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Google+ Hangouts - Office Hours - 12 February 2016

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JOHN MUELLER: All right. Welcome everyone to today's Google Webmaster Central Office Hours Hangouts. My name is John Mueller. I am a Webmaster Trends Analyst here at Google in Switzerland. And part of what I do is talk with webmasters and publishers like the folks here in the Hangout, and also the people who submitted questions, of course. As always, we have a chance for someone who is kind of new to these hangouts to ask a question before we get started with the submitted ones. I think, Michael, you had one that you wanted to throw our way.

MICHAEL: Yeah, sure. So regarding the Search Console, specifically the search analytics. I've got a few clients who are focusing on this, and saying, hey, it says that I'm ranking number one for this, that, and that search term. And it's even in a lot of cases-- I'm looking at one now that's showing clicks, impressions, click-through rates. But yet when they click the link that goes to the SERPs, there's nothing there. And I've tried replicating this by forcing the search through .co, .uk, .com, .us, even using a Tor browser. And I can't replicate the results. So I'm just wondering where the data comes from.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. So we don't make it up. It's essentially data that we've seen when we show the search results to people. So it's not that this is like a theoretical ranking, where your site would be ranking, or the impressions that it would be receiving, but rather actually what we showed at search, and how it was ranking at that time. So that can include things like personalization, of course, which could play a role there. It can include things like the location of the user, the search settings that they used to search there. One thing that I sometimes use to try to figure out is this a general ranking, or is this a-- maybe kind of exceptional personalization-type issue, is to look at the number of impressions that I see there. And if it's a query where I think the number of impressions should be high, but Search Console says it's a very low number of impressions, then probably it's something around personalization. So if it's like a one-word query, where I imagine the number of queries should be millions, and I see a couple hundred impressions, then maybe it's just from personalization that we showed it there. The other thing that also plays a role there is the universal search results, where we show things like the images on top. And if your site has an image that's shown in the universal search results on top, then we would count that for the web results as well. Because it's not just limited to looking at the rankings of the web pages themselves, but rather in this kind of-- not specific to images or video or whatever, your site was showing up in one of these high positions for that specific query.

MICHAEL: OK. That's help clear it up for me. Because I was trying to create a relationship between the analytics SERPs, and the Webmaster SERPs. And for me, it was more or less what you were saying. It was-- I didn't use the term personalization. But I used localized settings. So if somebody was on a mobile, and they were close to that company and doing a search, chances are they'd turn up at the top of the results, especially if they're connected in some way to that company through Google+ or through some other means. But the images isn't something I considered. So thanks for that.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. Great. Let's do another quick question from any of you all, if there is something still on your mind.

MALE SPEAKER: Hi, John. It's [INAUDIBLE]. I'm here in Toronto. I just wanted to ask a quick question. Did you have a chance to look at my mystery?

JOHN MUELLER: Which mystery? Oh, the mobile mystery. Yeah. We talked with the mobile search team about that. But I don't know if I have an answer that I can give you.

MALE SPEAKER: OK. Because I just wanted to let you know, I checked it with Keynote. I checked it with Splunk. I checked it with pretty much everything. Everything seems to be OK. And then there's no severity in the mobile area, regarding robots.txt. Everything's fine. Like--

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. Yeah. So just to give some context to everyone else you're seeing essentially a site showing up normally in rankings on desktop, and very low on mobile. And from our point of view, sometimes that can happen. But it's always good to kind of look into the details to see is everything working as expected on our side, or do we have to tweak something there. So I've been talking with the mobile team about that specific case to see if there's something we can do to kind of recognize these things a little bit better.

MALE SPEAKER: And so any-- approximately do you know when it will return, you think?

JOHN MUELLER: I can't make any promises [INAUDIBLE]. But I'll double-check with the team to see what I can let you know about that.

MALE SPEAKER: I appreciate it. Thank you so much.



LYNN: Hi, John. Lynn from the US. I have a question.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. Go for it.

LYNN: Thank you. So I'm with a company that provides reviews and question-and-answer services to other companies. And our question is around syndicated content. Because we have that as an option that we provide. And in the past they have thought that they were-- well, they were avoiding the duplicate content issues by the fact that they were loading it with AJAX call. But as we know now that Google's changed that, and can see and index AJAX calls. Then they're concerned about what the right way to handle this is when you don't have access to the meta tags. And so we're trying to come up with the right, best policy, and explanations to our customers, and that kind of thing. And so what I wasn't sure about was the X-Robots-Tag behavior. If you were to make that call, I mean, if you were to include the X-Robots-Tag headers in the result of just the AJAX call that brings back the-- essentially the partial duplicate content-- I mean the part of the page. Not the entire page is necessarily duplicate content, but the syndicated part that we're bringing in, done by an AJAX call. So if we made that AJAX call have those header responses, like a no-index, does that no-index the entire page, or does it just tell Google not to include that AJAX call's worth of duplicate content in the page that it would index?

