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Google+ Hangouts - Office Hours - 01 December 2015



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JOHN MUELLER: So today is Google WebMaster Central Office Hours Hangouts. My name is John Mueller. I am a WebMaster Trends Analyst here at Google in Switzerland. And part of what I do is talk with webmasters and publishers like the ones here in the Hangout, the ones that submitted lots of questions, and try to help answer anything that's still kind of open. As always, if there are any new people here in the Hangout that have any questions that have been on their mind for a while, feel free to jump on in and ask them now.

EYEPAQ: John, I have two questions, and then maybe I will leave the Hangout and watch the live stream so the other people join. Basically, I have, like, two short question, and then I will let you be with the Q&A, because I saw that there are plenty of those. My first question would be, how important are the arrows in WebMaster Tools for href line return no tag? So basically, I have the href pointing to a different language, but there is no return back from that one. Is it because it's a redirect or it's a mismatch? Would that cause any problems? Or it's something that we can slide?

JOHN MUELLER: So what happened there is we would ignore that set of href lang links. So if one page links to the other one and the other one doesn't confirm that link, then we assume that link isn't correct. And we ignore it. So it's kind of--

EYEPAQ: Oh, both ways. [INAUDIBLE].

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. It really needs to be confirmed from both sides.

EYEPAQ: OK. And one other question, somewhat related to this one. There is a lot of talk online form SEOs and also your colleagues. Is it still OK to put rel canonical on every single page pointing to itself? Just in order to avoid, like, the duplicate parameters and things like that. Is it the--

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. Sure.

EYEPAQ: So pointing bits out, that's OK site-wide. One million pages, it doesn't matter.

JOHN MUELLER: It doesn't matter how many pages. You just need to make sure that it points to the clean URL version, that you're not pointing to the parameter version accidentally, or that you're not always pointing to the home page accidentally, because those are the kind of mistakes that we try to catch.

EYEPAQ: And that would include having www in front or n/? So like really the canonical version that you see up there in the versions?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. You can do that across millions of pages. We'll try to take that into account.

EYEPAQ: Perfect. Last one and really short this time. The document that was released, like, some days ago, with all the raters and all the information, at some point, there was a discussion that there might be some issues with having affiliate links. But it's an older problem anyway. The question is, is there a problem if there are affiliate within content, so in body somehow hidden with bitly or any URL shortener, like having the URL short? Can that be seen as [INAUDIBLE] somehow? I mean, that done from, like, tracking perspective, not to hide the affiliate. I mean, Google anyway sees it at the end of the day. But do you think that it's possible that those type of link, especially if it's in large numbers, can be seen as somehow grayish, or like sneaky redirect somehow?

JOHN MUELLER: I wouldn't worry about it in a case like that. I think there are definitely better ways to track clicks on a page. So that's something that, within Analytics, you have ways of doing that, so that you kind of save that extra redirect through the external site. So I try to just set up the links directly and track them in a different way. But if this is the only way you can do tracking and you kind of need that tracking for particular reasons, then it's not going to be a big problem.

EYEPAQ: So you're saying Google won't see those as, I don't know, a mean to deceive someone, either the users or Google by any way?

JOHN MUELLER: No. I mean, that's, like, a common setup for affiliate programs anyway. So it's not completely unseen. I just really try to make sure that the links go directly, so that they're a bit faster for the users. And there are definitely better ways to track these things. But if that's the way you have your site set up, I think that's fine. It's not going to change anything to, like, point directly instead of pointing to a redirecting URL.

EYEPAQ: Perfect. Thanks a lot. Thanks for the invite. I will jump out, so I'll leave room for someone else. And I will just [INAUDIBLE]. Thanks a lot.

JOHN MUELLER: Thanks for dropping by. All right. Any more questions from someone who's kind of new to the Hangouts here?

THIAGO POJDA: Um, I am. Hi, John. Hi, everyone.

JOHN MUELLER: Hi.

THIAGO POJDA: The question I have is a friend of mine has this forum for the past, I think, 10 years or so. And well, you know, it's a forum. People ask stupid questions, and people answer stupid thing. And since 2012 or something, his traffic dropped heavily. And I think it's something related to Panda, because of that tons of low-quality content he has. The question is not if it's Panda or not. The question is just, how can a webmaster like him, who he doesn't know much about SEO word content or whatever, be responsible for that? He also has some linking problems, because it's all PH, PBB, and stuff. But that's another issue.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. So I guess the overarching kind of theme there is as a webmaster, you're responsible for your website and how it's presented to other users and to the search engine. So if you have a forum and you have a lot of, let's say, low-quality, user-generated content within the forum, then that's something that we see as part of your content. So it's not that we would say, well, this is a forum, this content was generated by someone else, we'll ignore it more or less. But essentially, that's a part of the content. Like the webmaster of any other kind of website, you have to work on making sure that the content that you provide is really useful, compelling, high-quality, unique for the users. And obviously, with a really large forum, that's not something that's easily done. That takes a lot of time, either doing it manually or working with a team of admins or moderators within the form, or setting up some kind of automated system to kind of figure out which content is really great and which of the content is kind of, well, more like filler material or maybe just chatter among friends, those kind of things. So I don't think there is just, like, one solution that works everywhere.

