Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 5th of April 2019.
High-quality Comments Can Add Value to a Page
Comments on blog posts and articles are viewed as page content, and should only be disabled if posts are attracting a large number of low-quality comments that can’t be managed. Comments are also valuable for community building.
Article comments sometimes contain useful, relevant text content which match user intent, so the page they’re included could be more likely to be shown in search. There is not a direct correlation between comments and rankings, however.
Voice Search is Split Into Microphone Inputted Search Engine Queries & Voice Assistant Queries
The industry often group microphone input queries in a search engine rather than the keyboard, and the use of voice assistants into ‘voice search’ into a single group. The data from the former is grouped together with regular typed queries, and the data from the latter isn’t being counted for search.
Use Voice Assistant, App or Skill to Test Voice Search Opportunities for Your Business
John recommends using a voice assistant or installing an app or skill to test the limitations of the quality of voice search results as well as finding opportunities where your business would be able to provide valuable content for users.
Featured Snippets & SERP Results Drive Higher Value, Lower Funnel Traffic to Businesses
John explained that the reduction of organic traffic from SERPs over time is a natural progression as search engines work to better match intent on the SERPs. This can help drive leads straight to your business (e.g. via contact details) rather than going through your website in a more generic sense.
Previously Visited Pages Are More Likely to Be Shown in Personalized SERPs
If a user has previously visited a particular page from search results, it is more likely that this page will be shown in personalized search results for them in future. This won’t apply to any other pages within that website that the user has never visited.
Use Google Developer Console to See How Google Understands Particular Images
Google uses machine learning to better understand images, but it is still important to provide direct context of images through alt text, image captions and surrounding text on the page. John recommends using Google Developer Console to see how your images are understood by Google.
URL Inspection Tool Shows Google's Real-time Rendering Process
If the ‘View Crawled Page’ feature in the URL Inspection Tool is only showing the static HTML content of a page, this suggests that Google hasn’t rendered the page yet and it is still awaiting the 2nd wave of indexing for rendered content.
Both Image File & Landing Page Need to be Crawlable & Indexable for Images to Be Shown in Image Search
For an image to be shown in image search results, both the image file itself and the landing page it sits on need to be crawlable and indexable for Google.
Including jump links within a piece of content can improve usability but this doesn’t have any direct impact on search and rankings.
Use Caching for Pre-rendered Content to Prevent Google Decreasing Crawl Frequency
If there is a 5-10 second delay for content to be pre-rendered between Google requesting and receiving a page’s content, this can cause Google to reduce its crawl frequency of the site. John recommends implementing caching to increase response times for Googlebot.
Use Accurate Last Modified Dates For Individual Pages in Sitemaps For Faster Recrawling
Make sure each individual page in an XML sitemap has its own last modified date so Google can trust that the information is accurate and recrawl updated pages where necessary.
Directory Sites Should Have Unique, Valuable Content to Perform in Search
To rank in search, directories should provide unique information that would make users want to visit that site instead of going straight to the website of the business that they want contact details for.
Pages with Internally Duplicated Content Are Indexed Separately but Folded Together in Search
Google will index pages with duplicate blocks of text separately but will work out which of those pages is most relevant to show for each query and will show just one of them in the search results.
Google still uses and processes the ‘Unavailable_After’ meta tag, it hasn’t been deprecated.
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