Both John Mueller and Danny Sullivan of Google found a thread on Mastodon helping internet legend Tim Bray solve an SEO problem he had with Google Search. Yes, he had his two Googlers help him out. This is rare, but has happened before.
Tim Bray is well-known on the Internet, Wikipedia says, “Timothy William Bray (born June 21, 1955) is a Canadian software developer, environmentalist, political activist, and author of the original XML specification. worked for Amazon Web Services from December 2014 to May 2020, until he resigned due to concerns over the firing of a whistleblower. Previously worked at Google, Sun Microsystems, and Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC). -founded several start-up companies such as Antarctica Systems.”
When someone famous on the Internet complains about Google, Google notices it. Well, at least Danny Sullivan will notice.
We previously reported that Google is losing its memory – see https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2018/01/15/Google-is-losing-its-memory
It’s getting worse. Earlier this year, I was looking for a blog post that mentioned a bike accident and remembered wearing a Bontrager helmet (recommended).
bontrager site: tbray.org
And Google can’t find it. DuckDuckGo and Bing can use exactly the same strings.
Search was once important to Google.
Danny and John then stepped in to fix the site’s SEO issues and said they would send feedback to the appropriate Google Search team.
Danny came first and noticed it, writing: In this case, it might trip us up.”
John then did a little digging and found some problems, he said:
Hi, I’m Tim. I work with Google searchers. Let’s take a quick look here and pass a note inside.
In short, what happened here is that while your site is redirecting to your E-Bike article indexing https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/goto-potd/ from your site So we put that content in the “pot” URL. Then the content of ‘potd’ changed (I think this is by design) and I indexed it and lost the e-bike content.
There are several ways to fix this.
– Google was able to figure it out and deal with it themselves. I passed this along so the system can improve, but it’s a weird edge case.
– Block the “potd” URL with robots.txt to prevent it from being picked up by search engines.
– Use link-rel-canonical annotations on individual pages to make it more likely that Google will pick those URLs.
If you want examples of the last two, I’m happy to dig them up.
He then had a little back and forth with Tim about some SEO questions. Here are some of those responses:
I usually fetch the robots.txt file about once a day (depending on the site, but since it’s a static file, I cache it to reduce server load). My guess is that by “tomorrow” (depending on your timezone :-)), it will stop crawling.
Once that URL and article are indexed, it may take some time (I’m guessing a week or so, but I can’t say for sure) before the system realizes the situation needs to be re-evaluated.
If our system determines that you’ve already seen the content at a different URL, be careful (the web has a lot of duplication).
However, in general, we rarely index all of our websites. This means that even pages that are closely linked from the home page may not be indexed. .
Danny also answered a general question about how Google Search works in that thread.
No, we don’t deprioritize older content (nor is this post from April 2022 “old”). We try to show as much useful content as possible. In this particular case, indexing may have failed for technical reasons.
indexing the page. old and new. It also ranks pages. old and new. Ranking new pages can be useful, such as when you’re having trending issues. I think it generally makes sense. This details how #Google #search uses ranking freshness.
I believe that people who are well-known on the internet, more followed online, and more respected, complaining about Google searches get more Google’s attention than the average person. But at the same time, it makes sense. Because other people are following them too, and Google wants to jump on those concerns before someone like me writes it, at least from a PR standpoint. I think you’re just following Tim, so you probably saw it that way anyway.
But yes, it’s okay to be internet famous when it comes to getting help from Google with your SEO questions. By the way, it doesn’t mean that Google will magically push the button to boost Tim’s site’s rank…
Forum discussion on Mastodon.
Update: Tim confirmed that the implemented changes fixed the issue. He states in his Mastodon: