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Google+ Hangouts - Office Hours - 21 November 2014

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JOHN MUELLER: OK, welcome everyone to today's Google Webmaster Central office hours hangout. My name is John Mueller. I am a webmaster transanalyst here at Google in Switzerland and part of what I do is talk with webmasters like you and make sure that your question are answered and that your feedback goes back to the engineers and the feedback from the engineers comes out to you as well. So before we head off with the Q&A with the questions that were submitted, do any of you want to ask a first question? No? No need to be shy.

AUDIENCE: I do. But I know the answer already. I'll ask. With the way you phrased it to Gary the other day, it was when these things expire. But I know you can't give too much of it away, but is it something that will expire, or are we waiting for a manual update or a manual action to be removed? Or is that something that you can't--

JOHN MUELLER: Usually, if there's something manual then that definitely expires. If there's something algorithmic, and it hasn't been updated for awhile, then at some point, we either update that or we turn it off. So it's kind of, regardless of which side that's in, at some point that will expire, if you will. But it's something that's hard to say. You could just wait it out, for example. Because I guess, as webmaster, if you're trying to get your site out there, it doesn't really make sense to just do nothing in the meantime.

AUDIENCE: Right. Which we don't. But we just-- without working with any kind of time scale or knowing that basically anything we do now makes no difference, because all of the good work is going into a black hole. How do we then judge whether it's worth putting in that effort? I'm sure by now, if it was a manual action, you could have just turned it off, if, like you said to me before, actually we could see you haven't really done anything malicious. So we haven't seen any manual action in Webmaster at all, so I'm sure you could have just removed it. So I'm assuming it's an algorithm we're waiting to update, which is not something that's happening soon. But I don't know that.

JOHN MUELLER: If it there's a manual action involved, then that would be visible in Webmaster Tools, yeah.

AUDIENCE: But there isn't one.


AUDIENCE: So it's algorithmic. Waiting for update, but we don't know when it will be.

JOHN MUELLER: I guess that's the case, yeah. Yeah.

AUDIENCE: All right.

AUDIENCE: Hi, John, Can I ask you a question?


AUDIENCE: If we look at the [? Lumens ?] smartphones, it's a case of [INAUDIBLE]. But in many of the cases, when we make a mobile site, so we do not create all the pages that have been created in desktop side. So let's say some specific post or article, which would, let's say, [INAUDIBLE] website are not being created, is not being created into the mobile site. So in such scenarios, when we do that, do some other pages, it shows the faulty redials. So would you like deduce anything how can we, apart from creating those pages, is there any way that we can remove those [INAUDIBLE]?

JOHN MUELLER: So we look at this on a per page basis, but especially in Webmaster Tools, we have the aggregated information there. And I don't think you can take those out of Webmaster Tools specifically. So if you know that you don't want to kind of create mobile friendly pages for that, then that's fine. But that's something you kind of have to filter out on your side.

AUDIENCE: OK. So let's say, if we do not create those pages, and they are going to 404. So how Google will treat them? One site the desktop pages are properly optimized, dragging well, and in mobile searches, it when a user is clicking on the desktop, URL is being redirected to 404 which is, in mobile cases, so how Google will treat that?

JOHN MUELLER: Google will see that, I mean, assuming the desktop page still exists then Google will see that as a mobile specific error, and try to flag that in the search results. So what I would recommend doing there is just showing the desktop page. If you don't have mobile friendly page for that, just [INAUDIBLE] the desktop page. It's not perfect, but at least they can see the content. And when we look at these pages for the search results, we do that on a per URL basis. So we add like the mobile friendly variable or don't show that. So that's not something we're having a part of your site mobile friendly and another part not mobile friendly, would cause the good part of your site any problems.

AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: Sure. All right, let's go through some of the questions here. URL migration best practice. Is it advisable to canonicalize the old URL to the new URL for a couple of weeks before 301 redirecting the old URL to the new URL. Would this make the move faster, clearer for Google and limit loss on organic traffic? I would only recommend doing that if you assume that there's a technical problem with your redirect. But if you know you can set up a cyclic redirect from one domain to the other one, and you know that this isn't really a technical problem, then I would just set that up and let it ride. When we see a cyclic redirect like that, it's a lot easier for us to say, this is a clear site move, together with the setting of the Webmaster Tools, perhaps that you might have set. And we can say, well, we really want to move all of these URLs to the new domain. We can crawl it a little bit faster to see that kind of a move happening. And it's a lot easier for us to handle on our side. So if you're kind of like obfuscating a site move, then on our side, that almost causes more problems and potentially makes it a lot harder, and definitely makes a lot longer, for that site move to be processed for you as well. So if at all possible, I'd really recommend just doing a clear site like 301 from the old domain to the new one. [INAUDIBLE] mobile usability analysis in Webmaster Tools. Does this mean that all factors mentioned in the mobile usability are ranking factor for mobile search? That's a good question. I mean, we've been talking a lot about mobile recently, and we've started to show the little label "mobile friendly" in the search results when we find mobile friendly pages, based on these criteria at the moment. We're experimenting with going past just showing that label, but at the moment we don't have anything specific to announce there. So I personally, I could imagine that this is something that might happen at some point, but I kind of take that step by step. And I think getting the information on Webmaster Tools gives you a lot of insight into where you might still have room for improvement. And sometimes what we find when we look at sites, is that a larger part of the site might have moved to a mobile friendly template but some part of the site got lost. So, for example, I looked at our help forms recently in Webmaster Tools, and notice that for the largest part, everything had mobile friendly pages, but some of the profile pages that we have weren't mobile friendly. And that's the kind of information you can pick up in Webmaster Tools. You can see there's still a bunch of errors. You see the sample URLs and if you look at the sample, you'll say, oh, maybe this is a template of one part of a site that I forgot to update, and then you can update that. So that's kind of what I'd recommend doing there, taking that information, using that to improve the mobile friendliness of your pages and kind of being prepared for anything else that happens in that regard. Let me mute you for a second. Feel free to unmute if you have any questions. Text hidden for UX reasons. 80% are mobile. 50% are on desktop, are still being crawled, but not indexed. Google finds my hidden text, but it isn't showing it in this search. The most important stuff is invisible. We also still have a positive effect. So if the text is hidden on your pages, then we see as something that's not primarily important from your point of view. So if you're hiding content, then that's probably not the most relevant piece of information on these pages. So my recommendation there would be to make sure that important content is visible on your pages, so that when users go to your pages, they find this content right away. They see it visible from the start. And then that's something that we'd love to kind of focus on for indexing as well. We do kind of treat hidden content on a page with a little bit of less weight, because usually that's something that users probably are primarily seeing and might be confused if they saw, kind of, treated in the same way as something that's primarily visible on a page. So that's something to keep in mind, if you have a kind of a tag UI, or if you have content that's hidden by default on your pages, and you kind of have to click a button or a link somewhere to really bubble that up. If it's critical information for your pages, if it's relevant for your website, make sure it's visible from the start. Maybe move that content to a separate URL, if that makes sense, if that's really something that you find is important for your pages. So, that's kind of what I'd focus on there. Is there a mobile index? We can't see our site on a smartphone search results as desktop or tablet or normal search results with rel alternate, et cetera. OK, you're pointing to a mobile page that's no index, no follow So we have a separate mobile index, I think, for feature phones but not for smartphones. We put the smartphone content into the same search results. So just depending on which device you're searching from, that's essentially what you'd be seeing there. If you set up a smartphone friendly website on a separate URL, I'd really recommend making sure that you follow our recommendations with regards to the redirects, with regards to robots text with regards to no index, all of that. And if you're no indexing or if you're blocking my robot's to your smartphone-friendly pages, then we can't really take that into account for the search results. So we really need to be able to crawl and index those pages normally.

AUDIENCE: John, can I ask a question?


AUDIENCE: We have a client who [INAUDIBLE] dynamically content to-- on same URL, different content, different stream for mobile and desktop. So will this affect ranking somewhere? Because we have seen some variation in rankings of the same URL in mobile and desktop, though the content is the same, only the design part is different and they have created two different websites just for the mobile part of it.

JOHN MUELLER: If the content is equivalent, and if you're setting those pages up properly with regard to our guidelines, then that should be fine. There's nothing special you need to do there. If the content isn't equivalent, say you're selling shoes on the desktop page and t-shirts on the mobile page, then that's something where we'd say well, these are probably two separate sites. We shouldn't be treating them equivalent. If it's equivalent content, that seems like the right set-up there. So the design doesn't play that much of a role in that case. Also if you kind of hide things on the mobile site page, that's less of a problem. For example, if you're hiding the sidebar, the headings, the footer, those kind of things, if you have smaller images, that's all fine to have on the mobile page. The primary content should just be equivalent.


AUDIENCE: Again, I have a question related to quality guidelines.


