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Google+ Hangouts - Office Hours - 27 February 2015

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JOHN MUELLER: OK. Welcome, everyone, to today's Google Webmaster Central Office Hours Webmaster Hangout. My name is John Mueller. I'm a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google here in Switzerland. And part of what I do is help answer questions that webmasters, publishers, people like you all have and make sure that you have the right information that you need to make really awesome websites. To start off with, one thing we announced yesterday was that we're going to start using mobile friendliness as a ranking factor. So if you have a mobile friendly page, mobile friendly site, or if you have an app associated with your site through app indexing, then that's something that we're going to reflect in the search results for smartphone users. So to kind of just very, very briefly go through what it is that we do there, I put together a short presentation. I'll just go through it very briefly. If you want more information, maybe it's a good idea to look at the YouTube video afterwards, and you can just pause and look at what I have on the slides. But I'll try to run through it fairly quickly so that we have enough time for all of the questions. So let me see. All right. I think that's presenting. So essentially, we've seen lots of users love their smartphone. They use them all the time, and they're unhappy with some of the non-mobile friendly search results. So some people would even go so far as to give up caffeine. I don't know. That's kind of harsh. Our main elements that we're looking at in a very, very simplified way is that if your site is mobile friendly, we expect that it's width matches the mobile device in that to the viewport is properly sized, that the text is visible, that you don't have to zoom, you don't have to search for the text on a page, you don't have the text behind elements like Flash. And from our point of view, since we try to make Google about as smart as a smartphone, but we also have to stick to our traditional guidelines, like the robots.txt, which tells us which parts we can crawl or not, we also have to be able to kind of crawl all of this content, crawl the CSS and JavaScript so that we can see that this is actually a mobile friendly page. This, very briefly, for the PageSpeed mobile usability guidelines, what we're looking at at the moment-- in general, we have three ways that we recommend of making a mobile friendly website that connects to your desktop site. On the one hand, responsive web design is where you have the same website, but it looks differently depending on the device. Dynamic serving is where you're serving slightly different content, depending on the device, or completely separate mobile site. For example, if you have an old website that you can't update for technical reasons or for financial reasons for a while, you could set up a parallel version of those pages and just connect those pages on a one by one basis. Each of these different options has different ways of handling the URLs, staying HTML or not. From our point of view, they're essentially equivalent. We don't treat any of these with any preferential treatment in search, as long as we can tell that they're mobile friendly, that's fine. You can check this in Chrome, which is a really easy way to do that if you don't want to play with your phone all the time. This is a great way to test changes quickly. PageSpeed Insights is also a tool that gives you more insight there. Webmaster Tools has some information on how we see the mobile friendly pages. There's also, in Webmaster Tools, a mobile usability report, which gives you aggregated information on the mobile friendliness of your site overall, which is really useful, because maybe you're missing some aspect of your site. Maybe you changed all the templates in your CMS, and you forgot one of them, then this is a great way of finding that. So, again, these are essentially our tools. One thing to keep in mind, the mobile friendly test also uses Googlebot and kind of reacts to the robot.txt guidelines there, so it's a great way to test if something is blocked. Fixing a site that has issues with mobile friendliness, if you're using a common CMS, then often, there are really easy ways to upgrade that. And sometimes you can install a plug-in that just adds a mobile friendly version. Sometimes you can switch to a more modern theme, for example, maybe in WordPress or in Blogger that automatically has a mobile friendly version in it. It kind of depends. But sometimes, if you're using a common CMS, really easy ways of fixing that. It can be really tricky, though, if you're trying to modify the HTML yourself, and you don't really have a lot of experience with HTML, then it's easy to sink a lot of time into this. So try to get some help from an expert. One common feedback we get is that the pages look different in our testing tool than on a phone. And that's often due to roboted resources. So for example, the CSS is blocked, then we can't see what this page might look like. And finally, some people prefer using apps. I think that's definitely a respectable choice. Both of them can be nontrivial to implement. Apps can be really hard to implement properly. So this is not a decision that I would make trivially and just say, oh, I'll just use apps, and that's fine, because I like apps. Really check with your users to see what they're comfortable with. Find out where it really makes sense to invest your time, your money, your resources. I mentioned roboted content a few times. This is really a tricky problem for us, because if we can't see what this page looks like, we can't tell that it's actually mobile friendly, for example. Interstitials is another big problem for us. If Googlebot crawls a page as a smartphone and essentially just sees a page that says, hey, you should install our app, or you should do this, or you should do something else, and doesn't see the content, then that's essentially blocking Googlebot from being able to really properly crawl and render these pages. Mobile specific errors are something that we've talked about in the past, as well. This has been a ranking factor for quite some time. Speed is definitely also an aspect that is worth keeping in mind, because depending on how you make your website, this can be quite significant. And on a mobile phone, any additional content that you load, for example, any larger content that you load, takes significantly more time than on a desktop. All right. Kind of ran through that. Do you guys hear in the audience have any questions that I could go?


