Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 24th of January 2020.
Use 301 Redirects to Inform Google of Your Preferred URL Structure
If you have a mixture of www. and non www. URLs on a site, the best way to inform Google of your preferred URL structure is to add 301 redirects with a consistent preferred domain choice.
There is No Change to the Position Shown For URLs in Featured Snippets within GSC
GSC uses the top-most position of a URL to show as the average in the Performance reports. This hasn’t changed despite the update to how featured snippets are displayed, so if your page is shown in a featured snippet, the position shown will remain the same. However, if you no longer have the featured snippet then the position of the traditional search result will be used instead.
URLs Appearing in the Side Bar Knowledge Panel of Search Results Will Be Classed as Position 10 or 11
Google may sometimes display a result in the right sidebar, which is a mix between a knowledge panel and featured snippet. John expects this page will be seen by Google Search Console as position 10 or 11, because it is classed as being in the second column of search results.
Links Within PDF Files Do Not Provide Any SEO Advantages but are Valuable for Usability
From a usability point of view, John recommends including a link back to your website within PDF documents, as they can make it easier to visit your site. However, as there is no way to let Google know about the link, it is likely they will be viewed as ‘text links’, which are similar to nofollow links where they would not forward any signals through them.
Having a Reasonable Amount of HTML Comments Has No Effect on SEO
Comments within the HTML of a page do not have any effect on SEO unless there is a large amount, as they can make it difficult for Google to figure out where the content is and may impact the size and speed of the page. However, John confirmed he has never come across a page where HTML comments have been a problem.
GSC Live Test Doesn’t Always Reflect How Pages Are Rendered for Indexing Purposes
An ‘other error’ occurs in Google Search Console live tests when it doesn’t get around to fetching the URL in that particular test, for example a resource file. When crawling a page for indexing purposes Google will spend more time fetching and caching the embedded URLs in order to be able to render them properly.
No Need to Remove Internal Links on Non Canonical Pages as Google is Able to Figure Out Connections
Google sees links from a canonical page to a canonicalised page, and sometimes there can be multiple internal links that are associated with each. In this case, Google will combine all of the signals and keep them with each page, but is able to understand the connection between the canonical and canonicalised pages.
Use Translation Tools Together with Manual Translation Reviews to Create a Localised Version of A Site
John recommends against using just Google Translate or other translation tools to automatically translate the content of a website to another language, as it is likely to be considered automatically generated content. Instead, he recommends using it together with manual translation reviews in order to create a localised version, which will also improve user experience and provide more valuable content to local speakers.
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