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Google+ Hangouts - Office Hours - 02 December 2014

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JOHN MUELLER: OK. Welcome, everyone, to today's Google Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangouts. My name is John Mueller. I'm a Webmaster Trends Analyst here at Google Switzerland, and I'd like to help answer your Webmaster web search related questions. We have a bunch of questions that were submitted already. There are a bunch of people here in the Hangout live as well, ready to ask more questions, I bet. So let's get started. Let me mute you, Greg. You have a lot of background noise, but feel free to unmute if you have any questions.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: I got a question about a disavow.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Go for it.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: So this is a question I've been waiting for like patiently, I guess, around two weeks. So suppose has decided to rebrand itself and add another keyword to their URL or whatever for all sorts of purposes. And so comes around and exampleone is 301ed to the exampletwo, and exampleone also have a negative SEO impact on their website, so they decided to go ahead and disavow and they left the file in the exampleone URL. And now exampletwo comes around, and let's say two or three weeks from now, those links transfer to exampletwo, does that means we need to have two disavows?


BARUCH LABUNSKI: Is there a reason for that, or should the exampletwo brand new first domain not have a disavow?

JOHN MUELLER: Well, if you're redirecting from exampleone to exampletwo, then you're essentially forwarding that page rank from those links, so that's essentially what you'd want to kind of disavow. So what I would do there is just take your disavow file from exampleone and upload it on exampletwo as well and continue working on that as you find more things that you need to disavow.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Oh, so you can do that.


BARUCH LABUNSKI: Oh, OK, because I asked many guys out there and-- wow, so OK.


MALE SPEAKER: John, on that, would you do the exact same file and not bother making new notations or anything or a note in there saying, previously uploaded to. Each separate URL has a line for notes. Would you do something on there?

JOHN MUELLER: We don't read the notes, so those are essentially for you. If you think the notes are useful, keep them there. If you don't want to add any notes, that's absolutely fine. We essentially process that automatically, so anything you leave in the notes there is going to get dropped.

MALE SPEAKER: And unless there's a manual review that is under a penalty.

JOHN MUELLER: Even then, we would only look at the results of the file, so we wouldn't look at the disavow file that was submitted.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: So it won't harm the site or anything like that, John?

JOHN MUELLER: Well, I mean depending on what you do with the disavow file. Of course, if you include all of the links in your disavow file, then we'll treat your site as if it didn't have any links after we process all of that, so that could be problematic. But if you take the disavow file that you previously had and you know that kind of covers the bad links that you found for your site and reuse that on your new site, then that's fine.


MALE SPEAKER: Hey, John. Mind if I ask a question as well?


MALE SPEAKER: All right, so I got a new client that I'm doing link profile review for, and he has a lot of bad links, so got to deal with that. But he also had some interesting links that I think are specific to his niche and they're not really intended to manipulate search engine rankings or something like that, but they are some sort of stealth submitted. I'm talking about a real estate agency that has its own listings, but also posts listings to aggregate sites, like classifieds or aggregators of these types of listings. And every time an agent of theirs posts a listing on these aggregator sites, there's also a profile of the agency that posted the list. And so we have contact details like name, address, a phone number, and website, the URL. So should I disavow these links as well, or are those links already ignored by Google because it kind of sees that, yes, this is a feature of the platform itself and we shouldn't have did that account. I'll give you an example.


MALE SPEAKER: And the links of the agency's profile is in the top right corner of where you can see that.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. Yeah, I'd have to take a look at that to see the kind of value we have that's set up there. But in general, if you're dropping these links yourself, then that's something that shouldn't be passing page rank. So on the one hand, we'd probably recommend for a site like that, like it's almost like a directory site, I guess you could say, to use a nofollow there as well. And that's something we probably try to recognize in our algorithms as well. So if you want to nofollow that or if you want to use a disavow for that, that's probably fine, but it's not something where I'd say it's always extremely clear cut. So I'd have to take a look at that, how you have that set up, how that's actually working there, to be able to give you a little bit better advice.

MALE SPEAKER: The idea is that the agent posting the listing is not the one actually posting the link. The platform itself posts the agency's profile on every listing the agent posts, so that's just the same profile on every page.

JOHN MUELLER: I'd have to take a look at that. I don't have any complete answer for that [INAUDIBLE].

MALE SPEAKER: I'll send you a message on Google+ with that.

