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Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller answers whether your domain extension affects SEO, and other questions related to the search impact of domain choices.
These questions are answered in the latest intallment of the Ask Googlebot video series on YouTube.
Mueller addresses questions related to how dot-com compares to other domain extensions, gTLDs vs ccTLDs, www vs non-www, and more.
Here are all the questions answered in the video, along with Mueller’s full responses.Are .Com Domains Better?
The first question is one of the most common, especially among people registering a domain for the first time.
The person who submitted the question also asks if it’s acceptable to use a newer extension, like a .space domain.
Mueller says:WWW Or Non-WWW Domains?
Is it better to use a www or non-www version of a domain name?
“You can use whichever you prefer. Google’s systems have no preference either way. Sometimes there are technical reasons to go one way or the other, but often it’s just a matter of your personal preference.”Rel=Canonical On Different Domain Types
Is it possible to use the rel=canonical link element across different TLDs? Such as gTLDs (generic top-level domains) and ccTLDs (country code top-level domains).
“Yes, you can do this. The rel=canonical link element is not limited to the same domain name.”Country-Specific Domain Extensions For Global Website
Can ccTLDs work for a global website?
“The answer is yes. While a country code domain name helps our systems to geotarget for that country, it still allows for global visibility.
The only limitation is that you can’t specify other countries for geotargeting. For example, if you have a .fr website for France, you could use that globally. But you wouldn’t be able to explicitly geotarget users in Brazil.”
See the full video from Google below:
Featured Image: Screenshot from chúng tôi January 2023.
You're reading Does Domain Extension Affect Seo? Google’s John Mueller Explains
Google’s John Mueller responded to a Reddit discussion about whether MUM will make SEO obsolete.
Given that the purpose of MUM is to provide answers from multiple languages, answers not currently answered by 10 blue links, it’s not an unreasonable question to ask.Google MUM
MUM is an acronym for Multitask Unified Model. It’s a way of answering complex questions that cannot be answered with just a few sentences in a featured snippet or with current technology.
Google refers to MUM as a significant event in the evolution of search technologies, calling it a milestone that is 1,000 times more powerful than the BERT algorithm.Is MUM SE-Un-optimizable?
One astounding way MUM solves answers is to use the total sum of knowledge about a topic, even if that knowledge is in a different language.
Google said that it can source answers from across different languages. And that makes sense because answers in other languages may be more authoritative that the limited content produced in your local language.
In the recipe niche, an article about how to make a paella that was written in Spanish by a Spanish chef might be considered more authoritative than an article written by a stay at home mom in California who has little to no lived experience with Spanish cooking.
Who would you trust for an authentic Spanish recipe? The stay at Home Mom in California or the fourth generation Spanish chef?
Google uses the example of using native Japanese content for search queries related to hiking Mount Fuji, which can also drill down to subtopics that only a native might know about.Keyword Based SEO?
Another feature is that MUM can find answers to questions that are a mix of images and text and provide answers to that mix.
How would an SEO optimize an answer to a question that is partially in the form of an image?
An image is not a word. It’s a representation of a thing, an entity.
Here’s what Google says:
“Eventually, you might be able to take a photo of your hiking boots and ask, “can I use these to hike Mt. Fuji?”
MUM would understand the image and connect it with your question to let you know your boots would work just fine. It could then point you to a blog with a list of recommended gear.”
In the MUM search paradigm, optimizing for keywords seems to break down because MUM is answering a complex question comprised of multiple subtopics.
Here’s how Google’s announcement explains it:
“Since MUM can surface insights based on its deep knowledge of the world, it could highlight that while both mountains are roughly the same elevation, fall is the rainy season on Mt. Fuji so you might need a waterproof jacket.
MUM could also surface helpful subtopics for deeper exploration — like the top-rated gear or best training exercises — with pointers to helpful articles, videos and images from across the web.”
It does not seem unreasonable to conclude that the above described MUM search result is drawn from multiple websites from different languages.
