Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 27th of March 2018.
Mobile-first Rollout Shouldn't Cause Big Fluctuations in Rankings
John says that the rollout of mobile-first indexing should be fairly smooth and shouldn’t cause too much fluctuation in rankings. Some sites have already been moved over to mobile-first indexing but the latest batch are being moved over following Google’s announcement on 26th March.
HTML Improvements in GSC Flags Issues But Aren't Critical to Resolve
HTML Improvements notifications in Search Console flags issues you might not be aware of but they aren’t necessarily critical to resolve. For example, duplicate titles in a paginated set probably isn’t an issue you would want to fix.
GSC URL Parameters Are Signals, Not Rules, For Crawling
Rules set in URL Parameters in Search Console are used as a signal by Google for what they shouldn’t crawl, but they aren’t obeyed in the same way as robots directives.
Google Doesn't Crawl CSS Background Images
Google doesn’t pick up background images added to HTML tags with CSS. Google sees these images as part of the design rather than an element on the page that is useful for web or image search and skip crawling these completely.
Various Options Available If You Move To a Penalised Domain
If a site has been migrated to a domain with a manual action, John recommends cancelling the site move (with the change of address tool in GSC), redirecting back from the penalised domain, or alternatively you can take steps to have the manual action removed.
Google Doesn't Use Text-to-HTML in Algorithms
Google don’t use text to HTML ratio in their algorithms. It is fine for some sites to have more HTML than others.
Google Recrawls All URLs Following Major Structural Changes to Understand Context
Google needs to recrawl and reprocess all URLs following major structural changes to understand the new context of these page on the website.
Google Uses Behavioural Metrics to Evaluate Algorithms Not to Influence SERPs
Google uses user behaviour when evaluating algorithms using millions of URLs and looking at how algorithms are competing with each other and which ones are working best. However, on a small scale Google doesn’t use behavioural metrics like bounce rate or short clicks to influence SERPs.
John says that including the same link twice on a page is fine. This may be necessary for sites that include footnotes at the bottom of a page as well as in body content.
Internal linking is taken into account before Google switches a site over to mobile-first indexing. If a site has terrible internal linking on the mobile version of the site then that site will likely not be moved over just yet.
'Not Set' Queries in GSC & GA Are Queries Filtered Out For Privacy Reasons
Not set’ queries in Search Console and Analytics are queries that have been filtered out for privacy reasons.
Sites With UGC Should Consider Noindexing Low Quality Content
John recommends that sites with lots of user generated content look into to tracking which parts are high and low quality so rules can be set up to noindex low quality UGC and index high quality UGC.