Summary of English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout

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00:00:00 - 01:00:00

In this English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout, John Mueller and other experts address various concerns regarding rel=canonical, website ranking, Penguin algorithm, technical foundation, content diversity, moderated comments, hidden content, and social media promotion. The analysts emphasize the importance of having a solid technical foundation, creating a fantastic website, and finding a niche market to rank a new website in an established market. The discussion also covers the impact of hidden content behind tabs on a website's search ranking and the promotion of clients' products or services on different social media sites.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google in Switzerland responds to a question regarding a rel=canonical issue. He explains that Google doesn't crawl all pages equally and that some URLs are crawled extremely rarely, and suggests that this is the reason for some pages continuing to show in the search results. He goes on to explain that with rel=canonical, the URL still needs to be indexed first before the signals can be forwarded to the canonical specified. The analyst also explains that while Google tries to follow the rel=canonical, it will ignore it in cases where it's set up incorrectly.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, John Mueller explains that if a URL keeps appearing on Google search results despite being removed, it could be because Google recognizes that the user is searching for that URL and choosing to show it again. He also explains how Google handles different versions of URLs depending on whether they use dub dub dub, non-dub dub dub, HTTP, HTTPS or different subdomains. In case webmasters do not specify the canonical version, Google will try to pick one version and display all data under that version. In the long run, Google may find a way to consolidate this information into a single website view, but this isn't happening anytime soon.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, Google explains that if a site won't even rank for its own domain name, even after optimizing it multiple times, it's usually due to a lack of trust from Google's side. Either the website has problems with quality, web spam or the domain name is too generic. To ensure that everything is working from top to bottom, it's crucial to view the website realistically and not expect it to rank just because it is the domain's name. Google also advises webmasters to have a unique URL structure to avoid having multiple pages displaying the same content. Whether a flat URL structure or a category-based one is better is up to the webmaster. Finally, it is essential to remember that rel=canonical only works when Googlebot re-crawls all the pages and does not take the bot to the final page directly.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, emphasizes that if a website has a limited number of categories that all lead to the same product, and it has a rel=canonical to the product URL, then it’s not something to worry about. However, if there is an infinite number of combinations leading to the same product URL, it could potentially cause problems. If Google crawls such a website, it could compute an infinite number of URLs that may lead to issues. Concerning the rel=canonical target not being accessible through the website structure, it is not usually a problem. However, there are times when we have a mixed set of signals where all links point to one URL, but it has a rel=canonical pointing at a different URL that has no links. In such a case, the algorithms will have to make a judgment call.
  • 00:20:00 In this section of the video, John Mueller discusses the Penguin algorithm and its automation. Although there is no manual intervention in Penguin, it's important to remember that Penguin is one among several factors that could lead to a decrease in a website's rank. For instance, it could be an indication that the website quality has decreased. Mueller advises that if a website identifies malicious links, adding them to the disavow file ensures Google won't use them in determining website ranking. Mueller also mentions that they're considering implementing a feature that would indicate if a website has been hit by an algorithm update, but it wouldn't be coming soon.
  • 00:25:00 In this section, John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst at Google, explains how changes in Google's algorithms may not necessarily have a direct one-to-one relationship with changes that webmasters can make to their website. He notes that Google algorithms are designed to provide the most relevant search results, which are not always easily transmittable to webmasters. He also discusses the importance of building a technical foundation for a website, which includes understanding how crawling and indexing works, as well as addressing issues such as URL structure and content indexing. Furthermore, Mueller explains that although certain indirect factors such as keywords and headings are often emphasized in SEO, a great website that is crawlable and indexable should be picked up by Google's algorithms automatically.
  • 00:30:00 In this section, John Mueller discusses the importance of having a solid technical foundation in place and creating a fantastic website instead of just focusing on keywords, as algorithms can easily pick up on mediocre websites. Mueller also jokes about not providing an exact keyword density number. Meanwhile, a user asks about the significance of diversity in content, particularly for platforms used by many people, such as e-commerce. Mueller shares that sameness can become an issue, particularly for software-as-a-service platforms with little room for customization, and that versatility is key for improving the rankings of websites.
  • 00:35:00 In this section, John Mueller advises not to worry about a particular platform using the same type of content because they’re looking at sites overall; if it works for users and they're happy with the layout, then he views it as completely fine. He further clarifies that there's no need to change CSS or UI for the sake of uniqueness. The discussion also touches on the issue of comment sections that Google can’t process due to JavaScript. Mueller suggests checking the website's rendered view in Webmaster Tools to see how much of it Google can actually pick up on. Additionally, he informs that adding a plugin to the website can add comments directly to the HTML.
  • 00:40:00 In this section, the discussion revolves around the importance of moderated comments on a website for its overall quality and search ranking. The moderators suggested that if the comments are high quality and engage the readers, they add value to the website. However, if they are un-moderated and low quality, filled with spam or abuse, they may affect the website's content and search rankings negatively. Additionally, since removing spammy backlinks from developer tools is a long and frustrating process, manual identification is necessary, with the moderation of third-party tools and a spreadsheet, which could help make the process less time-consuming. Finally, the experts believe that it's possible to enter an established market by delivering unique value-adding content.
  • 00:45:00 In this section, John Mueller discusses the importance of finding a niche market for new websites instead of competing directly with established websites. He mentions that there are no SEO tricks to ranking a new website in a well-established market, nor any business tricks that can beat out well-established competition. The conversation then shifts to a question about whether links from a subscribe form should be treated as spammy, and Mueller suggests using nofollows to be on the safe side. Additionally, he gives advice for startups, recommending that they focus on fewer high-quality pages instead of a higher quantity of mediocre or auto-generated ones. Finally, Mueller briefly touches on the ongoing rollout of Penguin updates.
  • 00:50:00 In this section, John Mueller from Google's Webmaster Central office-hours hangout discusses the impact of hidden content behind tabs on a website's search ranking. This is not a new topic and hidden content is discounted by Google, so websites that use tabs will not see a drop in rankings because of it. Using hidden content for secondary content is absolutely fine. If it's for primary content and critical to the page, creating separate pages or bringing the content into the visual part of the page is recommended. John also explains how Google's algorithms work and advises that the best way to recover from an algorithmic penalty is to clean up the problem completely, rather than making iterative changes. Finally, he explains that Google doesn't use social signals (like Facebook shares or Tweets) directly for the search results.
  • 00:55:00 In this section, John Mueller responds to a question about promoting clients' products or services on different social media sites. Although social signals are not used for search, indexing the content on the social media sites can indirectly impact search if users engage with the website, recommend their services or website directly to other people. He advises that having the same content on a website as on social media can compete against itself and suggests doing something slightly different on social media platforms to engage users, bring awareness to the product or service to those users and interact with them. Next, he is asked a question regarding Authorship markup and reputation value. He highlights that, at the moment, Google does not use Authorship markup, nor is there an alternative markup to connect authors to content. However, author information such as byline and link to the author's profile can always make sense for users, and he recommends using the markup if it's trivial for the websites to do so, as it gives a little bit more structure and information to the pages. Finally, he advises on the proper markups to use the mobile and desktop websites.

