Yesterday I published a news story about schema.org structured data markup for local SEO. What John Mueller said was factually different from what Google’s own Developers Page stated. Google’s own Developers Page contradicted John Mueller. This means either Mueller misspoke or Google’s own Dev Page was incorrect to list a certain structured data markup as “recommended.”
To be fair to John Mueller, he hedged in his response by saying, “As far as I know…” which may have meant that he wasn’t 100% sure. And you know what? That’s ok! John Mueller isn’t a search engineer. He’s a Webmaster Help Analyst. He was clear in qualifying his response by saying, “As far as I know.”
It may be that some in this industry hold Google at an unfair level of infallibility. Googlers are people and they can misspeak. That’s why it’s important to fact check statements, if indeed there are actual facts to be checked.
When Google’s Advice is Different from SEO Practice
The other day it was reported about a Twitter disagreement between a prominent figure in the SEO industry and Google’s John Mueller (and later Danny Sullivan) over whether there was an SEO advantage in using a certain kind of site architecture. Danny Sullivan and John Mueller’s response contradicted a commonly held SEO assumption. Should Googler’s be doubted when their statements contradict what SEOs commonly hold to be true? Or should be pause and consider maybe the Googler’s know something we don’t?
In my opinion, John Mueller was correct. The SEO simply had a disagreement based on his understanding of SEO, as it used to be practiced many years ago. That is not a factual error on the part of John Mueller or Danny Sullivan. That is a disagreement by an SEO about SEO practices.
It’s important to make the distinction between a Googler disagreeing with your view of how SEO works and a Googler misstating the facts. These are two different circumstances. When a Googler disagrees with your understanding of SEO, then maybe you’ll benefit from stepping back and questioning those entrenched beliefs about SEO.
SEO Does Not Stand Still
SEO is always changing in response to what the search engines do. Well, at least it should. How SEO was practiced ten or fifteen years ago should never become a standard practice, such that to diverge constitutes a biblical level of heresy.
For example, it used to be standard practice to salt your keywords in H1 and Title Tags but today we know that because of the evolution of search engines, search engines don’t need keywords in strategic places like headings in order to understand what a page is about. Yes, it’s a good practice to use H1’s in a thoughtful manner, but Google can rank a web page without them, too.
Yet some SEOs still cling to the idea that you absolutely must have your keywords X amount of times on a web page in order to rank- even though the search results are full of pages that lack some of the keywords. Rather than change to adapt to how search engines today rank a web page, they cling to old beliefs.
Keep an Open Mind
John Mueller and Danny Sullivan were right. A person can use a subdomain or a subfolder to build a section of a website and if you link to that subdomain in the way you would link to a subfolder then Google will figure it out. There is no reason to cling to an old SEO belief about subfolders being better than subdomains. This is a solid example of why it’s important to keep an open mind in a constantly evolving business such as search marketing.
Do You Trust Google For SEO Advice?
In my opinion, if you read that a Googler has said something that disagrees with your understanding of SEO, it may be a sign that perhaps what the industry thinks it know about SEO might be outdated. The search engines are literally changing every day. That’s what those Core Algo Updates are all about. Our understanding of SEO and how it is practice should also be ready to adapt and evolve as well. It’s the best way to keep relevant!
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