If you have a question about something Google-related, particularly when it comes to search engine optimisation (SEO), your first port of call may be to consult the search engine’s help documents. However, Google itself has now revealed that this may not actually be the best option.
During an episode of Google’s SEO & Devs series broadcast on YouTube, the topic of whether Google’s official help documents could be trusted was discussed. The episode saw Google’s Martin Splitt and Michael King, iPullRank’s managing director and founder, discuss how help documents from Google can result in web developers not trusting SEO professionals.
This is because those working in the realm of SEO often consult Google’s official documents – as you’d expect – and provide their recommendations to web developers based on this information. After all, if you’re optimising a website for Google, it makes sense to go to Google itself for information…doesn’t it?
While this may sound like the sensible option, and the search engine endeavours to ensure its help documentation is both trustworthy and accurate, this isn’t always the case, as the information it contains is often outdated and no longer relevant.
The episode provided an example from 2019, in which Google revealed that it had stopped using rel=”prev” and rel=”next” – code that helped Google to understand pages were linked via pagination – several years before the SEO community was told. The search engine failed to make an official announcement about the change, meaning SEO professionals were asking web developers to use code that wasn’t relevant, being none the wiser. In fact, the news only came to light because Google’s John Mueller was asked about it on Twitter.
Splitt explained in the episode that as Google changes so quickly, the information provided in its help documentation should be taken with a hint of caution, as it may not be entirely up to date. Instead, those with queries about Google should – fittingly – Google it to cross-reference information and ensure it’s correct.
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