Top 10 SEO Insights from John Mueller in 2022

John Mueller is Google’s senior search analyst / search relations team load. He joined Google in 2007 and works in Zurich, Switzerland. He is known for helping out with answering queries and doubts related to search engines and for anyone who owns and creates websites. 

Mueller and his team helps the website owners to understand the web landscape and SEO-related practices. He always keeps the audience updated on everything new related to the Google search

While he does have on-demand sessions. Mueller has an active social media presence where he helps answer any queries related to websites and SEO. Predominantly on Twitter and Reddit.

In this article, you’ll find:

John Mueller Interactions in the Year 2022

1. Domain Extension and Their Impact on SEO (06-Jan-2022)

John Mueller answered questions related to search engine domain expansions and search impact for domain choices. The following questions were tackled in the Ask Googlebot video series on YouTube.

Is it acceptable to make use of a new user domain such as .space?

Mueller responds,

“Sure, go for it. The newer top-level domains (TLDs) are equivalent to other generic top-level domains like .com when it comes to SEO. Pick something you like, there are lots of options out there now.”

Which is a better domain name version?: www or non-www

Mueller says,

“You can use whichever you prefer. Google’s systems have no preference either way. Sometimes there are technical reasons to go one way or the other, but often it’s just a matter of your personal preference.”

Can the rel=canonical be used to link elements across different TLDs? such as gTLDs (generic top-level domains) and ccTLDs (country code top-level domains).

Mueller says,

“Yes, you can do this. The rel=canonical link element is not limited to the same domain name.”

Can ccTLDs work for a global website?

Mueller replies,

“The answer is yes. While a country code domain name helps our systems to geotarget for that country, it still allows for global visibility.

The only limitation is that you can’t specify other countries for geotargeting. For example, if you have a .fr website for France, you could use that globally. But you wouldn’t be able to explicitly geotarget users in Brazil.”

check the full video here

2. When Should You Start Making Blogs? (24-Feb-2022)

John Mueller posted on Reddit about when one should start making blogs. In this post, Mueller gives various points to keep in mind when starting your blog journey.

To quote John Mueller,

“Making a site of your own is a great way to try things out. My strong recommendation would be not to make the blog about SEO though. Pick a topic you have a bit of knowledge about, pick a topic that you’ll be happy to write about even if nothing ever gets indexed, pick something where you don’t have a commercial interest, pick one where there isn’t already an over-saturation of sites.”

View the full Reddit thread here.

3. John Mueller’s Views on DA as a Metric (01-Apr-2022)

Google’s John Mueller posted on reddit about increasing the Domain authority of a website. The important point to note is that John Mueller seems to be torn when it comes to offering advice for DA.

Mueller states that DA is not a Google metric and it has no impact on the ranking of a site. Nevertheless, he still offered his advice regarding DA metrics. Here’s the full message:

“I’m kinda torn. On the one hand, you do not need DA for Google Search. Google doesn’t use it at all. If you’d like to level your site up in search, you’d need to focus on something else, or at least use other metrics for it. This is mostly why DA as a metric is frowned upon by many SEOs. For context, I don’t think I’ve ever looked up the DA for a site in the 14 years I’ve been doing this.

On the other hand, if you need DA for something else (sell the site, sell advertising, sell links) I wonder if there’s a way to turn that around into focusing on a more useful metric instead (even something as simple as pageviews could be more useful if you want to sell ads). Or, if it’s really just DA that you want, then I’d look into Moz’s docs & forum, since they make the metric.”

Mueller offered advice on increasing the DA metrics for the user who posted the following question.

“how can I increase DA of my website? it is at 31 right now.”

Summary of Mueller’s reply

  • Focus on building a strong audience for your website before planning for monetization.
  • Find out topics about which you can learn a lot and have low competition. This will help you in standing out from your niche.
  • Focus on quality over quantity. Creating fantastic content will help you gain more audience.
  • Make content your audience shows interest in. Reach out to them if the need arises and act as if search engines do not exist.
  • Publish content when you have something unique to convey.
  • To build DA, short hacks might work, but won’t last. It’s a process that takes time.