JOHN MUELLER: OK, sure. All right. Let's go through some of the questions that were submitted here. This one was really top ranked and I think it shows that we're confusing people a little bit, so we have to kind of watch out for that. The question is, allow crawling of CSS JavaScript, but don't use it. Be user friendly but make them scroll a lot. Don't scroll too much on mobile, but make them hide content. I'm confused. Who else is confused? So I guess in general, the main themes here are crawling of CSS in JavaScript, that's something that we recommend doing because if you pull in content with your CSS in JavaScript or if you make your web page mobile friendly, for example, with your CSS and your JavaScript and we can't crawl it, then we can't recognize that content. We can't use it. So we try to pull in the content through CSS and JavaScript, whatever you have shown there, but if that's blocked, then we can't use it. So that's something that I think is generally little bit more clear cut. We probably need to explain that a little bit better though, I guess. Since so many people voted this question up, also with regards to being user friendly, and hiding continent on mobile, or not hiding content, that kind of plays into one of the topics we talked about in one of the previous Hangouts where I said that if content is hidden on your page by default, if a user goes to your page and not shown, then that's something that we kind of discount in our indexing and for the relevancy in the search results. And that's been something that's been like that for years. Someone else pulled out a link to a Hangout, I think, from 2012 where we talked about that. So that's definitely been like that since at least then. I think we've talked about that from before as well. So if content is hidden on your page when that page loads, that's not something that we would treat as critical or as important to a page as the content that's actually visible to the user. But I think these are topics that can get quite complicated when you take a look at all the specifics, so maybe we need to explain these a little bit better.

MALE SPEAKER: John, with that, the content not being shown by default, would that also be taken into account for the mobile algorithm, because a lot more is hidden to be friendly on a mobile than a normal screen or not?

JOHN MUELLER: With regards to the content from the mobile, what we recommend doing is having like the rail canonical pointing at the desktop page. So if you have separate URLs for example. And what would happened there was we'd index the page based on what is seen on the desktop page primarily. So if we can tell that the content is equivalent on the mobile, even if it's formatted differently, if things like images might not be shown, then that's absolutely fine. We just expect that the primary content actually be equivalent. OK.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: But if a page has 1,500 words, John, how should we display that on mobile? I mean, even if it converts it, it doesn't look-- because I mean, the mobile user is completely different than the desktop user, right?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I mean, that's something where you have to think about what you can do to create an equivalent experience for the user where the primary content is equivalent. It doesn't have to be exactly the same. So kind of like, I guess, Wikipedia does that fairly nicely. They have the primary content the same and you can expand out to the individual sections if you want to do that.


JOHN MUELLER: Or other sites I've seen have the primary content the same and they treat some other content on the desktop page as kind of secondary content that they don't show at all, or that they show on different pages. So that's something that would work as well.

MALE SPEAKER: And John, I know we've probably discussed this a few times before, but I was just wondering about the content in terms of the position on the page that it sits. I think with the new redesign we're rolling out at the moment on our site, we've got buttons at the top that use a jQuery.ScrollTo method, which means really the content is a lot higher and a lot more important than it might appear at first sort of appearance. So is that being taken into account at the moment in terms of Googlebot, or if my content was higher up, would it actually, rather than being lower down somewhere, would it be better? Because really, it doesn't make sense when you look at our design, if that makes sense.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't have your design in my head at the moment, but in general, if you can see the content when you go to those pages, that's fine. And that doesn't mean you have to see all of the content, but one thing we try to avoid, for example, is that the primary content you see on a page when you go visit it is just an ad. Maybe it's even an ad for a different site. So if you go to a page like that and you feel like, well, there's nothing here that I search for. But if you go to a page that makes sense, where the primary content is partially visible at least, then as a user, you go there and you say, well, this is what I was looking for. I know there's more further down on the page. It's clearly visible that the main content is at least there somewhere.

MALE SPEAKER: Yeah. I mean, we're making sure everything's actually visible and everything's on the page. So there's actually no hidden content or no divs that hide content. It was more of a case of how high up now that content should be and whether that does actually make a difference. I know you say do everything that you should the way that you want to do it. But obviously there are impacts. And if this is a 0.1 of a percent that makes a difference of us having that content higher, it wouldn't impact our design massively. Should we put that higher up?

JOHN MUELLER: I think if it's visible on an average-- what do you call it-- the first page, when you view the page, then that's--

MALE SPEAKER: Above the fold you mean?

JOHN MUELLER: Above the fold, yeah. It's not something--

MALE SPEAKER: But that actually is better.

JOHN MUELLER: It's not something where I'd say 50 pixels is better than 100 pixels from the top of the page. I don't think that's a little detail you need to worry about.

MALE SPEAKER: Yeah, OK. Thanks, John.


MALE SPEAKER: John, I have a quick question for you if you have a second. In regards to new websites in highly competitive verticals with solid on and off page SEO signals, can it take longer than normal to rank in extremely competitive industries?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. I mean, this is something where essentially the answer isn't really related to Google's algorithms, but if you're in a very competitive market, then those competitors will have spent a lot of time and a lot of money on their websites getting things set up right. Maybe they're going to have a lot of really happy users, and kind of breaking into that market is always going to be hard. And our algorithms look at a bunch of stuff when we look at different sites, and if we see one site that's really new that has some signals but not really all the signals that we're looking at, then sometimes we can guess and say, well, this might be OK. We'll just try it out. But sometimes, we just have so many strong signals from the existing sites that we say, well, this site really just has to prove itself first before we start putting it high up in the search results.

