Google’s digital marketing course offers bad SEO advice

That uproar you hear? It’s SEOs calling out Google right now. Google’s new Digital Marketing & E-commerce certification course, which was introduced May 2, contains cringe-worthy SEO advice so shockingly bad that considered one of Google’s search advocates – Danny Sullivan – is disavowing it.What occurred. It all began with a tweet from worldwide SEO guide Gianluca Fiorelli. In it, he shared this screenshot of a slide discussing find out how to keep away from key phrase stuffing:This is Google’s official advice from the course:Write greater than 300 phrases in your webpage.Your webpage is extra more likely to be ranked greater in search engine end result pages for those who write a better quantity of high quality content material.Keep your key phrase density under an trade commonplace of two%.This signifies that 2% of the phrases on the webpage or fewer must be goal key phrases.Be considerate about key phrase placement.Your key phrases must be used solely as soon as within the following locations on every web page inside your web site: web page title, subheading, first paragraph, and physique conclusion. “Seriously… ‘write greater than 300 phrases’? and ‘key phrase density’?” Fiorelli tweeted. “I imply… key phrase stuffing is bad, positive! however fixing it by spreading SEO myths that SEOs attempt to remove?“I do know that this course may be very entry-level, however precisely because of this myths like these ones shouldn’t be taught. Did the SEOs in Google overview the course?”“This may be ignored”. Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, responded to Fiorelli, primarily disavowing the course. “I’m not on the group that produced that, nor are they a part of the Search group,” Sullivan replied. “As somebody from the Search group, we don’t advocate any limits or ‘density’ or something like that. This may be ignored; I’ll cross it on.”He then linked to Google’s advice from search, Google’s SEO Starter Guide. That doc makes no point out of key phrase density or phrase rely minimums.Keyword density. Keyword density is a proportion that tells you ways typically a key phrase or phrase is used on a web page. You divide the full variety of occasions a key phrase or phrase is utilized by the full variety of phrases used. Then multiply by 100 and you’ve got your proportion. (Or simply copy-paste a URL or your textual content right into a free on-line key phrase density calculator.)Here’s the enjoyable factor with key phrase density. I’ve spoken with many SEOs up to now who swear they efficiently discovered the fitting key phrase density up to now and it helped them rank pages. The precise key phrase density various – I heard wherever from 2% to 10% was the candy spot, relying on who you talked to (and what 12 months) and what trade they have been utilizing it in.So key phrase density fable has a kernel of reality to it. Because it used to work. But let’s be clear: there isn’t any key phrase density “trade commonplace.”Google has downplayed key phrase density, way back to 2006, when ex-Googler Matt Cutts shared advice about writing helpful articles that readers will love. In half, he wrote:“… within the on-page house, I’d advocate pondering extra about phrases and variants (the ‘long-tail’) and pondering much less about key phrase density or repeating phrases.”In a 2011 video, Cutts was requested: “What is the perfect key phrase density of a web page?”Key quotes:“So the primary one or two occasions you point out a phrase, then that may assist along with your rating, completely. But simply because you may say it seven or eight occasions, that doesn’t imply that it’s going to essentially assist your rankings.”“I might adore it if individuals may cease obsessing about key phrase density. It’s going to differ. It’s going to differ by space, it’s going to differ primarily based on what different websites are rating it. It’s not a tough and quick rule.”But Google search has superior a lot since 2011. Today, it’s not unusual to search out some pages rating for sure key phrases with out ever utilizing the key phrase it’s rating for throughout the web page.Keywords completely matter. But there isn’t any magical ratio of key phrases to content material that may assure site visitors and rankings. Eric Enge, president at Pilot Holding, puzzled why Google even addressed key phrase density. Enge mentioned:“Much higher advice can be to have true material specialists create your content material. If you try this the content material might be fairly keyword-rich in a method that’s naturally a match to the subject of the content material.”Enterprise-level SEO guide Jessica Bowman mentioned she was shocked to see Google outline any key phrase density, which Google and SEO leaders have disputed for years. She additionally mentioned:“I do information writers on the variety of key phrase repetitions to make use of in content material (however keep away from any dialogue/analysis on density). The motive for specifying the variety of repetitions for key phrases is that in my expertise writers gained’t naturally point out key phrases sufficient to ascertain relevance for the key phrase you wish to rank for.”