Someone from the SEO community called attention to a section in Google’s new digital marketing training course that recommends writing at least 300 words of content, advised specific areas of a web page for seeding keywords and recommended a keyword density for target keywords of under 2%.
Some in the digital marketing community called Google out on Twitter about the misinformation and Google’s Danny Sullivan responded.
Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Certificate
Google launched the Digital Marketing & E-commerce Certificate on May 2, 2022. The purpose of the training course and certificate is to help job seekers find jobs in digital marketing.
The training course is endorsed by the American Association of Advertising Agencies as well as by the American Advertising Federation.
Google’s digital marketing course promises to teach the following skills:
- “Developing digital marketing and e-commerce strategies
- Attracting and engaging customers through digital marketing channels like search, social media, and email
- Measuring marketing analytics and sharing insights
- Building e-commerce stores, analyzing e-commerce performance, and growing customer loyalty”
The stated goal of the program is to teach unskilled workers how to become proficient for entry-level digital marketing jobs.
But how can the graduates of the program have proficiency if what they learned is incorrect?
Google Training Course Recommends a Keyword Density
In a section of the course called Foundations of Digital Marketing, under Week 3 of the course, there is a section called Keyword Research and Keyword Stuffing.
In this particular section Google’s training material specifies a maximum keyword density for target keyword phrases.
Keyword density is a measurement of how often a keyword appears on a web page, expressed as a percentage.
The keyword density measurement tells you that a keyword appeared X% times on a web page.
The original old-time search engine algorithms used to rely on keyword densities as a way to identify what a page is about. The more often a keyword appeared on the page the likelier that the page was about that keyword phrase.
But search engines have moved on from that method of ranking keywords.
Or have they?
Google’s own training course makes a startling statement about keyword density by recommending an actual keyword density limit.
The course states:
“Keep your keyword density below an industry standard of 2%.
This means that 2% of the words on the webpage or fewer should be target keywords.”
Write a Minimum of 300 Words
The other eyebrow-raising recommendation is a minimum word count for web pages that stresses that the more words on a page the likelier that page will be ranked by Google.
The training course recommends:
“Write more than 300 words on your webpage.
Your webpage is more likely to be ranked higher in search engine result pages if you write a higher volume of quality content.”
Where to Put Your Keywords
The document also advises exact locations where keywords should be placed:
“Your keywords should be used only once in the following places on each page within your website: page title, subheading, first paragraph, and body conclusion.”
Google Made a Mistake?
The training course was written by Google and it is not supposed to include confidential information.
The announcement of the digital marketing certificate includes a statement that all of the information in the course is available in Google’s search documentation.
“This program contains no confidential information. All Google Search features taught are publicly available, you can learn more in official Google Search documentation.”
It’s clear that the recommendations about word count and keyword densities did not originate in Google’s public documentation.
One also has to wonder how the recommendation for where to seed keywords within a web page came from, too.
The mistake brings into question how reliable this course is if such an obvious mistake like this could make it to the live version of the course.
Google Acknowledges Bad Information in Digital Marketing Training Course
Search marketer Gianluca Fiorelli (@gfiorelli1) pointed out the error on twitter.
So… On Connect GT (the biggest and oldest Italian SEO forum founded by @giorgiotave), Emanuele Ricci subscribed to the Digital Marketing & E-commerce Certificate by Google on Coursera.
Seriously… "write more than 300 words"? and "keyword density"?
cc: @dannysullivan pic.twitter.com/7qdWKlJ1vs
— Gianluca Fiorelli (@gfiorelli1) May 9, 2022
He also tweeted that this was an SEO myth and expressed dismay that an entry level course on digital marketing would teach misinformation to the students.
Danny Sullivan clarified that the team that developed the training course is not connected with the Search team and pledged to pass the feedback along.
“I’m not on the team that produced that, nor are they part of the Search team. As someone from the Search team, we don’t recommend any limiits or “density” or anything like that. This can be ignored; I’ll pass it on. Our advice from Search is here.”
The link Danny passed along is to Google’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Starter Guide which is a comprehensive resource that covers a significant amount of the basics of SEO, such as title tags and meta descriptions.
There is a lot of misinformation surrounding digital marketing. Finding search marketing myths within Google’s own digital marketing training course is unexpected.