MALE SPEAKER: Thanks. And I also apologize for the background noise being in the coffee shop.

JOHN MUELLER: No problem. All right. Next question here. Google will discount the content added in tabs or on click read more links. How will it affect rankings for search queries related to that content? Will this happen in 100% of the cases? When will you start to do this? Google also uses tagged content. So again, we've been doing this for years now. It's not really something new. If your content isn't really visible on a page when we load it, then that's something we'll try to take into account in our algorithms. It's not that we'll ignore it completely, but we'll say, this isn't the primary content. And we might kind of discount its weight when we do the relevancy calculations in the search results.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: If the developer wanted to create user experience-- like if it's selling something like tires, for instance, like 9.99, 10.99, it's like you separate it in tabs, and I understand the user would not find out that hey, you could click here in the tab. But I mean that's a problem, yeah?

JOHN MUELLER: It's primarily a problem because people might be coming from the search results looking for something specific, and the snippet might say, oh, you can read all about our great shoe store here. And you go to that page and it doesn't have anything about a shoe store because it's hidden away in one of the tabs. And that's kind of the problem that we're facing there. And it's not that we'd say we take this out completely, but we kind of discount it. So if this is secondary content that's not primarily relevant to those pages, then if you search for an exact match from that text, then probably you'll still find it in search. But it's not something where we'd say this is really the primary content.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: I actually found it, like you said. I did find it and it ended up going to the exact page.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I mean, if that's something that's really unique to that page, we'll still kind of take that into account. But if you're competing with other sites, if you're in like normal search results for generic queries, then that's something where we'd say, well, this page doesn't primarily seem to be focused on this topic. It also includes something about it, but it's not the primary focus. So what I would do, especially with regards to tabs, is think about whether or not you can split those tabs off into separate pages and say this is really important content in these tabs. I really want my page to rank for this, and in that case, load it off into a separate page or put it on your primary page. If it's something that you say, well, this is kind of secondary information, you're looking at, I don't know, tires for example like you mentioned, and you have all the different sizes that you have available, then maybe that's not critical to your page and you could put that into a tab.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: John, does Googlebot like parallax websites?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. Probably. What's parallax?

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Where you can just continue to scroll and--

JOHN MUELLER: Oh, like the infinite scroll type things.

MALE SPEAKER: John, I was asking you the same thing right exactly on this topic. How about infinite scroll websites where you have all the content on one page?

JOHN MUELLER: Like with infinite scroll websites, on the one hand we have our recommendations that we published, I think, couple months ago, maybe longer, on how you can kind of paginate that infinite scroll content. The important part there is if this is really a gigantic HTML page, at some point we'll just cut off and say we're just indexing up to here, and we're kind of focusing on that. So that's something to keep in mind. If it's something that continuously gets loaded more and more as you scroll down, then we'll also just scroll down to a certain point and say, well, we've been reloading more content here for a while now. This is probably not really that relevant any more and we'll stop at some point. So it's not that we'll index everything on an infinite scroll page, because I could be going on forever, but we'll try to get a good view of that page. So--

MALE SPEAKER: Go ahead, please.

JOHN MUELLER: So I guess one recommendation I would make there is if you're doing infinite scroll, make sure you also have some kind of paginated navigation or some kind of category navigation as well so that people can kind of click links and go to that content instead of having to go to the homepage and scrolling down 500 times until they reach that piece of content.

MALE SPEAKER: Do you have a certain amount of data you're able to scroll, I mean, to be on the safe side if you make this infinite scroll?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I remember someone did a test a while back, and it was something like 50 megabytes of the HTML. I don't know if that's still relevant, but especially with 50 megabytes, you can put a lot of content into 50 megabytes of HTML. So if you're at that size, I think you're probably better off splitting things often.

MALE SPEAKER: OK. Thank you very much.

MALE SPEAKER: Surely you're presenting yourself with the same issue of hidden text at that point that we just had the conversation about.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah, I mean, it starts getting into similar areas where we say, well, this content is so far down. Is this really still relevant? The tricky part with really big pages is recognizing which parts of the page are actually important because sometimes, you'll have something like a PDF that goes on for 100 pages and there's something really important on page 99, but if it's not mentioned somewhere on the top, then we might actually miss out on that. So that's something where if there's something really critical to your pages, make sure it's visible to your users, and then we can take that into account a lot easier as well.

MALE SPEAKER: John, I have one more follow up question. I want to clearly state this is not a penguin question. Sorry, Barry. In regards to third party metrics, such as Majestic, and Ahrefs, and Moz, do any part of Google's algorithms acknowledge and look at those metrics when assessing the site?


