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.

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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Joost's weekly SEO recap series


9 Responses to Guidelines & more

  1. 51web
    51web  • 3 years ago

    Nice post, thanks a lot Joost. A little bit surprise about Google crawl sitemap urls alphabetically, maybe this can help us quick index some urls.

  2. Mohummod Tareq Hosen Mozumder
    Mohummod Tareq Hosen Mozumder  • 3 years ago

    Mr. Joost, thanks for your up dated information. You may include the way that it would be helpful for freelancers.

  3. Freshers Idea
    Freshers Idea  • 3 years ago

    Google Search Console is updating more frequently. Found some interesting facts over on page seo..

  4. Nigel
    Nigel  • 3 years ago

    Totally unsure where I should post this so what the hell. I just wanted to vent my frustration on Yoast SEO. Had 3.0.7 installed (I update my plugins fairly religiously) and hadn’t been in to create any posts for some time so I missed the shit hitting the fan when v3 rolled out. On going in to create some new posts, editing lag times just sucked – the lag when typing was just unacceptable – we’re talking waiting a solid minute before the cursor moved, we’re talking typing two sentences ahead of what was appearing on my monitor and then losing some of what I’d typed because the cursor was jumping around. Read all the stuff on v3 and ended up uninstalling 3.0.7 and rolling back to 2.3.5. Lo and behold, no more lag, no more response time issues, back to being able to work. And I can use the Meta Description field again so I know what I’m doing – unlike the Snippet crap which just screwed with my brain. Couldn’t you at least have consulted a good UI designer – I mean, what you did, it is SO counter-intuitive and all those user comments should have clued you in. And still you persist – guys, that’s the way to going out of business.

    My succinct comment. Look, I work in IT, I manage large projects for Govt clients and what you did to your users with v3 is, sorry, completely unacceptable. Sorry Yoast, but v3 sucks big time and for me anyway, its unworkable. Staying on 2.3.5 until I can find an alternative or you get your shit together. Whichever comes first.

    • Joost de Valk

      Hi Nigel

      I can understand your frustration. I hope you’ll be happier with 3.1, but especially the lag is not something that’s common. Your issue, while we’ve seen it a few times, is not a common one, so we’d love your help on reproducing it.

      Whatever your experience, “large government projects” don’t often have 5 million users on 4.5 million different configurations with dozens of different browsers opening them, so finding bugs is a lot like finding a needle in a haystack.

      • Nigel
        Nigel  • 3 years ago

        Thankyou Joost, you’re so right about “large government projects” not often having 5 million users on 4.5 million different configurations :) – somewhat of a challenge, I know. It’s not so much the little bugs – those I understand and can live with – as the change to the UI and the lag issue. The old meta description and the way it was laid out was intuitive and easy to follow. That said, in the end I figured out the new UI but it took me quite a while and I’m not exactly IT illiterate.

        Re the lag, problem, be happy to chat offline on that one – just email me. The post I’m working on is around 14,000 words with a host of images as well – not your average 500 word post by any means. Pushes the envelope a bit I know but a lot of my pages are around that size. With v2.3.5 and earlier, no problems working on it. With v3.0.7, the lag is very very evident.

    • Marcelo
      Marcelo  • 3 years ago

      Yoast given equal your comment, just think of the $$$

  5. Alan
    Alan  • 3 years ago

    Thanks for the recap man. I was not aware the Webmaster guidelines had been updated so I will have to have a good look at them now. Short urls been preferred over longer ones is not big news but thanks John Muller.

  6. Glauco
    Glauco  • 3 years ago


    “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.”

    Good to know. Thank you guys for the post.


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