Google Webmaster Hangouts 2-23-2018

Hidden Content Will Be Given Full Weight in Mobile-First Index

Hiding content for user experience purposes on a mobile site is common practice.  Google will honor this content and give it full weight.  However, what’s to stop people from abusing this?  John Mueller says that they have algorithms to detect this issue and they will ignore it.  It’s not a “new” issue.  Sites that doe this accidentally won’t be harmed by it and sites that do this intentionally won’t see benefits.

If You Have an Affiliate Site – It Better Have Unique & Compelling Content

One of the questions submitted was from an affiliate site owner.  They were concerned that a sub-directory on their site contained content with many redirected links would negatively impact rankings.  John mentions that as long as that sub-directory is blocked by robots.txt file their concern should be focused elsewhere.  He says that being an affiliate is fine – as long as your site provides actual value.  Many affiliate sites are often too thin to rank well.

Sitemaps Are Critical For Large Sites But Not For Small Sites

Sitemaps are considered best practice for all sizes of sites.  However, they’re critical in Google’s eyes for big sites that have a lot of content and modified content.  With small sites it’s not that difficult for their spiders to see all of the indexable pages.

Some Content in URLs Are Used as a Ranking Signal

It’s good practice to use descriptive URLs.  It is seen by google as a ranking signal but it is very minimal.  Instead URLs should be looked at more in terms of the user.

Rankings Can Change After a Migration Even If Your URLs Are The Same

Significant on page changes can impact rankings.  For example changing the layout of your site can impact Google’s ability to crawl your site.  John recommends that you pay close attention to your internal links and anchor text during this process.  These can also impact Google’s ability to crawl a site well.

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