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Should We Believe 100% of Google’s Recommendations for SEO?

By Chad PollittAug 18, 2011

There are two types of SEO practitioners out there – Google purists and Google realists. Purists take everything Google says as doctrine and if anyone questions it they are blasphemous. On the other hand, a realist takes Google’s recommendations with a grain of salt because Google has a vested interest in protecting their algorithm. A realist looks at what Google says, looks at their own results, looks at other’s results, and pours over copious amounts of data to come to their own conclusions.

Google SEO Trust

There are some inconsistencies in what Google reports and recommends which seem to fly in the face of actual results and data. Here are a few examples to make you wonder:

  1. Google claims not to follow no-follow links. However, Google reserves the right to follow no-follow links. You can clearly see some of them in Google’s Webmaster Tools. Additionally, how would Google capture social signal data if they didn’t follow no-follow links?
  2. Google claims that a proper 301 redirect will maintain 100% of the link juice in the link. However, several SEO researchers have shared that 301 redirects actually cause a loss of up to 25% of said link juice.
  3. J. C. Penney and Overstock.com were breaking Google’s link building recommendations. Did Google catch them? No – The media did. The end result was the same, but they probably wouldn’t have been caught in the foreseeable future had they not been outed.
  4. Here’s a simple one – Many of the data points in Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics contradict each other.
  5. Google clearly has different algorithms for different industries and types of content (press releases, blog posts etc.). Do a geo-search for any city in the US and “web design.” See any Places results? No, because the algorithm is different for that industry. Ever have a press release show up on the first page of Google in a matter of minutes? It’s gone within a few days.
  6. Google has preached for years to ALWAYS provide valuable unique content in order to do well in search. However, until Panda was released Google didn’t have a good way to enforce this rule.

What does this mean for SEO?

It doesn’t really change anything unless perhaps you are an SEO purist. Just because Google recommends something it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a line in the sand. It’s a recommendation and most of the time their algorithm probably looks for websites which adhere.  However, just because something is recommended it doesn’t mean their bot is built to account for or measure it.  Have you come across some SEO inconsistencies with data or results which seem to fly in the face of what Google says? If so please share below. For SEO help feel free to download our SEO Cheat Sheet.




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