THIAGO POJDA: What I would recommend him is to remove the chatter forums, the chatter groups, the low-quality content to being indexed by-- it doesn't matter to be indexed. Like, just the good-quality stuff, right?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I think that's definitely an option. Some forums just put that content behind, like, a login. So if you're logged in and you're a regular user, you find all of this content. It's not that it's removed. But it's just not like a part that's front and center when a random user comes to visit.

THIAGO POJDA: All right. Awesome. Thanks, John.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

MARIO: Hi, John.

JOHN MUELLER: Hi.

MARIO: Hi. This is Mario. I would like to make you two questions. Sorry for my English. One is about structured data. We think we did almost everything in the Webmaster Tool Search Console. But we don't know how to recognize if we are indexed properly. How can we?

JOHN MUELLER: So with regards to structured data, if it's indexed properly, I guess the main place to look is the Structured Data Dashboard within Search Console that tells you which of the types of structured data we found on the website, we were able to pick up, which ones we were not able to pick up. That's one thing. The other one is the Indexed Status information in Search Console, which tells you how many of your pages in general have been indexed.

MARIO: Already did. There is the magic number with the plus nearby. But I really mean inside the search engine. How can I recognize? We have bread crumbs and stars-- OK, rating. But we don't see, in the search results, how, why-- sorry-- maybe.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. So to see if they're visible, you can just search like a normal user would do. But if they're not shown in the search results, then we kind of have three main items that are responsible there, where we have to figure out if a page should be showing rich snippets or not. The first one is if they are technically implemented properly, which you can test with a testing tool. You're nodding. So you probably have seen that before. The other one is if they're implemented correctly from a policy point of view. So you're using recipe markup on recipe pages, you're using bread crumb markup for the bread crumb pages.

MARIO: Articles.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I mean, those are the kind of things where if you use the right type of markup, that's already important. Whereas if you use, like, recipe markup on a product review page, then that doesn't fit. That's something we might throw out. And the third one, which is the trickiest one, I think, is that we have to recognize that your website is of high enough quality that we really trust this markup and want to show it in the search results. And that's something where there's not a simple test where you can say, oh, it reached, like, this high quality, where it's really hard to tell. So one thing I think you can do is do a site colon query for your website.

MARIO: Do what? Sorry?

JOHN MUELLER: A site colon. So in the Search box in Google, you can enter a site, colon, and then your domain name, and then maybe some of the keywords there.

MARIO: Yeah, I did it.

JOHN MUELLER: And if, in the site query, we show the structured markup, the rich snippets, then from a technical point of view, we have it right. From a kind of policy point of view, we accepted those. And if they're not shown in a normal search, then that means, from a quality point of view, we are not really sure how we should treat this website.

MARIO: Despite the fact that I did everything, but not-- I don't know the high quality, you know? You think you make the best content, but maybe it's not enough for Google. How can I know this?

JOHN MUELLER: It's really hard to tell. Yeah. I don't think there is a simple solution there. So what I would do is post in one of the WebMaster forums and get, like, honest feedback from other webmasters. And see if there's something, from a quality point of view, that maybe you're missing, that you're kind of glancing over, because this is your baby, and your website is always the best.

MARIO: Yeah. [LAUGHS]

JOHN MUELLER: I know how it is.

MARIO: Sure.

JOHN MUELLER: But kind of get the hard feedback from other peers, the things that you might kind of know in the back of your head, but you don't want kind of see directly. But that's the kind of feedback--

MARIO: So asking in--

JOHN MUELLER: Yup.

MARIO: Yeah. Asking into the WebMaster forum, right?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah.

MARIO: Thanks. The second question is about Google News. I don't know if you can answer to this.

JOHN MUELLER: Maybe. Maybe not.

MARIO: OK. Thanks. Another side. From one day to another a long time ago, I would say three years ago, before that day, it reached the first position normally. Usually. From that day, whatever we were going to write, whatever we were going to post, we have never ever reached the first position. I think that it could be one penalty. And this is my first time that I have the possibility to ask to you, to someone, to Google. Is there any-- is something where I can ask if there is any penalty or whatever?

JOHN MUELLER: If there is a manual action, you should see that in Search Console.

MARIO: There isn't.

JOHN MUELLER: There isn't one there. Then that's essentially the algorithms that are trying to do something there. But what you can do, as a Google News publisher, is contact the Google News team. In the Help Center, they have a Contact link. And you can send them, I think, an email, and ask them the question directly. I don't know if they can help with a ranking question like that. So maybe there's a technical problem. Maybe there's something that doesn't show us an error in the tools, but technically makes it hard for us to rank. So I would just ask them and see if you can get some help there.

MARIO: OK. Thanks a lot. Bye to everybody. I'll leave.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. Bye. Thanks.

