• author: Google Search Central

"Google's SEO Office Hours: Answering Your SEO Questions"

Welcome to another episode of "Google's SEO Office Hours." In this video series, our aim is to provide answers to your SEO and Google Search questions. We have received numerous questions over the past month through the forum link provided below. Our team from Google's Search Quality department is here to address them.

Introducing the Speakers

Today, I will be your host for this episode as the other members of our team have various commitments such as travel and vacation. However, Martin, one of our team members, kindly prepared some answers before going on vacation, and Gary had time to review everything. So, rest assured that we have a collection of questions and answers ready for you. Let's dive right in!

How Many URLs Can a Sitemap Index File Have?

One of the questions we received is regarding the number of URLs that can be included in a sitemap index file. An XML sitemap file can contain up to 50,000 URLs, and this limit also applies to sitemap index files. If you want more information about sitemaps, we highly recommend checking out our comprehensive sitemap documentation.

Accessibility Features and SEO

A question from Michael raises concerns about whether Google considers ARIA label name and other accessibility attributes for SEO purposes. To clarify, incorporating accessibility features into a website does not inherently provide an SEO advantage. Accessibility features should be used primarily for their intended purpose – enhancing accessibility for users who rely on them. Despite not directly influencing SEO, there is a significant user base that benefits from these features. Therefore, proper usage of accessibility features, such as ARIA labels, is crucial, ensuring an inclusive web experience.

Canonicalization Best Practices

One user named Hakan seeks advice on canonicalizing URLs. Hakan wonders whether redirecting "domain/en" to just "domain" is advisable or if canonicalization alone is sufficient. Although there aren't any SEO advantages associated with this decision, maintaining consistency is valuable. If the version without the language code is considered the default version and is identical to one of the language code versions, it can be set as "x-default" in the Hreflang attribute. Consistency in canonicalization and internal linking generally results in the default version being selected as the canonical. While this doesn't directly impact SEO, it provides ease of tracking and organization.

URL Fragments and Search Results

A query from Michael raises the question of whether the content following a hashtag in a URL affects how it appears in search results. For clarification, the content following the hashtag is known as a fragment, and it is used to link to a specific part of a page's content. Google Search primarily considers the entirety of a page, typically disregarding the fragment. However, fragments can be beneficial in aiding users in directly accessing relevant parts of a page. Although there are instances where Google recognizes different fragment content, this practice is rare and not recommended. Generally, Google Search ignores URL fragments.

Understanding Site Ranking Challenges

One user expresses frustration about their site's failure to rank high in search results despite low competition, good SEO practices, proper indexing, regular content updates, backlinks, and on-page optimization. This is a common concern, and while technical aspects play a significant role in SEO, there are other crucial factors to consider. Comparing it to the offline world, a beautifully designed book cover, well-written sentences, and a relevant topic do not guarantee becoming a bestseller. Similarly, a clean restaurant kitchen and quality ingredients do not guarantee an influx of customers. Technical details are essential, but achieving success demands a holistic approach.

To continue reading the article, visit our website or stay tuned for the upcoming episode of "Google's SEO Office Hours."

Common SEO Questions Answered

In this article, we will address some of the common questions and concerns related to search engine optimization (SEO) and Google's indexing process. We aim to provide helpful insights and guidance to ensure your website achieves a good page experience and maintains a strong online presence.

Are Google's Various Tags Indicators of Good User Experience?

One question frequently asked is whether Google considers tags such as link, prefetch, prerender, DNS resolve, etc. as signals of a website prioritizing user experience. Our viewpoint is that these tags can indeed contribute to a better user experience if used correctly. When implemented effectively, these techniques can improve real user metrics, which Google evaluates through Core Web Vitals. Consequently, search engines are more likely to consider and reward websites that genuinely provide a positive page experience. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure that any implementation of such tags is functional and benefits your users.

Google Cache Pages and 404 Errors

If you have noticed a 404 error when accessing your website through the Google cache page, there can be several reasons behind it. It is important to understand that the presence of a cached page does not significantly impact indexing, as it is not a technical SEO tool. To diagnose the status of a URL, we recommend utilizing Google Search Console. This tool provides comprehensive insights into the indexing and visibility of your website's pages.

Unexpected Content on Search Results

In some cases, website owners may observe unrelated content, such as online gambling websites, appearing in the search results for their site. It is essential to acknowledge that Google does not create content for indexing purposes; it relies on what your website provides. If you encounter online gambling content on your site, despite it not being the website's main focus, it is likely that your server or infrastructure has been compromised by hackers. Resolving such a hack and securing your site can be a complex process. We recommend seeking assistance from professionals and instituting proper security measures.

Recognizing Hacks and Setting Up Alerts

Detecting unauthorized content on your website can be challenging. To proactively identify potential hacks, we suggest setting up a Google alert that includes a site query with your domain name and relevant keywords commonly associated with spam or hacked content. This alert will notify you if any suspicious content is indexed under your domain. Additionally, we provide comprehensive documentation with further tips on handling hacked websites.

Engage with the SEO Community

If you have more questions or concerns regarding SEO or Google's indexing process, we encourage you to actively participate in the Search Central Help Community. This is a vibrant community of experts who can offer insights, advice, and assist you in troubleshooting your website's SEO-related issues. Your questions and contributions are valuable to both us and fellow users who rely on these resources. We appreciate your ongoing engagement and look forward to addressing your inquiries in future articles.


We hope this article has provided valuable information and answered some of your pressing SEO questions. If any topic or question was not covered, we encourage you to share it in the Search Central Help Community for dedicated assistance. Your feedback regarding these articles is also important to us, and we welcome your thoughts and comments. Follow us on social media for additional updates and stay tuned for upcoming articles. May your website's traffic increase, and your crawl errors decrease. Thank you, and see you soon!

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