Back in 2010, Google released an “SEO Starter Guide” as a .pdf file, and shared it with the world.

The guide was 32 pages long, and covered quite a few facts and basic information about SEO, or Search Engine Optimization.

It was a helpful document that was referred to and cited often by myself and other SEOs, as trusted verification of the advice and recommendations we provided to clients and to potential clients.

However, in December Google launched a brand new guide to SEO, completely .html based, to replace the old PDF file.

Unfortunately, the old SEO guide is just showing a 404 error because they didn’t follow their own advice…

From Googles SEO Guide:

Show useful 404 pages

Users will occasionally come to a page that doesn’t exist on your site, either by following a broken link or typing in the wrong URL. Having a custom 404 page31 that kindly guides users back to a working page on your site can greatly improve a user’s experience. Your 404 page should probably have a link back to your root page and could also provide links to popular or related content on your site. You can use Google Search Console to find the sources of URLs causing “not found” errors.


  • Allowing your 404 pages to be indexed in search engines (make sure that your web server is configured to give a 404 HTTP status code or – in the case of JavaScript-based sites – include a noindex robots meta-tag when non-existent pages are requested).
  • Blocking 404 pages from being crawled through the robots.txt file.
  • Providing only a vague message like “Not found”, “404”, or no 404 page at all.
  • Using a design for your 404 pages that isn’t consistent with the rest of your site.


As of this writing, the old URL for the .pdf with a 404 error is still what shows up as the #1 search result for “Google SEO guide”, but that probably won’t last much longer. Or maybe it will?

So, if you’re looking for Google’s new Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide you’ll find that here, and if you want a copy of the old PDF you can download a copy I have saved here.

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