Monday, February 24, 2014

Google Webmaster Guidelines Change on February 24, 2014 at 10:15PM

This evening Google changed the name of their Webmaster "Community", when accessed from their Webmaster Guidelines Page.

They are now calling it "Help Forum".

I wish I could say whether or not there are any changed on the Community/Help Forum or if this is just a change in the link to that page.

Regardless, this change in name might reflect a change in focus or even a capitulation to the needs of webmasters. For years Google has not been helpful in explaining algorithm changes or ranking factors. Who can blame them? If they start explaining why this or that website is under-preforming in the SERPs not only would this quickly become an unmanageable mess of advice ("you helped him, why won't you help me, too?") but that would potentially give away the secret sauce to those who want to maliciously manipulate the algorithm.

Lately, however, Google has been much more open about their algorithm and its changes. It started with Google telling us they made 500+ changes to the algorithm each year. Not long after that announcement they started posting monthly summaries of the algorithm changes over the last month. These were very helpful but didn't last long. Eventually St. Cutts started giving prophetic warnings of the looming SERP apocalypse- all of which came to pass. Whether you are a Google conspiracist or a lilly-white SEO, you have to admit that Google has been much more open about algorithm changes than it was in the past.

Perhaps this re-branding of the webmaster "community" to "help forum" is all part of this greater transparency.

Then again, maybe this is just good SEO. By calling it "help forum" they are speaking their potential customers' language. I bet there are more people who need assistance for their website's performance in Google searching for "webmaster help forum" than for "webmaster community".

What do you think?

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