AUDIENCE: If it's, from the Black Hat perspective, if a site is, we have seen a couple of websites job which are doing [INAUDIBLE] and blocking bot mode. But at the same time they are stable in ranking. And we have seen their are building links significantly. But the point that I wanted to raise it, neither they are increasing in pure ranking, nor are they decreasing. They are stabilized on their part. So what is the reason behind it? Does Google look and see those [INAUDIBLE] and all this stuff?

JOHN MUELLER: It depends. So there are lots of things that kind of come into play with the ranking. What I'd recommend doing there, is just making sure that you file the spam report so that we're kind of aware of that situation. But sometimes what I see is that normal sites that are doing something bad are kind of stable in ranking as well. And it's not the case that we're ignoring their sneaky things that they're trying to do, but rather that these sneaky things are pulling them down a little bit but they're still otherwise fairly reasonable. So we keep showing them in the search results. Obviously there are situations that we get wrong, where maybe we show a bad side very high in the search results, even though they're doing sneaky things. And that's the kind of thing that we'd love to hear about in the spam reports. But for the most part, we take the feedback from the spam reports to help improve our algorithms and to help improve our systems as well. So we don't manually go through all of the URLs in our search results to find exactly the ones that are problematic and to kind of manually take that out. That's kind of impossible with the size of the web. But we do use that feedback to figure out what we need to be focusing on. And that's definitely useful. It's hard to say if they're just ranking because they're doing other things really good or if they're in ranking because they're getting away with sneaky things. But regardless of the case, that's something you could tell us about and we'll take a look at how to see what we could be doing differently.

AUDIENCE: Great. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: If you're a new entrant and new domain in a segment where there are already lots of high quality, high ranking sites, what's the best strategy? Would you be best to focus on a niche, long tail keyword, searches first, lots of pages or just a few. I think this is almost like a business or a marketing question. Because if you're a business that's going into an area where there are already well-established players, where there's already a lot happening, a lot of strong competition in place, then that's always going to be a really tough situation, regardless if that's online or offline. What I'd recommend doing there is trying to find an area that you can focus on, where you can kind of build up, where you're doing something very special that the other players maybe don't want to do or that they can't do. So instead of trying to compete one-on-one with the really strong competitors that might be out there, find something that they're not interested in and kind of focus on that. Become a really strong website in that regard and build out from that slowly. So instead of trying to do the same as everyone else, find something that makes you special and that makes your site special. We own two e-commerce sites with similar products and descriptions. When this happens, does Google choose to rank one over the other? They each target a slightly different audience by the marketing and look. Will Google see them as duplicate and just rank one? Sometimes we will see these kind of sites as duplicate and try to pick one of them to show in the search results. It kind of depends on what kind of sites these are, but essentially if you're selling the same product, if you are the same company, and someone is searching for that product in general, then wouldn't make sense to show that listing essentially twice. So from that point of view, for the user, we do try to fold those kind of sites into one and say this is one site. We'll show you one search results. Sometimes that doesn't work so well. Sometimes it doesn't make sense to do that, if they're really, significantly different. So kind of take that with a grain of salt. What I'd recommend doing in a case like this, if it's just two sites, I think that might be fine. If you have more than two or three sites, then I'd recommend folding those together into one really strong site instead of kind of diluting your efforts across multiple sites. It's reported in SMX Milan that you said [INAUDIBLE] desktop version is used as a ranking signal for the mobile version if the desktop version is fast enough and the mobile is too slow, it doesn't affect ranking. I think at the moment, this is correct. So we need do focus on the desktop page for the search results for the most part. That's also the one that you use with the rel canonical. As we pick up more information from mobile friendly pages or from mobile pages in general, then I would expect that to flow into the rankings as well. So that's something to keep in mind there. I'd still make sure that your mobile friendly pages are as fast as possible, that they work really well on mobile devices, that you're going past just essentially the required minimum that we had with the mobile friendly tool, and really providing a great experience on mobile. Because lots of people are using mobile to kind of make their decisions, to read content, and if your site is kind of minimally usable on mobile, but really a bad user experience, really, really slow, then that's something that users will notice as well and they'll jump off and do something else or go to a different site. Is it possible for a competitor to strip an article from your website before it gets crawled and submit it as his own content? Duplicate content in the eyes of Google search engine, for example. I guess theoretically this is possible. In practice is not something that I would expect to happen like this or that I would expect to have cause any problems. Because we're pretty good at recognizing the original source of the content, even if we first saw it somewhere else. And this is something that's fairly common, in that sometimes the site will have a blog feed for example, and that feed might get picked up somewhere else before we actually pick up and use that content for web search and that's not necessary a problem. So even if, in an extreme case, a competitor picks up one of your pages and copies that content onto their site and gets it indexed first, that's not something that I would assume would cause any problems at all for a website. Let's see in the chat, there's some question about the lower thirds. I have no idea if there's anything special happening there. I see some of you have them active and some of you don't. But there's no setting on my side that disables it, let's put it that way. A few weeks ago, I submitted a mobile sitemap for a dynamic mobile site using the same URL theme based on the user agent. I don't see that Google indexes that. Is that normal, that Google views-- well, different question. So the mobile sitemap is essentially for feature phone pages. It's not for smartphone pages. So that might be something that you kind of ran into there. So if you're doing a smartphone friendly site, then I'd just use a normal sitemap file. You can also include, I believe, the rel alternate, the rel canonical markup in the sitemap file. I personally, I try to keep it on the pages themselves because it makes it easier to debug what you're actually doing. But essentially, if you're using the same URLs for a smartphone friendly site, then I would just submit those URLs normally with your normal sitemap file. Does Google use custom search user's behavior and statistics as signals? I'm not really sure what you mean there. Do you want to elaborate?