MALE SPEAKER: Not domain authority or anything like that?

JOHN MUELLER: I mean, what might happen is that some of these metrics overlap with other things that we look at, but it's definitely not the case that we have a Majestic API license and we go and look up sites there. I think to some extent, these tools are pulling in similar metrics and trying to recreate metrics that Google might be using, and I think some of them do a really interesting job of that. But it's not the case that we would use their metrics because we have enough metrics to take into account on our side directly.

MALE SPEAKER: Thank you, sir.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Is a new start up ranking based on how many pages you have overall on the site, which is difficult when there are competitors with lots of content, or is it OK to focus on a smaller number of high quality pages in the initial stages? I think this is similar to the previous question we had about existing markets. Essentially, we're looking at your pages based on what we find there and it's not a matter of the quantity of content you have on your pages and more of the quality and how that actually fits in overall. And what I recommend doing there is the same thing you would do with any new business that kind of goes into an existing market is find something that you do really well and focus on that and kind of build up on that. Instead of trying to be the same as everyone else in that market, really try to find something that sets you apart, that makes you unique, and focus on that. So don't just create the same number of pages that other people have. Don't just focus on the bulk of content. Really find something that makes your business unique, that makes-- kind of gives us a reason to show your side as well in those kind of search results. Our homepage and department pages have a cache date of 22nd of October. We had a big drop in crawl rate for a few days but then went back to normal rankings. Organic traffic has also reduced. Is this a sign of a penalty? If it were a penalty, you'd definitely get a notice in Webmaster Tools, so I don't know if you looked there, but I'd double check there at least. We did have a technical problem on our side with regard to the cached pages where a lot of sites were seeing cache dates around 20th, 21st, 2nd of October, and that should be resolved in the meantime, so that's not something that should be causing any problems there. And the cache date isn't something that affects how we crawl or index your site. So if you're seeing changes with regards to your ranking or your crawling, then that would be completely unrelated to the cache date. Oh, a penguin question, maybe just a real short one. Is the Penguin update done rolling? Essentially, I think it's still rolling out to some extent, so this is something where they're doing a really slow and cautious rollout of this data there, but I don't have anything new to add to those discussions.

MALE SPEAKER: Is it rolling out across the board?

JOHN MUELLER: Sorry. Sorry?

MALE SPEAKER: Is it rolling out across the board, like across-- or let's say North America's already been completed and now it's overseas, or is it like everywhere, it's being rolled out still?

JOHN MUELLER: We try not to split things up by country or by language unless there's specific reasons for that, like policy reasons or legal reasons. For example, when it comes, I don't know, maybe to the snippets, or titles, or things like that where it's also hard for us to understand the different language content. So those are the kind of cases where we kind of split this up by country. But general web spam, general quality algorithms, are things we try to do globally. What's Google's view of duplicate content, and how does that relate to feeds such as MLS feeds for real estate listings? Real estate sites end up competing against each other over exactly the same content. That's always a problem, I guess, especially if you kind of have your own content duplicated like that, if you syndicate your content like that. I think that's the same across the board. It's not specific to real estate sites, but as soon as you syndicate your content, we crawl and index all of those different versions. And in the search results, we have to make a decision which one we want to show there, so if all of this content is essentially the same, we'll see that as duplicate content. And in the search results, we'll try to pick one or the other and show that as appropriate. So that's not something I see specific to MLS sites or real estate sites. It's really across the board. If you're syndicating your content, then people might be-- or we might be picking one or the other one to actually show in the search results.

MALE SPEAKER: And John, in terms of duplicated content, another thing that we touched on in the past is your internal duplicated content. And the one thing I've noticed that hasn't recovered on our site is the office space search related information. So we have a lot of tailored virtual office products, but we also broker a lot of office space, and so that means that we have multiple pages with multiple duplicated content in areas that have a close proximity. And due to the fact that I feel like the content is fairly high quality, especially compared to others I'm seeing out there, I'm still concerned that there is a problem with having this many locations-- let's say 3,000 or 4,000 different locations with various duplicated internal content-- that maybe is being looked at by Panda and not giving us the best results. And I'm wondering, what is my best course of action? Am I better off reducing the amount of pages I actually have, focus only on a core set of locations? Is that actually going to make a difference or am I dealing with a factor that I'm not taking into account? Sorry for the long winded question.

JOHN MUELLER: I guess it's always hard to make a decision between having more pages that are kind of similar and having fewer pages that are very focused. But it's not something where I'd say is primarily a quality reason where we'd say these are really low quality pages, we'd kind of demote the site because of that. Most of the time, it's just a matter of having a lot of pages that have very, let's say, diluted signals. And compared to a few pages, I have very strong signals. So depending on your website, it might make sense to kind of shift the balance a little bit over towards having fewer pages that are really strong on their own or it might make sense to say, well, these pages are so strong I can afford to split them off into two separate pages.