MARIO: OK, bye.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Let me run through some of the questions that I picked out from today. And then we should potentially have time to go through more and more of your questions here as well. Let me just try to find the right questions here. Google Search Console Fetch and Render, we added a map where we are located to try to improve our SEO, but Googlebot has it blocked. And it's a high severity." So what should we do? So essentially, what sometimes happens, depending on the way that you embed a map, is that the map itself was blocked by robots.txt maybe on the Google Maps side, maybe on whatever other map provider side that you're using. And if we can't see that map, then we can't kind of index that content from that map. But if you have your address on the HTML of this page, if you have a link to Google Maps or whatever on those pages, then we can pick that up, and use that, and understand your location better. The tricky part is if there's something within the map that is only visible within the map, that can't be found on the HTML directly, then that's something we wouldn't be able to pick up if the map is blocked by robots.txt. So if you have something like a pop-up bubble with the opening hours, or your phone number's in it, then I would just copy that content to within your HTML as well, so that it's visible directly on the page. And then we can pick that content up there. And for the users, the map is obviously a nice touch that gives them directions, all of that. Let's see. [INAUDIBLE] about kind of the indexing question. "Google Search isn't indexing my site. There are No Content keywords. It doesn't provide structured data. Most pages appear if you do a site query." So I double-checked this site. And what I noticed in the URL is that you have an umlaut in there, which means that it's essentially a special character. And what we often find is that people who have kind of these special characters in their domain names, they sometimes have an alternate version of their site as well. So in this case, with an O with an umlaut can be written as "oe." And I noticed that some of your content is indexed with the "oe" version and some with the umlaut version. So what I would do there is pick one of these versions and really make sure that it's the canonical version for your site, that you have a rel canonical set up, a redirect set up to that version. And also double-check that that's the version that you look at in Search Console. So it's probably not that we're not indexing anything. It's just that we're not looking at the variation that you have currently opened in Search Console. All right. Another bunch of site structure questions. And let me try to find them. "Is there an optimum way of setting up a Blog section on your website, so it improves overall quality? Or is it just a simple case of linking to the content within a relevant product or a section page?" So essentially, you can set that up however you want. It's not, from our point of view, that we say a blog is completely different content and needs to be handled in a special way. It's essentially content that you have on your site. Maybe these are articles. If you call it a blog, or if you call it an article collection, or product reviews, or whatever you want to call it, is essentially doesn't really matter for us. Content is content. So if you link to it, we'll try to pick that up and crawl and index it. "Larger sites with unique URLs, with over 50,000 unique URLs. And a better folder structure taxonomy. Will that help Googlebot to crawl and index the page or the site more efficiently and faster on a regular basis?" So we essentially don't look at the taxonomy of a URL. When we crawl content, we essentially just look to see if this is a unique URL and if we think that it leads to unique content. So if you have a website set up in a way that has minimum duplicate content that we don't get sent off into URL sections of a site that are completely irrelevant or that are duplicates, then essentially, we can crawl and index that content fairly efficiently. So you don't need to put text into URLs or make it have a semantic structure within the URLs itself. Here's a similar question. "Could it hurt our rankings if we have missing levels in the URL structure of a site? For example, we have /clothing/shirts and then /color/blue, but no single slash color folder." From our point of view, that doesn't matter. Again, we don't try to semantically take apart the URL itself for crawling, for indexing. We essentially try to see which URL it's pointed at and crawl and index that URL as efficiently as we can. It doesn't really matter if there are parts of the site that are missing. Sometimes you'll see users try to edit the URL. But I think that's fairly rare. Mostly, I guess, more advanced users would be doing that. Let me see where the other one is. "Is it possible that my internal pages are more authoritative than my home page?" So with page rank gone, domain authority-- I guess they check various tools. From our point of view, sure. Other pages of your site can be more authoritative than your home page. Sometimes we'll see that a specific product is really, really popular from a website. And everyone goes to that product page, and you don't really go to the home page. And that's completely fine. That's essentially up to you, essentially up to how you organize your business, how you organize your website. It's not something where we would say, this is a bad sign if everyone loves your products, but nobody likes your home page. Let's see. There's another one kind of towards authority. "What can we do to our content to make Google believe that we are an authority on the subject? Should we, for instance, be including links in our content to places that have source information? Is that going to have a positive SEO effect?" So I guess first of all, I would take a step back and say, if you want to be an authority for a specific topic, you should be an authority for that topic for your users, not for Google. Because essentially, we try to see what comes out in the end, how users react to this, how they link to this content, how kind of they recommend it to other people. That's the kind of stuff we try to pick up. And that's the kind of stuff that you can influence by really being an authority rather than by trying to fake being an authority through kind of links on a page and those kind of things. So specifically, with regards to links on a page, one really old-school spam topic is that people put Wikipedia links on their pages. And they assume that Google will look at this and say, oh, this person must be really fantastic, because look at all of these Wikipedia links on there. And that's not really how our algorithms work there. So just by placing links on a page doesn't necessarily make it a high-quality page, high-quality content. You really should aim to actually have high-quality content and really be an authority in that area, not just show that for Google.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Can I transition into a press release with this question?

