Google is in the process of reworking its popular Google SEO starter guide, which it initially released in 2010 and then updated in 2017. The starter guide is about 8,500 words right now, but it will be less than half that when the revised SEO starter guide comes out.
In the Search Off The Record podcast released yesterday Lizzi Sassman from Google said they cut out a ton of repetitive and redundant information from the current SEO starter guide and the new one will be cut in half.
The new SEO starter guide should be released soon – like really soon. The current one seems to be over 8,500 words, and the new one was a little over 3,000 words, according to Lizzi.
So we did cut out at least half because there’s a lot of duplication where we’re explaining what is the title and like the best practices for improving titles and descriptions where we have like full on guide that we’ve now improved since the SEO Starter Guide was initially written. So it was like a one-stop shop, but now we have more extensive things on all of these topics. So I think part of it is like, why do we need to have it in two places?
Gary Illyes from Google said he thinks the SEO starter guide, which currently ranks super well in Google, will see its ranking drop in Google because of it having less content.
John Mueller later added on LinkedIn:
It’s always tempting to just keep adding to a comprehensive document – more words is better, right? Well, no. Having a massive opus doesn’t make it easier for people just dipping their feet into the world of search engine optimization. And so, we’ve been working on revamping it a bit, making it a lot shorter, and more suitable for modern websites. Feedback from readers has been super-helpful in all of this (we go through everything submitted in the documentation). I’m not sure when it’ll be ready, sometimes the last bits take the longest :-). Stay tuned.
While Google said word count is not a ranking factor, removing words that might match on it, might be an issue, Gary implied. “That’s precisely what I’m saying. Of course. No. But I mean, if you think about it, like, if you don’t have those words on the page anymore, then how would you rank for them,” Gary wrote when John and Lizzi question him on the word count thing.
In any event, keep an eye out for the new Google SEO starter guide. It should take you about half the time to read as the old one.
Forum discussion at X.