Do you subscribe to Google Webmasters on YouTube? You should.
About once a week, Google Webmasters post tremendously helpful web chats. They’re available in several languages – English, German and Japanese. I watch the English Google Webmaster Central office-hours hangout. It’s often hosted by John Mueller, a webmaster trends analyst at Google in Switzerland. He provides a calm, paternal presence and that’s chock-full of insights. In essence, he’s like a webmaster Mr. Rogers.
Webmasters from all over the world join the hangout and ask granular question and John does his best to provide support. Here’s an example from a few weeks ago to show you how relaxed the setting can be.
Sometimes, just as an added bonus, there’s a little drama. In the October 19 hangout, a webmaster named Chris from Android Headlines joined. Android Headlines experienced a large drop off in traffic since February.
Chris and his specific problem are well known to John, though no resolution has been found. Chris has begun to feel like his company is being single-out, John assures him otherwise. They cordially debate until John leaves Chris his personal email address and moves on to the next question. It’s like a polite Bold and the Beautiful for Google nerds.
One insight that stood out came from a question about homepage ranking.
A British webmaster for an online mirror story shared that they were ranking #2 for the keyword mirrors.
The problem: they’re ranking on the wrong page.
They need to rank for their homepage. But, Google is ranking for a page they call “all mirrors” – a product page on their website.
They attempted several techniques to get the home page rank, but nothing is working.
“Help me, Google Webmasters. You’re my only hope.”
In the end, John provided an essential tip: always check to see if you’re overstuffing your homepage with keywords.
With the caveat that he’s, of course, speculating without looking at the actual homepage, John suggests that she may have over-optimized her homepage. This is a problem that is prevalent with e-commerce sites, John says.
Sometimes homepages are overstuffed with the same keyword over and over. In these instances, Google may not be sure how to trust it.
“I could imagine that maybe you over optimize the homepage. Not that there’s like an over optimize action penalty or anything like that. But, I could imagine that maybe our algorithms are looking at the homepage and saying there’s just so much keyword stuffing on the term mirrors, or something like that, that we need to be more careful here.”
I love this insight. It drives home the importance of keeping your pages focused around delivering a great experience to ONE SPECIFIC USER INTENTION. If you stuff too many ideas on one page, you lose specificity. The user won’t be happy, which will harm your chances to rank.
I’ll deliver more insights from these hangouts in the future. In the meantime, I recommend subscribing to Google Webmasters on YouTube. They drop great little advice nuggets for webmasters.