MALE SPEAKER: What do you mean strong?

JOHN MUELLER: How do you--

MALE SPEAKER: What do you mean by strong? I mean, what would happen is essentially I would be taking 5,000 pages and I would remove 4,000 of them, but nothing would actually physically change in those pages.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: What if he rewrites those 5,000 pages? Then it's fine, no?

JOHN MUELLER: That's a lot of content, yeah.

MALE SPEAKER: We already wrote half a million words when we realized that we had a problem as the previous person in the question asked there about MLS and whether or not you should be sharing content. We had that issue, so we rewrote everything, half a million words. It was huge, so we're just trying to find what the right avenue is. I mean, this is what you've been telling people to do. I'm trying to also give people some help on multiple forums who seem to be having similar issues. So for the car industry, for the real estate industry, for our industry and office space-- and there are a lot of others who are probably listening and watching this that don't know what to do in this situation.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. It's really hard. So one thing I'd recommend doing is making sure that you don't have search pages indexed. That's one aspect that sometimes kind of explodes the number of pages that we find from a site. If you have a search form, you can enter any word and it'll find any number of pages on your site, that essentially creates a ton of different pages, which generally end up being not so important for a site. So that's, I think, one aspect I kind of exclude from there. If you're essentially looking at the, I guess you could say, category level of pages on your site, where you have one category and all of the different products roughly speaking listed there, then that's something where sometimes it makes sense to have those indexed like that. If people are looking, for example, I don't know, office space in specific cities, then maybe it makes sense to create this kind of a category page. If that's something that kind of explodes on its own as well where you have like you can enter a city name and it'll say office space within 500 miles of this city, then that's going to bring a lot of information that's probably not so relevant for the user. So somewhere between something that's very targeted and something that's too broad to actually be useful for the user, I think that's where you kind of have to find the match. And I don't think there's one size that fits all for this kind of question.

MALE SPEAKER: And what's the result of that, then, if it is? I mean, is it a quality algorithm? Is it Panda? What's actually affecting whether or not that page ranks well compared to maybe having a reduced amount? Is it content quality?

JOHN MUELLER: On the one hand, it's something like quality. But I think the primary thing that happens there is if you have fewer pages on your website, then all of the good signals that we have for your website will be kind of split among those fewer pages as compared to being split among thousands of different pages. So that's kind of where you're concentrating the value, the signals, all kinds of signals that we've collected for your website, and can kind of focus those on fewer pages to make those pages a little bit stronger. And this is something that comes up, for example, with international websites as well where maybe you have content for Germany, Switzerland, and Austria, but it's all in Germany. And maybe it makes sense to combine that into one page that's in German that's valid for all of these countries instead of creating separate pages for each of these countries because it's essentially the same thing. So kind of finding the balance between spreading things out so that you have information that's relevant for specific users. And being able to focus on something and collecting, like really concentrating the value of your website onto those pages, is, I guess, a tricky balance to find. And it really depends on your website, so it's not that there's one solution for all.

MALE SPEAKER: John, I have a follow up question, sort of a hybrid question regarding the third party linked metric tools. For new top level domains, I know this question's been asked before, but how does Google view new top level domains? And part of the reason I'm bringing up the third party metrics is because new top level domains always show zero according to Moz's domain authority, and Moz rank, and all that stuff. So I just was wondering how Google handles new top level domains versus the traditional ones.

JOHN MUELLER: We essentially treat them as generic top level domains. So that's something where if you can't get a dot com but you can get a dot company or whatever top level domain is out there now, then that's essentially fine. That's something you could use. You can set geotargeting in Webmaster Tools for those domains. You can essentially use them normal. So it's not that we're treating them with caution or we're holding them back or anything. They can rank just as well. Sometimes they rank really well. So I don't know. I think I saw some report externally about some of those new top level domains saying they actually ranked better than the previous ones. And it's not really the case that they ranked better because of the top level domains. It's just that if you have a really good website and you redirect it to a new top level domain, we'll try to follow that information and rank them appropriately.

MALE SPEAKER: Is it safe to say to steer clear from dot infos?

JOHN MUELLER: No. That's absolutely fine to use. I think one of our-- I don't know who is like the leader of research department. Amit Singhal, for example, has a dot info website. So if he believes in dot info websites, then I think it's safe to say that they can rank just as well as anything else.

MALE SPEAKER: I've just noticed that there's so much spam out there. I mean, these spam networks specifically use so many dot infos, which is why I was wondering if Google had any sort of downward connotation towards ones that are traditionally used for spam.

