Weekly SEO Recap: guidelines & more

This week we had a whole bunch of “do this not that” type bits of news coming out of Google, but one big thing: updated Google webmaster guidelines. Those new guidelines led to more news as Google clarified some of the things those new guidelines say.

Joost's weekly SEO Recap

Updated Google webmaster guidelines

Google has updated its webmaster guidelines. There was a lot to cover on that topic so I did that in a separate post. I would urge you to go read that if you haven’t as it’s a lot of interesting info.

Why valid HTML is important

In the update to the webmaster guidelines, Google specifically talks about valid HTML and links to the W3 validator. They’ve already come out and said that whether your HTML is truly valid is not a ranking factor, but that broken HTML can make it harder for them to understand a page.

Especially now that we’re adding more and more meta data to pages, it’s important to write HTML that is easy to parse by scrapers.

Clarification on page titles

I wrote about the page titles kerfuffle last week, and this week, luckily, John Mueller came out and clarified his remarks about titles:

Titles are important! They are important for SEO. They are used as a ranking factor. Of course, they are definitely used as a ranking factor but it is not something where I’d say the time you spend on tweaking the title is really the best use of your time.

So that is something where if you are focusing only on titles in SEO, if your SEO agency work is essentially going to people’s sites and say we will strip out all titles and rewrite them to include all the relevant keywords and you will rank ten places higher, that is not going to happen.

Nuance! I love it. Titles are important, but not the only thing. You need all the things mentioned above: a good site structure, a good design, etc. etc.

Google prefers shorter URLs

From a hangout this week, John Mueller said:

if we have two URLs and one is really short and sweet and this other one has this long parameter attached to it and we know they show exactly the same content we will try to pick the shorter one.

This is no surprise, but good to know. It’s also how they crawl: if you give Google 100 links to crawl and they all differ in length, it’ll crawl them in the order of their length. Funnily enough for XML sitemaps I’ve seen them crawl them alphabetically.

That’s it, see you next week!

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