Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 24th of July 2018.

Combine Duplicate Pages Across Owned Sites Into One Page

If you have duplicate pages across different sites, try grouping them into one page and listing the different locations where that service or product is available so you have one strong page to rank with.

If the majority of your content is flagged for something like DMCA copyright violations, Google may decide that the rest of your content isn’t high enough quality to show to users either.

AMP URL Configurations Are Equivalent to Google

You can have AMP on a subdomain, subdirectory or on a parameter, it makes no difference to Google. Your configuration depends on what makes the most sense for your website and tracking methods.

Sites Spinning Your Content Can Outrank You if Your Site is Low Quality

When sites scrape and spin the content of others, in the instances where these sites manage to outrank the original site, the original site is usually low quality too. This is where the algorithms can get confused.

IP Addresses Are No Longer Used For Geotargeting or Local SEO

Server IP addresses used to be a signal in the early days of Google’s geotargeting. Now Google uses ccTLD, generic TLD, hreflang, as well as settings in Google My Business and Google Search Console in combination to infer geotargeting information which is much more useful than a single IP.

For an image to be considered as a link by Google, it needs to have an <a> tag and href element. Using an <img> tag to point to an image on another site, for example, is not seen as a link.

AMPs Which Canonicalise to Noindexed Pages Won't be Valid

If a page is noindexed which is connected to an AMP equivalent, then the rel=amphtml link will be dropped too and the AMP won’t be valid. If the AMP is noindexed then it will be removed from the index and the traditional page will be kept.

Robots.txt Files Don't Need to be Indexed by Google

Robots.txt files need to be machine-readable, but they don’t need to be indexable for Google to be able to process them.

Google's Cache Isn't an Accurate View of Googlebot Rendering

The Fetch & Render tool in GSC and the Mobile-friendly Test tool show a more accurate view of how Googlebot is able to render a page than Google’s cache view, as this can easily be broken.

Crawl Rate Has Nothing to do With Rankings

If Googlebot is able to crawl your site frequently, this doesn’t mean your site will rank any higher. Crawling and ranking are two separate things.

Google wants links to be natural recommendations from people to other sites, so links to your site that you submit to directories will be ignored.

HSTS Isn't Used as a Ranking Signal

HSTS doesn’t play any part in rankings. The main consideration from Google’s perspective is that it shouldn’t be added to a site during a time of fluctuation, like a migration. Make sure you only add it once rankings have settled and a migration has been completed successfully.

Google Will Only Use Structured Data For Trustworthy, High Quality Sites

Structured data needs to be correctly implemented from a technical perspective and needs to be applied to relevant content, but to display it in search Google also has to judge the site as high quality and trustworthy.

Noindexing Some Pages with Hreflang Tags Won't Affect Whole Configuration

It’s fine to noindex some pages within a set which have hreflang tags implemented. The noindexed URL will simply be removed from the set that Google uses, without affecting the other pages.

Using Country Code Rather than x-default for Hreflang is Easier to Manage

When specifying the main language version of a site, having the x-default language code or the specific language code is the same to Google, but defining the language code is easier for site owners to keep track of.

Google wouldn’t rank one website higher than another because it has more stock of a particular product. Stock levels don’t play any part in rankings, the only impact they have is out of stock pages being picked up as soft 404 errors.

Avoid Hosting Content Externally for CDNs

You should host as much of your content as you can on your domain when utilising a CDN because if you host content externally and want to change providers, you have no control over setting up redirects for migrating the content.

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