JOHN MUELLER: We try to avoid doing that too broadly. I mean, when it comes to free hosters, for example, that have like a subdomain, that's something where sometimes we'll take fairly broad action because we'll say, well, this free hoster has like so much time on here. We can't even find the good content on there. We'll just treat everything as being kind of problematic. But with top level domains, I think that's not something that we're doing at the moment. That's not something that really makes sense, because people are using them for different purposes and if spammers picked up on one of these ones, that doesn't mean that all sites there are necessarily bad.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: What's the limit to sister sites, like same?

JOHN MUELLER: There's is no hard limit in that regard, but I think it's like with everything else, keep it to a reasonable amount and try not to kind of go overboard with those kind of things.



BARUCH LABUNSKI: I sent you an email regarding that and it's still been around for over a year.

MALE SPEAKER: Yes. Now it is.

MALE SPEAKER: I'm going to mute, mute, mute, mute. Sorry, what?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah, I mean, that's something where we don't have any strict guidelines where we'll say you're only allowed to have like two websites in search or something like that. So to some extent, if you have sites that are significantly separate, that's absolutely fine. If you have sites that are exactly the same, then we should be treating that the same from a technical point of view. It's not something that we'd kind of like manually curate and say, well, this is from the same company, therefore they should never be showing up in the same search results.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: It's the same TLD. It's the same TLD, but one is without a dash and one is with a dash.

JOHN MUELLER: That can be fine as well. I mean, it's not something where we kind of take and kind of, let's say, look at the search results and say we need to clean these up and manually curate the search results because we can't really do that. I think, what is it, 10% of all queries we see everyday are new, so we couldn't realistically ever clean up all the search results manually and say, well, this site is kind of the same as that one. We can fold those together and this is actually the same company, or this site is actually selling the same product as the other site there. That's not the level of detail where we'd get involved, and that's something that our algorithms should be able to figure out. And sometimes they do a good job. Sometimes they don't get it completely right, and that feedback is good to have, but it's not the case that we would manually kind of clean those things out when we're talking about a small number of pages. But I remember your email and I know we've talked about it with the engineers a few times, so it's not something that I'd say is completely lost most case.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Sounds good. It's just, crowding the elevator is unfair, and others are waiting. It's just--

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. It's really hard to say. I mean, it's similar to the same kind of search results from the same site where we also don't have a hard limit and say, well, you can only show up twice in the same search results. So that's kind of something that the quality engineers like to have the freedom to kind of expand or kind of contract as they think is necessary by the algorithms. But let's go through some of the other questions here before they get lost. Does every single product page need to have a product description for optimal ranking, or if the product is obvious and all the user wants is a picture and price, will that suffice for optimal ranking as long as the user is happy? If all you have on a page is a picture and a price, then we probably won't be able to figure out what this page is about. So to some extent, we need some information on these pages to be able to figure out what we should be ranking this page for. So I would definitely at least put something on there that you'd like to rank for that you think is relevant for the user. What if one of the tabs is for reviews and there are hundreds, in some cases thousands, of reviews? I guess one of the things you could do here is create separate pages for this. You could paginate that separately if you wanted to. You could filter out the best reviews and only show those. This is essentially a question of like how you want to design it on your website, what you want to do there. And there are different options available depending on what you want to do, what you want to have indexed, what you don't want to have indexed. When using ajax to serve content, is it OK to show a dynamic URL in the address part but have a search engine friendly canonical URL if the content is the same? For example, category/product and categoryid=123, productid=15. Generally, I'd recommend using the same URLs that you want to have indexed as the ones that are actually shown to the user. To some extent, we'll figure it out if you have something like a rail canonical on these pages. But especially with the newer techniques that you can use with HTML5, you can use normal looking URL and essentially have those indexed as well. So that's something where I try to show exactly the same URL to both search engines and users. My website got negative SEO with thousands of spammy links. I'm the only one in the company with Penguin 3.0. It lost 70% of its traffic. I've already disavowed, but I'm losing in the meantime. Can you advise what to do? I took a quick look at the site beforehand and I don't see anything particularly critical with regards to those links that are really causing a problem there, so I'd continue focusing on your website and make sure it's really the best of its kind. It's not something where I'd say you need to do something really specific with the links, or where this negative SEO that you might be seeing there is causing you problems. Webmaster Tools is giving an error, a missing title tag in robots.txt. Is this a glitch? I don't think the robots.txt should have a title tag. That's probably true, yeah. I think there are a few cases where we want to index the robots.txt file, so if you're seeing something like this, I think that's definitely safe to ignore.

LYLE ROMER: Hey, John. Also just a real quick follow up in Webmaster Tools. A couple Hangouts ago, I brought up the crawlers issuer where when we switched to the secure HTTPS, that you lose the traceability of where the crawlers came from. Just wanted to follow up and see if anything had been looked at as far as that goes.

JOHN MUELLER: That's definitely something I passed on to the team to kind of look at what they could do there to improve that. I don't know if they've been able to change anything there, but in theory, you should see the original source of those links in the meantime. I think that should have been the case beforehand as well, so I don't know if that was just like a temporary stage from the redirects there that were showing up there, but that should actually show the external or internal source of that link.