And if that’s the case, how would you even visualize which website is top ranked for a MUM search query when the query draws from multiple “helpful subtopics?”
If your primary language is English and part of your answer is from a Japanese website, is the Japanese site considered top ranked?
Will the blog post with the article about “top-rated gear” be the winner?
Or is the winner of that search query the publisher of the “best training exercises” article?
Can all five sites, one of which is in a foreign language, be considered top ranked?
Will MUM redefine what it means to be top ranked for certain search queries?
Sourcing answers from multiple websites seems like selecting five winners and breaking off five pieces of the trophy for them to take home with them.
If we accept the scenario of five sites have the opportunity to be top ranked, how would you, as an SEO, attempt to optimize for that?Not an Unreasonable Question
We don’t know what MUM will look like once it rolls out in months or years as Google’s announcement said. We’re limited to drawing conclusions from the limited information that Google has shared.
And what they announced does not seem to fit the contours of search results as we know it.
Does that mean SEO has to adapt?John Mueller Comments on Impact of MUM on SEO
Google’s John Mueller responded to the Reddit thread by affirming that SEO will always be needed.
Mueller’s answer referenced a joke about keyword stuffing:
“How many SEO experts does it take to change a light bulb, lightbulb, light, bulb, lamp, lighting, switch, sex, xxx, hardcore”
This is Mueller’s response:
“I don’t really see how this would reduce the need for SEO.
Things always evolve.
Remember the SEO joke about changing the lightbulb? None of that’s been necessary for a while now, which is due to developments like these, and yet, people still have enough to do as SEO.”The Work of SEO Evolves
Mueller’s right. The nature of the work associated with SEO is under constant evolution. Some in the SEO community have a hard time changing and continue clinging to the idea of ranking for search results comprised of ten blue links.
But the truth is that the age of ten blue links has been replaced by a hybrid that is responsive to the context of the question being asked.
Google’s MUM algorithm could be said to be a way to respond to a search question with a complex context.
If the answer is best served with content originally written in Japanese or Spanish, then that may be a part of the answer.
At this point in time, given that there is no actual product, it may be premature to begin shouting that the sky is falling.
The prudent thing may be to reserve judgment until Google actually rolls out a product.Citation
MUM Will Replace SEO?
Google’s John Mueller addressed an issue some site owners might run into where expired product pages are reported as soft 404s.
This topic came up during a recent Google Webmaster Central hangout where the following question was asked:
“Google is reporting our expired product pages as soft 404. These URLs redirect to a relevant, alternate product with a message saying the product they wanted is unavailable.”
When content is no longer available, it’s standard practice to redirect it to an equivalent page.
That’s exactly what this site owner is doing, so why is Google reporting the expired pages as soft 404s?
Mueller explains that it likely has to do with the messaging on the page that users are redirected to.
Googlebot may crawl the page, see a message that says “no longer available,” and assumes that applies to the page itself.
Mueller says that’s an issue which is not entirely avoidable.
If a new product is replacing the old one, Mueller says the site owner should consider redirecting the page without the “no longer available” message.
However, if the product is gone completely, then it may make sense to treat it as a soft 404.
Hear the full question and answer below, starting at the 11:23 mark.
“I suspect what is happening here is that our algorithms are looking at these pages and they’re seeing maybe there’s a banner on the page saying “this product is no longer available.”
And [our algorithms] assume that applies to the page the user ended up on. So that’s sometimes not really avoidable.
If you’re really replacing one product with another it might make sense to just redirect.
If one product is gone completely and is no longer available then you could put it in this soft 404 state where you say this product is no longer available.”More Resources
Site owners should not be so concerned about ranking well in Google that they lose sight of making content that’s useful to people.
The thread asks:
“If I didn’t know what technical SEO was, but had consistent high quality CONTENT, could I rank #1?”
In response, Mueller shares a statement that’s seldom heard in the SEO world: “Ranking isn’t always the goal.”
What’s most important is to create content that people are searching for.
