Can Google’s Documentation Be Trusted?

Can you trust what Google says on their search documentations? Are they reliable and relevant information that can help your site or your clients get ranked?
Marie Aquino
January 15, 2022

Google Search Central’s January 13 SEOs and Devs episode was all about Google documentations on search and if they can be trusted.

In the video, it was discussed how sometimes the Google help documentations are out of phase with how things currently are in search.

Martin Splitt confirmed that the docs are not always in phase and that they are doing their best to work with the teams to help keep the documentation updated. But it does, every now and then, happen.

One particular example provided on the help documentations not being up to date was the case of the previous and next links.

A bunch of engineers in search quality figured out that they do not really need the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” links anymore to figure out pagination and that they can figure it out from other things on the page. So, they just removed the code.

Going into the position of the documentation team, they had the choice to either update the docs or just quietly remove it because it was no longer relevant or to inform everyone that it was no longer necessary, and that it hasn’t been necessary in the last six months. This, while knowing very well that people are reading the documentation and making recommendations based on it, and that people invest time, money, resources to apply the data from these documentations.

The alternative was to let it live in the documentation even though it was wrong since it doesn’t hurt anything, anyway.

What they ended up doing was going the full-frontal way of informing people and then updating the documentation.

They try to keep the docs updated as much as possible and they try to make sure to their best knowledge and best ability that the docs are a source of truth.

Michael King, the guest in the episode mentioned that it is difficult to look at the documentation as the single source of truth because things are changing so quickly. A lot of SEOs rely on various tools and even if the SEO tools follow Google’s documentation perfectly, it still wouldn’t necessarily be the ideal state since there are instances when the documents are not up to date.

Google search changes so much and is so dynamic, so it can be understandable that there might be instances when some documentations lag behind the updates and changes.

It is important not to just look at the Google documentations as the Holy Bible for search and to also do your research, read around, and most importantly, test.

This is why the SEO Intelligence Agency can be a valuable group for SEOs. Aside for getting SEO information and data that are tested, you also get up to date SEO news and articles, plus network with other SEOs in the group.

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