We had another session of Office Hours this week, and we took a deep look into the way Google decides to index or not a particular web page. Does submitting it to Google actually work?
Last week we attempted an experiment: find pages that Google sees, but decided not to index and then submit them to Google. This week, we talk about the results of our efforts.
Does submitting a page to Google do anything?
David: Welcome to office hours. Today is March 3rd, and we’re here to talk about SEO and all kinds of things like that, but the first thing we’re going to do is revisit our SEO experiment from last week, so I’m going to share my screen so we can kind of explain what we’ve done.
So, last week, we were investigating this idea, this old school SEO rumor that you can submit a website to Google. There are charlatan email SEO people out there who send you emails to say, “Hey, pay me a fee, I’ll submit your site to Google, which is baloney. However, within Google Search Console, there’s a way to submit a page to Google. What we wanted to find out is: if we submit a page to Google without changing it, does it do anything? So, the homework was to go into Search Console and find a page that Google has not indexed, for some reason, that we which Google was to index, and hit the request indexing button. And then, along with that, we were going to go into Search Console every day really quickly just to check if the URL we submitted has yet been accepted by Google. So, I picked this URL: curiousants.com/gameplan, and last Wednesday, a week ago, I submitted it. I hit the request indexing button that my mouse is hovering over right now, and as you can see, this URL is not in Google yet. Even though I submitted it. You all saw me submit it. So, I’m being curious. Did anybody submit a URL to Google?
Tricia: I did.
David: What did you find? What did you see?
Tricia: Same thing as you. I actually put it on my calendar to check every morning because I thought I would forget. I knew I would forget. And I checked every morning since I did it Wednesday afternoon, and, the same thing as you, the URL is not on Google.
David: Everybody else? Alli, Lavonya, did you do it?
Ali: I did not, because if you remember, we checked this last week and our website is so well mapped that there were no pages to submit.
David: You’re doing such good SEO that Google just loves everything you’ve done.
How about you, Lavonya?
Lavonya: I think we kind of did mine the week before when I got that error message.
David: Ok. So, anecdotally, it looks like submitting to Google didn’t do anything.
David: Now, I would love to see us repeat this some other time. I don’t know if we have enough data to say definitively, scientifically, definitively, “Google ignores this,” but the fact is…
Steffi: Doesn’t it just take time?
David: Well, it says… Let me find this. I was doing a little research, and I found this article on Google about this tool and… I’m not finding it here. Ok, maybe it is not on this page, but I thought it said that it would take one or two days. Now, the problem with this experiment is that we didn’t change the page at all, right? So, we find this by going into Coverage, Excluded Pages, and then, I got either “Crawled- currently not indexed,” meaning Google has found the page but decided not to add it to its index, for some reason, or I got “Discovered-currently not indexed.” The difference being “Discovered” means Google knows it exists, but it’s not indexing it; “Crawled” means Google’s spider has actually looked at the page and decided not to index it. So, for whatever reason, Google decided not to index it, submitting it does not alone make Google put it in the index, so, for instance, mine, if you recall, was “Crawled-currently not indexed,” so that means Google knows the page exists but decided not to add it to the index, so that would mean, maybe, the content is not valuable enough, not unique enough, maybe it’s thin, maybe it’s copied pages somewhere else, maybe there’s no value to the page at all, but, for whatever reason, Google knows it exists, it’s just saying “I don’t want to serve this page in the web results.”
Tricia: One thing that is interesting is that the one that I submitted was a blog post, and it was talking about Google’s… It was all from a while, 2017, and it was basically talking about mobile friendly and mobile responsive websites for Google, so that’s interesting… Google didn’t like it.
David: So, I think that, at this point, we can say, “Clearly, we need to look at why Google doesn’t like our pages.” So, if we look at the page, I submitted, which I later regretted because now I realize… Oh, yeah, I totally know why Google doesn’t want to submit that to its page index. I thought this was a different page. Really, this is a blog category page. There’s nothing really… I added one little sentence here “There’s a lot of things you need to do to have a successful SEO campaign. What should you do first?” ok, so that one or two sentences is not unique enough content on this page because the rest of these little fragments are the previews of the blog posts, so this is not… I agree with Google. This isn’t necessarily worth showing in search results, so Tricia, do you want to share yours?