“Assuming 31 is low (I have no idea of how the DA values are distributed), my recommendation would be to try to build a strong audience first, before you think about things like monetization. Find a topic that you know about or that you can learn about, find a topic that has low competition, where you can stand out easily (pro tip: don’t make a blog about seo or about earning money online, nobody is waiting for your version; find a different topic). My goal would be to not create a mass of content, but rather to create a reasonable collection of fantastic content. Work to make your content known to your audience – find them, reach out to them, advertise to them if you need to. In the beginning, act as if search engines don’t exist, and assume you won’t get any traffic from search. Search engines won’t know that your content is great if there are no signals confirming that, so first build your audience. Keep them engaged, keep them coming back, don’t publish just because you can, but rather publish if you have something unique, compelling, and high-quality to add to the internet. If you can keep your audience – the one you’re promoting your work to – returning, if they recommend your site on their own, over time search engines will pick up on it too, and metrics like the DA will grow too (assuming it’s something link-based). The long-term approach is not a quick jump to #1, it takes work, and you have to bring your content to your audience first, they won’t just find you on their own. Short-term hacks might get some metrics to move, but it won’t last, and you’ll be back here, or starting over, soon enough.”

View the full Reddit thread here.

4. It’s Easier to Stop Buying Links Than Maintaining Your Disavow File (27-May-2022)

John Mueller was asked on Twitter about his thoughts on people updating their disavow file every day.

A disavow file is a text document that helps you in deactivating the links or domains that refer to your web pages. It helps in letting search engines know that you have removed the listed links from referring to your domain.

Mueller’s reply to this question:

“It would be easier to stop buying links /shrug”

Take a look at the Tweet Here.

5. It’s Easier to Stop Buying Links Than Maintaining Your Disavow File (30-Aug-2022)

A question was posed to John Mueller on Twitter regarding the future of the links and how they factor into Google’s ranking.

“how relevant will links be signal wise to google on what’s quality content in say 5 years? I feel like SERP query behaviour split testing and machine learning has a long way to go.”

For which, John Mueller answered in the form of the following poem.

“It’s links,

in a big web with bots.

It has the juice.

I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing.

It’s links.

I can tell you all about them.

I mean, look at this thing.

When I tried it with JavaScript everything changed.”

Later, Mueller replied to the tweet with a more direct answer.

“Perhaps more directly – we have a lot of signals for search, and I don’t know of any update focused on links recently (other than webspam updates regarding links).”

Read the complete tweet here.

6. Usage of Hreflang (22-Sep-2022)

Once again coming back to Reddit, a user posted a question regarding the setting up of hreflang.

Hreflang is an attribute HTML tag. It tells Google which language should be displayed on a specific page. This is mainly implemented so that the users can experience the web page in their language.

The question on the post is as follows:

“My question is about all our other websites. We also have websites in other countries like Poland, France, Italy and a few others. Is it enough to set up hreflang for Germany and Switzerland where the language is the same or do I need to include all the other Countries in the set up as well? Or maybe just set it up for the main page for all countries?”

John Mueller replied to the post with insights regarding the hreflang tag. The following is the summary of the reply:

  • Linking up all versions for all the languages would be a daunting task and gets hard to handle when you have many sites.
  • Hreflang is not a bonus feature. Rather it is just used to show the most relevant language site for the user.
  • When the brand name is not localized it makes it unclear for the search engine to analyze the expectations.
  • Adding hreflang to the home page for all languages is much easier than doing the same for all the pages.

The complete reply from John Mueller is attached below:

“In an idea world, you’d link all versions of all pages with hreflang. It would be the clean approach, however, sometimes it’s just a ton of work, and maintaining it if the sites are run individually is … good luck with that.

In practice, you can simplify the problem. Where do you actually see issues with regards to people coming to the wrong country / language site? That’s where you should minimally implement hreflang (and, of course, a JS country/language recognizer / popupper to catch any direct visits). Probably a lot of that will be limited to same-language / different-country situations, so Switzerland / Germany in German may be the right place to start. Nothing breaks if you set up hreflang for 2 versions and have 4 unrelated versions.

If you already have these sites running, I’d check your analytics setup for traffic from Search, and compare the country where they come from vs the country that they end up on (pick one country, filter for the traffic from search, and compare the domains they end up on). If you don’t find a big mismatch there, most likely you don’t need to do a lot (or anything) for hreflang. There is no bonus for hreflang, it’s only about showing the most-fitting page in search for users in a specific country / language.

