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Google’s digital marketing course offers bad SEO advice

That uproar you hear? It’s SEOs calling out Google on the present time. 

Google’s new Digital Advertising & E-commerce certification course, which used to be announced May simply 2, contains balk-expedient SEO advice so shockingly unsuitable that one in every of Google’s search advocates – Danny Sullivan – is disavowing it.

What came about. It all started with a tweet from world SEO consultant Gianluca Fiorelli. In it, he shared this screenshot of a travel discussing how to steer decided of key phrase stuffing:

Right here is Google’s professional advice from the course:

  • Write bigger than 300 words in your webpage.
    • Your webpage is more seemingly to be ranked higher in search engine result pages within the occasion you write the next volume of quality content.
  • Defend your key phrase density below an industry standard of 2%.
    • This implies that 2% of the words on the webpage or fewer should be target keywords.
  • Be thoughtful about key phrase placement.
    • Your keywords should be conventional only as soon as within the following locations on every page inner your internet page: page title, subheading, first paragraph, and physique conclusion. 

“Seriously… ‘write bigger than 300 words’? and ‘key phrase density’?” Fiorelli tweeted. “I imply… key phrase stuffing is unsuitable, definite! but fixing it by spreading SEO myths that SEOs are attempting and eliminate?

“I know that this course is terribly entry-level, but exactly for this reason myths like these ones should not ever be taught. Did the SEOs in Google overview the course?”

“This could well per chance also very properly be overlooked”. Danny Sullivan, Google’s Search Liaison, answered to Fiorelli, basically disavowing the course. 

“I’m no longer on the team that produced that, nor are they segment of the Search team,” Sullivan answered. “As anyone from the Search team, we don’t recommend any limits or ‘density’ or anything like that. This could well per chance also very properly be overlooked; I’ll circulate it on.”

He then linked to Google’s advice from search, Google’s SEO Starter Manual. That document makes no level out of key phrase density or notice count minimums.

Key phrase density. Key phrase density is a share that tells you the tactic on the total a key phrase or phrase is conventional on a page. You divide the total sequence of instances a key phrase or phrase is conventional by the total sequence of words conventional. Then multiply by 100 and you may well want gotten your share. (Or appropriate copy-paste a URL or your text into a free online key phrase density calculator.)

Right here’s the stress-free factor with key phrase density. I’ve spoken with many SEOs within the previous who order they successfully realized the factual key phrase density within the previous and it helped them rank pages. The negate key phrase density varied – I heard any place from 2% to 10% used to be the candy spot, relying on who you talked to (and what year) and what industry they had been the usage of it in.

So key phrase density delusion has a kernel of reality to it. On chronicle of it conventional to work. 

But let’s be decided: there’s not any key phrase density “industry standard.”

Google has downplayed key phrase density, as a ways support as 2006, when ex-Googler Matt Cutts shared advice about writing precious articles that readers will esteem. In segment, he wrote:

“… within the on-page home, I’d recommend pondering more about words and variants (the ‘lengthy-tail’) and pondering much less about key phrase density or repeating phrases.”

In a 2011 video, Cutts used to be requested: “What’s the very best key phrase density of a page?”

Key quotes:

  • “So the first one or two instances you level out a notice, then that could also abet with your ranking, completely. But appropriate since you may well be in an enviornment to scream it seven or eight instances, that doesn’t imply that this could also necessarily abet your rankings.”
  • “I’d esteem it if folks could cease obsessing about key phrase density. It’s going to range. It’s going to range by space, it’s going to range in step with what diversified sites are ranking it. It’s no longer a no longer easy and mercurial rule.”

But Google search has evolved great since 2011. On the present time, it’s no longer irregular to search out some pages ranking for certain keywords with out ever the usage of the important thing phrase it’s ranking for at some level of the page.

Key phrases completely matter. But there’s not any magical ratio of keywords to content that could well guarantee traffic and rankings. 

Eric Enge, president at Pilot Holding, wondered why Google even addressed key phrase density. Enge said:

  • “Severely better advice could be to love appropriate field matter experts waste your content. Must you originate that the content will doubtless be moderately key phrase-properly off in a technique that is naturally a match to the matter of the content.”

