In today’s SEO Insights feature, we will be going over several insights from John Mueller’s recent Google Search Central Office Hours Hangout from last week on 07/09/2021.
Including: Traffic fluctuations after a site revamp, link exchanges are still against Google’s webmaster guidelines, how SEO value passes from a 301 redirect to a new one, featured snippets can vary between locations, and much more.
If you want to catch John’s latest hangout, he holds them on most Fridays at 7:00 a.m. PT (sometimes 12:00 a.m. PT.)
Without further ado, let’s get on with the SEO insights!
SEO Insight #1: Traffic Fluctuates After a Site Revamp
One webmaster was concerned about their traffic fluctuating wildly after a site revamp. They were concerned about wild fluctuations—where one site would be on the first page, then it would jump to the 10th page. Or it would then be on the 5th page.
John explained that it doesn’t have anything to do with things on their side. It’s more to do with the website itself. His point was, essentially, if a website is revamped, then they have to change the ranking. He thinks it sounds like the webmaster is doing something unique with the revamp process. His tips for watching what happens with a website revamp include the following:
- Don’t change the URL structure: make sure the internal linking stays the same as much as possible, and that the content and layouts stay the same as much as possible.
- So long as those technical elements are aligned, then the only thing google sees is that the website is a bit faster now because of faster elements.
- If those factors are not aligned, then they see it as a brand-new website. They will recrawl the site from the start, and then have to re-learn the site all over again.
That’s where the wild fluctuations in ranking are coming from.
SEO Insight #2: Link Exchanges Are Against Google’s Guidelines
Another webmaster was concerned about link exchanges and how they would impact the site. They asked whether or not link exchanges are considered spam, because they have been doing outreach to other websites, and the other sites commonly ask for a link back when they do so.
John explained that link exchanges are against their webmaster guidelines—just don’t do them. Their algorithms would simply ignore these links. It doesn’t matter if it’s topically relevant, either—if it’s a link exchange, it’s still against the guidelines.
SEO Insight #3: SEO Value Passes From an Old 301 Redirect to the New One
This is nothing new. The webmaster was concerned whether or not when they create a 301 from an older URL to a new one, it would result in the SEO value from the old URL passing to the new one.
John confirmed that yes, SEO value would pass from the old URL to the new one through a 301 redirect. He explained the following:
SEO Insight #4: Featured Snippets Can Vary Between Locations
This webmaster was wondering why certain featured snippets are different based on their locations. For example, one featured snippet would be one thing in India, while a featured snippet for the same query would be different in the United States.
John said that it isn’t a snippet from a search result. It’s common for search results to be different across different locations. From Google’s perspective, that’s normal.
These are John’s insights:
SEO Insight #5: No Ranking Issues Because of Being Indexed on Googlebot Desktop Instead of Mobile-First
Another webmaster had a question regarding whether or not they would be facing being indexed only by Googlebot Desktop. Will another batch of sites be moved to mobile-first indexing soon?
John explained that they shouldn’t be seeing any ranking issues because of being indexed by Googlebot desktop. With a site that’s responsive, they would index both versions as the same.
SEO Insight #6: URLs Should Always Have a Self-referenced Canonical to the Clean URL
A webmaster was concerned about URL parameters and how to declare them to Google. Their setup is that they have different content silos based on the URL parameters. They want to know what the most effective method would be to declare these URLs to Google. Or, if it would be OK to allow Google to decide what the canonical will be?
John said that they should always rel=canonical to maintain a clean URL without URL parameters if this is possible and supported by the web host.
These are John’s answers to this question:
John Mueller Google Search Central Office Hours Transcript
Below is the transcript to the John Mueller Google Search Central Office Hours from July 9, 2021.
You can also watch the video here:
Catch John Mueller’s Hangout on Most Fridays at 7:00 a.m. PT
You can catch John Mueller’s Google Search Central Office Hours Hangouts on most Fridays at 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time.
If you’re interested in watching past hangouts, you can catch them on the Google Search Central YouTube channel as well.
As always, we’ll be here covering John’s hangouts every week with our own SEO insights. Stay tuned!