Google Webmaster Hangouts 9-8-2017

Ranking Fluctuations For Plural Versions of Keywords Is Normal

While you may have solid first page rankings for phrase or two it’s possible the plural version may not be as solidified.  This is also true when targeting the plural vs the singular.  Google will sometimes look at variations of a keyword as a separate word all together.  If your rankings fluctuate for these variations it simply means that the algo is “unsure” your page is the best option to show to users.  Adding content to that page may be the best way to improve this.

When All Else Fails Here’s One Way To Improve The Quality Signal of a Site

If you’re having trouble ranking and you’ve exhausted all other techniques (audits, on-page optimization, backlinks, fixing technical errors, etc) try a user study.  A user study is when you have unbiased users visit your site and you analyze their behavior during typical site experiences.  This can be very insightful.  You may find that users aren’t consuming your content the way you anticipated leading to a poor experience.  Improving the user experience will ultimately lead to better rankings.

Site Migrations Need Time To Resolve In the SERPs

If you’ve recently migrated a site and still see many pages indexed from the old site, stay patient.  When migrations are done properly using 301 redirects from old URLs to the new there is going to be an uneasy waiting period.  Google will need time to see all of the changes and make their own accordingly.  Being impatient and creating more changes will only delay this process.

Google Will Use Your Responsive Design For Mobile Indexing Before The AMP Version

Google is prioritizing mobile sites (or responsive designs) over AMP for indexing.  However, there are ways to make the AMP version of your site the “mobile version.”  This can be a bit tricky, technically.  If you treat the AMP version like an m.yourdomain.com this will then be indexed as your mobile site.

Tracking Parameters on Internal Links Impact Crawling & Indexing

Tracking parameters cause Google’s spiders to crawl a bunch of URLs before actually getting to the content you’re linking to.  John Mueller suggest using the URL parameter handling tool.  This let’s Google know that these parameters are irrelevant.  The only other option to improve crawling is to avoid tracking internal links all together.

Backlinks Will Most Likely Never Go Away As A Ranking Factor

A hangouts attendee asked why Google doesn’t just “do away” with backlinks as a ranking factor and focus on quality content alone.  John replied with a simple answer.

“There are a lot of useful signals coming from backlinks”

So be sure to remember this when other SEO’s say that backlinks are unnecessary these days.  That’s simply not true.

When Updating URL Structure of Your Site Expect Ranking Shifts

This is simply a matter of process. Google has to visit your site, see the redirects, figure out how the old pages map to the new pages, and more.  Deciding to change the URL structure because you want to remove the .html extension you should be taken seriously.   It’s one thing if you make a site migration, it’s another to simply change the URL path because minor optimizations.  It’s highly recommended not to do this very often.

Closing

This hangout had a lot of technical optimization questions.  Several webmasters were experiencing fluctuating rankings due to recent use of 301 redirects, as well as other technical errors in Search Console.  

If you haven’t done an on-site audit or even done one in several months now is the time to do it.  We’ve recently re-launched our audit service.  It’s more affordable now and focuses on the issues that will create the biggest impact.

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