JOHN MUELLER: I'd have to double-check how we currently handle this. In the past we've essentially ignored that, if it's a part of the AJAX response, and not something that's embedded within the page directly. So one thing that-- I guess what could be done is using JavaScript, you can also modify the head elements. So you could add a row canonical, or a robots meta tag using JavaScript. And we would pick that up as well, when we render the page. If it's just for a part of the page, then I don't think that would really change anything if you included an X-Robots-Tag with a JavaScript response, essentially. So my guess is we probably still ignore that. If you want to exclude a part of a page from being used for crawling and indexing, then the best way to do that is probably just using the robots text file, and kind of blocking that response or that part of the page from actually being crawled itself. But I don't know if that would even make sense in your specific case.

LYNN: Yeah. OK. It seems like I've seen that that's the last piece of advice that I've read that they don't want you to do is block it.

JOHN MUELLER: So, yeah. So are these like blocks of texts that are included within a normal web page? Or--

LYNN: Yeah. So well the typical scenario would be a product details page on a retail site. So-- and if they've had reviews and questions and answers with their own customers have provided, then those would be in the page first. So there would be a product description and pictures, and add-to-your-cart buttons, and that's kind of things, and then reviews and/or questions and answers. And some of that content is their own from their users. But then if they're just new or spinning up, and they don't have much of that built up yet, then we would also bring in from a brand partner, like if there's a brand site for that kind of thing-- that particular product, and that site has accumulated questions and answers and reviews, we would pull in those questions and answers or reviews.


LYNN: And so-- there could be-- that's where it would be-- that's why I say it's part of the page that has the content. And that part, the syndicated part, we had done with an AJAX call, even though it still can be embedded in the page afterward. But I mean not an overlay or whatever, but-- and prior to Google indexing AJAX that would hide it from indexing content, right?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. So I guess, in a situation like that, I would probably tend towards maybe moving that content into a separate directory within your site, where you're aggregating this. So that that specific response could be blocked by robots.txt. So that maybe a request for their own content wouldn't be blocked, but a request for the aggregated content would be blocked by robots.txt, just to kind of prevent the situation where it starts looking like they're auto-generating content that actually doesn't exist on their site.

LYNN: Mm-hmm. OK. But if we dynamic-- so if we dynamically adjust the meta tags on the page like to add no-index, then we're just no-indexing the entire page, right?

JOHN MUELLER: Exactly. Yes.

LYNN: And you think-- but my question, I guess, is still on the HTTP header tag from just the call on the AJAX content. You're not sure whether that affects-- whether it says, hey Google don't index the entire page, you know, or just don't index this content coming from this AJAX call?

JOHN MUELLER: It definitely wouldn't no-index the entire page. But I don't think that we would use it for that specific AJAX call. Because what we try to do is essentially render the page as it would within a browser, and look at the final results, and use the final results for search, for crawling and indexing. So if one of those requests has a header attached to it that essentially is invisible in a browser when you look at the final result, then we kind of ignore that. Whereas if one of the results-- one of the kind of--

LYNN: You'd ignore the header. You don't mean you'd ignore the content. You mean you'd ignore the header?

JOHN MUELLER: We'd ignore the header, exactly.

LYNN: Right. Right, OK.

JOHN MUELLER: So if you want to no-index or rel canonical the whole page or something else, you could do that with JavaScript. But I wouldn't do that if you just want a part of the page removed. I think for the most part, we'll probably just recognize that this is a block of duplicate content, and ignore it. But if you really want to make sure that it's not taking into account at all, then roboting the request on your side probably would be the easiest approach.


JOHN MUELLER: It's a tricky situation, though.

LYNN: Yeah. Yeah, right. Because it seems to us, a legitimate use case. Obviously they're not really, I mean, they are trying to have-- add value to the customer. But still offer reviews if they haven't got their own yet.

JOHN MUELLER: Definitely. Or if you can send me some examples, maybe privately on Google+, I can double-check with the team to really make sure that it's working the way you want it to work, and the way that we want it to work. And maybe I can refine that into something that we can put out publicly as well.

LYNN: OK. Well, one thing in my research that I was interested in though, that I came across from someone who wrote up what they found with trying this Java-- this Google index the JavaScript and stuff-- was that it seemed like he ended up, this particular person was talking to Gary Illyes, is it-- from Google? But anyhow that Google doesn't always index the result of Java-- doesn't always choose to crawl the JavaScript AJAX calls, depending on how heavy the JavaScript is in the page, how heavyweight. And so even that, like it seemed like his-- we can't just assume that all-- so the announcement is Google can crawl AJAX now, but are they always? Is it still hit and miss? We may crawl your AJAX and we may not.