When checking, focus on the most likely mistakes first: same-language / different-country sites is one, but there’s also homepage traffic. Often times a brand name is not localized, so when people search for it, it’s unclear to search engines what the expectation is. If you find a lot of mismatches on the homepage but not elsewhere in the site, you can also just do hreflang across the homepages (that’s often easier than all pages in a site). Or you could do a combination, of course, all homepages + all German-language pages. Hreflang is on a per-page basis, so the beauty (and curse) is that you can pick & choose.

In any case, before you rush off and work on this for a year, double-check that it’s an actual problem first, and if so, check where the problem is. Maybe there are super-simple solutions (maybe you just need a country/language popup and don’t even need the rest?), and you can spend your time more wisely elsewhere.”

Read the complete Reddit thread here.

7. Handling Negative SEO Attack (07-Nov-2022)

Have you ever been a victim of a negative SEO attack from your competitors? Does your domain suddenly have a lot of spammy backlinks? Have you ever wondered how to handle them?

Worry not, Mueller takes a similar question from Reddit. A user posted on r/SEO that they have been a target for negative SEO attacks.

John Mueller replied to the question:

“I’d just ignore them.

Think of it this way, if your competitors are competent, they won’t build links for you. If your competitors are incompetent, the links won’t have any effect.”

Mueller has responded in a direct way that helps someone tackle negative SEO problems. A competitor who is actually competent enough would not indulge in a negative SEO method to direct their attacks.

Google ignores spammy links and does not take them into consideration when it comes to rankings. And most SEO professionals use disavow only for manual action penalties.

Read the complete thread here.

8. “Search Is Never Guaranteed” (08-Nov-2022)

On the Reddit forum r/TechSEO. A user posted about how their content has been copied by other pages and they get indexed much faster.

Mueller said that the best way to ensure that Google crawls the web pages faster is to ensure to the users and to Google that the content you publish is unique and adds value to the user.

“Search is never guaranteed, and there are tons of sites that are trying to push their updates into Google. I think what ultimately works best is that you prove to Google (and users) that the updates you’re providing are valuable: unique, compelling, high-quality, and not something that’s already published elsewhere. I realize that’s hard when it comes to user-generated content (which I assume some of this will be), but ultimately your site is what you publish, regardless of where it initially comes from. So the more you can do to make sure the indexable content on your site is easily findable and significantly valuable to the web, the more likely Google will be able to pick it up quickly (and that can mean that you block content that you determine is less-valuable from being indexed, for example).”

Another way to ensure that the content gets indexed quicker is to link and mention them on the homepage. Since Google refreshes home pages much more frequently. This will help in adding content that is much more important and new to your website.

“One of the things even smaller, newer sites can do is to mention and link to updates on their homepages. Google usually refreshes homepages more frequently, so if there’s something important & new, make sure you have it there. Many sites do this intuitively, with a sidebar or a section for updates, mentioning the new headlines & linking to the content.”

Read the full Reddit thread here.

9. Should You Use Expired and Repurposed Old Domains? (23-Nov-2022)

Getting back to Twitter. John Mueller tweeted that placing a new site on the old domain does not make you receive “SEO juice” from those old domains.

He compares the old domains to wreckages of ships or cargo that are found washed up by the sea. He also advises using new sites rather than relying on old domains.

To quote John Mueller’s tweet:

“Many expired, repurposed domains are SEO-flotsam, index-cruft, and luckily search engines have had a lot of practice with dealing with that appropriately. Build a new site if you want, don’t assume there’s old & tasty SEO-juice to lick up just by placing a site on an old domain.”

Read the entire Twitter thread here.

10. Is WordPress Better than Hard Coding Your Website? (12-Dec-2022)

John Mueller answered a question from a Reddit user asking if WordPress is better than coding the website by themselves.

John Mueller responds by saying that it is better to use a CMS only because it saves a lot of time in coding your own website. WordPress or any other CMS for that matter helps you in managing your content better, but not absolutely needed for SEO.

“Not for SEO, but you can focus more on the content if you don’t spend all your time creating a new CMS for yourself. (some people prefer making a CMS, so YMMV).”

Take a Look at the Reddit Thread Here.


In the ever-changing world of SEO, it is necessary to keep track of all the updates. Each website owner would face a different problem and rather than searching the web for answers and speculations, it is better to get responses from experts in the field. 

Similar Posts

What are Unnatural Links and How to Avoid Them?

A Complete Guide to SEO Sales Funnel

How Your SEO Strategy Should Be for 2023

If you found this article helpful then join our email list to receive time to time newsletters with valuable reads.

You may also like:

Leave a Comment