Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 15th of December 2017.
Check Log Files to See Switch to Mobile-first Indexing
Webmasters will spot the switch to mobile-first indexing in log files. Currently, ~80% of crawling is done with Googlebot Desktop and ~20% with Googlebot Smartphone. You will likely see this shift over, with more crawling being done with Googlebot Smartphone.
Googlebot Smartphone Uses Nexus 5X For Crawling
At the moment Googlebot Smartphone uses the Nexus 5X for crawling. However, Google changes the device over time to reflect commonly used devices.
Google Found No Additional Value Gained From Crawling Outside US
Google have tested crawling from different countries but decided this didn’t provide any additional value, except from a very small number of locations. If Google were to crawl sites from many different countries this would put more stress on a site’s server.
Google Uses Scheduler to Determine Recrawl Date
Google uses a scheduler before crawling to work out when they need to recrawl URLs. Google will increase crawl rate if it gets signals that it needs to do so e.g. updated modification date in sitemaps and internal linking (especially from the homepage).
Crawl Frequency Attribute in XML Sitemaps Doesn't Impact Crawl Rate
Google takes no notice of the crawl frequency attribute in XML sitemaps or any priority set. Only the last modification timestamp will impact crawl rate.
Event Markup Needs Physical Location
Event markup should only be used if the event has a physical location. Google may penalise your site in the form of a manual action if this markup is incorrect.
Optimise Meta Descriptions by Looking at Search Queries in GSC
For meta description optimisation, John recommends looking at queries in GSC and searching for those queries. Once you see what queries look like in search results, you can optimise their length accordingly.
If Google’s algorithms detect keyword stuffing in the footer, like article-type content, they will be careful about how that page is ranked and this might impact how relevant that page is seen to be for those keywords.
Use Similar Titles to Help Google Understand Paginated Sets
Using similar titles across paginated pages helps Google identify sets of paginated pages.