#Google Webmaster Hangouts Notes – 6 September 2019

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Here is the full video:

H1 headings on pages help Google better understand the context of these pages (2:32)

An H1 tag shows Google what information is important on the page. And if you highlight everything as important (say, there are many H1s), then nothing becomes important. So even though having an H1 is not a critical ranking factor, it still helps. And it’s easy to implement too.

Here’s an additional answer from John Mueller on Reddit:

H1 tags

Time Google needs to pick up website migrations mostly depends on the complexity of your migration (5:15)

If you are migrating to a new domain, the URLs stay the same and are properly redirected to the new domain, then it might take Google just a few days to process all the changes.

If you make more significant changes like content, URLs structure, technology, it will take Google more time to settle things down. But there’s no special timeframe for that. 

PWA vs AMP – which one you should choose (6:22)

PWA (Progressive Web App) is more like an app, it’s a better solution if you have interactive elements on a page and care about offline accessibility (e.g. calculators, schedules). On the downside, a PWA is much harder to set up than AMP, it requires substantial development resources.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Page) is a better solution if you just publish content, don’t need lots of interactive elements and don’t need your content to be available offline. Its setup is much easier, there are also different plugins to help you with that. 

So the choice depends on your needs and the resources that you have. 

More: A detailed answer from Martin Splitt on PWAs and AMPs

Make sure that content that you want Google to index is added to the mobile version of your website (9:13)

With mobile-first indexing, Google indexes only the mobile version of the page (Kristina’s note: and ranks your website based on the content found there). So you need to make sure that all the content that should be indexed, is visible to Google on the mobile version of your website.  

Note that Google will eventually switch your website to mobile-first indexing even if the desktop content differs from the mobile version. 

If you have individual URLs for your mobile and desktop sites, you need to have the proper setup for them (13:33)

If you have separate URLs for your mobile and desktop versions, Google can display the mobile URLs in the desktop search results.

But in any case, make sure that:

  • There’s a proper connection between your mobile and desktop URLs, so Google can understand which one should be displayed
  • There’s a redirect from the mobile page version to the desktop version if a user is on the Desktop, and vice versa (can be set up on a server-side after detecting the client). 

In the long run, it’s better to have a single URL for your mobile and desktop users (e.g. use responsive design). 

Google doesn’t index 404 pages. But… (15:19)

Google doesn’t index 404 pages. If a page returns a 404 error code, Google won’t index its content.

However, if a page has just been removed, and Google hasn’t re-crawled it yet, this page can still be seen in the Google index. 

Also, if you have a custom 404 page, you need to make sure that it returns a 404 HTTP response code (not 200). Otherwise, Google will index it and might report it as a soft 404 error. 

Top-level domains don’t have any ranking benefits in comparison to subdomains (16:35)

Top-level domains don’t have any ranking benefits. You can rank content on subdomains too. 

The main piece of advice here is to keep your content on your domain versus public platforms. If you publish your content on your website, you have full control over it while with 3rd party platforms things can happen.

Your website can be penalized for using spun content (21:17)

Google can penalize a website for using spun content. Auto-generated content is against Google guidelines. 

The automatically translated content is also treated as spun, so it’s against Google guidelines. 

The action taken against a website using spun content can range from lowering the website rankings or removing it completely from the search.

You can get GSC notifications if you’re using an outdated version of CMS/technology (29:37)

Google can send you notifications in Google Search Console if you’re using old technology (like an outdated WordPress version) to warn you that there are vulnerabilities and your website might be hacked.

But using an outdated technology/platform doesn’t negatively influence rankings. 

Link networks are against Google guidelines (33:17)

Being part of a link network or having links from such networks is against Google guidelines. This means that if caught, your website will be penalized.

Kristina’s note: There are good and bad SEO services, and cheap links from PBNs are definitely a bad service. I’ve recently written a post about how good SEO should look like, check it out!

What happens if you disallow robot.txt in your robots.txt? (36:23)

In general, not many things will change. 

Google will still need to access the robots.txt file to see which website areas are allowed/disallowed/.

What will happen is that Google won’t be able to index the robots.txt file. 

Google and infinite scroll (41:25)

If you’re using infinite scroll, make sure that Google can still see the links to individual pages, e.g. display paginated links. 

Your syndicated content can outrank your original content (46:13)

If you’re syndicating your content to other platforms, there’s a chance they will outrank you on Google. 

A single page listing multiple products: yes or no? (54:01)

If these products are variations of one product (different colours, sizes), that’s totally fine. It’s even preferable to have a single page in such situations.

But if these are completely different products, it’s hard for Google to understand what the page is about, and it’s hard to match user intent. This makes it harder for people to find these products. 

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