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John Mueller is a well known face in Google’s Webmaster Help Group and works as a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google Z├╝rich. He’s also a regular on Twitter under his familiar username JohnMu. Seeing as it’s Friday, he’s allowing people to send him Webmaster questions through the service.

I don’t know if this is official Google policy but it seems an excellent idea to me and a novel way to reach out to webmasters and SEO/SEMs who follow John’s updates. If nothing else, it’s a notable use of Twitter as a company brand building tool and an interesting experiment in 140 character Q&A sessions.

Questions & Answers

I’ll be updating this post as more questions and answers appear. John’s offer is open to everyone so grab the opportunity and head over to Twitter

Pierre Far: What’s the value of a nofollowed link in the eyes of Google’s algorithm? (status link)

JohnMu: Nofollow is for “ignorable” links. Recent ex: site with many URLs blocked with meta robots, nofollows help us to crawl better. (status link)

NickWilsdon: What is an acceptable number of IBLs to get from the “wrong” geographic area or language? i.e. UK/English site + Chinese links? (status link)

JohnMu: An old site of mine got many Chinese links – no problem. Within reason, they’re just links. Perhaps put a translation up? (status link)

PatrickAltoft: Will you be removing these urls, people are concerned their feeds are being indexed (I know robots.txt blocks) (status link)

JohnMu: I’ll pass that on, thanks for bringing it up! (status link)

AndyBeard: Can an old, out of date XML sitemap prevent a site from being fully indexed? (status link)

JohnMu: If you know that the XML Sitemap is outdated, then fix it :). We use the Sitemap for hints, but we still crawl normally. (status link)

NickWilsdon: Beyond the user experience issue, can having broken links and 404’s negatively impact a site’s overall ranking in Google? (status link)

JohnMu: Having 404s should not affect ranking, but it can affect crawling (wasted crawls trying to reach 404s instead of good content) (status link)

mvandemar: Not too long ago Matt announced that a bunch of penalties had expired in Google… do all penalties expire? (status link)

JohnMu: For some penalties it makes sense to expire (eg when the things really have no impact anymore). Fixing issues is faster though:) (status link)

Not that many questions this week but John seems happy to do this again next Friday. Make sure you’re following his account here before then.

John’s welcome to clarify in the comments but I’d assume he’s looking for more practical questions on sites and indexing issues. I’m not sure how fair it is to throw Google policy questions at him, especially in a rapid-fire environment like Twitter. This is a useful opportunity to question a Google employee who answers literally hundreds of webmaster questions each week.

I look forward to seeing how this develops.

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Lead SEO, Group Optimisation at Vodafone. Founder at E3 Business Incubator, a consultancy group helping enterprises and start-ups. Digital strategist and veteran SEO/SEM. Views are my own and not representative of my employer (more).

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