JOHN MUELLER: Try it. Sure.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Well, I just wanted to know that if it's a high-quality press release, I mean, content-wise, like seven pages, for instance. Seven pages. And I know that's a long press release. But if it's a nofollow, it's fine, right, if it goes to a nofollow to the site? That's OK, right? So you have no issues whatsoever as long as the press release is a No Follow and you can go nuts if it's really a serious brand and they're releasing shoes every single month. And well, I'm just-- yeah.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. So for our point of view, the part about passing page rank is definitely something that we look at or that we try to recognize. If it's trying to gain page rank through press releases, that's definitely a problem. So if you have the No Follow there, I don't see a problem with that. With regards to the content itself, that's essentially up to you and what you're trying to achieve there. And for some businesses, it makes sense to do press releases, because that's how they kind of reach out to the people that are talking about this topic, that are writing about this topic.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: [INAUDIBLE] to the shareholders.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I mean, for other businesses, it might not make that much sense. Or if you're just like an online shop and nobody really reads or uses your press releases, then that's probably time that you could be spending somewhere else. But for some businesses, it definitely makes sense.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Like Google Search reviewers, it'll take them a while to come to this page. But when they rate it, well, I mean, once they rate it, that press release can also become authoritive later on, no?

JOHN MUELLER: Well, the search quality raters are more to kind of help guide the way that we build the algorithms. So they're not going to crawl the whole way and then saying, oh, this is a good page, this is a bad page. But rather, the algorithm is doing the right thing for this query by showing this set of pages. So that's essentially just content on other people's sites on these press release sites that we try to pick up and index.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: OK. Thanks.

NIK: I've got a syndicate question, if that's OK, John.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

NIK: On a site with half a million pieces of content, would a ratio of eight syndicated articles, high-quality syndicated articles-- let me stress high quality-- to every original piece of content, would that be viewed negatively by Panda?

JOHN MUELLER: So eight syndicated articles to one original article? Something like that?

NIK: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Of things that happen, is it worth sharing with everybody?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. It's really to say, because these quality algorithms look at the site overall. And that's something where syndicated content isn't, per se, like, low quality and bad. But it does need to provide some value for users. So if people come there and they say, oh, I've seen this article five times already today, then I don't know if that's really, like, the best kind of content to put on a site front and center. But I don't think there is any static threshold between this is the amount of copies you can have on your site and this is the amount of unique, all new content that you have to have on a site. It's really better algorithms. Try to look at the site overall and determine how it should be handled from a quality point of view.

NIK: Yeah. When you get to big figures of pages, when there's a lot of pages-- there's like a million pages-- it's just difficult to keep the original stuff to the levels of this syndicated stuff that may be great news, like entertainment news, like Bono falls off stage and breaks his leg, which may have happened 10 minutes ago, and it comes through on a feed. That might be great information, and the people that are visiting the site may not know this. But it's just difficult to keep the levels of the original stuff up. And do we need to rewrite "Bono falls of stage and breaks his leg"? Does that need to be written a million times? To the user, the value would [AUDIO OUT]

JOHN MUELLER: Oops. Don't hear you anymore.

SANTA CLAUS: John, that's essentially how press or press releases work, isn't it? One company-- let's say Apple's launching a new iPhone. They issue a press release. And then after a million sites take that and rewrite it, that's surely the ones that republish it, they're all citing the original source in one way or another. So yes, surely you should rewrite it. But do it in a way that's compatible with your site.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I think that's something you probably need to test with your own users and just see how they respond to this kind of content. I imagine for some things, it makes sense to get more in-depth information out there in an article, where you're not just, like, tweaking the words to make it look unique, but actually providing some value of your own. And in other cases, maybe like the syndicated content directly also makes sense. But I think that's something you probably can easily test. Or easier than, at least, like, seeing what Google does with it, test it by double-checking how your users are responding to that. Do AV testing. Take the different types of content that you have and see how users actually respond to that kind of content. Great. Let me move on with the next bunch of questions here just so that we can kind of run through these. And then we'll hopefully still have time for more live questions along the way. "Our business has individual branch pages for our depots. But in order for our services to rank for each branch, do we need an internal link between the branch and the service pages? Or is Google clever enough to figure that out?" So in general, we do crawl a website by looking through links. So if, within your website, we don't have links between the individual pages, then it's really hard for us to crawl those pages, to understand the context of the individual pages there. So I'd definitely make sure that it's kind of crawlable internally, that we can go from one page to the other pages within a website. I think in this specific situation, when you're talking about individual branch pages, you kind of need to watch out that you don't head into the doorway page situation, where that you create maybe individual pages for all the services for each of the locations. And then suddenly, you have thousands of cities that each have 5 or 10 or 20 different pages that are essentially all the same. Then that looks really kind of low quality, kind of doorway pagey, almost spammy type content. So that's kind of what I'd watch out for there. It's not so much the internal links between these pages, but really kind of the general structure of what you're trying to put out there. But if these are normal internal pages and you otherwise have them on your site without direct links between each other, then that makes it a lot harder for us to crawl. "Do impressions or traffic affect crawl frequency? Pages with high traffic are crawled more frequently than ones with low traffic." So I think this is more of like correlation, causation type situation, where we don't really see how many people are actually going through these pages. But if we can tell that this is an important page within a website, we will try to crawl it more frequently. So that specifically happens when we recognize, within a website, that maybe this is one of the main pages where all the news articles are posted or this is kind of like the news feed within your website. Then that's something where we'll recognize that things are changing quickly there, that it's interesting for users that we have that content. And we will try to crawl that more frequently. So that's essentially us trying to figure out where does it make sense to crawl more frequently compared to which parts of the site kind of stay more stable and don't need to be crawled that frequently?