JOHN MUELLER: I'd say at the moment it's still on and off. But it's definitely heading in the direction that we're doing it more and more. So if you need to rely on it not being indexed, then I wouldn't rely on Google kind of forgetting to crawl the JavaScript from time to time.

LYNN: OK. But from the standpoint of trying to dynamically put in tags from your JavaScript, I think that's what this test was about. It may or may not work, depending on if Google has chosen to-- huh?

JOHN MUELLER: I mean from our point of view, when we see tests like that, we see that more as a bug, rather than a feature. So if we see that we're not picking up the heading tags properly that are being injected with JavaScript, then the team would say, well, we have to work on making this actually work better and more consistently. So it's not that we say, well, this is a way you can kind of sneak content to the user that isn't being indexed. We essentially want to get all of that content indexed as well.

LYNN: All right. Thanks so much.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. All right. Let's run through some of the questions that were submitted. And if any of you all have questions or comments in between, feel free to jump on in. Let's start here. A good website related to our industry has invited us to produce an article for them. In exchange they said to give us credit by means of a text mentioned for the company name, as opposed to a link. Can this still give us a ranking benefit, even though there's no link? From our point of view, this wouldn't pass page rank. So this isn't something where you would see any kind of ranking change with regards to just a text mention. That said, even if there were a link there, then that seems like a kind of a tricky situation. Because you're exchanging an article for a link, which would be seen as being kind of problematic from the web spam team. So it's something where I think a text mention is great. A link in there with a no-follow would be a great way. And it kind of encourages people to go to your website directly. And from that, maybe you'll see an indirect effect. But at least there's no direct effect with regards to ranking there.

MALE SPEAKER: There was a company that I know around somewhere, and they were requesting like $200, you know, and then the reporter would have linked it somewhere. But you guys nicely found that and took care of that. So it's no longer-- people from that specific area no longer do it.

JOHN MUELLER: Great. Yeah. I mean the web spam team watches out for these things all the time. So reports or comments when you're seeing something problematic definitely helps. I noticed our SEL agency previously disavowed a link to our site, which was a genuine mention from an non-industry related forum. Is that a bad thing? Should I remove it from the disavow file, as it's a valid link? The forum mentions help. If you think that this is a legitimate link, I would definitely remove it from the disavow file. Just because it's from different industry doesn't mean it's a bad link. Or just because it's from a forum doesn't mean it's necessarily a bad link. So from that point of view, I would definitely keep those kind of links in general. The other thing kind of to keep in mind is if you're looking at it, from a link-by-link basis, and you're saying, oh, I accidentally put this one link in my disavow file, then removing that from the disavow file is unlikely to change anything from a practical point of view. Because it's just we're looking at so many different things for your website, one individual link isn't really going to sway things this way or that way. Does the ranking benefit to change from HTTPS outweigh the loss you would get from a 301 with regards to link juice? Yes. So essentially when you're moving from HTTP to HTTPS, with a redirect like this, you don't lose any patron. It's not something you really need to worry about there. On the other hand, the ranking boosts for HTTPS is more like a tiebreaker in the sense that we look at the URLs, and if they're kind of equivalent, then we'll swap them with the HTTPS version. So it's not that it would be a really heavyweight ranking factor anyway. But even a lightweight factor is more than essentially a null factor. Right? Notice some e-commerce sites, the iButtonLinks are no-follow, even though the link leads straight to the product. Is that something we should do or not? If this is a bi-link within your website, then and no-follow there, it wouldn't really be necessary. One thing the no-follow does though is kind of prevent patrons from passing through that link. So if that's a link to a part of your site that you don't necessarily need to have crawled, or you don't want to have Google's crawlers spend too much time on, then maybe a no-follow would be fine. In general, I wouldn't recommend putting no-follows within your website unless it's really problematic that Google actually crawls in that direction. Just because adding no-follows to some places might mean that you forget about leaving the no-follows there. And then suddenly your site becomes really hard for us to crawl properly. Does it cause any harm to have a canonical tap pointing to the canonicalized URL itself? No. That's perfectly fine. That's something you can definitely do by default even.

DANIEL PICKEN: Can I just ask on the canonical?


DANIEL PICKEN: Should you canonical to the forward slash version or the non-forward slash? The reason why I ask, if you have a non-forward slash in say a browser, and you copy and paste into somewhere like Excel, it adds the forward slash. So I think in my mind I just add the forward slash anyway. because when I'm copying out of a browser it's there. So should you add that to a canonical? Or should that be your URL, therefore your canonical URL?

JOHN MUELLER: It depends. So there are two different things to kind of differentiate there. On the one hand, if you just copy the host name, then the slash is kind of implicitly there already. It's like you copy the host name without a slash, then actually that means it's the root of the website anyway. So the slash that's added there automatically by some systems is perfectly normal. And you can canonicalize with or without the slash. We'll see it as the same URL. On the other hand, if there's a path after the host name, like directory name or file name, then the slash is essentially a different URL. So we will treat those as being different URLs. And if you want to choose one or the for canonicalization, then you should explicitly mention that.


