Summary of English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout (new weekday!)

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00:00:00 - 00:55:00

During this Google Webmaster Central hangout, John Mueller discussed a wide range of topics related to SEO and Google search. Among some of the main takeaways, Mueller advised website owners to focus on fixing mobile usability issues rather than worrying about when mobile usability will kick in. He also stressed that users will continue to use smartphones and demand great mobile experiences from websites. Mueller also discussed the benefits of using structured data and the fact that structured data may not necessarily affect a site's ranking. Additionally, he provided guidance on using canonical URLs and leveraging disavow files. Finally, Mueller touched on the importance of content positioning on web pages and treating top-level domains as unique entities.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, John Mueller discusses how to handle disavow files when redirecting from one domain to another. He advises taking the disavow file from the original domain and uploading it to the new one as well. When asked about including links specific to a niche on aggregator sites, he advises against disavowing these links as they are not intended to manipulate search engine rankings and are likely ignored by Google, especially if they are included as a feature of the platform.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, John Mueller addresses the question of the value of links set up on a directory site. If links are self-dropped, then it should not pass page rank. Thus, a nofollow and a disavow is recommended. It all depends on the set-up of each website. He also talks about the crawling of CSS and JavaScript, and how it is important to allow these for recognition of the contents. In addition, he acknowledges how things can get a bit complicated when it comes to indexing, especially content that is hidden by default or displayed only on mobile, as it may not be treated as important to page content.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, discusses web page design and the positioning of primary content on the page. Mueller advises that the primary content should be visible at the top of the page, but content slightly further down should still be regarded as valuable, so a precision of a few pixels should not cause worry. The redesign of a webpage should focus on providing equivalent content for both mobile and desktop users. Mueller suggests that this could be accomplished by using Wikipedia’s model, where the primary content is the same, but users have the option to expand or explore individual sections. Mueller also notes that the success of a new website heavily depends on its competition in the market, and that getting a share of their search traffic likely involves the creation of new and unique content.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, John Mueller from Google explains that if content isn't visible on a page when Google loads it, algorithms will try to take that into account by discounting its weight in relevancy calculations in the search results, rather than ignoring it altogether. He discusses the problem with hiding content in tabs and how users may struggle to find what they're looking for if it's not easily visible. He also talks about infinite scroll websites and recommends having some kind of paginated or category navigation so that people can easily access the content they need without having to scroll down hundreds of times.
  • 00:20:00 In this section, John Mueller answers questions related to page importance, third-party metrics, ranking new start-ups, cache dates and Penguin update. According to John, when it comes to really big pages, it is important to have critical information visible to users, and also specifies that third party metrics like Majestic, Ahrefs and Moz don't have their own set of algorithms acknowledged by Google. In terms of ranking new start-ups, Mueller advises focusing on fewer high-quality pages and finding something unique that sets the business apart. He also assures that it is unlikely that a cache date will affect crawling or indexing, and that a drop in ranking and crawling would not be the result of a cache date. Finally, he mentions that the Penguin update is still being rolled out globally.
  • 00:25:00 In this section, it is discussed that duplicate content is a general problem when content is syndicated. When sites syndicate their content, Google crawls and indexes all of those different versions. If all of the content is essentially the same, they will see it as duplicate content and pick one or the other to show in the search results. So, it is not specific to MLS or real estate sites only but really across the board. Additionally, it is recommended that search pages are not indexed because it can create a huge number of pages that may lead to diluted signals. Hence it is difficult to make a decision between having more pages that are kind of similar and having fewer pages that are highly focused.
  • 00:30:00 In this section, John Mueller discusses how having too many pages on a website can lead to signals being split among them, making it harder for Google to rank each individual page. He notes that combining similar content onto one page can create a stronger signal for Google to rank. Additionally, he explains that Google treats new top level domains as generic domains, and that there is no reason to avoid using dot info domains, despite their association with spam.
  • 00:35:00 In this section, John Mueller of Google's Webmaster Central office-hours hangout discusses the issue of treating top level domains uniformly. He emphasizes that treating them uniformly doesn't make sense, as people use different top level domains for different purposes, and the presence of spammers on one domain does not mean that all the sites on that domain are necessarily bad. He further explains that Google doesn't have strict guidelines regarding the number of sister sites, although he recommends keeping the number reasonable to avoid going overboard. John also clarifies that when it comes to search results, Google's algorithms should be able to identify and prevent duplicate content from the same company from appearing multiple times in search results.
  • 00:40:00 In this section, Google recommends that webmasters should use the same URLs for both search engines and users, not having a dynamic URL for users and a canonical URL for search engines. Disavowing spammy links is advised, but the focus should be on improving the quality of the website. When it comes to issues with Webmaster Tools, it may be safe to ignore errors such as missing title tags in the robots.txt file, as it is not necessary for it to have one. Lastly, while structured data may be recognized by Google, it does not necessarily mean that it is used in search results.
  • 00:45:00 In this section, John Mueller discusses the benefits of using structured data and whether it significantly affects a site's ranking. While structured data makes it easier for Google to recognize what a page is about and may be used in rich snippets in the future, it is not necessary to use it for short-term visibility. Mueller also provides insight into a user's question about the lack of traffic gain after a revoked penalty, stating that it could be because the manual action and algorithmic changes occurred around the same time. Lastly, he advises a user with a redesigned website to set up a tool on the site to crawl URLs to prevent users from seeing 404 pages and avoid being charged for useless clicks.
  • 00:50:00 In this section, John Mueller discusses various topics related to Google search and SEO. He explains that local search results shown within Google Maps are separate from organic search, and therefore, the search exposures in average keyword ranks in Webmaster Tools cannot be shown for local places. Mueller also advises website owners to focus on fixing mobile usability issues rather than worrying about when mobile usability will kick in, and emphasizes that users will continue to use smartphones and demand great mobile experiences from websites. In addition, Mueller mentions that Google bot is now more like a normal browser, and therefore, progressive enhancement makes it easy for the bot to pick up on the primary content as quickly as possible. He also notes that using CSS for tooltips and expandable content can provide an advantage, but it should not be something that only works in modern browsers and not anywhere else.
  • 00:55:00 In this section, John Mueller from Google Webmaster Central explains that using "en" would be a good match for English content directed to English-speaking countries including the UK, Australia, and Canada. If this is the only English version available, using "x-default" is also appropriate since it is a generic English page, which can have multiple language annotations. This means that the same page can have multiple annotations including "en-us" and "en" at the same time.

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