess we'll see if the changes are implemented soon, and whether Google has even more to add.