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John Mueller Answers SEO Questions

John Mueller Answers 5 SEO Questions

SEO requires both technical and creative expertise to increase the visibility of your website and ultimately achieve high positioning in search result rankings. Google, and to a lesser extent other search engines, has become increasingly sophisticated in discerning crude techniques such as keyword stuffing and spurious web links.

Google has a YouTube Channel called Google Search Central. Google’s John Mueller does a weekly video answering a variety of SEO questions in rapid fire style.

This video is the latest in the Ask Googlebot series, in which members of Google’s search advocacy team answer site owners’ questions.

Here are Mueller’s responses to five of those questions. These questions range from canonicals to audience targeting to CDNs.

Question #1: Are Self Cannicals Really Needed?

Q: Is it possible for a self-referential canonical to supersede an existing canonical or preferred page? Is it really necessary to have self-canonicals?

More: Just in case you didn’t know, it’s actually possible to specify which URL you want to have recognized as the canonical URL. This is called a self-referencing canonical. Google’s Search Central indicates that you would choose a canonical URL to specify which URL that you want people to see in search results, to consolidate link signals for similar or duplicate pages, to simply tracking metrics, and to manage syndicated content.

A: According to Mueller, site owners should avoid using multiple rel canonicals on the same page that point to different URLs.

Note: Although Google is an Advanced AI, it still gets easily confused, when presented with multiple options. It’s always best to keep things simple with Google. Don’t over complicate things.

Question #2: URLS with Month & Date

Q: Can we use month and date within URLS? Does this have an impact on Google rankings?

More: the original WordPress platform, from way back in 2005, had blog posts showing up with month and date in the URLs. Most of us SEO’s were taught way back then to use blog posts without dates in them.

A: Including the date in a URL is acceptable, according to Mueller.
Dates in URL has no effect on the page’s crawling, indexing, or ranking.

Note: we still think that excluding dates from a URL is better for the overall user experience (UX).

Question #3: Month & Date into URLs

Q: Is using CDNs to deliver images a problem?

More: A content delivery network (CDN) is simplye a group of geographically distributed group of servers that work together to provide fast delivery of Internet content.

A: Using CDNs for images isn’t a problem. According to Mueller, images do not need to be on your server.

Note: most sites on the internet use CDN’s to improve site load times and the overall user experience (UX).

Question #4: Targeting Broad Audiences

Q: What is the best way to appear in SERPs if a site uses a single domain to target a global audience?

More: some single domains have a worldwide audience. YouTube is an example of this.

A: According to Mueller, having a single domain for a global audience is fine.

More: Many sites have only one version that is available globally. These sites rank well in multiple countries.

Question #5: SiteMap Verification Files

Q: Is it a bad idea to omit the Google Webmasters verification file from the sitemap.xml?

More: when creating a sitemap, web designers or digital marketers create a verification file to verify “ownership” with Google.

A: The verification file does not need to be included in your sitemap file. According to Mueller, the verification file is only for Search Console.

More: It doesn’t really matter if you leave the Google Webmaster verification code on your site or not.

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Boom/Bust Cycle

This timeless cycle can best be explained by Mother Nature. In the summer, buffalo thrive (boom) when food is plentiful. During the winter months, they starve (bust) when food is sparse. On the other hand, wolves starve (bust) during the summer months and thrive (boom) during the winter months because their prey becomes weaker as they start to slow down.

The difference in seasons between buffalo and wolves are the complete opposite of each other. Wolves do well (boom) during the winter months while buffalos bust. These exact same principles and cycles apply to HVAC careers and companies.

Central Gas Heater Installer

HVAC Boom/Bust Cycle

The good news is that HVAC businesses aren’t limited to the cycles of nature. There’s a lot more to work with besides impulses and instincts.

The culture surrounding boom companies is one that is able to acclimate to unforeseen circumstances. In order to seize the moment, they can launch into new opportunities and make quick changes whenever change happens.

During mild weather, pandemics, or negative economic situations, boom companies are up to the task. The habits, patterns, and of course, the people, are pumped and ready to adapt to any challenges they might face.

Other businesses that are experiencing a bust period feel that their options are primarily driven by weather conditions. This leadership style tends to be an essential characteristic of businesses that are transfixed by current conditions around the world. Bust companies are comparable to the buffalos that starve each winter. They have yet to embrace their changeability and adaptability with the present conditions around them.


Boom and bust situations are the opposite of one another. Any HVAC company will experience boom and bust moments – ups and downs are a part of all aspects of life. A company’s culture during the long term determines how fast opposition can be turned into opportunities.

It’s interesting how employees, managers, and owners are able to adapt their work ethic and attitudes to match the prevailing mindset of their HVAC company, and also provide opportunities to assess it in order to make the desired changes needed.

Facing Challengers

We’re all facing a lot of challenges – business cycles are constantly changing and it’s not easy to keep up. Once you recognize all of your company’s bust tendencies, they’ll be easier to fix.

Leadership tends to make rash decisions including cutting costs instead of finding ways to produce a new stream of income and creating new work opportunities in a bust company. This can prove to be detrimental in the long run.

The following bust indicators need to be sought out and eliminated:

• Looking back on how things once were, instead of how they currently are and what they may become in the future
• Focusing on today’s disasters instead of opportunities
• Leadership appears as if you’re defeated, which unknowingly could be leading your business toward failure
• A general unwillingness to adapt or learn about a customer’s needs or current thinking
• Rash actions, including cutting costs, instead of focusing on efforts to create new work opportunities in order to generate a new stream of income

Characteristics of a Boom Company

Boom companies face the same challenges that bust companies do. The difference is in their approach and their attitude.

When I recently spoke with some boom contractors I heard the phrase, “things are looking up” from all of them, which indicates that changes they’ve executed to meet evolving circumstances have paid off and were received positively by customers.

Some boom indicators to magnify and identify include the following:

• Remaining completely engaged in positive leadership and providing everyone with encouragement
• Maintaining an optimistic attitude – pessimism is around all of us and it takes a lot of work to create positivity and maintain optimism
• Addressing difficult issues instead of merely ignoring them
• Engaging in prosperous new activities – an overall increase in activity allows everyone to engage in more positive activities and has an entrainment effect

Constant Booming

It’s easy to wobble back and forth between bust and boom. People who are consistent always earn the top prize in the end.

Whether your company is booming or busting, you need to generate activity that will provide your customers with what they need today. The obvious principles that allowed your company to boom one month ago remain as true as ever today. Your actions and approach must greet and align with today’s opportunities in order for your company to continue booming.

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