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Google’s Digital Marketing Course Offers Bad SEO Tips

That noise you hear? It's SEO that calls Google today. Google's new Digital Marketing and E-Commerce Certification course, announced May 2, includes

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That noise you hear? It’s SEO that calls Google today.

Google’s new Digital Marketing and E-Commerce Certification course, announced May 2, includes boring SEO tips so bad that one Google search advocate – Danny Sullivan – repudiates them.

What happened. It all started with tweet From international SEO consultant Gianluca Fiorelli. In it, share this screenshot of a slide discussing how to avoid keyword stuffing:

This is the official Google tip from the course:

  • Type more than 300 words on your web page.
    • Your web page is more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages if you write a higher volume of quality content.
  • Keep your keyword density below the industry standard by 2%.
    • This means that 2% of the words on a web page or less must be targeted keywords.
  • Be thoughtful about keyword placement.
    • Your keywords should only be used once in the following places on each page within your website: page title, subtitle, first paragraph, and body summary.

“Seriously…type more than 300 words”? And “keyword density”? Fiorelli tweeted. “I mean…keyword stuffing is bad, sure! But solve it by spreading SEO myths that SEO tries to eradicate?

“I know this course is a very beginner level, but that is precisely why myths like these should not be taught. Have Google SEO specialists reviewed the course?”

This can be ignored. Danny Sullivan, Google Search Liaison, replied For Fiorelli, basically a disavowal of the course.

“I’m not on the team that produced that, nor are they part of the research team,” Sullivan replied. “As someone from the research team, we don’t recommend any limits or ‘density’ or anything like that. This can be ignored. I’ll pass it on.”

Then link to Google Tips from Search, Google’s SEO Getting Started Guide. This document does not mention keyword density or a minimum word count.

keyword density. Keyword density is the percentage that tells you how many times a keyword or phrase is used on the page. Divide the total number of times a keyword or phrase is used by the total number of words used. Then multiply by 100 and you get the percentage. (Or just copy and paste your URL or text into our free online keyword density calculator.)

This is the fun thing with keyword density. I’ve spoken with several SEOs in the past who swear they’ve successfully found the right keyword density in the past and helped them rank for pages. Exact keyword density varied – I heard that anywhere from 2% to 10% was the right place, depending on who you spoke to (and in what year) and the industry they were in.

So the keyword density myth has the core of truth. Because it was working.

But let’s be clear: There is no “industry standard” keyword density.

Google has played down the importance of keyword density, since 2006, when former Google employee Matt Cutts shared tips on writing useful articles readers will love. He wrote in part:

“…in the space on the page, I recommend thinking more about words and variants (“long-tailed”) and thinking less about the density of repetitive keywords or phrases.”

In a 2011 video, Katz was asked, “What is the ideal keyword density for a page?”

Key quotes:

  • “So the first or second time you mention a word, it might help your rankings, sure. But just because you can say it seven or eight times, it doesn’t necessarily help your rankings.”
  • “I would love if people stopped obsessing over keyword density. It will vary. It will vary by region, and it will vary based on how other sites rank for it. It’s not a hard and fast rule.”

But Google search has advanced a lot since 2011. Today, it is not uncommon to find some pages ranking for certain keywords without using the keyword they are ranking for within the page.

Keywords are very important. But there is no magic keyword-to-content ratio that can guarantee traffic and rankings.

Jessica Bowman, an enterprise-level SEO consultant, said she was shocked to see Google set any keyword density, which Google and SEO leaders have opposed for years. She also said:

  • “I instruct the book on the frequency of keywords to use in the content (but avoid any discussion/research about density). The reason for limiting keyword frequency is because in my experience, the book will not mention keywords naturally enough to prove relevance to the word The main one you want to arrange.
  • “When instructing the book, I include seven types of keywords to guide the book such as: primary keywords, secondary keywords, words that are part of an authoritative discussion on the topic, words to use in links, etc. Each has a number of iterations. To include it… I find this points the writer in the direction of creating solid content through authoritative discussion that will perform well in search engines.”

Word count and SEO. Where did that 300 word tip come from? I highly doubt the Yoast page even exists. Compare this quote:

“We recommend that you write more than 300 words for regular posts or pages, while the product description should be more than 200 words. Why is that? A higher word count helps Google better understand the content of the text. In general, Google tends to rank longer articles higher “.

To what Google says in its tracks:

  • Type more than 300 words on your web page.
    • Your web page is more likely to rank higher in search engine results pages if you write a higher volume of quality content.

See the similarity? It could be a coincidence. or not.

Google search representatives have said, time and time again, that word count or content length is not a ranking factor.