AUDIENCE: Yes. Google used some statistics about the user usage. When they go to your website and bounce back to a [INAUDIBLE], but you use the custom search also.

JOHN MUELLER: So, the custom search I think is when you embed like a search [INAUDIBLE] for your site?


JOHN MUELLER: I think that's essentially just a feature that we make available. I don't think we use anything special from there. Because you can embed it in so many different ways that it's really hard for us to, I guess, even look at that. But even with regards to normal user behavior signals, that's not something, I'd say, that we'd use directly in search. So we do use that kind of information to determine if our algorithms are working as they should be, but kind of taking that out to a site level isn't really something that I think makes a lot of sense. Can we expect Penguin to refresh more than once a year this time around to help a site who've cleaned up and demote sites that are ranking boost spammy techniques? My understanding is that we're working on improving the speed there. So I would definitely expect that to be a little bit faster this time around. I don't have anything specific to announce. I don't have any specific dates that I could give you guys so I don't think that'll be happening next week or anything really soon like that. But I know the team kind of is working on improving the speed there as well. Here's a custom search question. Yes. Joshua.

AUDIENCE: I thought I was in the wrong HLA for a little bit there because I hadn't heard a Penguin question for the first half of the meeting. Hey, I was going to ask about a question regarding are there any-- Well, Matt Cutts has previously talked about some algorithms that specifically relate to-- or that Google was looking into finding ways to verify or show authority of medical related type sites, like help, natural, supplement, these kind of sites. And I believe in the past, he's referred to it in relation to looking at authorship, authority, or site authority or something like that. But then also in relation to these things because they're important about people's health and stuff, we don't just want any site that, in the long term, it would be good to find the more reputable type of sites in this particular genre. Are there any algorithms recently that have focused more closely on that, that you could mention anything about?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know of anything specific that I could tell you about there. So I don't know. Nothing that I'm really aware of in that regard. I know this, especially the medical area, is something that we try to keep an eye on a little bit to make sure that we're giving the right information to users, because that can sometimes have a really strong effect. But I am not aware of any specific algorithms that would be specifically focusing on the things that you mentioned there.

AUDIENCE: OK. We're looking at a client site related to vitamin supplements, but it's not the-- it's a e-commerce site, but not the more kind of spammy type of a Viagra, steroids, or any of that kind of site. It's all pretty-- and it's well done, not in any kind of spammy way. Yet it seems like a while back, they got pushed down considerably. So I was just wondering if there been anything more closely related to that or did the payday loans algorithm include much specific in that genre that you know of?

JOHN MUELLER: No, that would be really specific to payday loan sites. That wouldn't be something that we'd kind of spread across all different kinds of websites.

AUDIENCE: OK. Because I thought that algorithm update, even though that was used as the original name but that it was talked about in they are latter updates of it that it focusing across the board on any kind of sites that are known to-- or topics that are known to have more spammy associations with them and maybe either quality factors or keyword stuffing or--

JOHN MUELLER: I don't think so. Sorry. But, yeah, I don't think that's the case in that case. So I think specifically, with regards to like the site that you mentioned, I haven't taken a look at that site. I don't know what the URL is, but, in general, what I'd recommend doing there, is just really making sure that the quality of the website overall is as high as it can be and focusing on the normal things as well there. So I wouldn't assume that there's anything exotic holding back a site like that's kind of reasonable but not really great. I'd really try to focus on the normal things there and just make sure that it's really the highest quality site it can be.

