The Google SEO Starter Guide is designed to help individuals and organizations quickly learn the most important steps necessary for getting their websites ranking within Google Search.
While the guide reportedly maintains a 91% approval rating, it has largely gone without updates for several years but that will be changing soon.
In a recent episode of Google’s “Search Off The Record” podcast, the company’s Search Relations team discussed plans to update the SEO Starter Guide, including talking about what would and would not be included in the revised document.
Discussions like this are great for seeing how SEO is talked about within the search engine and learning what the company prioritizes when ranking sites along with identifying SEO myths that might lead you astray when optimizing your own site.
So, what’s changing in the revised SEO Starter Guide?
One topic the group discussed was the importance (or lack thereof) of HTML structure when it comes to online rankings.
While the team agreed that using proper HTML structure can help with online rankings, they indicated the guide will clarify that these are not all that important in the grand scheme.
As Google’s Gary Ilyes said:
“Using headings and a good title element and having paragraphs, yeah, sure. It’s all great, but other than that it’s pretty futile to think about how the page… or the HTML is structured.”
Branded Domain Names vs Keyword Rich Domain Names
SEO experts have been increasingly debating whether it is better to focus on your existing branding when establishing a domain name, or if domains perform better when including specific keywords.
According to the Google team, the new guide will clarify this by indicating that brands should focus on including branding in their domains over using keywords. The thought process shared by those in the discussion was that establishing a memorable brand will have a more long-term impact than trying to optimize your domain specifically for search engines.
Debunking SEO Myths
Lastly, the group said one thing they want to improve in the document was how it addressed widespread SEO myths and misconceptions.
For example, everyone agreed that the SEO Starter Guide should specifically debunk the idea that using Google products while creating or optimizing your site will improve search rankings.
They indicated they would address this myth and several others to prevent people from optimizing their site based on misinformation found elsewhere online.
For more from the discussion, listen to the entire episode of “Search Off The Record” here.