JOHN MUELLER: All right.

AUDIENCE: Thanks for the information. John, I have a question that [INAUDIBLE] is something that will be considered as blocking a crawl [INAUDIBLE] set properly. So would it be fine if we check whether it's been crawled by a robot or a normal user, and we just remove that [INAUDIBLE]? So it's some kind of blocking, I would say, but at the same time, the intent is correct so that the site is being crawled.

JOHN MUELLER: That's definitely cloaking, and that would definitely be against our Webmaster Guidelines. So that's definitely not something I'd recommend doing.

AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: Someone also submitted a bunch of questions directly on the Events page because they might get lost if we go through the Q&A. Let me just run through them very quickly. I'm not a techy geek, so let me ask you this question. There's one spam website that's using my domain name and YouTube channel name and even my website's tagline. How do I get it removed from the website, because that website doesn't even have any contact option, like, how do I contact this website? Essentially, contacting them directly is probably the best approach there if they're using your copyrighted content. You might want to check with a lawyer to see if a DMCA complaint would be possible. I can't really give you advice around that. Otherwise, this is something that essentially just happens on the web. And for the most part, that's not something you really need to worry about. So I'd take a look into whether or not it's possible to get it taken down on a copyright basis, and if that's not possible, then in general I wouldn't worry about it too much. Google recently announced mobile friendly as a ranking factor. If a site is not mobile friendly, what are all the suggestions Google could give? Kind of went through that, so if your site isn't mobile friendly, then making it mobile friendly would be a good idea. The important thing to keep in mind here is that, obviously, these ranking changes are effective on smartphones for smartphone users, so if you don't care about smartphone users at all, and you're really, really certain that nobody's ever really going to try to use your site on a smartphone, which I think is probably questionable for a lot of sites, but if you really don't want to do that, and you don't care if people don't find it you on their smartphones, then you're not going to be visible in search that much anyway, so it's kind of not something you need to work around. On the other hand, if you do care about smartphone users, and you do see that people go to your site with a smartphone, and they tend not to come back, then that's usually a sign that maybe they're unhappy with what they found on your website, that making a mobile friendly site would actually be a good idea. And even if you think at the moment that making a mobile friendly website isn't worth the time, I believe, in the long run, more and more people are going to be using smartphones, so it definitely makes sense to jump on that.

AUDIENCE: John, could I ask a quick question?


AUDIENCE: On mobile. I've seen the blog post that you put out. It said that you're going to start using this new ranking signal as of the 21st of April, which is nice to have a date. We don't normally get a date. So is that literally just going to be kind of new, and if I flip the switch, that's when it's going to start working? Or is it going to be-- I know normally when you do some sort of algorithm updates and ranking signal updates, you do it over a period, so is there, like, a two week period it's going to roll out? Do you know how it's going to be rolled out?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. [LAUGHS] We wanted to give you guys a date so that you would at least have a time to kind of focus on that on your own without having this unknown pressure behind you. It's possible that we're not going to push the button exactly on the 21st, so I imagine there's going to be a period where it rolls out and where it actually is more visible, but this is something where we wanted to give you a date so that you know that at least you have until that time to really double check what's happening with your website, make sure that, if you have a mobile friendly site already, that it's being recognized as such, as well.