Tricia: Yeah, I will, but, first off, I’m going to….
David: It’s alright. We’re all friends here.
Tricia: It’s an ancient website. This was written in 2017, so do you want me to take a screenshot, or what would you want me to do?
David: Yeah, that would be great, if you can.
Tricia: Ok. Can you see it?
Tricia: So, this was just one of my blogposts, “Is your website mobile-friendly?” and I had a YouTube video that’s embedded, and then I went down and talked about different things and user experience, pictures, and structures, and blah blah.
David: Yeah, there’s a fair amount of content there. Is it unique to your knowledge?
Tricia: Yeah. Well, I mean, yeah. I wrote it and, typically, what I was doing then was I was actually recording a video, which is the YouTube video embedded at the top, and from there, I would then take the video and kind of write it and put it in with headings and a shorter set of paragraphs. After a week, Google still hasn’t…
David: Well, after longer than that, right? Because you found it in the Search Console. Google’s known it has existed for a long time.
Tricia: Yeah, I mean, it has existed since August 8th of 2017.
David: There you go.
Ok, so let’s all put our heads together and see if we can figure out why we think Google is not indexing this. Of course, we’re not blaming Tricia for this. We’re not saying Tricia is, somehow, incompetent. No, that’s not what we’re doing here. We’re trying to understand Google, right? So, the first thing I would check… I would go to this site, copyscape.com and grab your URL, and put it in there.
Tricia: Sorry you all, I’m using someone’s laptop, so it’s not easy to use.
David: That’s fine.
Tricia: So, no results.
David: So, that means that, as far as for Copy Scape, it’s considered unique content.
Tricia: So, I sometimes would use Grammarly. Is Copy Scape…?
David: 10:33. Yeah. Grammarly will allow you to do the same thing. This is just a plagiarism checking tool.
Tricia: Yeah. I’ve noticed on Grammarly, there are certain ways in which you say things, and it’s like “This little part matches some other website that is completely an unrelated business, but it’s talking about “We’ve been in business for 25 years-end”” and it’s like, well, if that’s how long you’ve been in business, that’s a standard type thing, so why are you picking up plagiarism check on that?
David: I think it’s more of an alert, not a warning.
Tricia: That’s kind of what I just ignored.
David: And, by going here, I’m not accusing you of plagiarism, but what I am doing is making sure no one else has plagiarized you.
Tricia: Yeah, because I know that can happen, because, if that happens Google, doesn’t know who the original is, and I have to tell them that I’m the original.
David: Right. So, number one, we know that the content is unique, the content seems pretty long, it’s a WordPress website, so Google… it’s easy to find it. One thought I had, and that’s why I wanted to go to Copy Scape…sometimes, when we talk about a topic like mobile-friendliness, there are only so many ways to say the same thing, and so, even if we don’t copy someone’s content directly, we very easily could have said the same things and nothing new, so, in that sense, I think this shows “Hey, this is unique content” it seems long enough… let’s go back to your page and see.
Tricia: Oh, shoot. I don’t have it on this computer, but there is a neat Chrome extension where you can count the words on a web page. I would’ve used that, but I don’t have it installed on this one.
David: Well, Google has recently come out with some statements about reminding us that Google does not count the words as a ranking factor, but longer pages, longer posts, always perform better. It’s not because Google is saying, “You only have 799 words. I’m not going to show your page in the search results” it’s simply because, with so many words, number one: it’s a lot easier to write unique content if you are writing a lot of it; number 2: the potential search phrases that could land on a long page are more. If you do 300 words, you’re limiting how many things that page could be served up from in the search results, but if you do 800, there’s a lot of things that Google could see 13:38 in that page in response to. So, I’d say this page… I’d estimate, easily, 500-800 words.
