Episode 195 contains the Digital Marketing News and Updates from the week of Jan 15-19, 2024.
1. Google’s Guide to Seamless Website Transition Without SEO Hiccups – Google’s John Mueller has provided advice for businesses transitioning to a new website without affecting their SEO. This guidance is crucial for small business owners who are considering or in the process of moving to a new website.
Mueller emphasized the importance of either removing or updating the old website. Keeping both the old and new sites live with conflicting information can confuse users and harm SEO. Inconsistent details, such as different business hours or addresses on both sites, can frustrate customers and make it challenging for search engines to index and rank pages correctly.
To ensure a smooth transition, Mueller suggests implementing redirects from the old site to the new one. This approach aids users in finding the correct website and helps search engines transfer any existing signals to the new domain, potentially boosting its standing. Mueller recommends getting help from a web developer or hosting provider to implement the redirects properly and suggests keeping them in place for at least one year.
Redirects are crucial when transitioning from one website domain to a new one. They ensure users who visit the old website domain are automatically forwarded to the new domain and pass on the value of links pointing to the old domain to the new domain. This link equity transfer is vital for the new website to retain its search engine ranking.
If redirects to a new domain aren’t possible, Mueller suggests updating the old site with a notice alerting visitors that the content has moved to a new domain. If that can’t be done, take down the old site completely. He assures that the new site won’t be penalized by search engines for outdated content on the old domain. However, both the old and new websites may still appear in searches for a while, which may need clarification for users.
After making the transition, it’s important to monitor the process closely. Use analytics software to check that redirects function correctly and traffic is sent to the right places. Keep an eye on your search engine rankings to catch any unexpected dips that might indicate a problem with the transition. Informing users about the change through emails, social media, and website announcements is also crucial.
In summary, moving to a new website is a significant change for any business. Handling the shift carefully is vital to maintaining search engine rankings and providing users with a continuous experience. Mueller’s guidance should assist in making the transition from an old site to a new one go smoothly.
2. Google’s Clarification on ‘Index, Follow’ Meta Tag: What It Means for Your Website – Google’s John Mueller recently provided clarity on the use of the ‘index, follow’ meta tag, a topic of interest for many website owners and SEO professionals. The HTML meta element communicates metadata. Metadata is machine readable information that a crawler like Googlebot can read. Muller’s clarity sheds light on a common misunderstanding in the SEO community.
The ‘index, follow’ meta tag has been widely used with the belief that it instructs search engine crawlers to index the content of a webpage and follow its links. However, Mueller clarified that this tag is essentially redundant for Google, as indexing and following links are default behaviors of search engine robots. The tag looks like this: .
Mueller explained that the ‘index’ directive in the robots meta tag has no function for Google and is completely ignored. Similarly, the ‘follow’ directive is unnecessary because Googlebot automatically follows links unless instructed otherwise. Google’s documentation confirms that the default values for robots tags are ‘index, follow’, and these don’t need to be specified.
Furthermore, he wrote, “Google has https://developers.google.com/search/docs/crawling-indexing/special-tags & https://developers.google.com/search/docs/crawling-indexing/robots-meta-tag to document the meta tags that have functions. You can use anything else, it’ll be ignored. is an option, if you want to throw people off.”
If the robots meta you want to use isn’t’ listed in Google’s documentation then Googlebot is going to ignore it. So don’t try to be cute or innovative unless you want to throw people off. The tag is still valid and tells the search engine crawlers to not index the content on the webpage and to not follow any links.
For small business owners managing their websites, this clarification means that including the ‘index, follow’ meta tag does not impact how Google crawls or indexes their pages. The focus should instead be on ensuring that the website is accessible, with high-quality content that serves the audience’s needs.
While Bing treats the ‘index, follow’ tag similarly, it does allow explicit statements of ‘index’ or ‘follow’ if desired, as per Bing’s documentation. However, for Google, the emphasis is on streamlining the website’s HTML and removing unnecessary elements that do not contribute to its performance in search results.
3. Understanding the Impact of Changing from WWW to Non-WWW on SEO – In a recent discussion, Google’s John Mueller clarified a common query among website owners and digital marketers about the impact of changing a domain from ‘www’ to ‘non-www’ on search rankings. This is particularly relevant for business owners who are considering such changes to their websites.
Mueller stated that switching from a ‘www’ to a ‘non-www’ domain should not significantly affect a website’s rankings. He suggested that Google is adept at recognizing such changes, and the rankings are unlikely to suffer substantially as a result. This response came after a query about a large site that changed its domain URL to remove ‘www’ and implemented 301 redirects via user agent Mozilla. The site owner noticed a worsening impact over time, leading to concerns about Google’s recognition of this form of 301 redirect.
Mueller clarified that server-side redirects like 301 do not use user agents, indicating a possible misunderstanding in the implementation. He emphasized that changing from ‘www’ to ‘non-www’ doesn’t really change much in terms of SEO. If a website is experiencing significant changes in rankings, it is likely due to other factors.
It’s important for business owners to understand that while such domain changes are recognized by Google, the key is in the proper implementation of redirects. Google is quick to pick up on changes like ‘http to https’ or ‘www to non-www,’ and these types of changes should not negatively impact a site’s rankings. However, changes in URL structures or significant parts of the site might lead to slower reactions from Google.