AUDIENCE: OK. And is it going to be the case of you roll out the update, and non-mobile friendly sites will kind of drop out, or they'll just kind of drop down the list and all, or will you still kind of see mobile friendly sites ranking in the high positions?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. We can't remove these sites completely, because if these sites essentially work on a smartphone, and they're really relevant for these queries, then even if they're not mobile friendly, then maybe that's something we should show to users anyway. So we're not going to remove these sites from search. We're going to try to kind of boost the mobile friendly sites in search, and with that, if we kind of boost one set of sites, then, of course, the other set of sites kind of drops down a bit.

AUDIENCE: Yeah. Makes sense. And just last question, is it going to have any effect whatsoever on desktop searches?

JOHN MUELLER: As far as I know, not, no.

AUDIENCE: OK. That's fine. Thank you.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. One last question from the Events page. I'm working for an organization that needs to migrate to a new domain. What should I do with the old archived content? Essentially, if you're moving to a new domain, I'd recommend moving everything as much as possible. So if you have old archive content, set up a redirect, move that content to your new domain, as well, so that you can really focus on your new content, your new domain, and instead of splitting it up across multiple sites.



AUDIENCE: Hi. Sorry. That was my question. Thank you for answering it. We have quite a lot of our content, so that may not all happen in one go. If we stagger it across after we've made initial move, will that be a problem?

JOHN MUELLER: That shouldn't be a problem. So usually what happens when we see that a site is moving, we'll try to crawl a little bit faster to pick up on everything. And if you're staggering it, then essentially that means we see some signs of a move, but not a complete move. So if possible, I try to recommend moving everything in one go. But if you can't do that, then you can't do that. There are always technical and organizational reasons for these kind of things. So we can live with that, too. I'd just make sure that when you have everything moved over in the end, make sure you set the change of address setting in Webmaster Tools so that we really know that the old domain has moved completely to the new one.

AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you. Hello, John. Hi. Hello?


AUDIENCE: Hello. I have a question. We have an old domain, and we want to redirect to a brand new domain, because I want to change our brand name. We have old content in the old domain, and we want to change our content, improve a lot of the content, remove old content that is not good, and we are not sure if doing it before the [INAUDIBLE] or later, or at the same time? We'd like to change the old domain to the new one and then the new one with the brand new domain, with the brand new content, so one is all on the same topic, on the same pages. But we're not sure if we're doing it right, doing everything at the same time.

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. If you're just removing content, I don't think it really matters when you remove the content. If you're reorganizing your whole website in the sense that you're kind of using a new URL structure, that you're using completely new CMS, completely new design, then that's something that I'd separate from the site move. So either do that before the move, or do it after the move. Kind of depends on how you want to organize that, but I wouldn't do it all at the same time. The problem with doing it all at the same time is we'll start seeing the redirect to a new site, but we won't be able to kind of figure out what the one to one mapping is between the old and the new site, and that makes it a lot harder for us to say, OK, we'll just take everything we know about the old site and apply it to the new site. So if you can kind of separate the reorganization of a website from the move, that makes it a little bit easier.

AUDIENCE: Thank you very much, but how much time should we need to do that? The next week or two weeks or maybe more time?

JOHN MUELLER: It depends.

AUDIENCE: We want to do it fast because we are very excited that we are more useful for the user, and we want to remove all that content because that was our old way of thinking about content. We want to add to do it at the same time.

JOHN MUELLER: I mean, doing at the same time is also possible. It's a little bit easier for us if it's separated, but if you have everything ready, and you're like, well, I just need to push the button, and everyone is kind of waiting for this new stuff to happen, then just do it at the same time. That's fine, too. I mean, it makes it a little bit easier for us if we can separate the two. It makes it a little bit easier for you to diagnose problems if you have that separated, but if you have everything ready, and you're just like, why do I artificially need to delay it , then just push the button and make it happen.

AUDIENCE: And for time, I was asking, it's better to do it-- waiting, if we decide to wait-- some weeks, or maybe some months?

