The 6 Best Lessons from Google's SEO Mythbusting
23 Sep, 2020
Google Webmasters SEO Myth Busting is well into its second season on Youtube, You can watch it here. Taking its inspiration from the History Channel's hit show Mythbusters, Google’s show sets the record straight on hot topics and rumors in the digital marketing scene.
To give you a good idea of which episodes may be useful for you, here is an episode breakdown of season 2 of SEO Mythbusters with a short summary of key tips and revelations from each episode
SEO Mythbusting: Google & Bing
Episode 1 of the season brought together the two search engines you would never expect to find in the same room with Sandhya Guntreddy from Microsoft meeting with Google Advocate and series host Martin Splitt to discuss their common issues and top questions from users of both search engines.
Big revelation: Google and Bing aren’t hostile to one another: they often work together to improve the online experience. Bing has a crawl tool called Crawl Control which allows the user to signpost the best times for Bingbot to crawl their site.
Top tip: For Google and Bing, backlinks are an important ranking factor but they are only one of hundreds, so don’t just focus on backlinks, and certainly don’t buy them or spam URLs.
Best quote: “Especially on backlinks there's one angle on myths right if I have a lot of backlinks I’ll probably rank higher. That’s a myth, yes it’s one of the signals, but not the only signal.”
SEO Mythbusting: Crawl Budget
Episode 2 saw Martin meeting with Alexis Sanders from Merkle to discuss all things Googlebot with a special focus on crawl speeds, frequency, and prioritization.
Big revelation: Google limits the frequency of crawls Googlebot does on sites.
This is called a Crawl Budget. A key reason why Google does this is to prevent Googlebot from crashing the servers that users' sites are hosted on.
Googlebot crawls websites that deal with current events more frequently, such as news sites, to make sure Google has the most up-to-date page info for inquiries relating to current events.
Despite being an interesting and much-discussed term, Crawl Budget is only a real concern for large websites with over a million pages. Anyone having issues with the content being indexed too slowly should first look at more fundamental areas first, such as content quality and site server configurations.
Top Tip: If Google detects that content is updated less frequently on your website, it is crawled less often. If you want to be crawled more often, you need to post up-to-date content more frequently and make sure you have up-to-date last modified dates and sitemap info. Having your pages crawled more regularly is only useful if you have new content to be indexed. If you have issues with too many pages exhausting your Crawl budget, try to find ways to consolidate pages and avoid duplicate content.
Best Quote: “If they are very similar to each other should they exist? is my first question, can you extend the content? for instance if its product variations, maybe you just describe them inside a table with one page, rather than having 10 pages for all variations.”
SEO Mythbusting: Page Speed
Episode 3 featured digital marketing expert Eric Enge who discussed the concept and importance of Page Speed with the pink-haired host.
Big revelation: Google isn’t just thinking about Page Speed in terms of the users' desktop experience, they want users on smartphones in the countryside with a poor connection to be able to access your site too.
Top Tip: Images are an important focus, resizing images helps. Users interested in improving their Page Speed should also look into Lazy Loading. Google’s web development tool Lighthouse is another useful tool for checking Page Speed, but it is limited to checking the speed of a user's site on the device they are using. It does not show users what the speed is for other users on other devices.
Best quote: “53% of sessions are abandoned if it takes longer than 3 seconds for the page to load...15.3 seconds is the average loading time”
SEO Mythbusting: Site Migrations
Episode 4 featured Digital Marketing Consultant Glenn Gave and covered site moves, URL migrations and domain name changes.
Big revelation: Moving to a new domain that was previously owned by another user isn’t going to carry over much positive rankings from the previous owner, but it can cause big problems if the previous owner of the domain used it for shady activities like spamming.
Top tip: Make sure you have your monitoring and search console set up properly before you move your site. On top of redirecting pages you can speed things up and help prevent issues with Google by using the change of address tools to inform Google that your site is moving to a new address.
Best Quote: ”Whatever you are doing, do it step by step”
SEO Mythbusting: Canonicalization
Episode 5 saw Matt diving into canonicalization with Technical SEO Consultant Rachel Costello, taking the time to dispel some long-standing myths and provide a little more clarity on duplicate content.
Big revelation: When sorting through multiple URLs with the same content, Google only picks one page for reading canonicals from. This isn’t necessarily the page the user wants. This is because canonicals are not the only signal that Google uses to identify duplicate content.
Canonicals don’t function like redirects, instead, they are one of many signals that Google uses to identify duplicate content. If you have multiple versions of a page, you need to look into canonicals but don’t expect Google to always follow what they say.
Top tip: Pages with unique content but also featuring too much duplicate content may be categorized as duplicate content, regardless of the original content, if they have too much duplicate content.
Best Quote: "You don’t want Google to be in that position where they (or Googlebot) have to pick for you”
SEO Mythbusters: Is more content better?
Episode 6 dealt with the king of all SEO topics: content. The host met SEO director, Lilv Ray and asked the question just how much content should site owners produce?
Big revelation: Many people believe that success with content is all about quantity but it is not. It is about quality and providing something of use to the user. Having a blog that covers current events and topics relating to your industry will help the right kind of searchers to find your site, but the keyword here is related. Producing lots of unrelated content without the right keywords will not help a business to be found by more customers.
Top tip: If your website is trying to rank for the same keywords every year, Don’t recreate new pages for that term each year, just update the content on the existing pages to match the year and make sure updated pages are more visible after you update them.
Best Quote: “having a blog that talks about industry updates or things that are relevant for that company is worthwhile, but maybe not producing content for the sake of producing content”.
We hope you enjoy watching Google’s SEO Mythbusing!
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