Google’s Mueller spent New Year’s helping SEOs tackle hacke…


John Mueller, a Google webmaster trends analyst, spent a portion of his New Years break responding to concerns and questions around Google search related issues. Here’s what kept him occupied.

Slow server leads to crawling and indexing issues. In one help thread, John Mueller helped a webmaster who received Google Search Console errors. John was able to direct the webmaster to focus on the site’s overall speed and performance issues. He told this webmaster that Google is having a “really hard time crawling” the specific website. This is leading to two issues:

(1) Google can’t crawl as much as they need to properly understand your website, he said.
(2) Google can’t access some of the resources, leading Google to think the site is not mobile-friendly.

“One of the problems I see here is that we have a really hard time crawling your site — the server is slow in responding, which means we can’t crawl as much as we’d need to properly understand your website. In particular, sometimes we can’t request the various resources used on your pages, which means we can’t reliably confirm that your pages are mobile-friendly,” Mueller said. “In general, the ways to improve this include moving to a faster server, reducing the number of resources needed to load your pages, or finding ways to improve the general speed of your pages (eg, using caching, tuning your setup, etc.).”

404ing hacked content. John Mueller also gave advice around hacked content. One webmaster saw his WordPress site hacked, leading to thousands of new hacked pages being created on the site. He wanted advice on how to remove the pages from Google and fix the issue.

John said if those hacked pages now return a status code, 404 – page not found, then Google will eventually drop those pages out of their index. He said 404 errors are normal and do not hurt your overall website, if the pages you are 404ing are indeed pages you do not want on your website. Having a lot of 404 pages is fine, he said.

“If the URLs with hacked content now return 404, they’ll be dropped automatically over time, as Google recrawls & reprocesses them from your site,” he said. “You generally don’t need to use the URL removal tools for hacked content like this. Regarding the number of 404s, it’s fine to have URLs return 404 when they no longer serve valid content — that’s normal, and not something that Google would count against a website.”

New Year’s help. It is wonderful to see Googlers taking their days off and vacation time helping the SEO and webmaster community. It is not something new, John Mueller and his colleagues have been doing this for well over a decade. The commitment is commendable, to say the least.

Why it matters. As most business owners know, especially those that have websites that are “open” 365 days a year, the internet doesn’t take a vacation. When a website isn’t performing as it normally does, even if the owner is on a holiday break, it can cause major concern and anxiety for the business owner. Having someone at Google respond to some of those concerns is a really nice thing to see.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

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