Internal URL changes can cause organic search fluctuations
A participant was seeing organic search fluctuations after a URL structure change on their website, despite adding 301 redirects. They asked if that is expected and how long the process should take. John responded that changing internal URLs means they have to almost reprocess the entire website and understand the context of all the pages on the website first, which can take a significant amount of time.
You are likely to see fluctuations in organic search for at least a month or longer if it’s a bigger change. Fluctuations can also occur if other changes have also happened at the same time, such as internal linking, content, or page structure updates which could have caused the pages to become weaker. If this is the case, John recommended reviewing the pages before and after to understand these differences and which things might need clearing up.
It can take months for Google to reassess site quality
Google essentially has no memory when it comes to technical issues and there should be no lasting impact once a cause has been resolved. However, it can take Google weeks or even months to determine the quality of a site and establish how it fits into the wider context of the web. Therefore, improvements to site quality can take a lot longer to make a significant impact.
Backlink spam issues are unrelated to core algorithm updates
A site owner mentioned that they saw visibility drops after a core algorithm update and that around that time, they were working to solve technical issues like 404 pages in their sitemap, but also suspected it might also be related to spammy backlinks they had pointing to their site. John replied that if you’re seeing changes after core updates, backlink spam issues are likely unrelated to the update. Core updates are more about understanding your site’s overall quality and relevance, and less about backlink spam or specific technical issues. He emphasized that overall quality and relevance are likely more important aspects to focus on after core updates occur.
Technical SEO factors also contribute to content quality determinations in Google
John is keen to clarify that both technical SEO and content quality are extremely important. When it comes to the quality of content, Google is looking at more than just the text on a page. Additional factors ranging from page design to speed can also have an impact on how Google determines the quality of your site.
Noindexed pages generally do not count towards content quality algorithms
Google focuses on the quality of the content they have indexed. If it’s not shown in search, it’s generally not taken into account.
Removing Low Quality Pages Takes Months to Impact Crawling and Site Quality
Removing low-quality pages from your site may have a positive impact on crawling the rest of the site, but could take 3-9 months until you see changes in crawling which can be measured using log files. Improvements in the overall site quality may take even longer to have an impact. It’s unusual to have any negative impact from removing cruft content.
Sites With Slow Response Pages are Crawled Less
If Google can’t recrawl pages quickly enough due to poor page response times then they won’t recrawl pages as often as they would like to.
Google Does Not Use W3C Validation
Google does not use W3C validation for web search, so you do not need to worry if your pages have any validation errors, however the validator is a great way to make sure your pages display properly with other systems like screen readers.
Inform Google of Efforts Made to Clean Up & Remove Pages Under Manual Review
If you have a lot of pages that are under manual review and you delete a lot of those as an effort to clean them up, then John would recommend mentioning this in your reconsideration request. This shows that you have taken significant steps to clean up any pages which are under review.