THIAGO POJDA: John, would you say that links matter on that?

JOHN MUELLER: Links matter with regards to crawling. Yes. Yeah, yeah. I mean, we need to be able to find those pages first. So links matter at least in that regard. But also, if we can tell that this is an important page within the website, that things kind of come together at this point, then that's something that also helps us there. It's not so much that you need to build external links in those pages. But even internally, within the site, if we can recognize that everything kind of comes together there, then that's a sign for us that this is something that maybe we should crawl more frequently. And I think the other thing to add there is that just because something is being crawled more frequently doesn't mean that it's more important for search. So we do try to separate the crawling from the indexing and ranking part in the sense that maybe something needs to be updated very frequently. But that doesn't mean that it's automatically more relevant for people searching for that topic. It's just, from a technical point of view, we try to update it frequently. But that doesn't mean that we're going to rank it very high just because it's changing frequently.

THIAGO POJDA: All right.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Kind of similar to crawling questions. "Is it possible to have a robots.txt line disallow the middle of a query string, not just the beginning? Sure. You can do that. You could use the asterisk wild card character to kind of let us know that essentially anything up to that point can be ignored. And then there's a specific part that you're looking at there.

NIK: John, if a site no indexes, like, 2/3 of its content, would that cause any kind of a problem or penalty--

JOHN MUELLER: No.

NIK: --in an attempt to clean out the weaker stuff? No?

JOHN MUELLER: That's fine. Yeah.

NIK: OK. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: "We've hit our size limit for robots.txt, so we're looking for alternate ways to preserve our crawl bandwidth by not having thousands of variations indexed for our search results pages. Is it just as useful to add noindex, nofollow at a page level?" Sure. You can use noindex, nofollow on a page level. And that will help us to not crawl those pages. The tricky part there is we still have to crawl those pages that have the noindex, nofollow on it, so that we can see that markup. But I think the bigger problem that I see kind of in the background of this question is when you're saying you've hit the size limit for the robots.txt file, then probably your robots.txt file is way too complicated and is going to be really tricky to actually maintain in the long run. So that's something where I'd spend a bit of time to really significantly reduce the size of the robots.txt file, so that it's a lot easier to maintain, so that you easily see which parts of your site are being blocked by robots.txt, which parts aren't, and those kind of things. Also, with regards to URL variations, I try to avoid using URL parameters that are kind of unique or search path elements that are really unique in the sense that sometimes it makes it really hard for us to crawl a site and go through the unique content and [INAUDIBLE]. So simplifying the URLs in a way that makes it easier for us to focus on the unique URLs is really important. But I'd really also try to simplify the robots.txt file in a case like this.

THIAGO POJDA: John. Sorry to jump in again. It's just on that matter, if he adds the noindex and nofollow, either way, Googlebot would have to index that page in order to see the noindex. And that would eat his crawl budget anyhow, right?

JOHN MUELLER: That would definitely have an effect. But if, from that page, for example, you link to thousands of search variations, then at least we wouldn't follow that to those other pages that are being linked.

THIAGO POJDA: Yeah. But if that would be like noindex follow, it wouldn't matter that much, right?

JOHN MUELLER: If it's just noindex, we would still follow those links. Exactly.

THIAGO POJDA: OK.

JOHN MUELLER: Let me see. What can we pick up here? "Over 18 months ago, we 301-redirected our site from one TLD to another TLD. That was, we withdrew the request and removed the redirects three weeks ago. It seems like Google's still processing this as a site move. So in general, you'll probably still see some of those old URLs if you specifically search for them. So if you do a site query, that's probably what you'll still see there with regards to withdrawing the site move request and, I imagine, putting content on the old URLs. Again, that's something that essentially just takes time once the content is there. So that's not something that will immediately work. But as soon as we see that there's unique content there, that we can index it separately, then I think those 18 months are probably enough for us to realize that this content has actually moved to the new domain. A site move question. Let's see. "If we would want to move the section of our large website to a new domain, would it be OK to keep a copy of the section on the original site for old customers but canonical all the pages to a new domain?" Sure. You can do that. What will just happen there is we'll crawl both of these versions. We'll see the canonical. For us, the canonical is kind of a signal. It's not a directive, like a 301 redirect would be. So we'll probably pick up most of the pages on the new location, but we might still index some of them with the older location. And if that's not specifically a problem for you at the moment, that's fine. It's not something that would be a significant problem for us.