Tricia: Yeah, probably. And I’m thinking… To me, it’s weird that, even after I submitted it, Google still hasn’t picked it up, so…
David: So, does anybody else have a suggestion or something we want to check to see why Google maybe doesn’t like this page?
Steffi: I was looking at my list of stuff. The only one that shows “discovered-currently not indexed” was the location’s file, which you guys helped me delete. Tricia helped me delete my address. I guess it decided to remove that kml file, then? And that’s the only thing I had, and then, the others with “crawled-currently not indexed” were tag pages or feeds.
David: Right, and we don’t Google to index feed. We want them to go to the content.
Steffi: It’s weird that yours was like an actual page. You guys both have actual pages. That was a post, or yours a blog page, blog category page, right?
Tricia: This is a blog post from when I was doing them weekly back then.
Lavonya: David, I just found something. I just realized Google… You know I changed my website, so I just found there was no… I went back to the URL inspection, and I put in one of my pages, and it’s not indexed, so you clicked on request indexing?
Tricia: I’ll stop sharing my page.
Lavonya: I thought it would pick it up against itself, but I guess not.
David: So, it takes Google time, and this, theoretically, is there to help expedite it, but what we’re finding is it doesn’t expedite it very fast because I’m looking at Tricia’s page, and I’m saying, “Hey!”. Maybe… let’s just say, maybe there’s a whole lot of pages on the same topic, and this page maybe doesn’t rank in the top 100 of them, and that’s no insult. That’s just reality. I hope you’re not insulted. I’m just suggesting… If that’s the case, you’d still think Google would add it to the index.
Tricia: To index it, yeah.
David: So, that means, if there are 100 thousand pages on mobile-friendly websites, and yours doesn’t make the certain cut, that Google is now just not even bothering to index it. That’s an interesting thought.
David: I don’t think so, so the other thing I might think of…
Yeah, go ahead.
Tricia: I don’t know if it has anything to do. That’s my old site, and I’m working on launching my new one, and I’m not going in and keeping things up to date. It’s secure, but that’s about the extent of it. So, I don’t know if there’s anything else that Google thinks I should be doing, and I haven’t done, so that’s why, but I don’t know. I don’t know how long it hasn’t been indexed. I don’t know if maybe it could’ve been indexed, and then they dropped it off.
David: Well, that’s an interesting question. Google loves fresh new content, and if it’s an older article on a website that hasn’t been touched in maybe, a while…
Tricia: It’s been almost a year, probably. Well, not quite because, when I rebranded, I updated a few things, but then I’m just like, “I’m not messing with it because I’m working on my new one.”
Steffi: I have old posts that have been around forever, and…
Tricia: 17: 52 blog posts do really well, but I mean, that is a topic that does need to stay current, and it was written in 2017.
David: Can you share the URL to your post in the chat so I can use my tool here?
David: Because I want to investigate it in terms of backlinks.
Tricia: You can investigate it, just do me a favor and don’t read it.
Davis: Oh, come one.
Tricia: I’m telling you. I wrote it in 2017. I haven’t done much, but… Ok, I put it in there for you.
David: So, I’m going to share the screen again. So, we talked a little bit about backlink tools when Steffi was talking about SEMrush… the tool I like to use is called Majestic. I’m showing you this tool. I like it, and I recommend it, but I’ve designed Curious Ants around the ability to use free tools, so this is more of a “Hey, this would be really nice to have, but it’s fairly expensive,” and if you’re only managing one site I don’t know if I could justify it, but I run all my clients through it and stuff like that. So, I’m not going to crawl the page, I’m going to submit the page to Majestic, and it’s going to tell me some things. So, looking at this page, it’s saying there is, again, not an indictment to Tricia… The link quality, the trust flow is 0. That’s a 0 out of 100. That’s alright. And the citation flow is 16 out of 100, so citation flow has to do with link volume, meaning, if we just counted the number of links that eventually could end up on this page, it’s valued to be 16. It doesn’t mean there are 16 links. It just means the value is 16 citation flows, whatever a citation flow might be. The trust flow meaning, if we only look at the credibility of websites linking to this page, or that could eventually get to this page, it would be a 0, so that’s telling me nobody… So, this page has a trust flow of 0, which suggests that it might be a function of the fact that no authority websites are linking to this page in a roundabout sort of way because it doesn’t necessarily have to link to this page, but it could link to your site, which would then flow, trust flow, to your page, because you can think of… we used to call it link juice. You can think of link juice flowing like water through pipes. If a link passes link juice, that link juice then flows to all the pages that have received links from it, so, for instance, if this post was orphaned, meaning there’s no way to get to it, except through the XML sitemap or knowing the URL, then there’s no link juice that can flow to it. That’s why it’s important to have blog categories in the blog archive page so Google can crawl these pages and get to this blog post. It could be, for instance, that this blog post happened so long ago that Google has to crawl so deep into your site that the link authority is a trickle before it even has anything, and that’s what this is suggesting, so now what we can do is we can go to… we can also look at the site as a whole.