AUDIENCE: Yeah. And so you've got the general e-commerce site challenges, where there's what do you write about each individual topic and things like that of course. And then there's the topic of sliders on the top of the page. And we've talked about that in relation to the layout algorithms and stuff. Do you think-- because they are still quite popular, especially with a lot of very uniquely designed websites. Like I was looking at something in the jewelry category, like diamonds e-commerce sites. So it's very visual and they want to start with a lot sliding images at the top. Do you see there being much challenges there in that regard?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't see a problem with that. I think that's absolutely fine if you have a great website design that uses these kind of sliders, that's fine. I just-- I think one aspect I'd just kind of out watch out for is that you're not putting the most important, relevant information in these kind of sliders on top. Because if it's not really visible when we kind of crawl the page, for example, if the slide number three has the most important information for that website on it, if that's not directly visible, then we're not going to be treating that with as much weight when we kind of crawl and index that page. So if these are images that just lead to different parts of the site, if these are kind of like current ads or current information that kind of lead to different parts of the site, but not really the primary reason for visiting this page, then that's absolutely fine. And I think even from a usability point of view, if slider number three is the most important part of the page, then that's probably going to be a bit confusing for users. So for the most part, people are probably doing this right and using these sliders as a way to kind of draw attention to different parts of the site, and that's perfectly fine.

AUDIENCE: OK. All right, thanks.

AUDIENCE: John, can I ask a followup question to that payday loan question?


AUDIENCE: Can you-- I know you can't speak specifics, but can you tell us roughly how you would determine whether someone was in the payday loan industry? Because we found connections with our site to-- and I'm just throwing a URL in the chat now. But eight other sites have scraped our entire site, including the analytics code and other codes. And so if sites are scraper sites, not scraper sites, so if analytics sites and these kind of ranking sites say, actually your domain is associated with this one, then Google has as much, if not lots more, information on that. And if this type of site looks at our site and says, well, you're basically the same domain as this site, then is that something that can ever be used as a signal to Google as, are you not going to be that naive?

JOHN MUELLER: We've seen these kind of domain informational sites pop up every now and then. And that's not something I'd really worry about. The links from those kind of sites aren't really something that we worry about. Which sites that they think might be related to your site, that's-- I wouldn't worry about that. These are usually just like auto-generated sites with information they could pull from the web.

AUDIENCE: Right. Because at first glance, obviously we then think, Christ, were we under payday loan algorithm? So that leads me to think, well, maybe we are. What do you use to think we might be a payday loan company when clearly we're not. But you would never use this kind of--

JOHN MUELLER: I wouldn't say never use this kind of information. If we don't have anything else to go by, then we might crawl that page and say, well, there are like two links on here. Maybe they're related. But for any website that has been on the web for more on a couple of weeks, we have just lots of other information that we can use. So that's something where we could say, well, these are pages that are auto-generated. We can crawl and index them, but that doesn't mean that we give them any value.

AUDIENCE: Right, but I don't mean what they-- I don't mean their site, I mean what they're using to determine that we're related. You clearly have the same information, whether it's the second domain or under the same analytics. They're using analytics code because they've scraped our entire page and used-- and our analytics code has been caught up.

JOHN MUELLER: I wouldn't worry about that. I mean there are lots of ways that people kind of pull in this information for those kind of domain information sites. And we've-- I don't know. We've been crawling the web for quite a long time and we see a lot of other kinds of information. So I wouldn't really focus on what those sites Say. And sometimes you'll run across a site saying, OK, this domain is for sale. You could just like send an offer to this guy. And in reality, your domain is like, I'm keeping this forever. Nobody's going to take it away from me. So. those are the kind of things where we crawl and index those pages, but we don't really give them that much weight.

AUDIENCE: But again, it's not the page, it's what they're using, which is essentially the analytics code that I was concerned about.

JOHN MUELLER: No. I wouldn't worry about that.


AUDIENCE: Hi, John. We have a problem with HTTPS. We have a website without HTTPS and when we search that HTTPS format of that URL, it shows that it is being blocked by [INAUDIBLE] dot txt. So can you look at that URL?

JOHN MUELLER: What I'd do there is use the Webmaster Tools robots text tool.

AUDIENCE: We have checked that and there's no problem with the robots. Even though they're showing that the HTTPS region is blocked. And what it means without HTTPS version is not blocked. So how is it possible? We did not put any robots. We did not do anything on that.