MIHAI APERGHIS: Hey, John, can I have a quick followup on that?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

MIHAI APERGHIS: So regarding site moves, I sent you a couple of weeks ago a Google+ message. With the new Google+, I'm not sure if I sent it correctly. It was about a longer redirect to a custom domain not hosted on Blogger that featured a page asking users about the redirect. So I don't know if that was the best way. In case you didn't get the URL, here it is again. So that extra page, I'm not sure if it, for Google, if it's redirecting properly, the Googlebot, or whether we should use some other type of redirect.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I'd have to double-check. I imagine this was right while I was traveling to the various conferences. But I will double-check. Or if you can ping that link, drop another comment on that thread, then hopefully it'll bubble up on my inbox again. And I can take a look at that. I think that was a general question, like, how do you move from a blogger site to your own custom domain, essentially, right?

MIHAI APERGHIS: Yeah.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah.

MIHAI APERGHIS: OK, will do. Thanks.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. Here's one. "We get sometimes a couple of directories are building a massive amount of links to our website, and they want some money for each link to be removed." So they're essentially trying to be jerks and charge money for something that they put up, a type of spam to try to, I don't know, harm your site maybe. But the question goes on. "We disavow all the bad links, and they keep building new links. What can we do?" So from our point of view, I looked into a couple of these cases. And we essentially already [INAUDIBLE] most of these directories. What you can do on your side is if you're seeing this happening, I would just disavow the whole domain and move on. That's not something you need to have that removed. You definitely don't need to pay anything to have those kind of things removed.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Well, there's a lot of criticism out there that it doesn't work, disavowing.

JOHN MUELLER: It definitely works on our side, so from that point of view, I don't really know what to add there. If, essentially, the criticism is, we don't believe what Google says, then I don't know what I could say to make people believe that it's actually true. But from our point of view, the Disavow tool definitely works. It definitely handles submissions that you do there correctly. Let's see.

NIK: Can I just jump in with a quick quickie?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

NIK: I'll just send you a link. Submit. We've had a problem with we have photo pages, where there may be 10, 20, 50 photos in a gallery, of a gig or something like that. We've had a problem where we had them all on individual pages originally. And we think that was causing us issues. So we've merged everything into one page. So all the similar photos have merged into one page. We've had a problem with Google Images, where we were using a slider. And anything that's lazy loading or out of view of the slider was not ranking anymore, which was-- we were kind of cutting off our nose despite our face there. I've just sent you a link to a page with some disclosure photos on it from a gig from the other day. I just wonder if you could recommend a better way of handling it. We want the images to individually rank, but we don't want to be penalized for duplicate content.

JOHN MUELLER: Putting them on separate pages shouldn't be a problem in general. So I need to take a look at the URL afterwards.

NIK: We was using Prev, Next as well to show that it is a set.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. So that shouldn't really be a problem if you put them on URLs separately. With lazy loading, like you mentioned, the bigger problem is that we might not actually see the image link directly, because it's not really shown when we pick up the page. But that's probably something where we could take a look at your example and see if we can maybe do a blog post about this topic in general.

NIK: I would very much appreciate that.

JOHN MUELLER: Because especially with lazy loading, with images, image galleries, that's the type of question we get every now and then. I think Mihai has already battled through a bunch of this with his site. So it's definitely not something that's unique to you. I'll definitely take a look at that and see what we can do there.

NIK: Thank you very much. Appreciate that. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. One more spam type question. "Are sites tarnished in any way after a penalty recovery? And is there any situation when it would be easier to rank by moving to a new domain host penalty?" So from our point of view, at least from a manual action point of view, sites don't have any kind of bad karma if they used to be flagged for kind of spammy things and now there aren't. There is one kind of exception there, in that when we see that a site keeps going into a manual action, cleans itself up a little bit, goes out, and goes back in, and kind of sneakily switches from a good site to a spammy site and back again a few times, then it's possible that the Manual Action team will say, well, we'll just wait and see what this site ends up as in a half year of a little bit later down the line. So that's one situation where it might have a kind of a longer effect there. But that's really a rarer situation, really the type of situation where we think that this is kind of malicious leavings switch back and forth. So it's not something that would accidentally happen. The other thing to mention there is that sometimes our algorithms also look at spammy or bad techniques that are used on a site, and try to flag that. And in those situations, sometimes it can happen that our algorithms take a bit longer to process everything, to pick up the problems, but also to recognize that things have been resolved. So you might see some effect there. That's specifically true around maybe the quality algorithms that we have that take a bit of time to actually pick up the changes, those kind of situations. But if we are just looking at it from a manual action point of view, if you've cleaned it up, if you've gone through the reconsideration request, then you're OK. There's nothing manually holding your site back after that kind of a cleanup. All right. We still have a bunch of questions lined up. But let me just open it up for questions from you guys in the meantime. And we'll see-- pick and choose from one of the other lists.