LYLE ROMER: Well, check again. They still weren't showing. I mean, basically because the non HTTPS Webmaster Tools account shows everything's fine because it gets redirected, and then when the HTTPS version just shows everything as being referred from just the HTTP version.

JOHN MUELLER: Do you have a redirect from [INAUDIBLE]?

LYLE ROMER: Everything blank, it redirects from the non-secure to the new HTTPS, and I think that's where the problem is because the non-secure Webmaster Tools doesn't see a problem because it's getting redirected. But then when the page doesn't exist and there's a crawler, the secure side just sees the referral URL as being from the non-secure.

JOHN MUELLER: That should actually catch up as we kind of re-crawl and re-index everything. So that should be cleaning up, at least from what I've seen and from looking at other sites. But I can definitely take another look at your site to see if there's something maybe different happening there that's kind of holding that back.

LYLE ROMER: OK. I'll pop you the URL. Thanks.


MALE SPEAKER: John, can I step in with a question please?


MALE SPEAKER: I'm seeing in Webmaster Tools that Google recognized a lot of structural markup data, including hlisting microformat. Can you please tell me in which way it is used by Google, as I can't see it applied in search results, at least not in a visible manner?

JOHN MUELLER: The structure data dashboard that we have in Webmaster Tools essentially shows all structured data that we find on your website. So if you are using this mark up on your pages, then we'll show that in the dashboard. That doesn't necessarily mean that we use it in search, but essentially what you're saying, we found this markup on your pages. That could be a markup that we don't use, for example, or could be a specific type of microformat that maybe you have on your page but we don't use. We show that regardless in Webmaster Tools.

MALE SPEAKER: I see, because I'm starting to clean it up, I mean, to make it more proficient. I'm seeing the errors dropping down and I was wondering if there is any benefit from it?

JOHN MUELLER: Any benefit from using structured data that essentially isn't shown in the search results? So that's always a tricky question, because on the one hand, it makes it a little bit easier for us to recognize what your page is about if we have more markup on those pages, but it's not the case that we'd say this significantly effects your site's ranking. So primarily, what you would see there is the difference between content that, at the moment, we don't use in rich snippets, for example, but that we might use in the future. And for example, when the engineers look at this, they'll often say, well, this is the type of markup if we could find this on the web, we'd be able to show that in rich snippets. And then they look at the web as it is now and they say, well, nobody is ever using this markup. Therefore, we probably won't even set up any rich snippets for it. Or if they look at the web and say, well, look, there are lots of sites that are using this markup already, then it makes it a lot easier for us actually start using that for rich snippets. So in a sense, you're kind of ahead of the curve if you do that, but you're also kind of betting that this specific type of markup might at some point be used for rich snippets. So it's something-- I think if you like spending the time on structured data and you think it makes sense to kind of markup your page, then that's fine. But if you need to focus on something that's visible in the short term, then that's probably not something that you'd need to do.

MALE SPEAKER: OK, thank you.

MALE SPEAKER: John, I have a colleague who their website received a manual penalty back in, I believe, March. And it was revoked a month later and they've still seen no traffic gain, even after manually removing links and doing a thorough disavow.

JOHN MUELLER: Sometimes that happens when the manual action kind of matches something that our algorithms will be doing at about the same time. So sometimes, from the time it's very clear that this manual action took place and it got cleaned up and then the algorithm took effect, but sometimes that border is kind of washed out from the timings. So what might be happening there, or probably is happening there, is that a manual action was taken based on some issue that was found there. At about the same time or sometime in between there, the algorithms also found something problematic and took action on that. And it might be the same thing. It might be something completely different.

MALE SPEAKER: Is it OK if I maybe shoot you a message after this just with that domain?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure, sure. I'm happy to take a look. I can't promise that I'll have anything specific back for you.


JOHN MUELLER: Sometimes we can find something. Sometimes it's useful to pass on to the engineers to say, hey, people are confused with this kind of thing. But it's not always the case that we'd be able to let you know what exactly was happening.