Tricia: You are looking at my old website.
David: This is overall.
Tricia: I don’t know… when you say “citation,” you are talking about links to it and not as if, for instance, I went in and changed all that I talked about citation, like citation companies, back to my new business, so it, over time, has transferred to my new domain.
David: Sure. That would’ve definitely affected the citations and the link authority. So, if we just talk about your site as a whole, Majestic says your trust flow is 3 out of 100, and the citation flow is 24. Now, Majestic does a couple of cool things if we look at what they call link profile. You can kind of see… If we look at it, just in terms of domains, there are 72 referring domains to this site. Ideally, the best links follow this diagonal line because they are a happy mix between trust flow and citation flow. Anything below the line means there’s a link, but it doesn’t have a lot of trust. Anything above the line means…
Tricia: Above it? Hey, it’s not that bad!
David: Well, all these that are on this line at the very bottom…
Tricia: They are bad.
David: It’s not ideal.
David: But you have some really good ones. There is this one right there on the line, pretty high up. This one is up here. These are pretty good. That’s referring to domains. If we look at individual backlinks, we see most of yours are really low.
Tricia: Yeah. So, could some of those towards the line… when you say “referring domains,” could that be like…if I posted on social media, like on Facebook… That’s not it?
David: Because those links don’t count. So, we can’t go into depth. If we wanted to, we could look at the list of referring domains and the links and topics. I don’t necessarily want to go into that depth, but what this is suggesting to me is that maybe Google doesn’t find your site as credible as it could, or should, and that means it’s saying a blog post was published many, many moons ago and is so deep in your site there’s no link juice trickling to it, and there’s not a lot of link juice to the site in the first place, that is why Google is not indexing it. And this is why link building is so very important because we can optimize the words all day long, but if none else says that our site is credible and Google judges that based on other websites linking to us, then how does it know which is the best article about mobile websites responsiveness? There’s a bunch to talk about that, but if this one doesn’t have any links, or is on a website that doesn’t have a lot of links, then Google just says, “Well, of all the articles on there, this one has a pretty low link…” Again, Google is not using this link metric, but this resembles a type of metric that Google might use. Google doesn’t pull data from Majestic and evaluate websites, but Majestic is attempting to replicate what Google does when it considers links, so it might be saying Google might use their own metrics and say, “Hey, fine post, we see it, but we’re not going to serve it or index it because it doesn’t have the credibility that other articles might have on that.” That’s why link building is a very important part of this process”.
Tricia: When you were talking about how far deep it is or whatever, I was kind of looking and seeing, and I didn’t think I had that many, but I do have quite a few posts before it. 2018, 2019.
David: So, this teaches us a couple of things: number one, we always have to be link building; number 2, old posts need internal links. Internal links are one of these overlooked activities in SEO, and honestly, I had a really hard time fitting it into the game plan, but if you read real closely, in the How to write blog posts article, it says, “Be sure to link to other relevant pieces of content on your site.” One of the values of blogging is that you’d be able to say… You are not talking about mobile websites in the new blog post, but you mention mobile websites on the new blog post so link back to an old article on mobile websites. Now that link juice can flow from the most recent content to the old stuff.