This John Mueller said in:

  • 2018 in Twitter: “Word count is not indicative of quality. Some pages have a lot of words that say nothing. Some pages have very few words that are very important and relevant to your search queries. You are the best at knowing your content (hopefully) and you can decide Whether he needs details.”
  • 2019 on Reddit: “Word count is not a ranking factor.”
  • 2021 in the Google Search Central SEO office hours video: “In our view, the number of words on a page is not a quality factor, not a ranking factor. So just blindly adding more and more text to the page doesn’t make it better.”

Regardless, the correlation between word count and ranking has always been a hot topic of SEO studies. The problem, as always, is that association studies are generally for entertainment purposes only.

I started SEO in 2007. At about that time, 250 words was considered best practice for blog posts. Then it started increasing every few years. 250 became 500, then 1000, then 1500. The last I saw, HubSpot was claiming 2100 – 2400 is the ideal length for blog posts.

We also briefly had some popular concepts, such as 10x content and skyscraper content (until people figured out “results may vary” and not everyone wanted to read a novel before learning how to disassemble a light bulb).

My advice for content writing is simple: write what it’s worth. It should be long enough to be comprehensive and better than what your competitors are posting.

Word count is really one “it depends” situation – it depends on the type of content, format, purpose, audience, industry, intent of research, and a lot of other variables. Also, blog posts are not product pages or other types of pages.

Why is this bad? “All course instructors are Googlers and are subject matter experts,” Google said. But this advice clearly calls into question the validity of this course and the value of the certificate.

This situation made me think of a quote from the movie “Inception”:

“An idea is like a virus. It is flexible. Very contagious. Even the smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define you or destroy you.”

Replace “idea” with “SEO myth” in that sentence, and that’s the problem. Someone from (or on behalf of) Google wrote this course. I suspect many Googlers have seen the content of this course and agreed.

Now, many are anticipating that some people will use this course to declare themselves “SEO Certified” by Google.

A lot of bad myths about SEO have emerged over the years. But the origin of most of these myths can always be traced back to the conclusions of practitioners and influencers who publish articles or “research studies,” speak at conferences, or share updates on social media.

Google has given a lot of high-level guidance on SEO best practices, but nothing is as specific and wrong as this before – let alone digital marketing training that ends with an official Google certification.

This is yet another reminder to be careful about the type of content you read — because sometimes it’s old advice, even if it was posted recently, Bowman said. Bowman also said:

  • “It’s best to understand SEO by learning from SEO thought leaders who have been around for a while – you can see across the board what seems to be working and legitimate tactics, so you can identify what is bad or questionable advice. From there choose the “person” you and your team want to coach, because this Google certification shows that even well-known and respected companies have people who give bad advice.”

In fact, most Google search representatives have tried to debunk these bad myths about SEO in the past. Repeatedly.

Why do we care. Google has promoted this certification as a way to improve or rehabilitate employees. Problem: This course has bad SEO advice. Anyone who takes this course learns bad practices that someone must, at some point, help them get rid of.

Yes, the course is now “free”. But people are investing their time (something they can never get back) into this certification, all to learn some bad SEO practices that wouldn’t even help you rank a decade ago.

While Sullivan shrugged it off, saying it could be ignored, people who take the course likely won’t read a tweet disavowing it. or other tweets and updates on social media that warrant inaccuracy. or articles you advocate, including this one. that’s the problem. It is something that cannot be ignored.

In 2016, Google concluded that SEO certification would be a “bad idea”. Well, they were right. Here we are in 2022 and SEO is part of the Google Certification in Digital Marketing. And it’s certainly proving to be a problem, just days after it was launched as part of its digital marketing certification.

Google is a reliable authority. It is the largest search engine in the world. Most people who take this course (again, provided by Googlers who are subject matter experts) will trust the information that is taught to them about SEO. We hope that this course will be updated and reviewed by Google by experts who specialize in search engine optimization (SEO).

If Google continues to teach SEO myths, these SEO myths will continue to spread like viruses. Except this time, the legend comes straight from Google itself.


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About the author

Danny Goodwin is Senior Editor at Search Engine Land. In addition to daily writing on SEO, PPC, and more about Search Engine Land, Goodwin also operates a roster of Search Engine Land experts in the field of search. It also helps with programming for our SMX Conference Series – Search Marketing Expo. Prior to joining Search Engine Land, Goodwin served as Executive Editor at Search Engine Journal, where he led editorial initiatives for the brand. He was also an editor at Search Engine Watch. He has spoken at many major research conferences and virtual events, and his expertise is drawn from a wide range of publications and podcasts.

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