JOHN MUELLER: So if there's no path, do whatever you want. If there is a path, make sure you're consistent.

DANIEL PICKEN: OK. So as long we're consistent, that's the key.



JOHN MUELLER: Do hreflang tags work on a blog level? For example, can my Australian and Canadian websites share the same blog posts and use hreflang to avoid duplicate content? Sure. You can definitely use hreflang across blogs. It doesn't matter what type of site it is. If these pages are equivalent and you have different versions for different languages or different regions, then you can use hreflang. Can a page layout, text font sizes, et cetera, have an impact on rankings? For example an e-commerce site with a product page showing description prices, et cetera, but the prices are made more prominent in the font size. Is there any situation where it would? I don't think we would really use that for rankings. Except for the part where we do try to understand when a page has primarily ads above the fold. Then that's the kind of situation where we might react to things like the font size or the layout of a page. But in general, if you have this content on your page and it's visible, and one is like a bigger font and the other is a smaller font, then I don't think you'd see any difference with regards to ranking there. Now what's the difference between HTTPS and HTTP/2? Why should one go for HTTP/2 when they've already moved to HTTPS? So HTTP/2 is essentially a different way of accessing your server that makes it possible to request multiple things at the same time, very simplified. I'm sure there are lots of details I'm skipping over. Whereas HTTPS is essentially a secure channel to your website's content. So they're essentially different things, looking at different parts. From a practical point of view, most browsers require that you use HTTPS in order to fully implement HTTP/2. So it's almost like moving to HTTPS is a good step for those of you who are planning on moving to HTTP/2 at some point. Another thing to keep in mind is your server can support HTTP/2 transparently in the sense that requests will automatically be upgraded to HTTP/2. It's not something that Google search really needs to know about. It's not something users really recognize. It's not like a site move. It's essentially a change in your server's infrastructure that users probably wouldn't even notice, other than that suddenly things go a lot faster. Does Google consider SSL as a ranking signal for local businesses' websites? So SSL is actually the old protocol. The new one is TLS. And that's used for HTTPS pages. And we use that for all kinds of websites, so not specific to local business websites. Do you know when Google will be marketing non-SSL sites as insecure? I don't know. I don't think that's Google, in general, but rather Chrome specifically. And there are some posts from the Chrome team about that. So I'd double-check with the Chrome team on that. Why does Google Webmaster Tools have lots of links, and links to my site but-- and also on other link analysis tools. But a search over Google, then nothing is found. Whereas we know that most of them are do-follow. So I think there are different things being mixed up here. On one hand, if you do a link query in Google search, and you'll just see a sample of the links that we show to your site. The links that we show in Search Console is essentially a bigger sample of links that we show there. And whether or not they're no-follow is essentially irrelevant for both of those, in that we'll show those links anyway. So do-follow or no-follow doesn't really matter for those links reports. But you can't easily compare the link report from a link query to the link information you'd get in Search Console. And usually external tools find other kinds of links as well. So these are different sources, different ways of looking for links, and not easily comparable.

ROBB YOUNG: John, can I ask an analytics question? I don't know if you'll know it.

JOHN MUELLER: Maybe. I can try.

ROBB YOUNG: Can I share an image with you? Can I just do that in the chat? Is that how I do it? Does that work?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't have permissions.

ROBB YOUNG: I'll try and explain it then.


ROBB YOUNG: Or share my screen, but basically when we're looking in analytics, we have let's say, 1,000 impressions on some things, 300 or 400 on others, and they're resulting in a handful of click-throughs. We have one of the search queries is the whole domain, so It's coming up with roughly 1,500 impressions. So someone will be searching specifically for that. It's getting 10 clicks, even though it's ranking an average of position one.


ROBB YOUNG: So does that mean that it's-- is that something where it's the browser? So let's say in Chrome, for example these days, if you go to Google and you start typing in a query, it moves it to the header. It moves it into the normal search. So it's kind of performing a query, and kind of not. Does it have anything to do that? I mean because normally, if you're getting 1500 people searching for an exact domain with the www, you're going to get more than 10 clicks out 1500, particularly if its average position 1.1. So I'm wondering how it treats the-- what you're searching to versus what moves to the top. And if they go straight there, or if Google is actually performing a search at that point, but still takes you directly to the domain anyway.

JOHN MUELLER: I think we only count it as a search if we really show the Search Results page. So if it's someone, like typing the URL in, and they always have it complete. And we show an auto-complete type thing, then that wouldn't count as a search. Whereas if they actually do a search, and we show the search results page, then that would count as a search. My suspicion, without looking at what your search results would look like, is that they're probably clicking on something else, something that we're not counting. Which could be something like an ad, if you had an ad for your website. It could be something like-- I don't know-- a knowledge graph entry on the side, or something like that.