“When guiding writers, I embrace seven key phrase sorts to information writers akin to: Primary key phrase, secondary key phrase, phrases which might be a part of an authoritative dialogue on the subject, phrases to make use of in hyperlinks, and so forth. Each has a lot of repetitions to incorporate. I discover this guides the author right into a route of constructing out strong content material with an authoritative dialogue that can carry out nicely in serps.”Marie Haynes, proprietor of Marie Haynes Consulting, additionally mentioned she was fairly stunned that Google’s course supplied particular advice on key phrase density. She puzzled if, maybe, the particular person liable for scripting this course content material wasn’t totally skilled in SEO.“As with all SEO-related data you discover on the internet, this can be a good instance of why we must always all the time have a powerful reference to level to when making SEO suggestions. Not every thing that’s written on the web is true, even when it comes from Google itself!”Word rely and SEO. Where did that 300-word advice come from? I extremely suspect a Yoast web page. Compare this quote:“We advise writing greater than 300 phrases for normal posts or pages, whereas product descriptions must be over 200 phrases. Why is that? The next phrase rely helps Google higher perceive what your textual content is about. And, typically talking, Google tends to rank longer articles greater.”To what Google says in its course:Write greater than 300 phrases in your webpage.Your webpage is extra more likely to be ranked greater in search engine end result pages for those who write a better quantity of high quality content material.See the similarity? It could possibly be a coincidence. Or not.Google’s search representatives have mentioned, repeatedly, that phrase rely or content material size is just not a rating issue. Here’s what Google’s John Mueller mentioned in:2018 on Twitter: “Word rely is just not indicative of high quality. Some pages have lots of phrases that say nothing. Some pages have only a few phrases which might be essential & related to queries. You know your content material greatest (hopefully) and may determine whether or not it wants the main points.”2019 on Reddit: “Word rely is just not a rating issue.”2021 in a Google Search Central SEO Office Hours video: “From our standpoint the variety of phrases on a web page is just not a high quality issue, not a rating issue. So simply blindly including increasingly textual content to a web page doesn’t make it higher.”Benu Aggarwal, president and founding father of Milestone, mentioned Google speaking about phrase rely has no place in any dialogue round creating high-quality content material. Aggarwal mentioned:“Good high quality content material begins from understanding 4 issues: who’s my buyer, what are they curious about, what do they want to accomplish and what questions have they got. Knowing that is vital earlier than creating related and topical content material. I really feel like Google has not up to date its personal tips to match up with evolutions in search.”Regardless, the correlation between phrase rely and rating has lengthy been a sizzling subject of SEO research. The drawback, as all the time, is correlation research are typically for leisure functions solely. I began in SEO in 2007. Around that point, 250 phrases was thought-about greatest observe for weblog posts. Then it mainly began to extend each few years. 250 turned 500, then 1,000, then 1,500. Last I noticed, HubSpot was claiming 2,100-2,400 is the perfect size of weblog posts.We additionally had some briefly well-liked ideas, like 10x content material and skyscraper content material (till individuals discovered “outcomes might differ” and never all people wished to learn a novella earlier than studying find out how to screw in a lightbulb).My advice on writing content material is straightforward: write what it’s value. It must be lengthy sufficient to be complete and higher than what your competitors has printed. Word rely is really a kind of “it relies upon” conditions – it depends upon the kind of content material, the format, your objective, the viewers, the trade, search intent, and many different variables. Also, weblog posts are usually not product pages or different varieties of pages. As Enge instructed me:“Just to level out one apparent concern, on many e-commerce pages you’d count on that there can be fewer than 300 phrases on the web page, and certain little to nothing that seems in some type of a paragraph (i.e., principally bullet lists of options).”Why that is bad. Google mentioned “all course instructors are Google staff who’re subject-matter specialists.” But this advice clearly calls into query the validity of this course and the worth of the certification.This scenario made me consider a quote from the film “Inception”:“An concept is sort of a virus. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of an concept can develop. It can develop to outline or destroy you.”Replace “concept” with “SEO fable” in that sentence, and that’s the issue. Somebody from (or on behalf of) Google wrote this course. I think many Googlers watched and gave sign-off on the content material of this course. Now, many are predicting that some individuals will use this course to say to be “SEO licensed” by Google. Plenty of bad SEO myths have made the rounds over time. But the origin for many of these myths may all the time be traced to conclusions drawn by practitioners and influencers publishing articles or “analysis research,” talking at conferences, or sharing updates on social media. Google has supplied loads of high-level steering round SEO greatest practices, however nothing as particular and outright improper as this earlier than – not to mention in digital marketing coaching that ends with official Google certification. Bowman mentioned that is one other reminder that you must watch out what sort of content material you learn – as a result of typically it’s outdated advice, even when it was lately printed. Bowman additionally mentioned:“It’s higher to get an understanding of SEO by studying from SEO trade thought leaders who’ve been round for some time – the place you may see throughout the board what appears to be working and bonafide techniques, in an effort to establish what’s bad or questionable advice. From there select the ‘particular person’ you wish to prepare you and your group, as a result of this Google certification exhibits that even recognized and revered firms have individuals giving out bad advice.”In truth, most of Google’s search representatives have tried to debunk these bad SEO myths up to now. Repeatedly.Why we care. Google touted this certification as a method to upskill or reskill staff. The drawback: this course has bad SEO advice. Anyone who takes this course is studying bad practices that someone, in some unspecified time in the future, must assist them unlearn. Yes, the course is “free” proper now. But individuals make investments their time (which is one factor they will by no means get again) on this certification, all to be taught some bad SEO practices that wouldn’t have even helped you rank a decade in the past. While Sullivan brushed it off, saying it may be ignored, the individuals taking the course in all probability gained’t learn his tweet disavowing it. Or the opposite tweets and social media updates calling it out for inaccuracy. Or the articles calling it out, together with this one. That’s the issue. And it’s one that may’t be ignored. Jori Ford, chief marketing officer at FoodBoss, gave credit score to Sullivan for his response, however hopes to see a extra considerate one which outlines what Google is doing to right/rectify vs. saying, don’t observe the advice. Ford mentioned:“We all make errors, however even Google suggests utilizing SEOs, as a result of let’s be sincere, search is perpetually altering, a lot in order that not even inner groups are all the time in control. This is a stable instance of simply that.”In 2016, Google concluded SEO certification can be a “bad concept.” Well, they have been proper. Here we’re in 2022 and SEO is a part of Google’s certification in digital marketing. And it’s actually proving problematic, simply days after launching it as a chunk of its digital marketing certification. Google is a trusted authority. It is the largest search engine on the planet. Most individuals taking this course (once more, given by Google staff who’re subject-matter specialists) will belief the data they’re being taught about SEO. Hopefully, Google will replace this course and have it reviewed by true SEO subject-matter specialists. If Google retains instructing SEO myths, these SEO myths will solely proceed to unfold like a virus. Except this time, the parable is coming straight from Google itself. New on Search Engine LandAbout The Author Danny Goodwin is Senior Editor of Search Engine Land. In addition to writing each day about SEO, PPC, and extra for Search Engine Land, Goodwin additionally manages Search Engine Land’s roster of subject-matter specialists. He additionally helps program our convention sequence, SMX – Search Marketing Expo. Prior to becoming a member of Search Engine Land, Goodwin was Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal, the place he led editorial initiatives for the model. He additionally was an editor at Search Engine Watch. He has spoken at many main search conferences and digital occasions, and has been sourced for his experience by a variety of publications and podcasts.

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