Google have been running their Google Webmaster Office Hours Hangouts since January, giving small business owners a chance to put their questions to John Mueller who is a web trends analyst.
It is a great way of getting answers to some tough SEO questions and I would advise anyone that is looking to expand their SEO knowledge to take part. I have rounded up some of the key takeaways from the last hangout below;
Penguin – The latest version of Penguin will be implemented this year, we have currently been waiting since 2013 for a new release of penguin as we haven’t had a refresh for a while and John confirms that it will be this year. This will be good news for people that had been affected by the last penguin and have cleaned up their act who are still waiting for a data refresh.
Meta Descriptions – Meta Descriptions are not used as a ranking factor, for years people put keywords and related phrases into meta descriptions in the hope to influence the rankings. This is not the case and meta descriptions should be written to improve Click through rate.
Penalty Redirects – For many years people have been redirecting websites to avoid penalties and some people seem to have found success from doing this. However as mentioned by John this is the wrong process. When you redirect a URL not all of the authority from the previous website is passed however 100% of the penalty is passed over. You will then find yourself worse off then if you had not redirected at all.
Schema.org – Schema is not a ranking factor in a direct sense, however it does help Google to understand your website structure better and it is advisable to use.
New websites – One of the questions that I put to John was about new websites and why they tend to have a false positive when they are first indexed in Google, ranking well and then dropping back after time. The reason for this is due to the fact that Google estimate some of their ranking factors when they don’t know about them. It then updates these ranking factors over time as it gets more information on the website, thus altering its position in the SERPS.
PageRank – As you may know PageRank has not been updated for a long period of time and Matt Cutts have even mentioned in the past that this may not be updated again. However you do from time to time see website’s Pagerank reduce and according to John this is a Manual Action carried out by the Google Webspam Team.