ROBB YOUNG: I just shared my screen if that helps.


ROBB YOUNG: So this entry here, the--

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. What I would do there is try to reproduce that query, and see what all is shown. Maybe kind of double-check that you're looking in the same locale, the same country settings. And just double-check to see what's actually shown there. And if there are any, let's say nonstandard search UI features that are visible there, then perhaps they're clicking on that. And we're not counting that for Search Console.

ROBB YOUNG: Then it seems like a very standard set of results. There's no targeting. I've not put loads of parameters in there. I've just gone straight there and said, show me what queries are doing what.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. But I'd double-check in the search results. Just kind of see what's actually being shown there. My guess is we're showing your site. And they're clicking through to go to your site. Because I mean, what else would they be doing with the query essentially with the URL? But maybe we're just not counting that as a click in Search Console.

ROBB YOUNG: I mean how do you even do that-- say that again.

MALE SPEAKER: Maybe they're clicking on the site links. Because usually when you're searching for a brand name, or the exact URL, you were being shown a really a high number of site links, [INAUDIBLE], and so maybe they're clicking directly on one of the site links.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I mean, what I know we don't count is the knowledge graph sidebar. So if I search for your company name, then it has a link in the sidebar that goes to your website as well. So that's something we wouldn't count in Search Console. But I think the site links we should be counting. Otherwise I'd see that as a bug. But I'd kind of double-check to see what search UI features are being shown to people, and kind of guess where people might click. And if you think that we're just not counting something that we should be counting, then--

ROBB YOUNG: Well, you're definitely not counting something that you should be counting. I think we know that with the--

JOHN MUELLER: OK. I'll double-check with the team to see what's actually happening there. I mean we shouldn't be counted things like ad clicks. We shouldn't be counting probably things like the knowledge graph sidebar. But site links, for example, we should definitely be counting.

ROBB YOUNG: Right. So how does Google handle that in Chrome, if you start googling? It goes straight to the address bar. If you're doing a www, you've got no choice but to go straight to the website. You can't even google that domain from Chrome without disabling certain features. Because it'll just take you to the domain. There's no search involved. Because if you go to and start typing in the search box it'll take you straight to the address bar.

JOHN MUELLER: Really? OK. I haven't actually tried that for a while. Because I always search from the address bar directly.

ROBB YOUNG: Right. So it's a little bit frustrating. Because particularly from our side, or SEO's side, when you're trying to google a whole domain, because you want to see the results for that, you almost can't do it without disabling certain features. Because it just moves it straight up to the--

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. So what I usually do is I enter a question mark in the address bar, and then the domain name, and then that will be used as a query.

ROBB YOUNG: Yeah. But if your-- let's give you the benefit of the doubt, and say you're a power user, and not an average Chrome user, if normal out of those 1,500 people, if a normal person just starts typing, they're not even searching.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know.

ROBB YOUNG: They're just going there.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know how that's handled at the moment.

ROBB YOUNG: Because, I guess if it goes straight there, is somewhere in the background Google performing a search for that, and just doesn't bother. Because you're obviously looking for domain. Or is it no search at all? It just goes straight there.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I mean when I tried here with Google Switzerland, which comes up-- maybe it's different here-- if I enter a domain name in the search box there, it does a query for that domain name. So it doesn't go directly to the website. But maybe it's different in the UK. I don't know. Some of these things are subtly different from [INAUDIBLE] versions.