JOHN MUELLER: It's really hard to say from a time point of view, because we have to kind of recrawl and re-index the website when you do an organizational change like that. So to do that completely, I guess you're looking at a half a year to recrawl everything. To recrawl the most important content, maybe you're looking at, I don't know, three to seven weeks. Something like that. So more in the order of one or two months than, like, a couple of days, but I wouldn't artificially delay in the sense that, oh, I'll just leave the old site that nobody really likes up for another year just to make Google a little bit happier. If you really have everything ready, and you just want to get started, then just do the move, and go with that.

AUDIENCE: Thank you. And last question, just one brief. I like to know, I asked last session about having a video on the header, if it could hurt our rankings. But I was not talking about having just a video. I was talking more about having an how to play video. Now it's very common on some websites to find it in the background of the header a very cute video about people using your product or things like that. It's more heavier than having a simple picture. So I don't know. A lot of websites do that, [INAUDIBLE] or maybe [INAUDIBLE]. It's very pretty. I don't know if it could hurt our rankings.

JOHN MUELLER: The only thing I would watch out for is if you're using something like a YouTube video in the background or a Flash video, then what might happen is we recognize this as a video play page. And we'll show which kind of in video search. Or we'll show it with the video snippet on the side. And if this video is essentially just decoration on a page, then probably that's not what you want. So if you do something like, I don't know, an HTML5 animation or some kind of animated image, then that's probably perfectly fine.

AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you very much.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Let me run through a bunch of the submitted questions, and then we'll get back to the live ones here. I work at a web design agency, and we place a designed by link in the footer of all the websites we create. Is this a good practice, or should we stop? I guess this kind of looks at things like with regards to unnatural links, for example. And from our point of view, these kind of links, by default, are things where the webmaster doesn't really place the link explicitly on their own. So this is something where I'd recommend, if you want to put your footer link there, make sure it has a no follow link there, so that this is something that people could click on if they're interested, but it's seen as something that is not an editorial link by the webmaster. It's not something that you'd have to worry about later on and say, oh, my god. I put all these links on this website. Now Google will think I'm building an unnatural link pyramid or something crazy. So this is something where putting a no follow there is definitely good practice. You don't need to kind of not put these links there if you think that it makes sense. If that's something that you've kind of decided on together with the people who are running this website in the end, then that's something, certainly, that you might want to do, but I definitely put a no follow rule for those links. What's the best practice for SEO URL structure? Keep them all the same or customize in my language? For example, if we have automobile, and the German version is a German word, and the Chinese version is-- I can't pronounce that-- the Chinese version of the word, would that be OK? From our point of view, that's definitely OK. So this is something where you probably want to look at it more together with your users and with us. And with regard to the users, I mostly mean that if users know that they can click on these URLs, they can understand the words in them, that probably helps them. On the other hand, if, for example, the German users are presented a Chinese URL, then that will probably confuse them, because they wouldn't know which part of the URL is actually relevant, and what do these characters actually mean? So kind of look at it together with your users. If you want to choose one version and use that across all languages, that's definitely up to you. That's something we would be able to handle from the search side, but you might want to check with your users if they're really comfortable with that, if they're OK with those kind of URLs.

AUDIENCE: Yeah, John, I asked that for someone who was asking it on Google+. Anyway, the other thing that was brought up about that question is that it also depends on-- another important factor is if we're trying to serve different languages to different regions or different languages for the same region. So--

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I mean, ultimately, from a search point of view, we're fine with whatever option you choose. So I see this more as a marketing, as a usability issue than anything else. Obviously, if you have URLs that are really hard to copy and paste, then that's something that might make it harder for people to recommend those URLs on your site. But that's still-- I see that more as a marketing or usability issue than anything directly search related, because if someone copies and pastes a URL, and it's the proper URL, it leads to your content, then we'll be able to handle that. So check with your users. Check what they're comfortable with, and kind of try to stick to that.

AUDIENCE: All right. Thanks.