Tricia: Yeah. I looked through that, and I do see where I have, inside of that, linking to another site, but I don’t know that I have anything from another blog post that came after it linking to it, so I guess I need to remember to go both ways.
David: Yeah, that’s exactly right. Categorization and tagging in blogs can help with this as well, just be careful about going too crazy with that, or you’re going to have a beast to manage. I’d also say maybe this post needs to be updated. What if this was just freshened content?
Tricia: It’s probably something I may write about on my new site.
David: Well, that was the next point I was going to bring in. All this content that you’ve previously written is really valuable. It might be worth importing over to your new site.
Tricia: A question about that. All of it I won’t want to do, but I might pick pieces here and there. If I decide to do that, I’ll probably post it and freshen it up, so, if I do that, but I leave my Muttbuts there and have my Your Biz Watchdog, could I then go in and tell Google “Ok, both of these are mine, but this is the new version”? Can I do that?
David: That is something you could do with canonical tags.
Tricia: Canonical is what I was thinking.
David: So, let’s say you have an article on Muttbuts, and you are going to move to your new domain. Let’s say you’re really making only slightly small changes, maybe correcting a spelling error, adding a couple of… little details, but it is basically the same article. I would republish it on your new site, go back to Muttbuts and, within the Yoast plugin, you can actually manually set the canonical tag, and I would set it to the same blog post on the new site, so Google says, “I know they are the same or virtually the same, and I’ll just give the new site credit for it.” Alternatively, you could just simply kill it off the Muttbuts’ site and set it to redirect from Muttbuts to the new page. That’s a better solution.
Tricia: I think I’ll probably do that at some point after I get my head wrapped around about the new site, but there are so many… I’m afraid of different…
Steffi: Say that again. What was the second option? What was that? You said the first was canonical, and the second was what?
David: To redirect. Set up to redirect.
Steffi: But that’s only if you are still hosting that old domain, right?
David: Well, yeah. If you decide not to host the old domain, I would still set up redirects in some capacity. Even if it’s a domain level at your registrar because even though Muttbuts does not have a lot of link authority, it has some.
Tricia: Yeah. It’s been there for a while.
David: So, I would want to preserve as much as I possibly could to the new site, even if I didn’t keep most of that content. Redirects are one of these things that really make newly launched websites successful or not, and sometimes I’ve seen large companies say, “We have a thousand blog posts, it’s not worth our time to migrate them over” I say, “Yes, it is. It really is”, because you are getting long-tail traffic from those, there are links there. You do the redirects, and it helps.
Tricia: So, when you say “redirect,” I may have misunderstood… Are you saying redirect…like per blog post? Like, pick a blog post? Ok, I misunderstood… I was thinking… redirect the whole thing… Ok, so I can go in and say, “Ok, these 10 blog posts I really like. I’m going to publish them on my new site,” so then would I go into Yoast and put a full…or redirect plugin?
David: Ideally, you’d use HD Access or something like that.
Steffi: Or your host will provide like… WP engine provides redirects on the server level. That would be the easiest way.
David: That is the best way.
Tricia: 32:29 of that site is on WP engine.
Steffi: I would use the WP engine’s tool in the user portal.
Tricia: And then I pick the ones that I want and where I want them to go?
Steffi: If she doesn’t host that old site anymore, all she can do with the registrar is point the domain, so she’ll have to keep hosting the old domain?
Tricia: I will. That is my intention.
Steffi: But that’s just something people don’t understand, I think. In order to redirect on a page-by-page basis, you still have to have that site hosted, right?
David: Yeah. In some cases, it’s totally worth doing that. If you really had a good site, ok, it might be really worth it. Alternatively, a lot of registrars would allow you to redirect the domain and keep the old URL structure and just redirect all the URL structure to the new website. Now, if you do that and that URL’s structure is not existing on the new website, what do you get? 404 errors, because let’s say the URL is muttbuts.com/davisisawesome and you don’t have a “David is awesome” page on the new site, you will see that in the 404 errors, so when you see that 404 error, that’s when you set up the redirect on your new server, because then it will catch the URL from the old site into your new one, and then you’d just catch all those 404 errors and redirect all those as well, and then you’d keep all that link equity from the old site. Sometimes is easier to keep an old host up.