ROBB YOUNG: Right. OK. All right.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. We're looking at implementing an onload model lightbox for new users, the site the background of the lightbox is 0.5. Will Googlebot see this overlay as blocking content behind it, subsequently discounting the copy for ranking purposes? That's always a tricky situation. But essentially, we probably see that as a kind of an interstitial almost. You can double-check to see how Googlebot would see that by using fetch and render, in Search Console. So I'd double-check there to see what it actually looks like. But also maybe double-check your analytics to see that this is really something that's helpful for your users, rather than just sending them away again. How are impressions calculated if a page ranks anywhere in Google? Is that also calculated? No. It's really based on the search results that were actually shown. So if a site ranks on page 2, and the users only search on page 1, then we wouldn't count that as an impression. When committing a brand search on a mobile phone, both our iPhone iPad apps appear in the search results page with our logo. Could we influence it to only show one of them? I don't know. I haven't seen that. If you could send me a query like that, maybe on my Google+ directly, then I can double-check with the team to see what's actually happening there. Maybe both of these apps are marked up with app indexing, and they're seen as separate apps, and we show them separately. But maybe we can do a better job of showing the right version, or at least showing one canonical version. On an aggregate review with perhaps 300 user reviews, would you display all of these reviews on the same page? If not, should subsequent pages be rel canonical or rel next and indexed? This is essentially up to you. So you can put them all on one page if you think that makes sense, if you can put them maybe in a scrolling box. That might be an option. If you want to put the separate pages that's an option as well. With regards to the rel canonical that's kind of up to you. If you think the reviews are really important content, then maybe they should have their own canonical URL. If you think that these additional reviews are kind of less important content, and you really want people to focus on the main product page and you can put a rel canonical to that. If you do want to have them indexed separately, then using rel next and rel previous is a good way of letting us know about the connection between those different pages. Why is Google giving preferences to OTA websites in ranking for our brand keywords, while our websites are actual brand, for example, a query from the UK? I have to double-check what's actually happening with that specific query to see if there's something that we can do there, or that we need to do there. But in general, it's something where our algorithms look at a lot of different factors. And sometimes it makes sense to show the original website first. Sometimes we just see that other websites are just as relevant or more relevant to users, and we show those in the top ranking. So that's something where we don't explicitly make a call and say, well, we should always show aggregators, or we should never show aggregators in search. We essentially treat these websites as separate websites, and try to rank them appropriately. I have website that's more than a few years on the air. The problem is all tools say that we have implemented schema correctly. But we don't see any information in search. So this is, I think specific to rich snippets. And for rich snippets we have essentially three criteria that we watch out for. On the one hand, they have to be technically implemented correctly. So it sounds like that's the case here, if you're using testing tools, and they say this is technically implemented correctly. On the other hand, it has be implemented in a way that's aligned with our policies. So when someone looks at these, for example, if they review them manually based on maybe a spam report, for example, then the way that the structured data markup is used on a page has to be aligned with our policies. So for example if you have reviews on a product page, those reviews have to be for that specific product, or for that primary piece of content on the page. They shouldn't be general reviews. And finally we also look at the overall quality of a website. So if the quality of the website isn't that great, then maybe we'll be more cautious with regards to rich snippets, and say, well, I don't know if we really want to show these in the search results. Because we aren't sure we can actually trust this website to do everything properly. So those are the three things I'd kind of watch out for. If you're sure that technically they're implemented correctly, if from a policy point of view you feel that everything is fine, then I would work on improving the quality of the website, so that it's really clear that this is a high-quality website that uses the structured data markup correctly. Therefore it would be a loss for Google if we didn't show it in search. How much time is-- hi.

MALE SPEAKER: Yeah, John, regarding [INAUDIBLE] snippet, I had--

JOHN MUELLER: Oh, I can't hear you. Your voice has disappeared.

MALE SPEAKER: John, could I ask a quick question?

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. Go for it.

MALE SPEAKER: It's with respect to Google Webmaster Tools in the back end. I have a situation-- we've talked about it before-- with the vacations website out of Costa Rica. You may remember. It's a case very similar to what Robb Young has. And my question revolves around why is it in the back end with-- I'd love to-- can I send you a screenshot, like a link to a screenshot?


MALE SPEAKER: OK. Let me get it here.

JOHN MUELLER: Or if it's specific to a website maybe you can just send me a quick Google+ post, and I can take a look at that specifically.

MALE SPEAKER: I'll just put it in the chat. It's just a link to a screen shot. And then inside of that screenshot, you're going to see a real big difference between where Google shows us ranking and the actual impressions. We get no impressions for a phrase that gets 22,000 searches per day. Yet Google sometimes will show us ranking on page 1. This is a 15-year-old domain. To give you a real elevator pitch on this domain, it's 15 years old. Originally you said it was hit with a historic Penguin. Then you told me it was fixed. Then we had a site review on it on here. And it got slammed pretty hard with a lot of Vietnamese links after I appeared on a site review on here.


MALE SPEAKER: And then we disavowed all that. And we cleaned it up. And the last time I had a private chat with you, really short, I suggested that we were moving in the direction of putting up a brand new website. Well six months, five months after our chat, we released our new website on December 14th. It's the same effect. It's the same. I can't-- I guess this is a really loaded question with a bunch of questions. So I guess let's stick to the point. Why is it that Google is not showing this website? There's no impressions at all despite a high ranking, according to Webmaster Tools. It's the only place that shows a high ranking. Everywhere else it's 200-300.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I'd have to double-check with the team on that. But let me copy it onto the site, so I can remember to actually double-check. I'll have to look at that.

MALE SPEAKER: OK. Could you-- the Christmas email that I sent you was--

JOHN MUELLER: I'll try to find that.

MALE SPEAKER: I'll send you another one. But could you expand on how, why-- why there is such a discrepancy between the ranking that Google Webmaster Tools shows and the actual impressions of the website?

