Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 4th of September 2018.

Keep Relevant Content on Mobile Pages so Google Can Understand Your Site

Don’t simplify mobile layout too much as you still need relevant content that’s machine-readable. Maintain alt text and descriptive elements to help Google clearly understand what your site is for.

Generic Category Pages Less Likely to Bring in Valuable Traffic That Will Convert

Don’t focus too much on generic category pages as the queries that these would rank for are so broad that they wouldn’t bring in valuable traffic that will convert on your website.

Mobile-friendly Results Will Rank Higher

If a page is mobile-friendly then this allows Google to rank it higher as a search result because it provides a better experience for users.

If you’re seeing errors when testing image URLs in the GSC Inspect URL tool, this is because the tool only shows if results appear in web search and doesn’t reflect what is happening in image search.

Avoid Using Google Tag Manager to Implement Critical Tags Like Noindex

John suggests that search engines other than Google may struggle to process GTM tags. Also, because tags are powered by JavaScript, they will only be rendered and applied to a page a few days or weeks after the initial HTML page is indexed.

There Will Continue to be a Delay Between Indexing & Rendering Due to Resource Issues

John explained that for the foreseeable future there will continue to be a delay between initial indexing of HTML and rendering, because JavaScript requires resource to be rendered and this can’t happen immediately with the current system.

To learn more about JavaScript rendering, take a look at the recap of the webinar we held with Bartosz Goralewicz on the topic.

Dynamic Rendering Can be Used to Show Googlebot Fully Rendered Pages

You can use dynamic rendering to serve Googlebot with pages that are already fully rendered, meaning there won’t be a gap between the initial indexing and rendering.

Having Too Many Pages That Render Slowly Will Impact Google

If a site has millions of pages that take at least a few minutes each to render, then this will significantly impact Google’s ability to render and index the content on these pages.

News Sites Should Avoid Content That Requires JavaScript to Load

If content isn’t present in the HTML when Google first indexes it and requires JavaScript to load it, then this will have a big impact on news sites which rely on fresh content being in the index, as rendering can happen weeks later.

Content Parity Won't Matter After the Switch to Mobile-first as Desktop Won't be Used for Indexing

Google won’t switch sites to mobile first indexing that don’t have content consistency across mobile and desktop, so content parity is crucial to get your site switched over but isn’t needed after a site has been switched because then only the mobile version will be used.

To learn more about mobile-first indexing, take a look at our white paper on the topic.

Google Will Still Show Desktop URLs for Desktop Searches After Mobile-first Indexing

If Google can find desktop URLs as well as mobile URLs for a site, then those desktop URLs will be shown to users searching on desktop. They won’t be forced to go to a mobile version.

Google Will Create a Knowledge Panel for Websites Organically Over Time

Google can recognise queries that lead to particular websites and will create a knowledge panel for this over time if it has enough information about your website already.

Sites Using a Lot of Flash or JavaScript Probably Won't be Moved to Mobile-first Indexing

If a site has a lot of JavaScript or Flash content this could cause Google’s systems to decide that a site isn’t ready to be moved over to mobile-first indexing yet.

Redirected URLs Can Appear as Soft 404s if Many Pages Are Redirecting to One

Redirecting URLs shouldn’t be showing up as soft 404 errors unless you’ve removed a lot of pages and are redirecting them all to one page.

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