SANTA CLAUS: Can I ask a question?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

SANTA CLAUS: We had a link today from "The Daily Telegraph" because of the type of company we are. So as a gift article for Christmas, which is fairly normal. So in normal circumstances, an article or a link from "The Daily Telegraph" would be a good thing, because I assume Google would treat that as an authoritive source. But when you look through the article, it's clear that there are other people in there as well. And there's maybe 10 companies in there. They're all nofollow except for one, which means it's clearly some kind of sponsored article without it mentioning it unless I'm being paranoid. But does that mean that it's harder for you now to spot what is-- given that newspapers have to make money somehow, even the good ones? How is Google handling that sort of fairly obvious link placement? Without mentioning sponsorship, it's clearly a sponsored post.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I don't know. [LAUGHS] It's probably not something that we would always be able to pick out algorithmically, automatically, right away. So I imagine there might be some of these situations that that either slips through or where we recognize that a site is, like, regularly doing sneaky things, we say, well, we can't really trust the site completely. They have great content, but we don't really trust their links. Those kind of things can happen as well.

SANTA CLAUS: I mean, I assume they have to make money these days. So it must be harder and harder to not sell content.

JOHN MUELLER: Well, I mean, you can make money otherwise, too. You don't have to do that in ways that, like, negatively affect search engines or that specifically go against the guidelines that we put together. So from my point of view, it's not something where you have to break our guidelines in order to survive as a business. That definitely shouldn't be the case.

SANTA CLAUS: Right. But there should be, in that case, there should be no real penalty for the person that has got the follow link versus the 10 others that don't. They should still get the same benefit even though it's clearly a sponsored post.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know how, in that specific case, it would be handled. I do know that the Web Spam team does look for patterns like that. And they do regularly do these kind of roundups, where they go through sites that look like they're doing these type of games or sites that are primarily getting their links like that. And they do take action on that. And that's not something that you would directly see in the search results. Because if the Web Spam team goes through and says, oh, this site is doing something sneaky, we're just going to ignore all of the outbound links on there, then that's not something you'd see as a flag in the search results.

SANTA CLAUS: You wouldn't, as Santiago just said, you wouldn't see that as buying links, because that is buying links.

JOHN MUELLER: That would be-- sure. I mean, we would see that as buying links or selling links.

SANTA CLAUS: Yeah. OK.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Hi. I sent an email. I'm seeing some stuff that's happening here. A lot of different areas, a lot of spammy sites are reaching to the top. I mean, is that just one of that situation where we have to wait until the other character comes in?

JOHN MUELLER: The other character.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: The other character starting with a P, yeah. I'm just tired of even saying that name.

JOHN MUELLER: Pirate?

BARUCH LABUNSKI: No, he's right here. You see? He's right here, waiting.

JOHN MUELLER: OK.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: But no. On a serious note, I'm just seeing a lot of-- I sent you an email regarding that. And I'm seeing a lot of the sister sites back. So it's like, hey, OK, I can create also. But if you don't mind going into that one, because it's so strange to see now that-- I sent you an email. So I don't--

JOHN MUELLER: I mean, that's the kind of stuff that we do pass on to the Search Quality team, also to the Web Spam team to review. It's not the case that we can take all of these reports and say, well, we're going to take manual action on this specific set of sites. But especially if we see a bigger pattern of things that we've missed either algorithmically or manually, then we will try to do what it takes to improve our search results.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: So did you pass my email, the one I sent you?

JOHN MUELLER: Of course.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: OK. It's just it's-- I guess it feels like a restore somehow.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I know it's frustrating. If you're working on a site, and you see someone else kind of jump ahead by doing all of these spammy techniques, it's always frustrating. And it's something we do take seriously. It's something we do pass on to a team and discuss with them. But we can't promise to do anything specific for a lot of these reports, because sometimes it makes more sense to say, well, this is another one that goes into this bucket. And once this bucket is big enough, then we'll, like, maybe create a new algorithm based on the feedback that we have there. Or maybe we'll say, well, this is a big enough bucket that we need to handle it manually. In the meantime until we do have a better algorithm to pick them out automatically.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: There's one bucket that has about 27 of them. And I think I sent you that one [INAUDIBLE].

JOHN MUELLER: 27 is still a small number for, like, the general web. But yeah, I continue sending them. Again, I can't promise that we actually do take action on these all individually, because otherwise, the team would be busy just, like, hitting one site after another and wouldn't have time to actually find ways to do it in a more scalable way, so that we can improve all of the search results rather than just this one specific query.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: OK.

