An Overview of Google’s SEO Office Hours – August 2021

Google Office Hours

Attending Google SEO office hours helps us stay on top of search engine trends and strategy implications.  For the month of August, we attended and are overviewing in this post English Google SEO office-hours from August 6, 2021 and English Google SEO office-hours from August 13, 2021.  Refer to the Google SEO Office Hours blog series post overview for more information on Google SEO office hours.

And, as always, if you’re looking to improve your small business’s SEO strategy, we’d be happy to talk. You can contact Josh Hiemstra, SEO & Data Lead, at (616) 822-3706 or josh@simplersite.co.

We have competitors that have purchased expired domains previously owned by the government.  The expired domains have high SEO ranking.  Are the high SEO rankings because of previous backlinks?

Google has systems in place to handle expired domains.  If it looks like spam, use a Google spam report to point out specific issues.

We have a website that has been around for 9+ years with over 200k profiles.  We have competitors that will copy our website information.  Is there a way to show Google you are the original source?  Websites continue to copy, then when they are caught will create another website, and this cycle keeps going.

DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is the correct approach.  There is no one trick to set up that you are the original source, continue to focus on the sites that cause the most problems and go with the DMCA approach.

Should we write in British English or American english?

John does not think it matters which you use for the website.  Focus on who uses your website.  Google will adjust accordingly.

How does offline branding help SEO rankings when our company is in a field with very well recognized brands?

Offline branding will not directly help SEO rankings. However, offline branding will lead to more searches for your brand, and more website traffic.  A good approach in a market that has well established brands, find your niche and build your website for the niche.

Does Google search take into account the number of reviews on the website for a higher SEO rank?

No, the number of reviews on your page are not taken into account for SEO rankings.  Google might pull out the review data as a rich result.  This might be different for Google My Business, but John is not sure.

Why are my pages not being indexed until 2 weeks later?

This could be a mix of technical issues and quality issues.  Crawlers do not crawl poor quality websites as frequently.  If you can determine your website is technically sound, then focus on how to improve the quality of your website.

Are there signals to give Google to indicate I have improved the quality on a site to help our SEO rankings?

There is not a technical way to trigger a reevaluation.  Google does continually reevaluate the quality of the website.  Google will do this if there are major structure changes, but will then have to rethink your site.

Is my website not being indexed because it appears the Google Desktop Crawler is being used?

No, this would not affect indexing.

Would AMP integration cause page experience issues?

No, this shouldn’t cause page experience issues.  AMP is a good way to get a speed boost without significant work.  Check that it was integrated correctly.

From Google Search Console I see that most of my traffic is coming from our blog posts, but these do not typically convert on our eCommerce site.  How do I value a blog post on an ecommerce site?

The best way to get this data is through Google Analytics and attribution modeling.  See the steps customers are taking to get to a conversion.  Google Search Console will not give much conversion information.

What is a good ratio of affiliate links on a webpage to not negatively affect SEO rankings?

There is no limit or ratio for best practice.  Affiliate links are not looked at as problematic on a page.  However, Google is looking to have good content.  Google is looking to provide results with good content.  Worrying about affiliate links is not a good use of time, instead focus on creating good content.

There are competitor websites that rank highly in Google Search for multiple service + city keywords.  They use the same content on the different city focused pages.  It appears they do not have good content or good backlinks.  Why do they rank so high?

There are multiple factors that go into search engine ranking.  It’s hard to compare yourself to other websites.  If it appears a competitor website is not following certain guidelines, Google will ignore features that these websites did poorly and focus on the rest of the website.  This is common in smaller businesses.

To help improve our site speed, we are uploading smaller file sizes for our pictures on the site.  When we upload the new file sizes, should we change the Alt-Title?

In practice, Google does not recrawl the pictures that often.  It might be awhile until Google notices a new file size.  If the alt-text changes, this will be crawled faster as it is part of the HTML.  If you need to have an image changed quicker in search, use a different URL for the new image.  

For speed, it doesn’t matter as much as Google uses core web vitals which is site speed of actual users.  This is independent of what Google has indexed for the page.

I am working to rebuild a website and have 2 different options: build out web pages or rebuild CMS with categories.  What is the best option?

From Google’s standpoint, pages vs categories does not matter.  Google sees these all as HTML.  Therefore, implement what is best from a security and usability perspective.

Be careful if you are migrating a site to a new CMS.  Have a good checklist which includes URLs, redirects, internal linking, and everything on the page (headings, images, and other on page SEO).  

I have improved the content quality on my website, when should I see a change in my SEO rankings?

Timeline after improvement can be 6 months to a year.  It takes a long time to rebuild the quality score in Google search.

How do you know if you have actually improved the quality if it takes 6 months to a year for SEO rankings to change?

This is hard to know as it takes a long time for Google to change rankings.  Try to find other ways to gauge if your quality is improving.  Good metrics would be user behavior in Google Analytics.  Google Search does not use Google Analytics, but it could be a good indicator if your pages have improved.

We are redesigning our site architecture. How should we consider internal links when they are placed in page content vs in the navigation with regards to SEO rankings?

Not to say one is good and one is bad, as they are both looked at equally.  If you add more sub-categories to your navigation it will devalue some of your main category pages that you had previously.  Try to avoid changing the URL Structure.

With a new brochure website, what is the best approach to rank for keywords?  Should I focus the home page and landing pages on one topic or set up a website with all of my services?

For a new website, it is good to focus on one specific area.  This helps Google understand what your website is about.  If given all services, then Google does not know what to focus on initially.  Over time, look to expand the website with more of your services.  

When starting a new website, it is also a good practice to look for a niche.  If locally active, Google My Business might make a lot of sense to focus on as well.

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