Did Google just drop a bomb on the SEO community…?

If you aren’t on SEO Twitter (X), you might have missed it…

Just a few days ago, Google dropped a bomb on the SEO community in the form of a very lengthy tweet. 

Typically, Google’s Search Liaison is pretty cryptic..but this is very straightforward.

Do you have FAQs in your content or landing page? How about “expert” reviews for EEAT? Are you updating content to keep the dates fresh…? 

Google says that’s a recipe for a penalty. 

Their main gripe is that websites and SEOs are “trying to show Google things.” 

Here are direct quotes from Google, telling you what to avoid: 

- Something saying an "expert" reviewed the content because someone mistakenly believes that ranks them better

- Table-of-content things shoved at the top because who knows, along the way, somehow that became a thing I'm guessing people assume ranks you better

- The page has been updated within a few days, or even is fresh on the exact day, even though the content isn't particularly needing anything fresh and probably someone did some really light rewrite and fresh date because they think that "shows Google" you have fresh content and will rank better.

- The page end with a series of "hey, here are some frequently asked questions" because someone used a tool or other method to just add things they think people search for specifically because they heard if you add a bunch of popular searches to the page, that ranks you better not because anyone coming to your page wants that

- I can barely read through the main content of pages because I keep getting interrupted by things shoved in the middle of it. Which isn't so much a "show Google" think as much as it is just an unsatisfying experience

So, is this legit? Should you listen to Google here?

Personally, I'm not convinced much of this holds as much weight as Google wants you to believe.... 

Yes, SEOs have undoubtedly taken all of the above and overused them in scenarios where they don't really make sense for the reader.

However, there are also plenty of pages where all the points above make perfect sense.

Case in point, this article ranking #1 for “creatine” related searches.

Really? A medical review is needed to determine a good creatine supplement? The only  ingredient in these products is creatine monohydrate, the most researched supplement ever

You do not need a bogus “medical expert review” to determine which brand you prefer.

We all know that this is just an affiliate marketing, money making play for this website. 

Scrolling down the page, the BS-meter keeps climbing: 

FAQs that are not helpful for the reader as they have already been answered by the article.

While Google likes to deny that FAQs work, they absolutely do in practice. It’s been proven time and time again that FAQs are gold for featured snippets and People Also Ask SERP features. 

Lastly, we have a historical view on the page of how often it’s been updated:

Half a dozen medical experts every month need to update and review an article about creatine brands? 

Creatine is creatine. The product these brands produce does not change formulas…because, well, it’s literally one ingredient at a 5g, researched dose, that has not changed, ever.

Sites like this are doing this for one single reason: it works for SEO!

Yes, Google likes to claim that showing them things like this does not work, but it does…after all, that’s why they are trying to combat it algorithmically, right? Because it does work, and they don’t like that it works. 

Most things that Google tells you not to do are things that genuinely work, and their algorithm is not yet able to detect at scale. 

Google loves to discourage people from doing things that they don’t like (that work!) with the looming threat of penalties. 

The question is: 

Can Google's algorithm genuinely discern what sites are doing this for manipulation vs genuine improvement of the content? 

Can they truly assess your intentions? 

Until these tactics above actually stop working, full stop, I take this advice with a grain of salt.

Forbes, Cnet, Healthline etc, etc, all do the above, and they dominate rankings. 

Like in my example above, sites akin to this were exposed for having "expert medical reviewers" on articles not related to medicine...yet still rank first for the most competitive keywords in their space.

In other words, they blatantly gamed the system and saw zero penalties for it. 

Yes, your goal should always be providing the user with good content. And I genuinely agree wholeheartedly with Google’s premise that users should come first. 

The problem is in practice: just publishing great, user-centric content doesn’t work in any competitive space. 

If I published the world’s best article about filing taxes that was somehow 100x better than NerdWallet, would I outrank them anytime soon? 

0% chance. 

The idea that good content is all you need is wholeheartedly not true, and Google knows it. 

The only factor that consistently holds true through every update Google has ever pushed:

Authority genuinely trumps all. 

The biggest brands on the internet do all of these supposedly frowned upon actions, yet succeed with flying colors. 

I'm curious....what do you think of this statement from Google?