Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 19th of February 2019.
Nofollow X-Robots-Tag Wouldn’t Stop Google Following a Redirect
A nofollow X-Robots-Tag wouldn’t stop Google from following a server-side redirect, as Google wouldn’t even look at the content of the page so there would be no links to follow anyway.
Sites Blocked by ISPs Can Have Indirect Effects on Search
If a site is blocked by ISPs this wouldn’t directly impact Googlebot’s crawling and indexing behaviour. However, there could be indirect issues as some users won’t be able to access and recommend your site, so Google wouldn’t be able to pick up these recommendations.
Use Lighthouse Metrics to Understand How Users Experience Site Rather Than Search Engine Algorithms
Google uses a variety of metrics to determine site speed, but a lot of the metrics in Lighthouse are more likely to impact how users judge speed rather than Google’s search algorithms. John recommends testing site speed with users rather than trying to determine if Google sees it as too slow.
Prefetching In-viewport Links Can Improve UX But No SEO Benefit
Speeding up pageloads by using ChromeLabs Quicklink to prefetch in-viewport links does not impact anything directly from a search perspective, but can have an indirect benefit through improved UX.
Internally Linked Parameter URLs Might be Indexed Even if Canonical Points to Clean Version
When using parameter URLs for internal linking, it isn’t always guaranteed that the clean version of the URL be indexed if there is a canonical tag to this version. This is because Google has to weigh up which URL should be shown in search.
URL Inspection Tool Could Change to Include Desktop Rendered Screenshot
John cannot confirm that the URL Inspection tool will be changing to include a screenshot of the desktop rendered version of pages. However, John admitted that this is something that is missing and that he will put it on the Search Console team’s radar.
Google Folds Together Same Language Country Versions & Swaps Out URLs Dependent on Searcher Location
Google identifies different country versions of the same language as duplicates and folds them together for indexing. Google can then swap out the URLs depending on where the search is performed.
Same Language Country Versions Can Cause Problems With Location-specific Information in SERPs
Google swapping out URLs for same language country versions of a page can be problematic when the title or structured data shown in the SERPs includes location-specific information, such as pricing. E.g. a Swiss searcher sees the Swiss URL but German pricing in Euros.
Redirect to an Equivalent Version When Consolidating Country Versions of a Site
If consolidating different country versions of a site, John recommends treating this as a migration and redirecting to an equivalent version e.g. redirecting the Austrian and Swiss versions of a site into one main German version. However, you cannot specify to Google that they shouldn’t show a site in particular countries.
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