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#AskanSEO: Questions on What Affects SEO Visibility

Ask an SEO With Jenny Halasz

Want to ask Jenny an SEO question? Fill out our form. Or, use #AskAnSEO on social media.

We took over a site, and after running the site through Screaming Frog, we noticed the previous [SEO] company was putting their company name way in the back of the title tag of every page. It was never seen on the SERP. As we took a look at more of their clients and it seems they were doing it to every client they had. What’s up with that? Does that really work? – Rick L., New York, New York

Well there’s no nice way to say it… that’s just stupid. Really. Their company name has no relevance whatsoever to their clients’ name. There’s no way Google will ever find their client’s site relevant for the agency’s name. And in the Title tag? So that what, Google would think every page on every client site they’ve ever touched is equally relevant to their brand name? If anything, that stunt hurts their own rankings and the rankings for their clients. More likely Google recognizes how incredibly stupid this is and just ignores it. I find it shameful that an agency with so little knowledge of how search engines work is actually in business.

We are facing issue with indexing in google search engine for [our] NEWS website:

1. When every, new URL of [our website] is fetched in google webmaster, it is taking nearly 24 hours to index in Google Search Engine(GSE). Also there is no crawl delay mentioned in robots.txt or in GWT.
2. Pls help me to check whether website is HIT by any google algorithms.  We are real facing indexing problems in GSE.

Note: Website is Drupal based CMS. Normally URL fetched in GWT for indexing take minimum 1hrs to 15hrs or lesser then or greater than this. – Manisha A., Bengaluru, Karnataka

Before I answer this question, I think it’s important to define Google News. It’s a separate entity from the main Google search index, and you have to apply to be a part of it. I checked the site you provided in your question, and it is not a member of Google News.

Now your primary question is whether you have been hit by any Google algorithm. While I can’t say for certain because I can’t see into the deep recesses of Google, I am fairly confident that you are not dealing with any sort of algorithmic penalty. If the only problem you are seeing is that your pages are not being indexed as quickly as you would like, there’s no penalty or algorithmic negativity in effect, because that’s not how the penalties work. I’ve never heard of indexing being impacted in that way. If, as you say, your new pages are being indexed within 15 hours, this is actually quite quick for a site that is not officially part of Google News.

Some things that can help speed up indexing include:

  • Maintaining constantly updated xml sitemaps that are submitted to Google instantly when pages are added or changed, and being certain to specify an accurate Last Modified date/time in the sitemaps.
  • Ensuring that you are delivering pages very very fast, so that there is no delay when Google is crawling your site. Not having a crawl delay is one thing, but if your site is not responding in under 3 seconds, you have very little chance of getting re-crawled within minutes or even hours.
  • Make certain that your site is responding just as quickly on mobile as it does on desktop. Google will be moving to their mobile-first index any day now.

These are things that will help you get indexed more quickly. However, you should note that a prerequisite for frequent crawling is to have content that is regularly updated, considered of great value, and considered to be highly time sensitive. Without those, a 24 hour crawl cycle is probably about as good as you’re going to get for now.

Hi! Do sticky sidebar banners/related posts/share buttons/other promotions etc. which actually don’t disturb people from reading post (ie. don’t overlap with content and hide some part of it) affect page ranking ? Does Google misunderstand such banners and detect them as something which disrupts the reading experience? Should sites avoid using them as much as possible even on desktops? What is the best layout for blog posts? Thank You! – Vahan P., Yerevan, Armenia

In general, sidebars and other promotions won’t have an impact on your site. The efforts Google is making to penalize sites with intrusive ads are designed specifically around things that intrude on the user’s experience. But Google knows you have to make a living, and that many sites are monetized with ads.

Ad Content on Page

In my opinion, sites with one or two ads (or even three if they’re small) appearing on the side of the main content above the fold are going to be ok. What I think Google doesn’t want to see are sites where there are so many ads or the ads are so prominent that they interfere with the user reading the main content of the page. I recommend to my clients that they try to stay under 30% ads to 70% main content visually if possible, but this is a random number I made up just so clients have a guideline; it’s not officially sanctioned by Google.

The other thing that Google representatives have stated publicly is that they don’t want confusing ads – if there’s any question about what is an ad and what is main content, you could have a problem as well. So label your ads as sponsored, make them unobtrusive, and you should be fine.


You didn’t ask about interstitials, but I’m going to mention it since this change to the algorithm went into effect on January 10.  If you are blocking users from main content with any kind of pop up, you could have a problem. If your pop up forces the person to click something like “no I’m not interested in saving money” or asks the user to download your app, you will have a problem, as these are two specific instances Google has warned against.

The jury is still out on whether pop-ups like newsletter signup or coupon offers will be a problem, but my personal opinion is that they will not be, as long as they can be easily closed and they don’t cover the entire main content area. I’m still recommending to clients that they have these pop-ups either pop under or trigger based on user action on the page (scrolling for example).

Supplemental Content

Finally, you mentioned sidebars that have things like “related posts” in them. If the content is relevant to the page and not just some random links to another site or another topic that is unrelated, this is considered “Supplemental Content”, and it is a good thing. Google’s Quality Rater Guidelines have indicated that sites with good supplementary content are considered higher quality.

Want to ask Jenny an SEO question for her bi-weekly column? Fill out our form or use #AskAnSEO on social media.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Image by Paulo Bobita

Category Ask an SEO
Jenny Halasz President at JLH Marketing

Jenny Halasz is President and Founder of JLH Marketing, a marketing consultation firm focused on highly technical implementations, specific projects, ...

#AskanSEO: Questions on What Affects SEO Visibility

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