SEO Myths Debunked by Google’s John Mueller

Google John Mueller

When it comes to SEO, there’s a lot of noise floating across the internet. Some based on empirical evidence while most are regurgitated information that either oversimplify or not factual. This blog is an attempt to consolidate all of SEO myths that have been debunked by Google’s John Mueller.

John is a ‘Webmaster Trends Analyst’ at Google and has been helping SEO professionals through his social accounts for some time now. Let’s start with most popular one:

SEO Myth 1: Keyword density is an important metric for Google ranking

It’s an irrelevant metric that was once used by SEOs to rank a page. ‘Any tool that recommends it is stuck in the past. I would suggest you spend your time wiser’, was his reply to this question on a Reddit thread.

He goes on to say that it “makes sense to make a mention of that at least once but anything more that doesn’t make sense.”

Addressing user intent, focusing on readability, and not over-optimizing a piece of content for a particular KW are better ways to approach it.

Also read: Is your SEO Agency talking about KW Density? How to evaluate their work

SEO Myth 2: DA (Domain Authority) is an important metric for ranking

John has emphatically stated that Google doesn’t use that metric for ranking and it’s irrelevant. He’s urged users to use other metrics to track their website’s progress. “Never looked at this metric in 14 years” he says.

Answering a question on improving DA, John downplayed the importance of it and asked the OP to focus on building a relevant, engaged audience first. When Google receives positive signals, like backlinks and returning users, he mentions metrics like DA will grow automatically.

An excerpt from his answer:

While DA is a good indicator of the quantity/quality of backlinks coming to a website, it doesn’t guarantee good ranking. The point John is trying to make is that one doesn’t need to actively work towards improving a website’s DA. It will go up when other relevant metrics are on the rise.

DA is defined by Moz while Ahrefs uses DR (Domain rating). John said both of these “self-defined metrics”, while having built by “good and smart people on both sides”, Google doesn’t use either of them.

SEO Myth 3: Third-party SEO-related metrics are accurate

Let’s be clear here: most of the metrics that tools, like Moz, Ahrefs, SEMRush, are heavily used by SEOs to gauge present and future performance. SEOs have a handful of tools at their disposal to get a bird’s eye of their website. But not all metrics put out by these tools are an exact reflection of reality.

John says the total no. of URLs are ‘infinite’ and theoretically impossible for crawlers (including these SEO tools) to make sense of all of them. They all make guesses, assumptions and simplifications along the way to make their work easier.

SEO Myth 4: Code-to-Text ratio is a factor in ranking

The code to text ratio is a term that talks about the amount of text content on a page. “Some page have a lot of HTML and some less. It’s more design preference,’ John says.

Having said this, it would still make sense to focus on the metric. Having a good user experience is still a key factor. If a 1000-word block of paragraph can be condensed into an infographic that can convey they same message, then go for it. Or a maybe a video. The point here is that use the medium that best conveys the message in a manner that doesn’t negatively affect user experience.

SEO Myth 5: Having KWs in domain is helpful in ranking

Pick a name that you intend to use for long-time, so that it remains relevant to your offering at all times. There’s no “secret SEO bonus for having KWs in your domain name.” He adds:

SEO Myth 6: Meta descriptions play a role in ranking

Meta descriptions appear as snippets on the SERP and “it is something that we would not use for ranking”, John clarified in his April 29, 2022 English Google SEO office-hours chat.

Having an interesting snippet can definitely increase the likelihood of someone clicking on it but it doesn’t play a role in ranking the page better.

SEO Myth 6: Re-using own content on different parts of the website

‘If you’re using your own content, and re-purposing it to fit it on other parts of the website, then it’s not plagiarizing,’ John clarified. He confirmed it’s up to the individual if they want to re-use existing pieces of content. From a strategic standpoint, you’d be better suited to always create original, fewer pieces of content that add value than creating multiple instances of similar ones.

He, however, added that creating multiple variations of the same piece of content (by just tweaking words and not really adding value) is against Google guidelines. In his usual style, John advised against creating such ‘junk’ pages.

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