JOHN MUELLER: What sometimes happens-- I don't know if this is the case, in this case, but if we can't reach the robot's text file for a site, then we'll assume that the whole site is blocked. So that's something that might be happening there. Maybe your robot's text file is blocked from crawling it completely. Then we would see the whole site as being blocked from crawling.

AUDIENCE: No, this is not the case. We have checked that. That HTTPS version, it has not been certified. It is not present at all.


AUDIENCE: So no Google access.

JOHN MUELLER: So, I don't know. Like when I try to access it, my browser doesn't even let me look at it. So and if I search for your domain name itself without HTTPS, then I get the normal search result. I wouldn't worry about that. That's fine. I mean, we've crawled and tried to index that page. Or we've tried to crawl it, and we noticed that robot's text wasn't letting us through. So we have it like that in our index. But that doesn't mean that people will see it. It doesn't mean that it's going to cause any problems.

AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Is the number of listings in a list page counted as content? For example, for a job site, number of jobs available in a category. So we can display this on top of our mobile sites where space is limited. I don't think we count the number of entries in a list page. The one thing I kind of watch out for with these kind of pages is that they're not completely auto-generated, that there's actually some content there on these pages. So instead of just providing search results pages, make sure that they're really of value, those pages. And then if you have a mobile version for that, that's great. So I wouldn't see the number as something that I'd say is a primary ranking factor from Google's point of view. But really just make sure that these pages work well for the user, that they're seen as being high quality content. If there are user experience that there's probably no similar page on a mobile site, is it so different? For example, no voucher page on mobile, but on desktop. Which page will the search results for smartphone show? So if we know that there's an equivalent smartphone friendly page, and a user is searching on smartphones, then we'll try to show that page in the search results. If we know that there's no equivalent smartphone friendly page, then we'll just show the normal desktop page in the search results. So it's not that we block the desktop pages completely from being shown in search, it's just that we try to bring those smartphone users a little bit faster to the smartphone friendly version of that page. When building a mobile version number page, is it better to start a new project in a separate folder with a subdomain or is it better to make the existing page more responsive? Is there a best practice on how to start a mobile version without Google [INAUDIBLE] content? So as best practices, I'd recommend double-checking our guidelines. We have, for smartphones a lot of information now, a lot of new information on how to make a smartphone-friendly site. If you're using a common content management system, sometimes there are simple steps that you can do to kind of activate the mobile friendly version of your site. So that's kind of where I'd start off on. If you realize that you have to do this yourself, then our recommendation is to use responsive design, which means you keep the same URLs and you just essentially just create an alternate CSS that smartphones could use to display your context, for example. But if you can't do a responsive web design, we also support two other variations, either serving different content on the same URLs or serving the smartphone-friendly page on a different URL. And with those three options, usually there's one approach that works for you. And I'd just follow that approach. It's not that we'd say you need to go to a responsive design. It's not like we say you need to kind of follow our recommendations, but rather we support these different types. And we just think of these different types, responsive works the best for most sites, so we can recommend that. But you can rank just as well with all the other types that we support.

AUDIENCE: John, since this is a mobile discussion, supposedly--


AUDIENCE: --on responsive versus adaptive, what some common issues might be around those?

JOHN MUELLER: What do you mean with adaptive?

