'Near the beginning of the semester he invited all dozen or so of us accelerated students to his house for refreshments and a little "welcome to chemistry" speech, followed by a lengthy hi-fi rendition of recorded whale sounds. Judging from the perplexity on my classmates' faces, this was a brilliant pedagogical intervention, sending the message, "You are completely out of your depth." You don't know shit and you probably never will.' -Barbara Ehrenreich, Living with a Wild God

Tips From John Mueller 9/8/17

by Ethan Glover, Sat, Sep 09, 2017

Here are some tips mentioned by John Mueller during the September 8, 2017 Google Webmasters Office Hours.

(3:25) If you're seeing a lot of fluctuations in keyword positions on Google, this may mean you're on the edge for ranking well. Googlebot may be having difficulty deciding between your page and a competitor. Making improvements to the site can help you stabilize and remain on top. The more improvements you're able to make over your competitors, the more solid your position in SERP's will be.

(5:10) If you're having difficulty figuring out what improvements you can make, Mueller says it's good to get another opinion. Instead of asking your team and SEO experts who are already doing everything they can, it helps to do user studies. Get feedback from your users and pay attention to how they use the site. That information can help you make the improvements to upgrade site quality enough to solidify a good SERP's position.

A good way to track your rankings in SERPs over time is by using the tool SERPStat. SERPStat allows you to track the top 100 results for a keyword for all domains that rank for it. This makes it easy to keep track of your position and the positions of your competitors in a way to that gives you the information to stay on top.

(24:55) Many SEO experts say that it's good to have your keywords in your URL. That using clean slug URL's will help your positions in Google. While this may help users in deciding which search result to pick, it doesn't make much difference from a technical standpoint. Mueller mentioned that Google does look at keywords in the URL but it's such a small factor that it won't have a visible effect. I still recommend creating "SEO friendly" URLs. Not for Googlebot, but for searchers. Clean, pretty URLs improves people's perception of your website.

(Multiple) Many times through the hangout Mueller reiterated that canonicalizing top-level URLs is a personal choice. If you have a paginated series of articles and want to canonicalize the first page, that's fine. Google won't index the other pages. In some cases, this can be a good idea if you want to make sure users always start on page one. But if that's not the case, if you want all pages indexed and searchable, you should be canonicalizing them to themselves.

If you're looking for an active SEO community full of people keeping each other up to date on the latest tips and tricks, check out Wealthy Affiliate. With professional and user blogs, training and classes, there's never a shortage of content to learn and grow from.

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