Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Are The r/SEO Reddit Moderators Biased Against Google?

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A post in the r/SEO subreddit by Google’s Danny Sullivan that was meant to dispel a misinformed observation was apparently removed by a moderator with zero explanation and then it returned. This isn’t an isolated incident, posts by John Mueller have also been removed without explanation, giving a perception that the r/SEO moderation is biased against Google to the point of actual hostility.

This isn’t the first time that a Googler’s posts have been removed. It’s happened to John Mueller, too.

It was bad enough that the original post misrepresented what SearchLiaison had said but it was even worse that a moderator would remove a post by a Google representative that corrected the misinformation.

The question has to be asked, what value does the r/SEO subreddit have if it doesn’t allow Google representatives to respond to misinformation and to offer help?

Redditor Misinterprets Google

The original post was about one statement that was taken out of context of a much larger tweet by SearchLiaison.

The context that went over the Redditor’s head was that SearchLiaison was recommending that if publishers do things that they do it for their readers and not because they read somewhere that it’s good for ranking.

Here’s the context:

” You want to do things that make sense for your visitors, because what “shows Google” you have a great site is to be… a great site for your visitors not to add things you assume are just for Google.

Doing things you think are just for Google is falling behind what our ranking systems are trying to reward rather than being in front of them.”

SearchLiaison listed things that SEOs do because they think Google is going to rank it better.

A partial list of what was tweeted:

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

– Weird 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 Redditor commented:

“To me, it was a silly thing for Search Liaison to say because it is really lame to believe that using a TOC or not would make any difference to SERP ranking.

If you take his point further of not showing to Google, you might remove breadcrumbs, internal links and related posts. In other words, anything that is of SEO value.

So it was really nonsensical advice from Google.

But I’m sure many bloggers will take it as gospel and, in desperation, remove TOCs from their sites.”

Of course, as most anyone who is objective can see, SearchLiaison wasn’t advising anyone to remove their Table Of Contents from their articles. He was just recommending to do what’s best for your users, which makes sense. If your users hate the table of content then it’s a good idea to remove it because it doesn’t make a difference to Google.

And that advice was actually a gift because it helps people avoid wasting time doing things that might annoy readers which is never a good thing to do.

r/SEO Subreddittors Upvote Misinformation

The weird thing about that thread is that the misinformation gets upvoted and people who actually understand what’s going on are ignored.

Here’s an example of a post that totally misunderstands what SearchLiaison posted and repeats the misinformation and receives sixteen upvotes while someone with the correct understanding is upvoted only five times.

This unhelpful post received 16 upvotes:

“I did not understand why he thought table of contents were not helpful. Even before we were using the Internet, we were using books and magazines table of contents to find what we were looking for… We do the same on long posts…”

And this got only five upvotes:

“He never said that tables of contents aren’t helpful. Sometimes they are.”

Screenshot of a misinformed post in the r/SEO subreddit getting more upvotes than a high quality post

Danny Sullivan’s Post Is Restored

Danny’s post in the r/SEO subreddit was subsequently restored. It was a thoughtful 1,120 word response. Why would a moderator for an r/SEO subreddit delete that? There is no good reason to delete it and easily at least a hundred good reasons to keep Danny’s post.

Partial Screenshot Of Danny’s 1,200 Word Response

John Mueller’s Posts Were Also Deleted

Myself and others who write about SEO have noticed that John Mueller’s posts have gone missing, too. It’s been a practice at Search Engine Journal to take a snapshot of Mueller’s posts when writing about them because they tended to occasionally disappear.

Composite Image Of Four Of John Mueller’s Removed Posts

Composite image of four posts that were removed by from the r/SEO subreddit

Is The R/SEO Subreddit Broken?

The inexcusable removal of posts by Danny Sullivan and John Mueller create the perception that the r/SEO subreddit moderating team is biased against Google and do not welcome their contributions.

Did the moderators remove those posts because they are biased against Google? Did they remove the posts out of a misguided anti-spam link rule?

Whatever the reason for the action against the Googler’s it’s a very bad look for the r/SEO subreddit.

Featured Image by Shutterstock/Roman Samborskyi





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