01:00:00 - 01:05:00

During the English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout, John Mueller advises against immediately switching to responsive design if a website already has a separate mobile domain, but acknowledges that having everything on one version of a site helps avoid potential problems. He also recommends differentiating between reversed IP lookup domain names and the main content website for hosting companies with subdomains, redirecting IP addresses to the actual website, and not nofollowing links inside the HTML header since there is no provision for it. In terms of comments, there is no safe number, rather, the overall quality of the page is considered.

  • 01:00:00 In this section, John Mueller discusses the issue of having a separate mobile domain for a website and using responsive design instead. He mentions that while having everything on one version of a site really helps avoid any potential problems, some people may already have a separate mobile domain and he wouldn't suggest immediately switching to responsive design. He also answers a question regarding having a hosting company with subdomains and suggests differentiating between reversed IP lookup domain names and the main content website as well as redirecting IP addresses to the actual website to make differentiation easier for Google. Lastly, he briefly mentions that links inside the HTML header should never be nofollowed and that there is no provision for it.
  • 01:05:00 In this section, Google's John Mueller addresses a question about the safe amount of comments to post on a website to avoid spamming. He states that there isn't a specific number to aim for, rather, the overall quality of the page is considered. Excessive spamming comments on a shorter piece of content can skew everything in a negative direction, but two spamming comments on a larger piece of content are less concerning.

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