Tricia: Even though it’s WP engine, Steffi, there is a reason: I got a sweet deal on that site because otherwise if I were paying monthly, I would probably reconsider…if I was paying a big monthly fee. Even though it’s a WP engine, which is really good, I don’t have to worry about that.
Steffi: So, David, you would suggest that she eventually deletes that old domain, right?
David: I would not. Now, there are diminishing returns. If all things were equal, I would absolutely keep it forever. If the domain was so low of a domain authority with no links or very minuscule links and I really couldn’t afford to keep buying that domain name, I would let it go. You want to keep redirects up indefinitely.
Steffi: What if you use the same URL structure for the blogpost, keeping them the same on both sites, and then you just pointed the domain name over? Are you saying it will pick up that post with that domain name without having to set up redirects individually?
David: If that’s how you set up domain redirect at your registrar.
Tricia: I have a question about that.
David: Hold on. Before we get there, does that make sense, Steffi?
Steffi: Is that a permanent redirect?
David: It’s a permanent redirect which is a 301, which is what we want to use. We always want to use 301. 302 is temporary, so that means Google will catch the old URL and not pass authority. 301 passes authority, but we really want to make sure that… Oh, I lost my train of thought. So, there are two ways to do it. One is just: everything that goes to oldwebsite.com goes to this one URL on newwebsite.com. Or you can say: preserve the URL structure, different registrars call it a little different, and that’s the ideal way because then you can just catch all those 404s and preserve all those URLs. I’ve worked really hard with web developers before to keep the exact same URLs because then we don’t have to do redirects, and that saves us a lot of time and keeps the site indexed, gets the new URL indexed more quickly, keeps all the links. Oh my God, we’ve worked so hard to do this sometimes, and it’s so worth it, especially because we don’t want to have to maintain… I’ve actually seen a redirect file with a hundred thousand redirects in it before.
Steffi: Oh, my God, yeah.
David: And that’s just because they didn’t do a good job managing their URLs, but that’s a whole other conversation.
Tricia: So, for example, on my old one, you saw that that was a blog, but it didn’t have a blog in the URL, so my new site will because I decided to add that in there. I think that I did the other without…I think there was one time that it was recommended not to. I guess that, what you were telling Steffi about, wouldn’t apply, that I would have to do it individually. It wouldn’t be all bog posts; it would have to be individual, which is fine, I’m not going to do all of them because some of them are so old and I don’t want to, but I’ll probably take some of the ones… I’ll have the same ending, whatever you call it, but it will have “blog” in there, whereas on the old Muttbuts, it doesn’t have “blog.”
David: I’d encourage you to do as many as you could. Even if you think they don’t have much, the net total of all of them could really amount to something substantial.
Tricia: Ok. A lot of the images have my Muttbuts branding, and I could take those when I have time and send them to my assistant, and he can even come up with new images, maybe, if, on my to-do list, I don’t have immediate work for him.
David: I mean, if it were me, I would save all the blog posts, even if you didn’t like them.
David: You can always go back and update them. If they are completely unsalvageable, ok, maybe kill them and redirect them. You’d be really surprised at how much traffic you get through these really long, obscure, and old articles. I mean, if you’re not, that’s a totally different thing, but the real secret to good SEO is the long tail, which is the idea that… it’s these really, really specific queries that come in that you can’t predict that send a huge amount of traffic that you don’t realize you’re getting, and we don’t want to lose that because there are all kinds of advantages to that, so we want to keep as much of that as possible. We could always update it. We don’t have to update it immediately. I know I’ve got some articles and some old sites that I really need to go update because they are really obsolete, but yeah, I’d keep them.
Steffi: Tricia was saying that she used a blog base or category base, maybe, and you would recommend keeping that with the new site
David: Yeah, we talked about this last time.
Tricia: 40:39, not the old one.