In theory, a page could rank well based on content alone, especially if the topic isn’t often searched for.
But how useful would it be to rank #1 for a query if no one is searching for it?
The goal is traffic, and great content by itself will not always generate traffic.
Here is Mueller’s statement in full:
“Ranking isn’t always the goal, your site can rank well but if nobody searches for it, that’s not really useful. From that, great content alone, even if it’s world class, does not mean you’ll get great traffic. And, understanding computers doesn’t change that part either.”Technical SEO Issues to Consider
If technical SEO was not taken into consideration at all, could a page still rank #1 with good content?
There are limits to what can go wrong when a page is built with no regard for technical SEO.
The main issue to consider, which can make the difference between being indexed and not indexed, is the presence of a noindex tag.
If a page can’t be indexed then it can’t be ranked, so that’s the one technical issue that can hold back good content from ranking.
Mueller also notes that even a page blocked by chúng tôi can still rank first. Here’s his full statement:
“Technically, there are limits in regards to what you can do wrong; if the page is unindexable, there’s nothing that can compensate.
A page blocked by chúng tôi can still rank first, a page with a noindex (misunderstood CMS setting, perhaps) or one that’s not immediately reachable with a URL can’t rank at all. Paradoxically (?) blocking a noindex page with chúng tôi can make it indexable.
And of course a noindex page can get indirect traffic from search too (a linking page might rank and drive traffic).”
Related: Advanced Technical SEO: A Complete GuideMueller’s Recommendations
To reduce any risks caused by not being familiar with technical SEO, Mueller recommends at least having some understanding of the basics.
Using a moderns CMS will automatically take care of the basics. Mueller says he’s most concerned about those with just enough technical expertise to build their own site.
“Usually my recommendation is to reduce risks and get the basics somewhat into a good shape. Using a modern CMS, something beginners or non technical folks would use, will do that for you automatically. The ones I worry about more are those that understand computers enough to make their own site :-).”
Related: Google’s John Mueller on BERT and Rankings
Google’s John Mueller was asked about the value of inbound links for establishing a website’s Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T). E-A-T has been encouraged by Googlers as something web publishers should cultivate. Could links be a way to demonstrate to Google that a site is expert, authoritative and trustworthy?Trustworthiness Ranking Signals
There is an SEO trend that providing information about content authors, particularly in Your Money or Your Life topics like health and finance, is important.
This trend originated from reading Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines. SEOs and publishers read the guidelines in order to discover ways to rank better. The reason SEOs and publishers seek that information in Google’s Quality Raters Guidelines is because it was recommended by Google itself.
That tweet recommends Google’s quality raters guidelines for tips on how to make great content. He never recommended the document as way to discover Google ranking signals.Are Authorship Signals Important for Ranking?
There are two problems with E-A-T authorship signals.
It is easy to invent that an author is an expert (such as a doctor).
There are no patents or research papers that specifically outline an algorithm that searches for on-page authentication of the authority and expertise of an article author.
The first point exposes how open to manipulation on-page author credibility signals are.
The second point shows there is close to zero likelihood that such a ranking factor exists because no university or search engine has undertake to study such an unreliable on-page ranking factor as on-page ranking credentials.
Here is the question:
“With E-A-T, how much value do external links carry? Surely providing that you’re an expert on page is not sufficient.
What else matters? Mentions or external links from relevant sites?”
It’s a reasonable question. If on-page factors are unreliable, that must point to off-page factors such as links or mentions as factors that could vouch for a web page’s expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.
Links have traditionally filled that role in Google’s algorithm.
Google’s John Mueller answered:
“We don’t have any explicit information with regards to what you need to do there.”
There’s no need to read between the lines. It means that John declines to answer the question. He didn’t say yes and he didn’t say no. He refused to answer the question.On-page Author Signals Aren’t Ranking Factors?
John continued his answer, providing useful information that that confirm that SEO practices such as on-page author signals are not direct ranking factors.
This is what John Mueller said:
“A lot of this comes from the Google Raters Guidelines which are not direct search results or search ranking factors.