AUDIENCE: So the screen resizes to a particular size rather than totally reactive. And I'm thinking Nick's asking the same question now in the chat actually, so maybe you just want to answer.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. So dynamic serving. So that would be when your server essentially serves like different HTML to smartphone users. Essentially we support both of those types. So that's something where if you say adaptive leads to a better kind of user experience for your users or where you're saying adaptive is easier for us to implement and maintain on our side, then go for that. So it's not the case that I'd say that either of these would rank lower in the search results. We essentially support all of those three different types. With regards to common issues there, I think when we look at these sites, most of the time we look at them when something goes wrong. And with responsive web design we see that fewer things go wrong because essentially it's the same HTML. If it can process the desktop version, we can process the mobile version as well, provided we can still see the CSS. With adaptive, what we sometimes see is that people sniff the user agent wrong, that they think that the mobile's Googlebot is actually a normal desktop Googlebot, and they serve the desktop content to our smartphone crawlers. Those are the kind of issues that we see going wrong. I haven't really run across a lot of usability issues where I'd say, this is would've been better handled with a responsive design. Most of the time, it's just technical issues that are sometimes really tricky to diagnose on your side. So if you're always serving the desktop content to Googlebot, even the smartphone Googlebot, then that's not something that would be immediately visible in Webmaster Tools. And that's something that sometimes really tricky to figure out what's actually happening there. What I'd recommend doing there, if you suspect that this might be happening or if you want to double-check that isn't happening, is use the Webmaster Tools fetch and render feature and select the smartphone option there. That way you can see exactly what smartphone Googlebot is seeing. You can see if it's able to pick up the videos, for example, if you have videos on there and that it actually shows you what was roboted, for example, or what isn't roboted. So that's the kind of thing I'd watch out for. Usually we run across the issues more when there's really something critical happening on these sites. So it's not the case that I have a lot of best practices to share with regards to creating an adaptive site. Do links from crawl Google Play apps pass page rank or [INAUDIBLE] signals to my website? I don't know how the Google Play website is set up. I assume that most of these links will have a nofollow attached. And, in that case, we won't do anything special with them. At any case, it's not that we treat the Google Play website in any kind of a special way. If we can crawl the pages on there, and we can find links on there that don't have a nofollow attached, then we'll try to forward that page rank appropriately. So it's not that there's any kind of special casing for the Google Play website. Authorship. Oh, man. Authorship was an idea that appealed to many of us. A few months later it was removed from the search results. So I think it was actually a few years later but, more or less. In many places it's mentioned that the real reason was a drop in click advertising. Is that true? No. That's definitely not true. We do take into account what's happening with regards to clicks on ads and from a web search point of view, if we notice that more people are clicking on ads, that's actually a bad sign for us. So that's something where we'd say, if any change that we do results in more people clicking on ads, then that means our search results are doing a worse job. That means we're doing something wrong. So that's essentially our point of view. We try to take into account the long term picture. And if we're doing something in search that results in people being less happy with our search results, then they're going to, over time, use other things for a search. And that's not really going to help us. So the more we can kind of key people in search, we can make sure that we're bringing the right search results to people that they can click on, that actually bring value for them, then I think we're kind of headed in the right direction. And we definitely wouldn't launch a feature where we know ahead of time, that people are going to click more on ads. And we wouldn't remove a feature if we know ahead of time that t this change will lead to people clicking more on ads. So that's something that's definitely not playing a role there. Webmaster Tools shows duplicate title tags for products that are on my home page and collection selection even though [INAUDIBLE] rel canonical duplicates of the same products when they are in multiple categories. I'd probably have to take a look at the examples to see what specifically you're seeing there. But in general, if you have the same title peg on multiple pages we'll show that in Webmaster Tools. Sometimes even if we see a rel canonical there. So, Webmaster Tools in that regard, is a little bit-- almost on a lower level, that it says, well, we crawled these pages and we saw the same title. Therefore we'll let you know about that, just in case you weren't aware of that. And if you're using the rel canonical to kind of simplify that already, then that's something you've essentially taking care of. Another thing to keep in mind is that the rel canonical is something that we have to process as a second or third step. So what sometimes happens is, we'll actually crawl and index a page with a rel canonical set to a different URL. And we'll keep that original page in our index for awhile, even if we perhaps crawled and indexed another URL because we kind of see this as a unique URL on its own first. And over time when we can process the rel canonical, we'll forward the signals to the canonical page. But at least in the beginning, we'll definitely crawl and index that page first like that, even if it has a rel canonical pointing to something else. If you really want to prevent that from happening, and usually you don't really need to prevent that from happening, you could use a 301 instead of a rel canonical. And a 301 essentially tells us right when we're crawling, we should go to the other URL. Whereas the rel canonical is something that kind of has to be processed first. Use of hidden text is not so relevant for pages. Does this mean only the text is not relevant for it or also videos and links? For example, I have a relevant link or video on a tab, which is only visible when I click the tab. Should I also show that? So in general, this is something where if the content isn't really visible, then it's really hard for us to say whether or not it makes sense to put a lot of weight on this content. And it doesn't really matter if it's a video or if it's a link or it's images, this is essentially something that's been the case for a really long time now, that if this is really important and relevant content, then make sure that it's actually visible. One way to think about this is, if a user is searching for that content specifically, something perhaps hidden, or perhaps not so hidden in a tab, where you have to click the tab to see that content, if the user is searching for that content, they land on your page. And they look at your page and say, well, this isn't really the content that I was searching for. It's not the image of a, I don't know, a car, that I was looking for. But rather a big piece of text or image of something else, then they kind of feel frustrated that they didn't really get what they were looking for. So we try to preempt that a little bit by saying, well, if it's hidden, maybe it's not really important for the user. Maybe we shouldn't be putting that much weight on it. So with that in mind, if this is something that you think is really important for your users, make sure it's either visible when they go to that page, or if you think that this is significant enough, maybe set up a separate URL where this is actually visible. If it's essentially auxiliary information that the user might want to look at for a really kind of in-depth review of that page or that content, then maybe it's fine to keep it in a tab or keep it behind something like a click here to learn more link. So that's something where I wouldn't say you always need to do it one way or another, but rather to think about how important is this content? Is it relevant enough that you actually want to have it visible right away or is it something that you don't really find that critical for this page, but users might like it to get a little bit more information. Let's see, here's one. When there's an update to algorithms like the rolling Panda update, is it data from the last month's worth of crawls or is it from a few months earlier? We've noticed that it takes a few months for big site improvements to be picked up. In general, these are things where we don't have like a cut off date and say, it has to be on this date or it has to be crawled on this date. Because we can't crawl the whole web all the time. We have to make regular decisions on which part of the web we should crawl today, which part we should crawl tomorrow, which parts we should crawl every couple of hours, which parts we think probably only make sense to crawl probably once a year, or once every couple of months. So these are things that all come into play. And from a technical point of view, it's not even possible to say, well, we'll only take everything into account that was crawled last month, because there are some things that we haven't crawled last month. And we can't really throw them away and say, well, if they were crawled a year ago, it doesn't really mean that they're relevant now because these could be really important pieces of information, but they just don't change that frequently so we don't crawl them that frequently. So just because we crawl them more often or less often, doesn't infer its importance for us. So with that in mind, when updates look at the data in our index, we don't focus just on a period of time that we've actually crawled, but rather on everything that we've collected until about that time. All right. We're running low on time. I'm happy to give you guys a chance to ask some more direct questions if you have anything specific.

