John Mueller, a Google employee regularly puts on a hangout to help webmasters with questions they have about Google search. These hangouts are full of helpful information. I personally think that anyone who has a website or who does SEO for websites should watch every one of these! For a couple of years now I have been watching every single one and making notes. I thought it would be useful to share my notes online with you as not everyone has time to watch the videos.
Please note: These notes may not be 100% accurate. Also, while John Mueller is a wonderful source of information, what he says in a hangout should not be viewed as a firm, concrete statement from Google.
Webmaster Central Hangout from March 24, 2014
Here are the notes that I made. The times are approximate. Anything that is in quotes is a direct quote from John Mueller. Sometimes in the notes are my thoughts as well.
In my opinion, here are the important parts:
Are WMT links enough?
When is the next penguin update?
If a link is removed, can you still keep it in your disavow file?
What percentage of links need to be disavowed?
1:57 - It’s ok to have a small number of similar sites as long as they are significantly different and not doorway sites. Site owner said that two sites are very similar (used lockers and new lockers). John said that is probably ok and Google can figure it out.
4:08 - Are WMT links enough? When updating disavow monthly is WMT enough? John says “From our point of view you can pretty much pull out this information with WMT but depending on the type of site you have and the size of your site and how you process your site’s links maybe one of the third party tools makes it a little bit easier for you to get that information or to process that information.” i.e. can remove nofollows or track anchor text. “From our point of view you should be able to deal with this through WMT”.
“You don’t necessarily have to constantly monitor your backlinks” unless you are aware of a significant problem.
“You don’t need to look at the third party tools just because they show more links. A lot of times the links that we don’t show in WMT are essentially ones that we pretty much ignore anyway. It’s like scraping at the bottom of the barrel.”
“We do show you a sample of links from WMT, but we try to show you a significant sample.”
Mentions that if an SEO went out and got 100,000 links that are not visible on WMT then using third party tools is a good idea.
9:00 - The reason why people in the Google help forum use ahrefs, etc is bc they don’t have access to your WMT
9:25 - We don’t need to worry about links NOT in WMT? (Question asked). John, “Pretty much….If you’re aware of a general pattern that you see visible in WMT, like if a previous SEO went out and went to 100,000 forums and dropped comment links that were set up in profiles, then that’s something you’ll see a sample of in WMT and I think it still makes sense to clean up the bigger problem which you might not directly see in WMT. Going forward and doing normal Google searches for...I don’t know…’hosted by cheap screen doors’ or whatever pattern you found with those links back then, that’s something you can always do to find more of these. Using third party tools sometimes makes it easier.”
12:00 - If Google sees keyword stuffing in title then they’ll try to ignore it and rewrite your title. If it is extremely overdone then the algorithms can look at the site unfavorably.
16:30 - When is the next Penguin update? “It’s been a while, so hopefully we can do one soon.”
17:03 - Should links from deindexed sites be removed/disavowed? Yes. Unless site no longer exists.
19:00 - Using duplicate content but changing city name can cause penalty.
22:00 - Not a good idea to block visitors from non English speaking countries.
28:50 - If people are coming to your site and immediately clicking through to another source, then Google may see that and just recommend the other source. True for a number of affiliate sites unless there is significant value
37:30 - Question about a site that was acquired and has trouble with bad links and Panda. What can be done? On the one hand you could try to clean them up, but on the other hand it might be better to use a different domain name. The problem may be too big to make it worthwhile to clean up.
39:22 - If a link has been removed, can you still keep it in the disavow file? It’s ok.
40:42 - There is usually a “couple of days delay” from when Google finds a link and then when they show it in WMT. But can be a larger delay for Google to recrawl a page and find a link that way.
43:00 - If you’ve got a couple of similar sites, it’s ok to link between them. If you have hundreds of sites that’s a different story.
46:30 - Using rel next and rel prev won’t give you a ranking boost. (i.e. it doesn’t signify great content)
49:00 - Question on a site that wants to know what percentage of links to disavow. The question should not be whether you should go from 60% unnatural links to 40% but rather, you should be taking a machete to them and cleaning up all unnatural links. It will take a lot of time to see the results of the changes.
54:00 - Question about whether it is a good metric for an SEO company to report on how many links they made? John said it’s not a good metric as you really want to be creating great content and attracting links. Just looking at the links number is not helpful.
56:00 - Links mentioned in text are recognized by Google but no pagerank is passed through them. Can be used for finding pages. Can sometimes see a crawl error in WMT if someone linked to you in a forum and it got truncated like www.example.com/here-is-an…….
59:00 - New TLD’s are now being picked up by Google (i.e. .guru domains)
59:30 - Do you need to disavow links from rss feeds? If it’s unnatural, it sounds like he is saying yes. Question was what to do if the original site has nofollow but the rss feed has a followed link - wasn’t really answered.
Is this helpful?
Hopefully this information helps you guys. Let me know if you would like me to keep doing these transcripts. Feel free to comment below.
Google update newsletter
Want an update when Google makes a big algorithm change or other announcement? Sign up here!
For those who are interested, more summaries of John Muller’s google webmaster central hangouts are available here: https://ligatures.net/content/expertise/seo-guidelines-and-checklists.html