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Google’s SEO Starter Guide Updates: Branding In, Keywords Out

Google's Search Relations team plans to update their SEO Starter Guide, focusing on debunking myths and modernizing advice.

  • Google's SEO Starter Guide will be updated to remove outdated advice and better serve beginners.
  • For domain names, branding is recommended over keyword optimization.
  • Meta keywords are deemed minimally influential, and their discussion may be excluded from the guide.
Google logo on a smartphone viewed through a magnifying glass

In a recent episode of “Search Off the Record,” Google’s Search Relations team provided information about upcoming changes to Google’s SEO Starter Guide.

The team, composed of John Mueller, Lizzie Harvey, and Gary Illyes, says the guide maintains a 91% user satisfaction rating. However, they believe it’s due for an overhaul to streamline outdated advice and better serve its core beginner audience.

These are some of the most notable changes discussed during the podcast.

HTML Structure & Search Rankings

The team discussed the role of HTML structure in search engine rankings. They explained that proper use of HTML elements such as titles can be helpful for rankings but doesn’t impact them as much as some think.

“Using headings and a good title element and having paragraphs, yeah, sure. It’s all great. But other than that, it’s pretty futile to think about how the page… or how the HTML is structured,” Ilyes mentioned, debunking common misconceptions within the SEO community.

Domain Names: Branding Versus Keywords

The team discussed the ongoing debate about whether domain names affect SEO.

They recommended prioritizing branding over including keywords when choosing a domain name. Their view was that establishing a memorable brand should take precedence over trying to optimize domain names for search engines.

This advice reflects a trend toward brand-centric domain name selection in SEO strategies.

Meta Tags: To Include or Not to Include?

The team deliberated whether to discuss meta tags like meta keywords in the revised SEO Starter Guide. The team leaned towards excluding this topic to avoid unnecessarily worrying site owners because meta keywords have minimal influence on Google Search rankings.

“I feel very conflicted about documenting anti patterns because we perhaps also give ideas about like new worries for site owners to think about,” Gary explained, highlighting their cautious approach.

Ultimately, the decision was made to focus the guide on optimizing factors with a more significant impact.

Related: The Complete Guide to On-Page SEO

Addressing Misconceptions Head-On

The conversation explored ways for the team to correct common SEO misconceptions, specifically the idea that utilizing Google products improves search rankings.

The team agreed that the SEO Starter Guide should address these inaccurate beliefs to prevent the spread of misinformation.

In Summary

As the Google Search Relations team prepares to release the updated SEO Starter Guide, this recent podcast episode has given the SEO community a sneak peek at the upcoming changes.

They want to simplify and modernize the guide and debunk common SEO myths.

The goal is to provide helpful, practical SEO advice for people who are just starting and experienced professionals.

For more on the updates to Google’s SEO Starter Guide, see:

Featured Image: Sadi-Santos/Shutterstock

Category News SEO
SEJ STAFF Matt G. Southern Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal

Matt G. Southern, Senior News Writer, has been with Search Engine Journal since 2013. With a bachelor’s degree in communications, ...

Google’s SEO Starter Guide Updates: Branding In, Keywords Out

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