AUDIENCE: John, I put a link here in the chat. That's something I was talking about. I mean, I don't know right off if there's any particularly obvious problems there.

JOHN MUELLER: I can take a look at it after the hangout, yeah.

AUDIENCE: OK sometimes when we use the site search function to look at indexed content, we don't always get the same results. I mean, sometimes at different times, even, maybe it's an indexing anomaly but we'll see quite a good number of changes and in those results. I don't know if that's because it's during an update or something like that. Do you know about that? I mean that function is basically you use the site and then you don't include the www in there. Are there any special variations in which that function could be better utilized?

JOHN MUELLER: I think it's kind of important to keep in mind that the site query is something that's pretty artificial, that normal users don't do. So we don't necessarily focus so much on that. It's not something where I'd say, if a URL isn't listed there or not indexed there, or if a URL is like write first, like you do a site query for your site, and the home page isn't ranked first, that that's a sign of a problem. That's essentially something we try to maintain, we try to use as a filter for some of the indexed URLs there, but it's not meant to be a comprehensive listing. Kind of the count of the results on there isn't meant to be a comprehensive count of the indexed URLs. It's essentially something that we're trying to provide a quick set of search results based on that query. So I wouldn't necessarily--


JOHN MUELLER: I wouldn't use it necessarily use it as a diagnostics tool, for example.

AUDIENCE: OK. Yeah. So often it doesn't match up with a sitemap index diagnostics in Webmaster Tools or other data. I guess that's quite common.

JOHN MUELLER: That's completely normal. So I'd use Webmaster Tools for things like that. The sitemaps count that you mentioned, the indexed status information in Webmaster Tools, I wouldn't use site query for that kind of diagnostics information.

AUDIENCE: All right. Thanks.

JOHN MUELLER: Ramesh, I think you had a question too.

AUDIENCE: Yes. So my question is about [INAUDIBLE]. Android [INAUDIBLE] Google itself. But the problem is like it's [INAUDIBLE] with the Google [INAUDIBLE] how they can get these particular viewing [INAUDIBLE]

JOHN MUELLER: I'm having a really hard time understanding your question from the sound. But I think it's about getting your app index and showing that in the search results in Chrome on smartphone, right? What I would do there is maybe do a short post in the help forum about the problem that you're seeing there. And I can send someone who's more familiar with the app indexing side to look at your specific site.


JOHN MUELLER: So if you can post to the help forum with the specifics of the URL of your site and the app that you're using there, then I can point someone at that for you. All right. Looks like we're kind of out of time. It's been great questions here again. So let me just double-check that I have the links that you guys sent me. And I wish you guys a great weekend. Thank you all for joining. | Copyright 2019