#Google Webmaster Hangouts Notes – 9 August 2019

Welcome to MarketingSyrup! This post is part of my Google Webmaster Hangouts Notes. I cover them regularly to save you time. You might want to subscribe not to miss anything!

The full video is here:

If your homepage redirects to a subdirectory, you don’t need to change the main domain in GSC (3:45)

If you’re redirecting a domain to a subdirectory (e.g. a local version of the website with /en/), you don’t have to change the main domain in Google Search Console. 

Instead, you can keep your main property and also verify the subdirectory independently though in GSC. 

Chick this out too: How to Verify Domain Property in GSC

Don’t use client-side JS to populate meta tags (10:43)

Using client-rendered JavaScript to update or populate titles and meta descriptions can negatively influence your website. Googlebot might not be able to pick them up.

Instead, it’s better to use server-side rendering in this case so that all the tags will be available in HTML and can be easily picked up by Google.

Kristina’s note: This is applicable to large website which dynamically create meta tags. If you’re a small website and just update titles and descriptions in your CMS, you generally don’t need to worry about client vs server rendering, you’re good. 

Not mobile-friendly sections can prevent Google from moving the whole website to mobile-first indexing  (17:27)

Google has multiple classifiers that try to understand if a website is ready to be switched to mobile-first indexing. The popularity or the number of pages are not deciding factors in this case.

But sometimes big websites have sections with different setups (different CMSes, backends/frontends, etc.). If one or a couple of sections are not ready to be transferred to mobile-first indexing, Google will usually hold off and wait till everything is ready. 

Sometimes Google will choose a handful of URLs on a large website and move only them to mobile-first indexing. If everything goes smoothly, Google will move the rest of the website. 

Check this out too: A simple way to find out if your website has been moved to the mobile-first index

Google doesn’t use meta keywords for ranking pages (19:18)

Google doesn’t use meta keywords for ranking pages. Period. 

Having them won’t hurt you but just don’t waste your time on them. 

Excluded URLs do use crawl budget but their effect is minimal  (20:55)

Crawl budget is used to crawl excluded pages as Google tries to crawl them no matter whether they’ll be added to index or not in the end. 

Good news is that excluded pages are crawled much less frequently than valid pages. So their effect on crawl budget is minimal. 

When crawling a website, Google prioritizes most important URLs (24:00)

When Google has a number of URLs it wants to crawl (including valid and excluded URLs), and the crawl budget is limited, Google will try to prioritize most important URLs. This means that excluded URLs are not likely to negatively impact how valid URLs are crawled. 

Be careful with embedding images from other websites, especially Instagram (30:00)

Embedding images from other websites (e.g. from Instagram) can have a negative effect on your website and overall Google Images search traffic. 

When an image is embedded, Google needs to put more effort into discovering and processing it versus when the image is found in your HTML. 

Additionally, when it comes to Instagram embedds, Instagram uses a tag which prevents the embedded images to be indexed with the landing page. This means that by embedding Instagram images, you’re telling Google that you don’t want them to be indexed for your website. 

Having a brand name in title tags doesn’t give any ranking benefits (41:57)

It’s always good to have a brand name in the title tags. Sometimes if you don’t, Google adds it to the pages for you. 

But having a site name in the title tags is not a ranking factor, it’s useful to have it only from the brand awareness perspective. 

You can’t set up geotargeting on a page level (46:30)

When it comes to geotargeting, you can specify it in Google Search Console for the whole website or for a part of it – a subdomain/subdirectory. 

But there’s no option to specify geotargeting for individual pages of the website. Say, if one of your products targets the USA and another one Canada, you have 3 geotargeting options:

  • USA
  • Canada
  • Global (preferable in this case)

Top stories carousels are not parts of the usual organic search results, so the diversity update is not relevant to them (1:00:08)

The recent diversity update [Kristina’s note: this is an update aimed at limiting the number of search results per query from a single domain] is aimed for normal search results only. The top stories, carousels are not considered regular search results, so the update is not touching them. It means that you can see many results from a single domain in such carousels. 

Google uses an image alt tag as an anchor text of a link (1:05:36)

If you’re linking to another page from an image, an alt tag of this image will be used as an anchor text for the link. 

That’s it for today! Leave a comment if it was useful for you! And subscribe for the next round of notes and useful SEO tips!