One SEO professional asked John Mueller during a hangout about geo redirect issues on websites.
They know that Google recommends against using geo redirects on sites, for a number of reasons.
The fact that Googlebot won’t be able to properly crawl and index the entirety of the site, for example. They are already familiar with that.
With this argument, they are wondering if the same recommendation applies or if the situation is different for news websites?
They are asking because a number of major news providers like CNN, the BBC, the Guardian, etc., all have had geo redirects in place for a number of years.
And none of them appear to be experiencing any negative effects on the ability of their content to be indexed.
John answered that it definitely does apply to all kinds of websites. From Google’s perspective, usually geo redirects make it harder for them to crawl content, especially if you’re redirecting users from the US to a different version of the content.
In such cases, usually Googlebot will just follow the redirect. But, Googlebot crawls specifically from one location.
It’s less a matter of quality signals or anything like that. It’s more about Google not being able to see your pages: if they cannot see your pages, then Google will be unable to index them.
That’s the primary reason why they don’t recommend doing these things.
John is not sure what these news sites are doing. Maybe they are redirecting some users, others are not being redirected, and perhaps Googlebot is not being redirected. It’s possible from Google’s perspective, but John doesn’t think this would do them any favors because it would end up in a situation where you have exactly the same content in the search results.
And this puts you in a situation where you’re competing with yourself.
John’s suspicion, without checking these sites, is that Google is aware of the geo redirects and is seeing them take place. And they are, from a technical perspective, trying to crawl and index the correct pages there.
But there doesn’t appear to be anything sneaky occurring behind the scenes that he is aware of.
It’s also not the case where Google might see it as a cloaking attempt, or anything against their webmaster guidelines.
It’s really just – purely from a technical perspective – if it’s hard for Google to find and index your content, it’s going to be hard for them to do what the SEO professional wants them to do.
This happens at approximately the 53:15 mark in the video.