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Google Webmaster Hangout Notes: September 6th 2019

SEO and digital marketing industry news

Notes from the Google Webmaster Hangout on the 6th of September 2019.


Heading Tags Are Not a Critical Ranking Factor

Headings are used to help Google better understand the context of pages and are not something John sees as a critical ranking factor, particularly for the homepage as this will usually rank for the brand name anyway.


Use of AMP or PWA Should Be Determined By The Needs of the Website

When deciding between implementing AMP or a PWA for your site, John recommends choosing the one most suited to your needs. For example, PWAs will be useful for websites providing interactive elements and offline accessibility, whereas AMP is great for publishing content.


Mobile-first Readiness Classifier Will Review Content On Both Mobile & Desktop Sites

With mobile-first indexing, Google will only index what it is able to crawl on the mobile version of the site, so if there is important content on the desktop version which is not available on the mobile version, this will not be indexed. The readiness classifier will be used to recognise if the content is similar enough on both, before switching to mobile-first indexing.


Implement Material Design Icons Using a Code Point Rather Than Text Element

If you are implementing material design icons using the i text element with a specific class, Google will see this as text on the page and will try to index and display it within search results. John recommends specifying these icons using a material design code point, which Google will read as a character, rather than text.


Google Does Not Index 404 Pages

If a page returns a 404 error code, Google will not index the page’s content. However, if the page has recently become a 404 page and Google has not crawled the page to see this, the page will still appear in search results. This error could also occur if the server displays a 404 page, but the code shown to crawlers is still a 200 status.


Prevent Search Engines From Crawling Low Quality UGC

When working with user-generated content, John recommends filtering out high-quality pages to ensure search engines are able to see this rather than the lower-quality content.


Auto-generated Content is Against Webmaster Guidelines

Using auto-generated content, for example spun content, to create text-based pages is considered against webmaster guidelines. This is particularly true if the content created has no value for users or is similar to other content provided elsewhere on the web.


There is no Harm in Redirecting Parked Domains to a Live Website

If you have parked domains redirecting to your main site, for example for offline marketing purposes, there is no negative impact from an SEO perspective.


Providing a Summary in How-to Structured Markup Is Acceptable

When implementing how-to structured markup, providing a summary explanation of the step should be fine, as far as John is aware.


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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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