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Google cuts back on SEO office hours format, frequency

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In late April, John Mueller of Google announced a change in the format of the Google SEO office hours segment.

Historically, Mueller would answer Google search and SEO questions from site owners, webmasters, SEOs and others live to help these people through some challenging SEO-related help.

Now, Mueller is asking you to submit questions beforehand and he will record answers to them and publish them later on.

What changed. Here is a list of the larger changes to this SEO office hours format.

  1. No live audience for the recorded section of when Mueller answers SEO questions.
  2. Only some pre-submitted questions will be answered.
  3. Recordings will be posted after, it does not appear to be live to watch in real-time anymore.
  4. 30-minute segments instead of one-hour segments.
  5. Only one office hours per month, as opposed to four per month.

Why the change. Mueller explained these changes in this video from April 29. He said the changes are because it makes it easier for us to digest shorter videos and it also helps him and Googlers “kind of prepare for these sessions” to the answers are more on point. He later added on Twitter that going from four per month to one per month is because “they’re always quite time-intensive for me, so I need to find a workable balance.”

Why we care. Many SEOs called the SEO office hours a lifeline for their SEO-related questions or concerns. Being able to ask a Googler directly about an SEO question, or get advanced technical SEO advice on a decision they need to make about their site, has been a true blessing for many SEOs. Being able to reference advice from Google representatives is also useful in making a case to one’s boss about investment in SEO.

I know many SEOs who timestamp every word said in those hangouts, who use these talking points in making better decisions and who use these SEO office hours as backup for meetings with clients or their supervisors.

Time will tell how these SEO office hours change over time, how useful they remain to be and if this format will adapt again in the near future. But the overall SEO office hours format has not changed much over 10-plus years, outside of the platform used.


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About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry can be followed on Twitter here.

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