Venture-level SEO consultant Jessica Bowman said she used to be stricken to undercover agent Google outline any key phrase density, which Google and SEO leaders like disputed for years. She also said:

  • “I originate e-book writers on the sequence of key phrase repetitions to notify in content (but steer decided of any discussion/study on density). The reason for specifying the sequence of repetitions for keywords is that in my abilities writers received’t naturally level out keywords ample to attach relevance for the important thing phrase you’ll need to rank for.”
  • “When guiding writers, I contain seven key phrase kinds to e-book writers equivalent to: Foremost key phrase, secondary key phrase, words that are segment of an authoritative discussion on the matter, words to notify in links, and heaps others. Every has a sequence of repetitions to contain. I earn this guides the writer into a route of making out tough content with an authoritative discussion that will carry out properly in search engines.”

Marie Haynes, proprietor of Marie Haynes Consulting, also said she used to be somewhat stunned that Google’s course supplied specific advice on key phrase density. She wondered if, presumably, the actual person accountable for penning this course content wasn’t completely experienced in SEO.

  • “As with every SEO-associated data you earn on the procure, it is a ways a just appropriate example of why we should continuously like a essential reference to label when making SEO suggestions. No longer every thing that is written on the procure is acceptable, even supposing it comes from Google itself!”

Phrase count and SEO. Where did that 300-notice advice near from? I extremely suspect a Yoast page. Evaluation this quote:

“We uncover writing bigger than 300 words for traditional posts or pages, while product descriptions should be over 200 words. Why is that? A higher notice count helps Google better designate what your text is ready. And, on the total talking, Google tends to rank longer articles higher.”

To what Google says in its course:

  • Write bigger than 300 words in your webpage.
    • Your webpage is more seemingly to be ranked higher in search engine result pages within the occasion you write the next volume of quality content.

Look the similarity? It on the total is a coincidence. Or no longer.

Google’s search representatives like said, over and over, that notice count or content dimension is not any longer a ranking factor. Right here’s what Google’s John Mueller said in:

  • 2018 on Twitter: “Phrase count is not any longer indicative of quality. Some pages like a bunch of words that say nothing. Some pages like only some words that are essential & associated to queries. your content best (confidently) and could take whether it wishes the particulars.”
  • 2019 on Reddit: “Phrase count is not any longer a ranking factor.”
  • 2021 in a Google Search Central SEO Office Hours video: “From our level of glance the sequence of words on a page is not any longer a quality factor, no longer a ranking factor. So appropriate blindly adding increasingly text to a page doesn’t plot it better.”

Benu Aggarwal, president and founding father of Milestone, said Google talking about notice count has no space in any discussion around creating effective content. Aggarwal said:

  • “Correct quality content starts from working out four issues: who is my customer, what are they drawn to, what originate they’re searching to originate and what questions originate they like got. Colorful this is serious sooner than creating associated and topical content. I basically feel like Google has no longer up so a ways its internet guidelines to compare up with evolutions in search.”

Regardless, the correlation between notice count and ranking has lengthy been a hot matter of SEO study. The problem, as continuously, is correlation study are on the total for leisure purposes only. 

I started in SEO in 2007. Around that time, 250 words used to be thought to be best practice for blog posts. Then it basically started to expand every few years. 250 became 500, then 1,000, then 1,500. Final I saw, HubSpot used to be claiming 2,100-2,400 is the very best dimension of blog posts.

We also had some temporarily well-liked concepts, like 10x content and skyscraper content (unless folks realized “results could also range” and no longer all americans wanted to read a novella sooner than studying how to screw in a lightbulb).

My advice on writing content is easy: write what it’s value. It will seemingly be lengthy ample to be complete and better than what your competitors has published. 

Phrase count is of course one in every of these “it depends” eventualities – it will depend upon the kind of content, the layout, your purpose, the viewers, the industry, search intent, and hundreds diversified variables. Additionally, blog posts are no longer product pages or diversified kinds of pages. As Enge urged me:

  • “Staunch to level out one evident venture, on many e-commerce pages you’d keep a matter to that there could be fewer than 300 words on the page, and seemingly little to nothing that seems in some build of a paragraph (i.e., largely bullet lists of functions).”

