Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 3rd of October, 2017.
Most HTTPS Migrations Take a Day to Change in Index
A HTTPS migration is easier for Google to process than most other types of migrations because it keeps the same domain and same URLs. If a site is restructured with changes to internal linking or the domain name, it means Google has to think about a lot more. However, HTTPS is still a big change and takes time to be processed by Google – most take a day or so to switch over in Google’s index.
Words in URL are Relatively Small Ranking Factor Compared to Page Content
Google does use words in URLs if there is anything useful there, but this is a relatively small factor compared to content on the page. However, Google does pick up country and language codes that they think are relevant to identify different versions of a page.
Hreflang Takes Precedence Over URL When Conflict Exists Between Language & Location Information
If the country or language codes conflict between the URL directory structure or query parameters and the hreflang then John thinks that the latter would take precedence e.g. if EN was featured in the URL and DE in hreflang markup, hreflang would be used by Google.
Parameters Applied at Site Level Recommended as They Are Easier to Manage
John recommends applying parameters in Search Console at a site level as this is easier to manage than at a page level. However, if the same parameter changes the content on one page but is irrelevant on another then you will need to separate these in Search Console.
AMP Pages Should Cleanly Map Onto Desktop Equivalent
AMP pages should be equivalent to the desktop version. Avoid giving a teaser AMP version of the desktop page or combining multiple desktop pages to make one AMP page.
AMP Pages Can be Bulk Validated Using a Validator From Command Line
It is possible to validate that AMP pages have been configured correctly in bulk. This can be done using a validator that can be run from the command line.
Google Creating Classifiers to Ensure Mobile & Desktop Pages Equivalent in Preparation for Mobile-first Index
In preparation for the Mobile-first Index, Google is creating classifiers internally to make sure mobile pages are equivalent to dekstop pages and that sites don’t see any negative effects from the switch.
Noindex or Roll up Empty Search Pages to Avoid Poor User Experience
John recommends noindexing empty search pages on your site to avoid users landing on page with no entries or results e.g. a location specific service with no entries for that specific location. Alternatively, you might want to consider rolling these empty pages up to a higher level category.
John Suggests Considering a PW-AMP Set up – a PWA Combined With AMP Content
Google have been looking into a PW-AMP set up, combining a PWA with AMP content. This combination is something John suggests as something you might want to look into.
Google Algorithms Don’t Specifically Look at Grammar
Google’s algorithms don’t look at grammar specifically, but they pick up on lower quality content in other ways, like through poor user experience.
Google Found Easier to Get Videos For Indexing From Mobile Pages
From Mobile-first testing, Google have noticed it’s easier to get videos for indexing for mobile pages compared to desktop because they tend to be in a clean HTML5 format.
Google Doesn’t Apply Semantic Meaning to Registered Trademark Symbols
Registered trademark symbols are treated like other symbols. You can search for them but Google doesn’t apply semantic meaning to them.
Blocking US IPs Likely to Block Googlebot. Having at Least Some US Accessible Content is Recommended
Other than the US, Google only crawls from a handful of other countries. If you block US IP addresses you’re probably blocking Googlebot, but you can test this with Fetch & Render or by checking log files. John recommends having at least some content accessible from the US, so that Googlebot and US users can go to your site.