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Growth Gear

Google's SEO Office Hours

Alexandra Ardelean

In this video, we'll answer questions about SEO and Google Search. The questions were submitted via a form link over the past month.

I'm Martin Splitt from the Search Relations team at Google, and I'm joined by my colleague Gary, who is also from the Search Quality Team.

Let's get started with the first question.


Q: Meta tags for iframe content association

How can I use meta tags to associate content in an iframe with the parent page?

A: You can use noindex plus index ifembedded robots meta tags on the subpage, or you can use appropriate iframe options in the HTTP header to prevent embedding.


Q: Category structure for website

For a website with a lot of categories, is it better to have a hierarchical structure or a flat structure?

A: For large sites, a hierarchical structure is usually better. It allows different treatment of sections by search engines.


How can I tell Googlebot not to search for links in selected script tags for JSON or JavaScript?

A: You can disallow crawling on these URLs in your robots.txt file.


Q: Problems with indexing new pages on a site moved to HTTPS with core MVC

I have moved my site to HTTPS with core MVC. The site has been indexed without www subdomain. But when I check indexing with www subdomain, it shows that there are no results. What should I do?

A: You need to check indexing with and without www. If you want to change how your site is indexed, you can use the URL prefix setting in Search Console.


Q: Recommendation for non-English page URLs

I have a question about non-English page URLs. Is it better to use English language in slug or use Chinese characters?

A: Using the language of the content in the URLs can be helpful for search and users.


Q: What does Googlebot do when it finds a meta name pre-render status code content 404 tag?

What does Googlebot do when it finds a meta name pre-render status code content 404 tag?

A: Googlebot ignores the status code. If you want to prevent indexing, consider using a meta tag for robots.noindex or redirecting to a page with a 404 status code.


Q: Launching a new website design involving UI and UX improvements and new pages, is it better to change designs one at a time?

I am launching a new website design involving UI and UX improvements and new pages. Is it better to change designs one at a time?

A: Map out all changes and their SEO implications. Follow our guidance on handling site migrations in our documentation if you are changing URLs or content/UI.


Q: SEO impact of using double slashes in a URL (e.g., HTTPS www.example.us//US/shop)

What is the SEO impact of using double slashes in a URL? For example, if my URL looks like this: https://www.example.us//US/shop

A: From a puritan perspective, it's not an issue. From a usability perspective, it's not ideal. It may confuse some crawlers.


Q: How to fix the problem of video outside the viewport in Google Search Console?

I have problems with video outside the viewport in Google Search Console. How can I fix this?

A: Move the video to the top of the page so it's visible when landing on the page.


Q: How to transfer image rank to a new URL after changing image hosting server?

How can I transfer image rank to a new URL after changing my image hosting server?

A: Update your image elements to point to your new URLs, and redirect your old image URLs to your new ones. Keep in mind that images are recrawled less frequently than HTML pages, so it will take some time for these changes to be processed across our search systems.


Q: Site had many 404 pages which were requested to be removed after publishing articles; is this an issue?

My site had many 404 pages which were requested to be removed after publishing articles; is this an issue?

A: Having some 404s is fine. Only fix important pages that are suddenly returning a 404 status code.


Q: Site returns HTTP 200 for soft 404 pages; is this considered cloaking?

My site returns HTTP 200 for soft 404 pages; is this considered cloaking?

A: This is usually considered a soft 404 but not cloaking. You can set up your server route so that these pages respond with a true 404 status code or use JavaScript to add a meta robots tag with noindex value.


Additional Questions:

Q: How can I recrawl my website so that my students find the new information?

You don't need to do anything special for users - just update your page content and mention changes prominently on your website. If you're moving content from one page to another, use redirects so that users who visit old URLs are taken directly to the new location. Users will see your new content even if search engines take some time before they update their index.