NIK: A real quick one, last one from me, if you don't mind.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

NIK: We pulled users and found that we had a very small navigation. So we've expanded it quite a lot by adding all the sort of best and new content to it. It seems to have impacted the search negatively. Could you pass comment on that? Do you know what the navigation is? Does Google know [AUDIO OUT]

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I mean, usually, we're pretty good at figuring out which part of the content is, like, the main content and which part is more like the boilerplate-- so stuff that's repeated across the website. If you change something significantly within your templates, then obviously, it's going to take a while for everything to settle down again. But once it's settled down, then we should be able to pick that up properly and use that properly. I guess one thing that sometimes happens is if the navigation is significantly increased, then we have a lot more text on these pages, which makes it a little bit harder to pick out which part is actually the relevant part.

NIK: It seems to have finned the relevance. That's the effect that I believe I'm seeing. Could that be the case?

JOHN MUELLER: Potentially. I don't know. It's hard to say. But these are the type of things that usually settle down after a while. So if you've recently made that change, then maybe give it a couple of months to settle down. If it's been a year now, then probably it's something else.

NIK: OK. Thank you, John.

BARRY: I have two quick questions, if I may.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

BARRY: One is a yes or no. Is Penguin still on track to be launched by the end of this year?

JOHN MUELLER: As far as I know, yes.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: All right. So he's riding in the bag. He's right here in my bag.

BARRY: And the second question is location filter in the search tools. Did it go away? Is it a bug? Do you know anything about that?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I saw a bunch of reports about that on Google+. But I don't know what's behind that. So a lot of these search features come and go. You have experiments that kind of turn them on, try them in different ways. So I imagine it's something around there, where maybe we did some experiments and we decided, well, it's not that important anymore. We'll be able to pick up the location better automatically now. I don't know the background there.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: So basically, the bus driver has gone-- he's lost. Because it just says "Canada." Like where I am, it just says "Canada." It doesn't give you an option to, like, see.

JOHN MUELLER: Maybe we can pick it out better automatically now. I don't know how that works there. At least in Switzerland, I don't think we've ever had the Location box there.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: I can show you if you want.

JOHN MUELLER: I haven't seen it [INAUDIBLE] in a long time. So these are things that, from my point of view, in the Search UI, they just change from time to time. These are changes that we make for a variety of reasons. It's not to decrease the quality of the search results. But maybe to make it easier to make it more kind of fit together with other types of search results that we have from the different devices, those kind of things. It's definitely not something where we're saying, oh, what can we do today to mess with webmasters? Because we don't have that kind of time either. And we like working with you guys.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: No. Just the recent thing is it was so precise. Like, as soon as that feature came, it was like precise. OK, I'm in Toronto, I want to-- you know, this is the precise result. So I guess we have to-- if it stays like this, we get accustomized to this new thing. It's hard.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. Some of these you can still kind of trigger by just modifying the URL. So I don't know if that's with the location. I believe there's, like, a URL parameter that used to be pulled out with the location. Maybe you can try that. If you see that the search results are really lower quality because of this kind of change, where you say, well, I'm searching for Burger King and it's showing me Burger King in Vancouver and not in Toronto, then that's the type of thing we would say is a bug that we really need to fix. But if we're able to pick out the location automatically, and you're in Toronto, and it shows you results from Toronto, then from my point of view, that's fine. The less work the searcher has to do to get usable results, the more likely they will get usable results by default.

GLEB: Hey, John. Can I jump on with my last question about numerous pages on the website?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

GLEB: So what if a website has a lot of pages with similar products on them and content? Can it cause apply in some Google filters or influence on the ranking of the entire website?

JOHN MUELLER: So a lot of similar products to other websites or within the same website?

GLEB: No. For example, it's a website about car parts. And it's separated on year, make, models. So basically, pages may be very, very similar, but some of the products may actually be different. For example, one product will be available on the page for '85 Pontiac, but it will be missing only one year for '86 Pontiac. So basically, all content is kind of the same, but it's really, like, important for user to see the current year, current model, and current make.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. That sounds fine. That wouldn't be something I'd kind of artificially suppress.

GLEB: OK.

JOHN MUELLER: Maybe it makes sense to just make one page with listing all the models, obviously, for it. That's one variation that we sometimes see. Like, have all the variations on separate URL or have one URL that has a list of the different variations on it.

GLEB: OK. Well, it kind of doesn't, because there may be some exceptions, which will cause your [INAUDIBLE] to be-- what if there is about 1 million of pages on this kind? So does that [INAUDIBLE]?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't see a problem.

GLEB: No problem.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't see a problem. I mean, we have to crawl and index these pages. But we can do that. It shouldn't be a problem. I think some of that probably can be optimized by grouping it more into higher level pages. But in general, that shouldn't be possible like that.

GLEB: What that be possible if I could send you, like, a couple of examples of that website? Because it's kind of a big automotive website.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure.

GLEB: So you could just take a look more clearly. All right.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: John, are you promoting Sweden's area code?

JOHN MUELLER: No.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Because I see the 46. Trying to figure it out.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I have to go now. We have people waiting for this room. So it's been great talking to you all. Hopefully, I'll see you again in one of the future Hangouts. Bye, everyone.
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