Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 27th of November 2018.

Blocking Proxy IP Addresses is Fine for Google

Choosing to block proxy IP addresses from crawling or accessing a website won’t cause any problems for SEO as long as Googlebot can crawl the site, but you may lose out on additional users discovering your website.

Don't Use URLs That Change on the Fly

If URLs change on the fly to include session IDs, for example, this will cause Google to spend more resources on crawling duplicate content. This will also cause confusion around choosing the right canonical page.

Passing Signals Within a Large Group of Canonicalized Pages Takes Time

If a large group of pages is included within a canonicalized set, Google will still have to crawl and process all of these pages to find the canonical and pass on any link equity if the canonicalised pages are linked to externally.

Google Only Announces Algorithm Updates When There Are Actions for Site Owners

Google only announces updates to the algorithm when there is something specifically for website owners to work on, such as the speed update, the mobile-friendly update and mobile-first indexing. The most recent updates have been around relevance which is difficult to give broad, actionable advice for.

Changing Page Titles Will Impact Rankings

Google uses page titles as one of the factors when determining page rankings, so completely rewriting a page’s title will impact its keyword rankings.

Authorship is a User Experience Factor Rather Than an SEO Factor

Google no longer uses authorship markup and doesn’t determine rankings based on how authors are presented on a website. Find out whether or not your users prefer seeing authors’ details, as Google will want to rank pages higher that make users happy.

Published & Last Updated Dates for Articles Are Useful for Google's Algorithms

John recommends including both the first published date and last updated date on articles and marking them up as this information is useful for Google’s algorithms. Make sure the dates in the structured data are consistent with the dates that are shown in the page content.

It's Normal for Google to Index XML Sitemap Files

If you see an XML sitemap file showing in the search results when you search for a specific URL on your website, this is normal and won’t cause any issues. If you don’t want XML sitemaps to be indexed, then add an x-robots tag in the HTTP header.

A ‘view all’ page doesn’t have to have a specific number of products or be a certain size in order for it to be accepted as the canonical for other pages.

If multiple languages are included on one page, Google may include a ‘translate this page’ link in the search results if it can’t determine the primary language of the page.

A Spike in GSC Impressions but Not Clicks Suggests Move from Page 2 to the Bottom of Page 1

If there is a significant increase in impressions for a keyword in GSC but clicks remain consistent, this suggests that a page that was previously ranking on page 2 has moved up to the bottom of page 1. The impressions shoot up for page 1 but the clicks don’t increase as much for the bottom results of page 1.

The Performance Report in the New GSC Only Shows Errors That Impact Websites

The performance report in GSC won’t include all 404 errors like the old one as John explained that it is more useful to show errors that actually impact a website in terms of what users will land on.

Web.dev is Built on the Lighthouse Infrastructure in the Back-end

Google’s web.dev tool is built on Lighthouse in the back-end to maintain consistency with other tools.

Lab Data & Field Data Differ in New PSI Tool as User Devices Differ From Google Default

The lab data can differ from the field data in the new PageSpeed Insights tool because users sometimes have different devices than the default device that Google would use for testing.

Google Speed Tool Scores Don't Map One-to-one with How Speed is Used for Rankings

The scores shown in Google’s page speed tools such as PageSpeed Insights don’t map one-to-one with how sites will be ranked in search in relation to their speed.

Either Encoded or Written Out URLs Are Fine for Google

There isn’t a preference for encoded or written out URLs as Google is able to handle these both fine. John recommends using one style to ensure consistency for tracking changes.

Having JSON-LD Visible on a Page Will Break the Markup

If a CMS plugin includes JSON-LD within <p> tags making it visible on the page, this will break the structured data.

Avoid injecting markup on a page using JavaScript as this makes it more difficult to debug and test that the schema is working correctly. Include markup in the source code where possible.

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