Why this is unsuitable. Google said “all course instructors are Google employees who’re field-matter experts.” But this recommendation clearly calls into question the validity of this course and the value of the certification.

This concern made me mediate a quote from the film “Inception”:

“A theory is like an outbreak. Resilient. Highly contagious. And even the smallest seed of a theory can grow. It will most likely grow to outline or waste you.”

Replace “idea” with “SEO delusion” in that sentence, and that’s the difficulty. Somebody from (or on behalf of) Google wrote this course. I believe many Googlers watched and gave signal-off on the content of this course. 

Now, many are predicting that some folks will notify this course to pronounce to be “SEO licensed” by Google. 

Plenty of unsuitable SEO myths like made the rounds over the years. But the muse for heaps of of these myths could continuously be traced to conclusions drawn by practitioners and influencers publishing articles or “study study,” talking at conferences, or sharing updates on social media. 

Google has supplied plenty of high-level steering around SEO best practices, but nothing as specific and outright circulate as this sooner than – no longer to mention in digital marketing coaching that ends with professional Google certification. 

Bowman said this is one other reminder that it is fundamental to computer screen out what kind of content you read – because generally it’s old fashioned advice, even supposing it used to be currently published. Bowman also said:

  • “It’s better to catch an working out of SEO by studying from SEO industry thought leaders who were around for a while – where you may well be in an enviornment to stare across the board what looks working and legit ways, in notify which you may well be in an enviornment to establish what’s unsuitable or questionable advice. From there take the ‘particular person’ you’ll need to practice you and your team, because this Google certification shows that even acknowledged and revered companies like folks giving out unsuitable advice.”

Genuinely, most of Google’s search representatives like tried to debunk these unsuitable SEO myths within the previous. Over and over.

Why we care. Google touted this certification as a technique to upskill or reskill employees. The problem: this course has unsuitable SEO advice. Somebody who takes this course is studying unsuitable practices that anyone, at some level, should abet them unlearn. 

Lag, the course is “free” factual now. But folks invest their time (which is one factor they’ll below no instances catch support) in this certification, all to be taught some unsuitable SEO practices that wouldn’t like even helped you rank a decade ago. 

While Sullivan brushed it off, announcing it would also be overlooked, the folks taking the course potentially received’t read his tweet disavowing it. Or the diversified tweets and social media updates calling it out for inaccuracy. Or the articles calling it out, including this one. That’s the difficulty. And it’s one that could well’t be overlooked. 

Jori Ford, chief marketing officer at FoodBoss, gave credit score to Sullivan for his response, but hopes to undercover agent a more thoughtful one that outlines what Google is doing to moral/rectify vs. announcing, don’t note the advice. Ford said:

  • “All of us plot mistakes, but even Google suggests the usage of SEOs, because let’s be simply, search is with out waste changing, so great in notify that no longer even internal teams are continuously up to flee. Right here is a stable example of appropriate that.”

In 2016, Google concluded SEO certification could be a “unsuitable idea.” Well, they had been factual. Right here we are in 2022 and SEO is segment of Google’s certification in digital marketing. And it’s no doubt proving problematic, appropriate days after launching it as a half of its digital marketing certification. 

Google is a relied on authority. It is the largest search engine on this planet. Most folk taking this course (all as soon as more, given by Google employees who’re field-matter experts) will belief the data they’re being taught about SEO. Expectantly, Google will change this course and like it reviewed by appropriate SEO field-matter experts. 

If Google keeps instructing SEO myths, these SEO myths will only continue to unfold like an outbreak. Aside from this time, the delusion is coming straight from Google itself. 

New on Search Engine Land

    About The Author

    Danny Goodwin is Senior Editor of Search Engine Land. To boot to writing each day about SEO, PPC, and more for Search Engine Land, Goodwin also manages Search Engine Land’s roster of field-matter experts. He also helps program our conference series, SMX – Search Advertising Expo. Prior to becoming a member of Search Engine Land, Goodwin used to be Govt Editor at Search Engine Journal, where he led editorial initiatives for the logo. He also used to be an editor at Search Engine Peep. He has spoken at many essential search conferences and virtual events, and has been sourced for his abilities by a huge range of publications and podcasts.