Blindly Follow Google’s John Mueller? – Search Engine Journal

A discussion on Reddit asked members if they blindly followed the advice given by Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller. John Mueller started a poll on Twitter. The SEO community offered candid feedback on how they felt about Mueller’s advice.

Reddit Discussion About Mueller’s Advice

The person starting the discussion seemed to not be satisfied with Mueller’s Office Hours videos on YouTube.

They wrote:

“Do you blindly believe and follow what John Muller says in “Google Webmaster Videos”.

For me, I don’t follow everything, as some of his statements are self-contradictory.”

Is John Mueller Contradictory?

I’ve seen many people say that. In cases where the person making the assertion linked to contradictory statements, it’s always been the case that Mueller’s words were being taken out of context or spun.

For example, Mueller has been consistent that publishers do not need to file disavow links. But for some reason, his words keep getting twisted out of context to make it seem like he’s encouraging disavows.

Here’s a good example of that happening, which I documented here.

The context of the entire discussion on a video was Mueller telling the person asking the question that publishers don’t need to disavow unless there’s a manual action or if the publisher knows that the links will trigger a manual action.

He then says that if it’s borderline link building done years ago, then that’s something Google could handle on its own without triggering a manual action and no disavow needed.

Mueller literally answers multiple questions and each time re-asserts there’s no need to file a disavow.

Finally, when pressed yet again, Mueller will literally shrug and says something like, if you want to do it, go ahead.

The headline the next day will be, “Mueller says Disavows are Helpful.

That’s not Mueller being contradictory. That’s Mueller’s words being taken completely out of context to push an agenda.

I have been listening to every Office Hours video for two years now for Search Engine Journal.

Watching them first hand, without the spin, I can see that John Mueller is not contradictory.

If he did contradict himself, I would have pointed that out already. Mueller is remarkably consistent.

John Mueller’s Twitter Poll

John’s poll asked:

“Do you blindly believe what John Mueller says on YouTube?”

The results at the time of writing were:

Do SEOs Follow Google’s Mueller Blindly?

Many SEOs on Twitter who followed Mueller believe he is a reliable source of information, but with the reasonable caveat that nobody should be followed blindly.

Once it’s been tested 😉

I mean, every site, page, or query/SERP has nuances. To blindly follow advice intended for others, or in general, is unwise.

You often ask webmasters for examples/details to help make the answer more clear. That says a lot.

Appreciate all you do, JM!

— Ethan Lazuk 🌴 (@EthanLazuk) August 24, 2020

I believe what you say, not blindly but with the proper context. Your contributions are beneficial, giving that you must act within Google’s constraints. Also, search is sophisticated and in constant evolution.

— Samuel Lavoie (@SammyQc) August 24, 2020

I believe everything you say within 1) protecting trade sekrets and 2) a narrow context of the specific conversation you are in. I am sure the “John Mu once said “X”. New seo rule!” Either amuses or frustrates you.

— Rob P (@MrRobzilla) August 24, 2020

Some answered yes because Mueller’s advice is in line with what we know about algorithms. Mueller’s answers rarely venture onto actual site promotion and marketing.

Following whatever Mueller says probably won’t negatively affect a publisher:

Not blindly, no, but since what you say is pretty much what I read in research papers and books on IR and at IR conferences and you’re a very experienced software engineer I’m inclined to believe what you say 🙂

— Dawn Anderson (@dawnieando) August 24, 2020

There were those who find it difficult to reconcile contradictions between what they see and what Mueller says.

Some see a discrepancy in what Mueller recommends:

No, Yes, well it depends, but sometimes I see a discrepancy on some of the answers especially on grey topics such as disallowed and links. however, I do admire the commitment and the desire to help webmasters with all their questions. pic.twitter.com/Dey20ngHsS

— Amine Dahimene (@aminedahimene) August 24, 2020

Others believe that John’s answers are given in the spirit of helpfulness:

I believe you answer questions with a genuine desire to be as helpful as you’re allowed to be within Google’s constraints and the limits of your own knowledge of this vastly complex system we call ‘search’.

— Barry Adams 🛠⚙️⌨️ (@badams) August 24, 2020

Some answered no because they won’t follow anyone blindly. The part about following “blindly” was a sticking point for many.

No, but only because “blindly” was added.

— Jeff Ferguson (@CountXero) August 24, 2020

where is the fun in that… no never believe anything anyone says blindly otherwise you might as well give up as a marketer… there are plenty of things we ask that we know you can’t give the actual answer for..

— David Iwanow #WearAMask (@davidiwanow) August 24, 2020

And of course, some responded with humor.

— amittiwari.txt (@teamamittiwari) August 24, 2020

I used to believe that Mueller’s information was sometimes unreliable. Then I started listening to the Office Hours hangouts myself and receiving the information first hand instead of what someone else wrote.

That’s when I discovered that the perception of contradiction seems to come from the person writing about what Mueller said. The other reason why Mueller might sound unreliable is because what he says doesn’t match up with what the publisher thinks they’re seeing in the SERPs.

John Mueller’s poll is here:

Do you blindly believe what John Mueller says on YouTube?https://t.co/T8bTTJ9SxZ

(FWIW votes are anonymous on Twitter :-))

The Reddit discussion is here:

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