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Google Webmaster Hangout Notes: May 30th 2017

google webmaster hangouts recaps - SEO tips

Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 30th of May, 2017.


‘Doorway’ Pages May Result in a Manual Penalty

A large number of thin pages, with boilerplate content and nothing unique except for a few changed keywords, may be considered doorway pages which could result in a manual penalty from the spam team


Expect Ranking Fluctuations Following a Platform Migration

Google will take some time to reprocess a site following a platform change, especially if URLs and internal linking have changed, but if you see any long term impact you should explore any potential issues.


Canonicalise Faceted pages to Non-filtered Version

Google recommends allowing crawling of faceted pages but canonicalise to non-filtered version of that page instead of blocking them with robots.txt.


Google Establishes URL Patterns on Larger Sites to Focus Crawling

Google tries to establish URL patterns to focus on crawling important pages and choose which ones to ignore when crawling larger sites. This is done on a per-site basis and they don’t have platform-specific rules because they can be customised with different behaviour.


URL Parameters Make it Easier for Search Engines to Crawl your Site

URL Parameters make it easier for Google to understand the URL structure, and identify which URLs to ignore. Having parameters in the url path can make it harder for Google to understand.


User-generated Content May Cause SERP Fluctuations

Sites with user-generated content may see SERP fluctuations as the algorithms may change how it judges content quality.


Quality Algorithms are Used to Influence Crawling and Indexing Speed

Quality algorithms are used to influence other algorithms such as those which control crawling and indexing speed.


Unnatural Links to External Sites Might Cause All Links to be Ignored

Unnatural links to external sites, such as paid links or links within user-generated content may cause Google to lose trust in all the links from a site, so they should be nofollowed.


Mobile Interstitial Penalty Doesn’t Impact Brand Searches

The mobile interstitial penalty doesn’t have any impact on desktop results, and won’t impact brand searches. Using banners within the page are a better option than pop-ups which prevent any content being seen by users.


Disallowing Internal Search Pages won’t Impact the Sitelinks Search Box Markup

Internal search pages on a site do not need to be crawlable for the Sitelinks Search Box markup to work. Google doesn’t differentiate desktop and mobile URLs, so you might want to set up a redirect to the mobile search pages for mobile devices.


No Limits to the Number of Nofollowed External Links on a Page

Google doesn’t have a limit for the number of nofollowed external links on a page.


Redirect Chains Impact Usability and Crawling Efficiency

Google won’t penalise websites for having redirect chains but they can become a usability issue, particularly if they move between hostnames which can take longer. Google only crawls 5 redirects at a time, and will continue crawling a chain later on, but this many redirects should be avoided for any important URLs.


Mobile URLs Won’t Need to be Included in Sitemaps for Mobile-first Indexing

It won’t be necessary to include mobile pages in sitemaps for Mobile-first indexing. You should continue to include on your canonical desktop pages. Google’s goal is to keep everything as similar as possible while indexing content on mobile pages.


The unavailable_after Meta Tag Tells Google when to Drop URLs from the Index

If you know when a page will expire, you can use the unavailable_after meta tag to tell Google when they should remove a URL from the index without them having to be recrawled.


The URL Removal Tool Blocks Pages Appearing in SERPs but Doesn’t Prevent Indexing

The URL removal tool in Search Console to hide individual pages from appearing in search results but doesn’t stop them being indexed. You can also use to the tool to remove all URLs under a shared path. You shouldn’t use the tool for general maintenance, only for something critical you want removed as quickly as possible.


Geo-targeting is Overridden for Search Queries for Something in Different Country

Geo-targeting is based on user’s location, so this will be overridden if Google recognises you’re looking for something in a different country.

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Sam Marsden

SEO & Content Manager

Sam Marsden is Lumar's former SEO & Content Manager and currently Head of SEO at Busuu. Sam speaks regularly at marketing conferences, like SMX and BrightonSEO, and is a contributor to industry publications such as Search Engine Journal and State of Digital.


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