In addition to his regular office hours hangouts, John Mueller also hosts Lightning Rounds of Ask Googlebot.
Here, he tackles general questions and answers from the search industry on issues that webmasters face.
There is no limit to the questions addressed.
We wanted to examine some key insights into these questions and answers, and offer our own commentary on their significance.
Self-Referencing Canonical Tags
“Tia is asking if by any chance a self referential canonical can override an existing canonical or preferred page. I believe two canonicals for the same page should be avoided.”
John says: “That’s correct. Avoid more than one rel canonical URLs with separate URLs on the same page.”
Key SEO Insight:
John says that multiple rel=canonical URLs with separate, different URLs on the same page are a bad thing.
Ideally you want to make sure that you use only one self-referencing canonical whenever you set your canonical tags . Avoid using more than one.
Adding the Date and Month to URLs
“Kate is asking if putting the date and the month in URLs is okay. And will it affect my Google rankings?”
John says:“Having the date in a URL is fine. It doesn’t affect crawling, indexing, or ranking of the page.”
As a practice, many SEO professionals have used dates in the past on their URLs. There are still many URLs ranking in the Google index with dates.
We advise that SEO practitioners worry less about the dates and more about keeping their content high-quality and making sure that they actually do have dates.
Nobody likes arriving on a blog from the SERPs and finding that there is no actual date on the page.
Using Content Delivery Networks (CDNs)
Content delivery networks are a method of delivering content that reaches as many people in different locations as possible, regardless of whether you have a subdomain or main single domain name.
“A question from Jay Low is: I heard that using CDNs (content delivery networks) to deliver images might be a problem for Google search, since it’s not on my server, and Google doesn’t support image canonicalization.”
John says: “Well, using a CDN for images is fine. It doesn’t have to be on your server.”
This is a strange question, but yes, using a CDN is just fine. As of 2021 this is considered a best practice, and using a CDN can help with improving page speed along with the all-important Core Web Vitals.
Optimizing for Country Code Top-Level Domains, a.k.a. ccTLDs
“Raul’s question is what is the best way to appear in search. If you have a global audience to target with a single domain. We don’t have multiple physical addresses for local SEO, and we don’t want to go for ccTLDs because of a resource crunch.”
John says: “It’s fine to have a single domain. Many websites just have one version that’s globally available.”
Yes, that is true. You don’t have to optimize your website URLs for every single version available. In fact, having a single domain (while keeping your subdomains to a minimum) and maximizing your optimization opportunities for website architecture and keyword research is ideal.
GSC Verification in…Sitemaps?
RMW web publishing is asking, is it such a bad thing to leave the Google Webmasters verification file out of the sitemap XML? We would have thought the sitemap XML should only be filled with content greatness you want indexed?
John says: “Well, you’re right. You don’t need to include the verification file in your sitemap file. The verification file is just for Search Console. Nobody else can do anything useful with it.”
We are not sure where this idea came from. You don’t want to include anything referencing the GSC verification file in your sitemap.
In fact, Google Search Console Help states that you can use the following methods to verify your site:
HTML file upload
You can verify ownership of a site by uploading a special HTML file to your site. This file is tied to a specific user. Follow the instructions on the verification details page. Removing this verification file from your site will cause you to lose verification for the site.
You can verify your ownership of a site by adding atag to the HTML of a specified page. We’ll verify that the meta tag exists in the correct location. If we can’t find the tag, we’ll give you information about the error we encountered. This tag is tied to a specific user.
Domain name provider
You can verify ownership of a property at the domain level by adding a DNS record in your domain name provider. Search Console supports both the TXT DNS format and CNAME format for DNS verification.
Google Analytics tracking code
If you use Google Analytics to track your site’s traffic, you can verify your site using the Google Analytics tracking code associated with the property. To do this, you must have “edit” rights for the item whose tracking code is used by that page. Also, your tracking code must use either the analytics.js or gtag.js snippet.
Google Tag Manager container snippet
If you have a Google Tag Manager account, you can verify ownership of a site using your Google Tag Manager container snippet code.
To verify a new style Google Site, you must use the Google Analytics Tracking Code method to verify your site.
New blogs that you create in Blogger should be added and verified automatically in your Search Console account. If your blog doesn’t appear automatically on the Search Console home page, add the property and it should be verified automatically.
If you’ve registered a domain with Google Domains, any property that you register on that domain should be verified automatically when you add it to Search Console.”
Google also has an entire guide on how you can setup and verify Google Search Console on your sites. We strongly recommend reviewing it for more information.
John Mueller’s SEO Lightning Rounds – #AskGooglebot
You can see the official video on Youtube.
John also participates in regular SEO #AskGooglebot Lightning Rounds.
Keep an eye on his official Twitter account for more information on future SEO #AskGooglebot Lightning Rounds.