JOHN MUELLER: I imagine that's similar to what we looked at way in the beginning of the Hangout. In that with personalization, what can happen is that we show a fairly high ranking in the Search Console, because we've shown it at that position before. But you'll see a low impression number for a query that probably should be showing a lot of impressions. So if you see kind of the combination of a query that you expect to have a lot of queries or a lot of traffic for, and low impressions and high ranking, then probably that's just from personalization. In that a small number of people are seeing the site on the first page in the search results. But most people aren't seeing the site on the first page in the search results. So that's kind of that tricky combination there, where we say, well we've seen it on page 1, but actually only just for a couple hundred impressions. And that is a number we'll still show in Search Console. But you kind of have to interpret that yourself, and recognize, oh well. This query should be getting thousands of impressions every day. I got 100 impressions over 30 days. Therefore my site was probably just sporadically showing up for that query, not regularly.

MALE SPEAKER: So is there a particular reason that you could talk about why Google would repress a site like that in impressions, specifically impressions, without any kind of manual review? Or is there something that you can see on your screen, like you did before that this site is still being slammed by something?

JOHN MUELLER: I'd have to take a look. It's really hard to double-check these things live. Some things are really obvious, and I might be able to say something really quickly. But for most things when it comes to ranking, it's not yes or no type thing. It's very-- lots of shades in between.

ROBB YOUNG: Don, are you saying it's a new site or a new domain? Is it just a new design code or a new domain? You've hidden the domain from the screenshot.

MALE SPEAKER: It's a 15-year-old domain, actually. And--

ROBB YOUNG: So it's just new code? Or a new design?

MALE SPEAKER: It's just a new website. Yeah, because the last session I had with John it was suggested that it would be a good idea to redo the website. I've tried canonical. I've done hreflang. I've done, like I said, I fixed the historic Penguin that was attached to this domain. But everything I do-- if you see in that screenshot, you're going to see three distinct spikes. Those spikes are when I fetch as Google, that's it. The only time I get a click, the only time I get a high level of impressions, and I wouldn't call it very high for a phrase that gets 22,000 search a day. But those spikes are definitely fetch as Google and that's it. Otherwise Google represses that site from all search it seems.

JOHN MUELLER: But that's for that specific query.

MALE SPEAKER: For that specific front page. I'm only focused on that query, because it's 22,000 a day. So it's an easy target.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I'd probably have to take a look at this in detail to see what specifically we can say or what might be the problem there.

MALE SPEAKER: But if you want to see the domain, it's very easy. Just add .com to the main phrase that's shown in that screenshot. That's the domain. I'll send another email, John. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: Let me try to run through some questions here. And then maybe we'll have a few minutes time for some more open questions. How much time does it take Google to de-index pages that are blocked by robots.txt? So robots.txt doesn't block indexing. It just blocks crawling. So maybe we'll keep them indexed forever if they're blocked by robots.txt. If you want to remove them from the index, make sure you use an no-index meta tag and allow crawling. Is it necessary to have AMP pages if we already have a responsive website? AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages are essentially separate from mobile website in that the mobile website is something that people will see when they're using mobile phones. And AMP pages are the things that we can embed directly in search in the news carousel on top. That should be showing up towards end of February. So I'd keep my eyes open for that to understand how these pages are being shown in search, and to make a judgment call on whether or not it makes sense for you to also provide these kind of AMP pages.

MALE SPEAKER: OK, perfect. Because one of my new sites, I looked at and, yeah, it's still not showing.

JOHN MUELLER: Oh, yeah. I mean it's not launched yet. So you wouldn't be seen that yet. But what I'd double-check with regards to AMP is you need to make sure that these pages are really error-free. Where as soon as there is any kind of error within the AMP page, then we won't be using that for the AMP carousel. So in Search Console you have kind of aggregated error information. That gives you information on, in general, how error-free are my AMP pages. But you can also double-check them manually individually. And when checking them individually you need to double-check, on the one hand, the technical implementation of AMP, which is by adding hash development equals 1, and checking the JavaScript console. And on the other hand, the structured data information for the AMP pages, which you can check with the structured data testing tool.


JOHN MUELLER: All right. We just have five minutes left. So I'll open it up to you. We still have tons of questions left. So it seems like maybe we should do another one of these hangouts at some point.

MALE SPEAKER: Just mobile friendly, I talked to you about that about a year ago, regarding on how errors still show. I mean there's basically a delay in clearing the mobile usability errors, right?

JOHN MUELLER: That's always the case. Essentially we have to re-crawl and re-index the pages themselves. So that always has some kind of a delay there.

MALE SPEAKER: So you guys aren't going to be speeding it up eventually? Mobile is so critical now.

JOHN MUELLER: We're always trying to speed up things. But when it to crawling and re-indexing, we also need to get adopt to what the server can provide. And that's on your side, right? So if we can't crawl your website that quickly, we can't update our index that quickly. And especially with regards to mobile pages, if it's not a responsive page, we have to re-crawl it with both mobile and desktop user agents again, to double-check the concept that we're seeing there.

MALE SPEAKER: John, I try to stay within milliseconds, John, milliseconds.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. OK, that's a high goal. that's good.

