#Google Webmaster Hangouts Notes – 10 December 2019

Hey! Welcome to these new notes on the recent Google Webmaster Hangouts session!

If you want to check out the previous notes, you’re more then welcome!

And as the first intake of my SEO Challenge will end soon, I’m working on something new and very exciting! Spoiler alert: it will help you keep all the Google Webmaster Notes in one place. I recommend you to subscribe to the newsletter not to miss this!

Here is the original video of the Webmaster Hangouts session:

If a page returns a 404 status code, Google will stop crawling it at some point (4:22)

If you need Google to stop processing pages, serve them as 404s. Eventually, Google will stop crawling them. 

Kristina’s note: the question was about a website that had lots of hacked URLs, and Google spent most of the crawl budget to crawl them. This also negatively impacted the server. 

Use Google URL Removal tool if you need to urgently hide some pages from the search (4:54)

You can use the URL Removal tool on a page or directory basis. Note that this tool doesn’t permanently remove the URLs from the index (despite the name) but hides them for 90 days instead. 

If you have both adult and general content on your website, separate them out as clearly as possible (11:18)

Having adult content on the website can influence how your general content is displayed in the search. The latter might be hidden if a user has a safe search filter turned on.

To make sure that Google can clearly recognize the type of the content and show it properly, make sure to separate out adult and general content as clearly as possible by using subdirectories or subdomains. This will help Google identify which part of the website should be under the safe search and which part shouldn’t. 

Google Search Console shows stats only for the canonical versions of your URLs  (16:32)

The performance report in GSC will show you stats for the canonical pages only.

For example, when Google sees the same content on different URLs targeting different countries (e.g. English for the UK and English for Australia), it treats them as duplicates and folds them together. Then in Google Search Console, it shows the stats only for the canonical page.

This happens even if you have properly implemented hreflang attributes: the right language version will be shown in the search results but GSC will report only on the canonical URL.

Adding new content which is unrelated to your core topic might confuse Google (22:26)

When you add new content to your website, and this content is totally unrelated to your initial topic (for example, a coupons subdirectory on a news website), Google can get confused about your core content and also about how to prioritize its crawling (which is important for a news website). 

So it’s better to be as clear as possible around this unrelated content (e.g. to have it on a subdomain/subdirectory) or even better – consider creating a new website for it. 

Google can treat 410 and 404 HTTP codes in the same way (32:22)

In theory,  if a page returns a 410 (Gone) HTTP status code, Google will remove it from its index faster than if a page returns a 404 (Not Found). But in practice, there might not be any difference in the speed as Google crawls pages on a different schedule over time. 

So you can use either 410 or 404, it doesn’t really matter a lot. 

Noindex set in meta robots tag is not transferred via canonical (38:33)

If a page is set to noindex but also has a canonical pointing to another page, noindex won’t be transferred to the target URL via this canonical. 

Kristina’s note: Don’t use noindex and canonicals simultaneously, this will not work. I once set up a noindex-canonical experiment and it also proved it. 

If Google sees a 404 page, it ignores all content on this page (39:45)

If a page returns a 404, Google will ignore all the content found on this page, including any canonical or noindex tags. 

Sitelinks are generated algorithmically but there are indirect ways to influence them (49:45)

Sitelinks are automatically generated, there is no manual way to tweak things up and down. If you’re seeing the sitelinks that you would prefer not to have displayed, you can:

  1. Check if these sitelinks are displayed universally or are part of your personalized view (Kristina’s note: just use an incognito window);
  2. Noindex the page displayed in the sitelinks if you don’t want to be found in the Google index in general (Kristina’s note: in this case, the page will drop out of the Google index completely);
  3. Update the title tag, so it will communicate the page contents properly. 

That’s it for today! Subscribe for the new updates to stay updated on what’s going on in the SEO world:

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