#Google Webmaster Hangouts Notes – 5 February 2019

Welcome to Marketing Syrup! This post is part of the Google Webmaster Hangouts Notes series that I cover here.

I used to post videos with time stamps under each answer. But I figured out that it’s not really handy. So I’ll add the full video here and the timestamp info for each answer. The idea of this all is to save you time on watching the video and just give you the most important info. But if you want to dig deeper, the timestamps are at your disposal!

Google doesn’t index all pages on the website (6:26)

Google ‘saves energy’ and doesn’t index all the pages that it finds on a website. In many situations it means that the not indexed pages would not get lots of search visibility anyway even if Google added them to its index.

A list of such pages can be found in the ‘Crawled – currently not indexed’ section under the Coverage report in GSC.

But if this report shows that your key pages are not indexed, there’s some issue with them, in my opinion. And you should try to understand and resolve it.

There’s no urgency in adding your new content to the XML sitemap if Google has already found and indexed this content (7:16)

An XML sitemap helps to find new pages but it doesn’t replace normal crawling. So if Google has already indexed your new pages, there’s no urgency in adding them to your XML sitemap too.

In general, an XML sitemap helps Google index new content a little bit faster and understand its relation to the rest of the website. But Google can also find your new content without it.

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You don’t need to closely watch your backlink profile and disavow unnatural links (8:33)

Google is pretty good at ignoring unnatural links. Any website has a portion of them, so there’s no need to focus on this unless you know that there are paid links pointing to you.

This ties into the recommendation John Mueller made in the previous hangout: use Google Disavow tool only if see really low-quality links that might trigger a penalty.

Link equity is not lost through 301 or 302 redirects. But the type of a redirect determines where link equity is stored (10:18)

301 redirects are permanent; they imply that a new page is replacing an existing one forever.

302 redirects mean that content is temporarily available at a different URL.

So it’s not a matter of any of these 2 pages losing signals, it’s a matter of whether these signals stay on the initial page or are transferred to the new page.

With a 301 redirect Google will focus on the destination page and move all signals here while with a 302 redirect Google will focus on the initial page and try to keep all the signals there. So if you’re using a 302 redirect, you might see the initial page ranking in Google.

 A 302 redirect might be treated as a 301 redirect by Google if it’s live for long enough ( 12:05)

If a 302 redirect is in place for a long period, Google might eventually start treating it as a 301 redirect and will shift all the signals over to the destination page.

The reason is that many webmasters confuse 301 and 302 redirects and Google tries to figure out itself what the webmaster meant.

Google doesn’t decrease rankings of pages that use informal language (14:57)

That’s perfectly fine to use informal language on the pages; it doesn’t negatively influence their ranking potential.

Use rel=prev/next for pagination only (17:54)

The rel=prev/next tags have been specifically created to highlight a series of paginated content. So don’t use these tags for related content (e.g. related posts). Use cross-linking in such situations instead.   

There is no specific technology Google fosters when it comes to page speed (19:55)

While speed is a ranking factor, there is no specific technology that Google encourages you to use. How you achieve that speed is ultimately up to you.

(Note: don’t forget about SEO best practices for image optimization)

Achieving a high score on Web.dev doesn’t lead to a ranking boost 21:12

The Web.dev app helps to check your website against knows SEO best practices. But achieving a high score there doesn’t mean your Google ranking will skyrocket as there are more things involved into a ranking process other than technical requirements.

There is no fixed timeline for Google to pick up any improvements you make on the website, including page speed optimization (24:53)

Google doesn’t have any fixed timelines for updating your website rankings after improvements you make. You will rather see a gradual rise over time instead of a sharp increase.

It might be tricky with speed optimization though as site speed is not the most significant ranking factor, so overall quality improvements might cause bigger changes. 

Google doesn’t downgrade unrelated websites associated with people or organizations which have negative factors or feedback online (27:32)

Here is an example to illustrate that. If you work for some company and also have your personal website, your website won’t be influenced by any negative factors that the company website might have online.

This might seem part of E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, Trust), but in reality Google doesn’t associate negative factors with unrelated people or companies.

But if a website is interlinked with other websites that are problematic from Google’s point of view, this website might also be treated as problematic and thus be downgraded. 

It’s OK to have different navigation on your mobile and desktop website if you still let users easily navigate through your mobile website (40:11)

It’s totally fine to hide some navigation items on mobile and responsive websites. But don’t give your mobile users hard time to navigate through your website. Make all your content that is available on desktop devices also available in some form for mobile users.

Your Google My Business listing doesn’t influence ranking of your website (44:45)

If your website is not found in Google My Business, it doesn’t mean Google wouldn’t show it in organic search results as these things are independent. 

Google will index and rank your pages based only on the content that it can see (47:18)

If you personalize content for your users, Google won’t be able to see and index this content. A typical example of this is geo-location by IP address: since Google visits your website only from the USA, it won’t be able to index other language versions. This means you won’t rank for searches associated with the personalized content.

But that’s fine to have some subtle personalization like adding related products, additional information based on location or some other parameters. Just make sure to add it to the primary content that Google can see instead of replacing it entirely. 

A website from a particular country level domain can still be relevant globally (50:00)

When a user from a certain country is searching for something locally, Google uses geo-targeting to recognize these local searches and highlight relevant pages.

But is if a user from the UK is searching for something in Turkey (an example from the question is a hotel search), there’s no need to do geo-targeting as a website in the UK will not be relevant for a user searching for a hotel in Turkey. This means that the websites with specific country level domains can be relevant globally if they match user intent.

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