#Google Webmaster Hangouts Notes – 18 April 2019


Welcome to MarketingSyrup! This post is part of my Google Webmaster Hangouts Notes. I cover them regularly to save you time.

Find the notes from April 18th below, the timestamps of the answers are in the brackets.

Removing website navigation will not help with rankings but might hurt your website (1:38)

With no internal linking, It’s hard for Google to crawl the website and index the pages, even though you can have all them listed in the XML sitemap. Moreover, it’s hard to understand how pages relate to each other.

So there’re no benefits in removing internal navigation from the website.

Kristina’s note: I may understand why people are removing website navigation: the logic behind it is to save the authority of, say, Page A instead of giving parts of this authority to the linked pages B, C and D. And all this might make sense… except that it doesn’t.

This is a type of technique when people think weird things about SEO, completely ignoring user experience and even shooting themselves in the feet.

There’s no need to remove the navigation. But you can clean it up if it’s extensive. Just make sure that:

  • you link to the most important pages from the main navigation 
  • all less important pages are linked from other blocks/pages

Not all external links are displayed in GSC (5:42)

Google doesn’t always show all links in Google Search Console, it shows a representative sample instead of listing all the websites linking to you.

If you migrate from an old domain to a new one, make sure to set up redirects (7:30)

If you need to migrate from a Domain A to Domain B, don’t just create a new website and leave the old one as it is. Set up proper redirects too. Your old website has accumulated some authority over time, and by redirecting it to the new domain, you preserve and transfer this authority. 

Kristina’s note: Remember to set up redirects on a page-by-page basis rather than redirecting all old pages to the homepage (or any other URL) on the new website.

More on website migrations

It’s better to use visible text rather than hide it with ‘Read more’ on product category pages (12:47)

You should add only the text that makes sense to your users first of all, not only search engines. Thus it makes more sense to have this text directly visible on a page rather than hide it with ‘Read more’.

Kristina’s note: I’ve seen a number of SEO experiments which proved that Google treats visible and hidden content differently, with the latter having less value. Here is one of the latest experiments I read about.

Google doesn’t use Domain Authority as a ranking factor (13:56)

Domain Authority is not a Google metric, it has been created by a 3rd party company. And thus, Google doesn’t use it as a ranking signal.

Kristina’s note: If you follow many SEO folks on Twitter, you have probably seen all the discussions on DA and rankings.  

DA is useful when used in combination with other metrics to compare domains. But I think that the name of this Moz metric is probably too good as now many people think that it’s something created by Google.

When there are multiple links from Page A to Page B, Google doesn’t always pick up the anchor text of the first link (14:37)

If a page A is already linked to from the website menu, you can still link to it from the body of a page B. Google will try to pick up the anchor text which seems to be more relevant.

Kristina’s note: This is interesting. As far as I remember, Google used to pick up the anchor text of the first link it finds on a page (i.e. the one in the navigation). If you know about any recent experiments around this, let me know!

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Google can start treating your ‘noindex,follow’ as ‘noindex.nofollow’ over time (17:39)

If a page is set to ‘nondex, follow’ and is not linked from other website pages, Google will start treating ‘follow’ as ‘nofollow’, and all links on this page will be ignored.

The Google indexing issue has been resolved (20:48)

The big indexing issue that hit thousands of websites and millions of pages on Google, has already been resolved.

But if you see that your website pages are still not in the index, use a sitemap to re-submit them and also check for any technical issues on your side.

If structured data reports in GSC don’t show schema you implemented, it means Google can’t see it (23:02)

When Google picks up your structured data, it’s also displayed in the corresponding GSC report. If it’s not, then something is wrong with your implementation.

A common situation is adding structured data with Google Tag Manager. It does work sometimes but it’s preferable to have structured data directly added to a page.

You can check the Structured Data tool to see if your structured data is visible in HTML source of your pages. If it’s not visible, it means Google can’t pick it up.

There’s no point in focusing on TFIDF or any other artificial metric to increase page relevancy  (30:59)

TFIDF is a metric used in information retrieval to understand which are the relevant words on a page.

TFIDF is just one of many similar metrics, and Google uses lots of different technics from information retrieval.

John Mueller doesn’t recommend focusing on TFIDF. Firstly, you can’t reproduce it directly as it’s based on the overall index of all of the web content. Secondly, this metric is fairly old, and there are

So instead of focusing on artificial metrics, think about what your users and the information which will be useful for them.

Pages returning 404 errors for some time don’t waste crawl budget (49:48)

When a URL returns a 404 error for some time, Google starts crawling it less frequently. So when Googlebot comes to the website, it first concentrates on those URLs which historically don’t return errors. This ensures that the crawl budget isn’t wasted.

The cache page is not the page that Google uses for indexing (52:56)

Sometimes the cache date is a little bit delayed, and that’s totally fine. The cache date doesn’t mean that’s the last time Google looked at the page.

Google uses many metrics to determine site speed (55:57)

When it comes to site speed, Google uses a variety of different metrics, including Pagespeed Insights score, lab data that Google can recreate, real-world data from users, i.e. how they see the website. So don’t concentrate on optimizing only a single score.

Google devaluates external links coming to 404 pages (59:00)

If an external link goes to a 404 page, Google just drops this link.

An external link means that somebody recommends the content they’re linking too. If this content is not available, then this link is not valuable either, so Google devaluates it.

A better option for a webmaster of the linked site is to set up a 301 redirect to another relevant page.

Does your website need better SEO?

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