Google Webmaster Hangouts 3-27-2018

The March 23rd Shake Up Was Not Related to The Mobile First Index Rollout

John confirmed that to the best of his knowledge this was not the case.  He said that the most recent “batch” of sites were switched over as of their blog post on March 26th.

URL Parameters Are Not the Same Level of Permissions as Robots.txt

Google will not crawl into areas of your site that are specifically blocked off by Robots.txt.  However, if you were to use the URL parameters tool in GSC you may be surprised that they occasionally ignore them.  The GSC parameters are considered a “signal” to the robots rather than a rule.

Text to Code is Not a Ranking Factor in Google’s Algorithm

You may have some pages that contain more HTML code than text code.  John Mueller says that this is normal and Google won’t take this into consideration with their algorithm.

If You Change Your Site Structure Google Needs Time to Re-Crawl It

Anytime you make major on-site changes you can expect your rankings to fluctuate.  Fluctuation is natural in general but particularly when you make changes.  Google must re-crawl your site to understand what you’ve done and how it may impact what it shows up for in the SERPs.

Adding Links to External Sites Helps Google Understand Your Site Better

It’s completely normal to use external links to other sites within your content.  In fact, it’s normal to use many external links.  John says that these links won’t impact your page’s ability to rank.  Using external links will help Google understand your site’s context in relation to the web around it.  So don’t be afraid to use more than 1 external link per page!

Make Sure Your Mobile Site Has the Same Internal Links as Your Desktop Site

If your mobile site doesn’t contain the same internal link structure as your desktop site you risk not being included in the mobile-first index right away.  Responsive sites won’t have this issue.  However if you use a different mobile presence then you must make sure the structure is the same as your desktop version.

Even If AI Takes Over Search SEOs Will Still Be Needed

Someone asked if SEO was a long term career option.  In a tongue and cheek response John says – I don’t know, we’ll have to wait and see if this turns into anything serious.  He goes on to mention that although SEO changes rapidly practitioners will always be needed to tell the search engines what their pages are about.

 

Conclusion

In particular the tip on external links is an interesting one.  It goes against some old school SEO dogma about losing page rank, blah blah blah.  Search algorithms are constantly evolving beasts.  Today’s algos apparently find external links helpful in understanding the context of a site.  So there’s no need to be afraid of using truly helpful links within your content just because they don’t point to one of your pages.

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