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Google Webmaster Hangout Notes: November 26th 2019

SEO and digital marketing industry news

Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 26th of November 2019.


Unnatural Links Can Hurt a Site Regardless of Algorithm Updates

If you believe your site is suffering from poor link building schemes, John recommends focusing on removing these unnatural links, regardless of any algorithmic updates. This can be done in a number of ways, including using the disavow file or removing links from the source site.


Discrepancies Between Crawl Stats in GSC & Log Files Are Normal

In the Google Search Console crawl stats report, all of the access calls which go through the infrastructure that Googlebot uses will be included. This includes Googlebot crawling and rendering as well as robots.txt and sitemap access. John informed that while the crawl stats are useful, it can be difficult to compare them with log files.


Use GSC and Server Logs to Understand Your Site’s Crawl Budget

John recommends two approaches for understanding a site’s crawl budget, one of these is looking at the speed at which Google was able to download individual pages, which can be found in GSC. If this is high it may indicate that Google have crawled as much as they could, but may have missed some pages. The other aspect is server errors, as they can impact the ability to crawl the site. Reviewing server logs will allow you to identify if server errors are occurring.


Aggregate Reports in GSC Focus On A Sample Number of URLs

The aggregate reports in search console, for example mobile usability, AMP and rich results, focus on a sample of URLs from a site. In comparison, the coverage report includes all of the indexed URLs and this means it can be difficult to compare the total numbers seen across all of the reports. E.g. the coverage report may show 4,000 valid indexed pages, while in the mobile usability report the total may only be 2,000 valid pages, as this is the sample size taken.


Google Determines Mobile Usability Based on The Ability to Render the Page

Google determines mobile usability results based on the ability to render pages in a way that matches what a user would see on their device. Sometimes they may face issues when fetching the CSS or JavaScript files and this will display a small number of issues, with regards to mobile usability, in Google Search Console. However, John advised that these are usually based on temporary fluctuations in Google’s ability to fetch individual files, but it will not affect the indexing of these pages.


Google Do Not Have a Preference for Absolute or Relative Internal Links

When linking internally, it doesn’t matter to Google if you use absolute or relative URLs. John recommends using which ever is easier for each individual site. However, using absolute URLs pointed to the canonical version can make it easier to ensure both users and bots are able to find the preferred version of the URL.


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Ruth Everett

Technical SEO

Ruth Everett is a data & insights manager at Code First Girls, and a former technical SEO analyst at Lumar. You'll most often find her helping clients improve their technical SEO, writing about all things SEO, and watching videos of dogs.


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