DANIEL PICKEN: John, can I just ask a quick question, please, around tile tags?


DANIEL PICKEN: I've just shared an example in the chat. The example, it's a URL of Google search. I search for a brand name. The brand name is two words with a space. However it retains the top result, the title tag with no space. However, in the title tag itself on the site, It's got the spacer. So I'm just wondering why Google would alter a brand name or a particular [INAUDIBLE]. I'm looking for [INAUDIBLE], space, i.e. a brand name. I have that on the site. So I'm not sure where it's picking that up, and why it's taking the space out.

JOHN MUELLER: Probably because it's like that in the URL.

DANIEL PICKEN: Right. OK. That's interesting.

JOHN MUELLER: I'm just guessing. I mean the tricky part here is you call it a brand name. But actually it's just like two words, which could be seen as just two connected words. So sometimes what will happen is we'll say, well, this isn't specifically a combination that needs a space, but rather we find a lot of URLs, for example, that don't have a space in there. So we'll show the title in the shortened version like that. One thing that you can generally do-- I don't know if that's the case in this specific situation-- is just make sure that you really have unique title tags across your site, and that you're not using the same title on lots of different pages. Because if we see something that makes it look like, well this title is not specific to this page, then we'll try to invent a new title for this page. Whereas if we can recognize that this title is unique for this page and we can trust that we believe we can show this in the search results, then we'll try to reuse what you've provided on that page. So the better your titles are directly, the more likely we'll actually show them in the search results.

DANIEL PICKEN: And just one more question, quick one. 302 redirects, you said the past page rank, how does that work in a search engine? Because a 302 is a temporary redirect. So are you still looking at the original content and indexing that? Surely you have to index both pages as well. So I just want some clarification around that, please.

JOHN MUELLER: Oh, man. These 302 redirect questions will never go away. So essentially from our point of view, what happens with redirect is either we index the destination URL, so where you're redirecting to, or we index the URL where it's redirecting from. So in both of those cases, we essentially keep the page rank normally. So either we pass it through the URL where you're redirecting to. Or we keep it on the URL that you're redirecting from. And with a 302 redirect, technically you're saying you want the URL, you're redirecting from to be indexed. From our point of view, if you use a rel canonical, you can specify either one anyway. So it's not that the page rank evaporates. It's either on the URL that you're redirecting from, or on the URL that it's redirecting to.

DANIEL PICKEN: And which content-- would you take the original content, or the new content?

JOHN MUELLER: Well, we'd only see the final destination content. If you have a server side redirect, then we wouldn't see what else would be on the page if it didn't redirect. Because it's just redirected us to the other page. So we'd always use the final content. But we'd show it under either the old or the new URL.

DANIEL PICKEN: Right. OK. OK, thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: All right.

ROBB YOUNG: John? John, can I ask a very good question? Or you can even have time for another one. I was just trying to Mihai. In regards to my previous question, is it one search result with 10 site links? Is that 11 impressions or one impression?

JOHN MUELLER: It's per search results page. It counts as one impression. So if you have multiple URLs from your site in the same [INAUDIBLE], that would be one impression.

MIHAI APERGHIS: Are you sure that's true for site links as well? Because I was looking at Robb's Webmaster Search Console analytics, and all of the site links have the classic number of impressions.

JOHN MUELLER: So let me be more elaborate. If you're looking at it from a per query point of view, then it's one impression per search results page for that query. So for a specific query, we would count that as one impression, even if you have multiple pages. If you're looking at it on a per-page basis, so if you take the filter in search analytics and show the page, then we show those impressions separately. So if you have [INAUDIBLE], if you've gotten impressions, for example, if you look at it on a per-query basis we see well we showed your site once with these search results.

ROBB YOUNG: I thought Mihai was a genius.

JOHN MUELLER: So you can't compare those numbers. I guess that's the point there. But it's kind of tricky in that we try to show things that are relevant to you. But at the same time, if you think too far, then you're like, well this doesn't add up. So--

ROBB YOUNG: I guess you can't really show 11 impressions there. And then how would that affect the average position? Is it one? I mean-- 11 impressions in position one, then?

JOHN MUELLER: For the average position we use the average top position. So if you have multiple URLs that are ranking for the same query, we take the top one. And we use that as an average for different queries across different searches. So there's a lot of math behind it.

ROBB YOUNG: In the future, I'm just going to stick to asking for a solution to our site. Because these technical things are too difficult for me.


JOHN MUELLER: I think [INAUDIBLE] would be easier. Sure. I like it. All right. So let's take a break here. Thank you all for coming. I wish you all a great weekend. And I hope you don't have to go back to bed and Kenon said, get some early work done if you're in the US. Hope to see you again in one of the future Hangouts.

DANIEL PICKEN: Have a good weekend, John. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: Bye, everyone. | Copyright 2019