Google’s John Mueller answered a question about whether bad ranking factors in any section affected the ranking of the entire website. Mueller answered the question, but also gave insights into how the Google algorithm handles factors on a site-wide, section-wide and detailed basis.
Background to the question
The question was asked by a publisher who has a forum on their website with poor core web vital signs, while the rest of the website has higher core web vital signs.
The publisher wanted to know if the forum section would cause the rest of the site to suffer from the rankings once the core web vitals became a ranking factor.
Core Web Vitals Ranking Factor
Core Web Vitals are a set of speed and user experience metrics that work together to show whether a web page has a poor user experience or gives visitors an ideal web browsing experience.
The most important web vital signs will become ranking factors sometime in 2021.
Do bad ranking results in one section affect the ranking of the entire site?
That is the question that has been asked.
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“We have a big website and a section on the website where we have a forum. This forum is an old CMS and it’s difficult to tweak for speed. We want to make sure we have good core web results before 2021.
If we cannot improve the speed of this forum, it will only affect the keywords that rank on the forum pages or the ranks of the pages that are not on the forum and are faster.
Is speed viewed from page to page, or can speed on some pages of your website affect how Google sees your website as a whole? “
John Mueller answers how sections can affect the overall ranking
Google’s Mueller began with an in-depth response, claiming that Google was trying to organize web pages and sections of web sites in a granular way.
What John Mueller said:
“In general, we try to be as fine-grained as possible with our algorithms. So if we can get detailed information for your website and can properly identify each part of your website, we will try to do that. “
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Mueller shares how Chrome can aggregate the top Web Vitale scores
Mueller then shares a limitation on how Chrome collects aggregated data as an example.
“It depends a little on your website, however, and how much data we have for your website, especially when it comes to the speed at which … it’s based (because it’s not live yet), it’s based on the major web -Vitalen The Chrome user experience aggregates reporting data that is only a very small sample of the people who visit your website.
And that’s something that doesn’t have data for every website URL. “
Sensible site architecture helps Google rank a website
Site architecture refers to how web pages are linked and grouped within a site. Good site architecture groups web pages together in a meaningful way so that similar topics are grouped into sections of a site.
Mueller mentions that if a website makes it easy for Google to understand the different sections of a website that they are separate, it will help Google understand that different sections are not part of each other, and then better understand them (and to rate).
As Google explained:
“Depending on how much data is available there and how easy it is for us to find out which parts of your website are separate, we can do this more easily or a little more difficultly.
We have … similar mechanisms for various other signals that we use in searching. For example, one of them is for adult content, if you have part of your website for adult content and part of your website for … normal content or other content the easier it is for us to see that they are separate parts and separate them individually the more likely it is that we can treat that one part only slightly differently. “
Here, Google mentions the role of website architecture in helping Google understand the sections of a website.
“And you can do this by, for example, making sure your site has a clean subtree or subdomains when it makes sense for your website.
For example in your case it would be to split the forum up from the … page where we say the slash forum is all forum and it’s pretty slow and everything else that isn’t in the slash forum is real fast – if we can see that fairly easily it is much easier.
Then we can really say that everything is slow here in such a forum, everything is fine here. “
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Bad site architecture can have a negative impact on ranking
There is a theory of site architecture called Flat Site Architecture. It is based on the idea that since most of the links on a website lead to the home page (not always true!), All of the pages on a website should be linked directly from the home page.
So when you create an org chart diagram of the linking patterns of a flat site, it looks like the home page above, followed by hundreds or thousands of web pages at the next level, a click away from the home page.
The goal of a flat site architecture scheme is that all web pages on a site are shared equally in PageRank, which is directed towards the home page. The idea is that the ranking of all websites benefits from getting a share of the PageRank that is directed to the homepage via links.
John Mueller’s answer shows that the flat site architecture scheme may not be a good idea.
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What Müller said:
“However, if we have to do this on a URL basis, where the URL structure is really like that, we can’t tell from the URL whether this is part of the forum or part of the rest of your website. We can’t really do that in Group parts of your website together.
And then we will be forced to take a total score across your entire website and apply it appropriately.
I suspect we’ll have a bit more information on this as we get closer to the announcement, or … closer to the date we use Core Web Vitals to search. “
The Google Search Console can show how URLs affect the rest of the website
John Mueller then recommended using the Google Search Console to see how individual URLs affect the rest of the website.
“But you can look at that a bit in the search console. There is a Core Web Vitals report there. As you dig into individual issues, you’ll also find that this URL affects so many similar URLs.
And based on that, you can already tell whether Google can find out that my forum is grouped together or whether it can’t find out that these belong together. “
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A key takeaway from Mueller’s extensive answer is that good website architecture can help Google understand the different parts of a website and which parts they are relevant to.
In his answer, this implies that an architectural scheme for flat websites may work against a publisher’s ranking aspirations.
Websites that make it easier to understand the different sections of a website may not have a site-wide Core Web Vitals ranking effect.