David: Her old site doesn’t have “blog” on the URL. Her new one will. And we just talked real briefly last week about the value of using a word like “blog” in there. It’s not that Google ranks the pages better because the word blog is in there. Google does not care, but there are all kinds of other advantages like “Hey, how’s the traffic to my blog looking?” “Hey, I’d like to set up a remarketing tag of people who visited my blog but not filled up my contact form.” I mean, these are really good reasons to keep “blog” in the URL. It’s not about the SEO performance of your blog because the world blog is in your URL.
Steffi: But don’t you want to use a keyword-friendly term or something? Like I had written to you earlier about the category base for the website.
David: Yes, keywords have some value in URLs, but it’s very, very small. I think it’s probably more important to have it in the final aspect of the URL, but we also need to reconsider for humans. We don’t want to have such a long URL that makes it really hard and cumbersome to use, so there are these diminishing returns, especially if we’re reusing the same keyword in the URL. I haven’t seen your email yet, but I’m not a huge got-to-put-the-keywords-in-the-URL fan. Just make the URL useful and relevant, and move one.
Steffi: Like news or blog.
David: Yeah. One of my biggest most successful clients, as far as their blog goes…they don’t have a blog, they have a news section, and every week we submit more blog posts to the news section, and Google clearly doesn’t care, I mean, they are kicking butt, and it doesn’t even have the keyword in it. They are not a news site. It just so happens that that was the easiest way to start blogging, and it doesn’t really matter whether it’s news or blog… It’s just “You should read this.”
Tricia: What is that part of the URL called? That little blog or…
David: Technically, it’s a directory, but it’s not really a directory. In old code days… do you remember when you used MS-DOS, and you’d type in directories, and it would have slashes? This is just Unix for it. So, it’s technical, but the way WordPress works… it mimics directories. Those directories don’t really exist. It’s part of the URI.
Tricia: I have been writing for the past, at least six months… I think it’s been more than six months, weekly emails, and I decided I just didn’t want to take the time and put them on my old site, so I’ve got them, and I’m going to start when I have my new site, with some of those that are actually just fresh and haven’t been published out other than as an email, so I’m going to start with some of those, I figure, to get some content on there.
David: Yeah, that’s great. I have just started hiring people to transcribe these videos and put them on my site because we talk about really great stuff, and it’s really hard for people to find stuff in the video, but if it’s text, Google… And I’m going to be consistently improving that process, organizing it better, having some editors go through it and fix it up, so it becomes another valuable piece.
Ali: It’s an issue I’ve had with our billing rollout… I email our rep and be like, “Hey, I’m not sure how to do this,” and she’s like, “Well, we went over it in the video training,” and I’m like, “Ok, well, I watched like 6 hours of video training and what am I supposed to do? Just go through them all again? When you could just answer me in 3 minutes”.
David: Yes, you should go through all six hours of training again.
Ali: We don’t have any kind of corresponding power Point or PDF or anything that goes with them. It’s just that training. Unless you remember… Well, at the 45th minute of this 90-minute training, she talked about… Obviously, I don’t remember that, because then I wouldn’t be asking you how to do it. That was a little bit of a hot button for me, though.
David: Let’s all say “hi” to the transcriber. Hi transcriber! Thank you.
Any other questions we want to address today? We said we had no questions, and we took a full hour.
Steffi: I do have one that’s related…
Oh, sorry, you guys.
Ali: I was going to say I think I have a question, but I’ll submit it for next week because I don’t think it’s going to be an eight-minute question.
Steffi: When you say, “fix a page to be more keyword-friendly for a client,” what are the best steps to take in the Google Search Console to make sure that they don’t lose the ranking. Of course, I know that I have to set up a redirect, but should we then submit that URL through Google Search Console? and it still lists the old URL, so do we then choose to delete that old URL? What steps would you recommend happen?
David: I missed the beginning of this question. What are the circumstances that we’re starting with?
Steffi: If you wanted to optimize the pages on a website to use keywords and then say they had just “About,” and it could be about a pet walker or something, dog walker, instead of just “About.” What are the best steps you would recommend taking to keep that URL ranking and stuff? I know that I have to redirect. I get that, but…
David: So, you’re changing the URL? Are you creating a new “About” dog walking page?
