Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 22nd of January 2019.

Don’t assume that test sites will perform the same way in search as regular sites, because Google may treat them differently. For example, Google might judge that pages on a test site aren’t worth performing full rendering on because it doesn’t make sense for them to spend more resources on this page

Google Decides if Specified Title Tag Should be Used For Ranking & SERPs

Title tag changes are complex for Google to process as they need to decide if they should use the title tag provided for ranking and in search results.

No Penalty For Overuse of Fetch & Render But Limits Exist

There is no penalty for continual use of Fetch & Render, however there are some limits to the frequency with which you can use this tool.

Only Use Disavow if WebSpam Team Would Likely Issue Manual Action

John recommends using the Disavow Tool if you think that the WebSpam Team would likely give you a manual action for the links in question. However, for most websites that aren’t actively attempting to manipulate rankings with suspicious link building practices it isn’t worth using the Disavow Tool.

Content Freshness Isn't Always Used as a Ranking Signal

Content freshness isn’t always used as a ranking signal, as there isn’t always a need for pages to be updated regularly if they are still relevant. For example, academic research generally doesn’t change even though if it was written many years ago.

Follow Quality Guidelines But Focus on UX

John recommends using the Webmaster Quality Guidelines as a guide for content quality, but suggests not focusing too much on what Google is doing from an algorithmic standpoint. Instead focus on making and optimizing sites that provide good user experiences.

Google Waits Some Time Before Timing Out During Rendering, But no Hard Cut Off

Googlebot waits for quite a while for rendering content to be served before timing out, but it isn’t possible to say a precise time. Martin recommends considering serving content as quickly as possible with server side or dynamic rendering or by using caching.

Organization Markup Only Needs to be on One Page of a Site

Organization markup only needs to be on one page, this can be on the homepage or a contact page for example, but make sure it doesn’t exist on all pages.

Lighthouse Analysis Uses Medium-end Smartphone on 3G Connection

Lighthouse analysis uses an average smartphone on a 3G connection to measure speed. This might account for discrepancies between Lighthouse and independent tests which might be carried out over a much faster Wi-Fi connection.

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