MALE SPEAKER: I appreciate it.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. We redesigned our website so that some URLs will be different. We have a big AdWords account that runs daily. Is there any way to change URLs to correct them because users will see 404 pages and we'll be charged for useless clicks? This isn't something that Webmaster Tools will be able to help you with because, on the one hand, the data in Webmaster Tools is based on the crawling and not necessarily based on the ads. On the other hand, the data in Webmaster Tools is generally a little bit delayed by a couple of days, depending on how we crawl and index your site. So that's something where I think about setting up a tool on your site that actually crawls these URLs. There are lots of existing tools that crawl like a list of URLs, but making your own is generally pretty easy as well. Let me run through a whole bunch of the questions that we have left in a few minutes. John, will there be a formal notification when the Penguin update has actually completed? I don't know. To some extent, we're hoping that these things will just keep on updating, so maybe it'll just kind of roll over into that. Would you be able to say why my site suddenly lost its rankings? This is the site I looked at before, and from our point of view, it's not that there's anything specifically bad about the site. It's just that algorithms have changed over the years, so if your site was ranking really well a couple of years ago, that doesn't mean it'll always be ranking really well. Any update on the expandable hidden content issues? We talked about that. I understand Google Places and Maps are separate from organic search. Do the local place results show search exposures in the average keyword ranks in Webmaster Tools? And no. If you're shown within the map, then that's not something we show in Webmaster Tools. Seems everywhere [INAUDIBLE] actions connected to the target link network. Those affected get very quick attention to reconsideration requests, but those who just are working and submitting seem to wait longer. Does web spam prioritize over those already waiting? No. We essentially have our normal list of sites that we go through, and we go through them step by step. So it's not something where we prioritize them differently depending on what actually happened. All right, oh. Lots of questions left. But maybe I'll just take one or two from you guys before someone tries to grab this room.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: When is mobile usability going to kick in in 2015? I'm not asking for a specific date, time, where, what. I just wanted to know because is there still time to get prepared?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. I mean, there's a lot of time. Like, if you have any issues, it's always a good time to fix those issues. So with regards to mobile, we are looking at what we can do there past just showing that label in the search results. But if you notice that there are issues with your sites with regards to mobile, I'd definitely clean those up just whenever you can. So it's not that I'd say you have to give up and say oh, I missed this train, I'll wait for the next one. Users are going to continue using smartphones and want to use your site.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: No, no, no, because you said it's going to kick in for ranking, that's all. You said there's going to be ranking involved for mobile usability. I think [INAUDIBLE].

JOHN MUELLER: I think that's something that's still being talked about, so I don't have any specific news on that. But like with everything else, if that takes place tomorrow, it still makes sense to work on your site today. If it takes place in a half a year, it still makes sense to work on your site to clean those issues up. So I wouldn't focus on when it kicks in, but rather if you see problems, try to get those fixed.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: Three weeks around we have.

JOHN MUELLER: No, no, no. I didn't say any dates.

BARUCH LABUNSKI: No, no, no. I'm saying I have about three weeks, I guess. It's going to be cleared up in three weeks, but there's like thousands of pages.

MALE SPEAKER: John, can I have you another question?


MALE SPEAKER: The technical Webmaster guidelines have been updated to include progressive enhancements. How should this influence the way we create our websites?


MALE SPEAKER: I mean, if today browsers support CSS for tooltips and expendable contents, why shouldn't we use that in our advantage-- I mean in a SEO point of view?

JOHN MUELLER: Good question. I don't have any quick answer for that, but--

MALE SPEAKER: I'll come back with this question next time.

JOHN MUELLER: I think the important part is just that Google bot is more and more like a normal browser and we try to pick up on more information as we can kind of find it from the HTML pages. So we try to get as much from there as possible. And using things like progressive enhancement makes it easy for us to pick up the primary content as quickly as possible. And if we can give up a little bit more information by processing more of the page, then that's something that kind of adds a little bit more value. But it's not the case that kind of focusing on something that only works in the modern browsers and doesn't work anywhere else, then that's something where we're going to have trouble kind of including that directly in search.

MALE SPEAKER: I understand. I was saying that because you said you won't be using CSS tooltips small windows and expandable content, and this is one of the features for which I think you just put the progressive enhancement in your guidelines. So there has to be somewhere an advantage for it.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't have the exact text from the guidelines off hand, so I'd have to think a little bit what exactly we put in there.

MALE SPEAKER: No problem. Thank you.

MALE SPEAKER: John, quick question about hreflang.


MALE SPEAKER: So I got a website that has content translated into multiple languages. And for the English language, they use a hreflang with n-us. Would that be a problem for somebody searching from, like, UK, or Australia, or Canada? Should they use a en address or x default?

JOHN MUELLER: It depends. So en is probably a good match there. If this is the only English version that you have, then we know that this applies to all English countries. So that's probably a good match there. If that's also the page that's relevant for all random users that you don't have a specific language for, then you can also use x default. So you can use the same page and say, this is en-us, but it's also en. It's like a generic English page. Maybe you have a en UK page as well. And you could also say this is the x default page. So the same page can have multiple annotations like that.

MALE SPEAKER: OK. So I can use en-us and en at the same time?


MALE SPEAKER: Oh, OK. OK, cool. Thanks.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Let's take a break here. It's been great having you guys. Thank you all for joining in and maybe I'll see you guys again next time, one of the future times. Have a great week.

MALE SPEAKER: Thank you, John.

MALE SPEAKER: Thanks, John. Same to you.




MALE SPEAKER: Take care. | Copyright 2019