Steffi: No, we’re changing an existing page to use more keywords in the URL, and I don’t want to lose the ranking of that page.
Tricia: The URL is changing?
Steffi: The URL will change. That’s what I want to do.
David: So, the first question is: are you sure you want to change the URL? Because, even if you redirect, Google is going to un-index the old page and then figure out whether it wants to serve you… So, you are going to drop in traffic while Google figures out what to do with the page. Hopefully, the page bounces back higher than before, but because you lose a little authority through the redirect, it might be better to improve the page and keep the same URL because, as I said, having the keyword in the URL is such a small ranking factor that might not overcome what’s lost and regained in the redirect.
Steffi: But then, when you do a new site, you should probably, right? and then set up the redirects.
David: As I said, I’m not a huge fan of keywords in URLs, especially I would never change a URL just to put the keyword in it because you do lose some authority with that redirect, now, theoretically, it will perform better, but I don’t think the weight factor of the keyword in the URL overcompensates for what you lose with the redirect, in my experience. So, I’d almost just optimize the existing page better, keep the URL, which will not only help it… it doesn’t re-index the page, so really, you start to see results faster because it’s not dipping and then recovering. It’s just growing. You’ll get results faster, and normally I don’t optimize “About” pages because…
Steffi: Well, It’s just an example.
David: If we are doing a blue widget page, a red widget page in a green whatchamacallit page, I’d definitely not change the URLs if we had a blue, red, and green page to a blue widget, red widget, green widget, and whatchamacallit, but I would update that content and optimize the content and just make sure those pages are more relevant for that topic without changing the URL. I think you’d see results faster.
Steffi: What if, for example, their service changed or something? But I guess you would just create a new page and get rid of the other one and…
David: Well, yeah, you could do that, and I am such a fan of this idea that I have even kept not exactly correct URLs and optimize this page for something… I have a client that offers courses, as in a school, and the name of the certification changed. I suggested they keep the old certification name in the URL and just optimize the page for the new certification because there was some overlap, and I just thought that the value of not having to go through the redirect would outweigh anything they’d gain from the decrease in the jump. You could convince me, in that case, I might have done the wrong thing, and maybe I should have just done a URL that was simpler and didn’t have the old course name in it, but in that case, I just said, “Let’s keep the same URL. Let’s just keep it and just re-optimize the page for the new course.” There were a lot of similarities: this is “ABCD certification,” and this is “ABCD browser certification,” and the certification body removed the word browser, but we kept the browser in the URL, something like that. Even to that effect, I didn’t even bother to change the URL, and it did well because the page is optimized. Other things on the page have more weight than the URL: changing the title on the page, changing the headline on the page, changing the content on the page… Clearly, that page was relevant to the new course, and Google served it for people with the new course, and frankly, there are fewer people searching on the old course because it was obsolete, and it ended up being a win for them.
Steffi: And how would you rank a page based on that majestic website? Using that to figure out if it had a good page rank or whatever.
David: That’s one factor, but I would first focus on the on-page factors like “is it relevant?” We’ve done our keyword research, we know how people are talking about what we have, we’re talking about how people describe it, so we’re including that; we’re talking about headlines, including headlines, sub-headlines, title tags are such a very important piece of this…You go through all those basics, and then worry about links after you do the basics of the content. There is a page in the game plan on how to optimize. I think I saved it as “How to optimize a landing page,” which is what I call a service page, as opposed to “How to optimize a blog post” so you can look in the directions, and it’ll say, “Here’s how I go about this process of optimizing a page” assuming I’ve done keyword research and know the various phrases someone could be searching for to find that service or product.
Steffi: Great. Thank you.
David: So, it’s 3:00 o’ clock. I got to roll.
Steffi: Thank you.
David: Thank you, as always. Looking forward to seeing you at the study group on Monday. It’ll be fun. I hope you all have a good week.
All: Thank you, bye.
David: Talk to you later.
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