But rather this is what we give folks when they evaluate the quality of our search results.”
That’s an explanation of how the concept of E-A-T is specific to rating search results but is not related to the search results themselves or search ranking factors.
That’s an important distinction to be aware of in regard to the concept of E-A-T.E-A-T and Links
Mueller then concluded his answer with a statement from the point of view of the quality raters guideline.
This is is what he said:
“So from that point of view it’s not that you would need to… gain this through links or anything like that.
But rather this is something that normal people look at when they review the quality of the search results and which perhaps normal users would kind of think about as well as: Can I trust this website?”
He’s talking about links in the context of reviewing the quality of the search results. And of course, links have nothing to do with that.
“So from that point of view it’s not a matter of like you need to put these five words on your website and then get a link from this other site. That’s definitely not the case.
But more a matter of really like how you present your website overall and how users would perceive that.”Google Guidance About E-A-T
The only guidance Mueller offers about E-A-T is that it’s something used by quality raters guidelines and that it’s not a ranking factor.
As for how to obtain expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness, this is all Mueller had to offer:
“We don’t have any explicit information with regards to what you need to do there.”
I’m fine with his answer. I believe it’s important that he underlined that the concept of E-A-T is directly tied to the quality raters.
Expertise, authority and trustworthiness are important qualities for a web page to have. They are the qualities of a web pages that Google aspires to rank.
But those aren’t actual metrics or ranking factors. There is no evidence or hint of evidence of such a metric. They are simply qualities of a high quality web page. So it’s good to use that as inspiration for creating web pages.
It should not come as a surprise that computers do a lot of things in the background. If they’re not of relevance to the average user, they are unlikely to be seen. Even so, there are inquisitive users, and it can be interesting to learn just what’s happening in the background.
In this article we’ll tackle just what happens when you install a program. We’ve already looked at the two main distribution methods for software on Windows as well as portable software if you want further reading material. For this article, we’re looking at how Windows handles software installation.Opening the Installer
When you open the program’s installer, it will not change anything without your input. From Vista onwards, Windows requires administrative approval in order to run an .exe or .msi file.
Outside of this, Windows Installer will also become involved. This utility is more of a background process, ensuring that the installation process goes as intended, directing the files to their respective positions.
Only when you begin to install software does it have any effect on the computer.Running the Installer
Installation can be looked at as two distinct phases. The first involves moving files into the Program Files folder: these files are required for the software to run and may include plug-ins for different functions. Typically, you’ll have to choose the installation location.
A key example would be iTunes which installs QuickTime and other Apple products alongside it. Depending on the installer, key files may be decompressed or downloaded from the Internet.
By the time this first phase is completed, the core files and folder structure should be in the installation directory. These are all integral to the software running properly understand all conditions. You could remove some elements and find a program still works until you try certain functions.
RegShot is a program designed to take a snapshot of the changes made to the registry during software installation. Using it, or an equivalent tool, makes it possible to observe just what a program does in order to ensure it runs reliably.
If a program starts alongside the operating system, like Skype does, then it is often written into the registry to do so. This can usually be disabled through the software settings which proves to be a major boon for users not keen on editing their registry.
While it varies between installers, you could argue that the third and final phase is to offer the user some control. Users can view the “readme” file associated with a program, or they can have a shortcut added to their desktop.
This third phase is debatable given that it does not change anything on the computer; any user can add a shortcut to their desktop or view a readme file (many programs package it into the Program Files folder for easy access).Conclusion
Software installation is not as daunting as it may seem. While it mostly happens in the background, the steps taken are logical. Alterations to the registry are by far the more interesting element of installation, given how they can affect the computer.
If you are curious about the process of editing the Windows Registry, it is covered tangentially in another article about disabling the timer in Microsoft Office. Once again, it is not nearly as complex as it might sound, though is not always recommended.
Paul is a Northern Irish tech enthusiast who can normally be found tinkering with Windows software or playing games.
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