Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 8th of September, 2017.
Severe SERP Fluctuations Indicate Page on Edge of Being Useful in Google's Eyes
Wildly fluctuating rankings could be the result of algorithms judging page quality as being on the edge of being thought of as useful by Google. John recommends making a concerted effort to improve page quality to avoid this volatility.
Conduct User Studies to Improve Page Quality and UX
If all efforts have been made to improve page quality then John suggests running a user study to get people to run through common tasks. From that feedback, you can learn where users struggle on a specific page and how you can fix it.
Ranking Fluctuations Between Different Countries Due to Differing Competition
It is common for ranking fluctuations to exist from country to country because of differences in the level of competition for these queries. You may consider splitting your site into individual country versions, using subdomains or subdirectories, if you have content specific to users in different countries. The target country for individual content cn then be specified in GSC.
Explicilty Searching Old Content Will Return it in Search Under New URL After a Migration
If you explicitly search for old content following a site migration, Google will try to show it even if they have it indexed under the new URL already. This is because Google’s algorithms are trying to find the content you are looking for.
Google Encodes + Symbol And %20 as Space in URL
Google treats +, %20 are treated as equivalent in a URL, in that they map to a space. However, adding special characters in a URL can make it harder for someone to link to your content as other services may struggle to parse that URL.
GSC Sitemaps Report Can Take Couple of Days to Update
Sitemaps report in GSC can take a couple of days to update after changes have been made to the sitemap and may explain why non-existent errors are reported.
Keywords in URL Are a Small Ranking Factor But Unlikely to Visibly Change Ranking
Including keywords in a URL is such a small ranking factor that you probably wouldn’t visibly see changes to a site’s ranking for those keywords.
Technically Possible to Make AMP the Mobile Version of a Site
With the introduction of Mobile-first Indexing, if there is a mobile version of a page Google will use that for indexing and ranking. If you have a responsive site, that is the mobile version. Technically it is possible to make AMP pages the mobile version of your site but this is tricky to set up and isn’t beneficial in practice.
Avoid Internal Tracking Parameters or Make Google Aware in GSC
Internal links with parameters does affect crawling and indexing, as Googlebot could potentially be crawling a lot of URLs that lead to the same content and aren’t as useful for search. The parameter handling tool is GSC can be used in these cases to let Google know these parameters can be ignored or you can avoid using internal tracking parameters.
Blocked Sites Can Be Caused By Manipulatively Placed Phishing Content
Blocked sites by Google could be due to phishing content being manipulatively placed on a site. John recommends investigating the URLs Google send out in their notifications, conducting a general security review, checking plug-ins are up-to-date and checking server logs.
Google Doesn't Use EXIF Data For Image Search
Google generally doesn’t use any EXIF data from images for image search. However, the one exception is the title or name of the image in the EXIF data. If there are particular details you want Google to see from the EXIF data then add this as content near the image.
Site Removal Request is Fastest Way to Remove Site From Search
Disallowing a whole site won’t necessarily remove it from search. If the site has links pointing to it then Google may still index pages based on information from the anchor text. The fastest way to remove a site from search is using the site removal request in Search Console.