JOHN MUELLER: When will Google introduce a JSON-LD markup for product data? I don't know. I'm sorry. We've started adding support for JSON-LD. I don't know when we'll be adding support for all of the various types that are out there. We have four to five subdomains, and each subdomain targets a different category, and we promote them as a separate entity, but Google puts a main brand at the end in a title in the search results instead of the subdomain entity name. We try to recognize which part of a site kind of belongs together, and we'll probably try to optimize that for titles, as well. So if you use subdomains, or if you use subdirectories, we'll try to figure out which parts kind of belong together and handle them appropriately. If we're getting this completely wrong, and you're saying, well, this subdomain is for-- maybe I use subdomains for different users, for example, like on Blogspot, then that probably wouldn't make sense to kind of use the same titles across all those subdomains. And that's the kind of feedback where having real URLs, real search results, queries where you're seeing this problem and maybe posting them in the Help forum or sending them to us directly would be really useful. We can take that title [INAUDIBLE] and say, hey, we should be treating these differently, or should we telling the webmaster that this is essentially just one big site? And they kind of have to live with that. So if you can give us more explicit examples, that would really be helpful there.

AUDIENCE: Oh, hi, John. This is Michael [INAUDIBLE]. So I wanted to pose my question at the Google [INAUDIBLE], but I'm not getting any kind of response from there, so [INAUDIBLE].

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. If you can post the link to your forum thread, maybe in the Event comments, then I can jump in there and see what's happening.

AUDIENCE: Yeah. Sure. I'll do that.

JOHN MUELLER: OK. Thanks. We are dealing with a user based media content site where there is often duplicate content issues. We've taken an approach that specifies to the bots, the eldest image video and canonicalizes it so to abide by best practices, but should we cite sources? I think canonicalization is a great way to handle this kind of situation, where if you have different sources, and you know you prefer one of them to be indexed, and that's something that you can do, we will still need to index the non-canonical version so that we can process and see the canonical tag and follow that. So if you're do something like a site query, you'll probably still see that content there. Another thing to keep in mind is, for images and video, we don't support the rel=canonical tag. It's really only for HTML pages and the normal web search content that we show on web search. So if you have the rel=canonical tag as a header for image files, then that's not something that we'd be taking into account. On the other hand, if you have the rel=canonical on the image landing page, then that's something that we could take into account. On the guidelines, it looks like Google only recognizes some types of structured data as product reviews, videos, et cetera. Is it worth marking up other elements on a page for using, like, markup? Essentially, I kind of leave this up to you. From our point of view, it helps to have a little bit of structure on the pages themselves. And if you mark things up, then that usually adds a bit of structure, but if you already have a very clear structure on your pages, then this additional markup isn't really going to change anything for search. The other aspect is, of course, that, when we do look at these different types of markup, and we think about whether or not we'd like to implement them in search, we do try to take a look and see who's already using this markup? And is this something that people are already using properly that we could just, like, turn on, and it would work? So from that point of view, I don't want to discourage you from adding additional markup, but at the same time, kind of keep your expectations at the level that this is markup that, at the moment, we're not taking into account for search. There might be other reasons to add this kind of markup-- maybe you're just a big fan of markup in general, and you just want to mark up everything that you have on your page, and I wouldn't want to hold you back from doing that. But just kind of keep in mind that, in search, you're not going to see significant changes for the type of markup that we don't support for rich snippets. How can I motivate that Google caters for Kenyan shillings as a currency in Google Analytics? We have to use a pseudo currency for our Kenyan property. Feedback mechanism via Google Analytics is unsuccessful. I'd go through the Analytics Help forum, and make sure that you have posted something there. Also, I've seen some folks from the Analytics team post, for example, on Google+, so maybe check out the recent blog posts from the Analytics blog, and see who's posting them from Google's side, and drop them a comment, too. I can't promise that they'll be able to do something there. I know, as with everything, they have to prioritize their work, too. If it's just a matter of adding another line of text to their code, maybe that's something that's easy for them to do once they know about it. So I'd definitely go to the Help forum, and go to Google+, and see who from the Analytics team is posting there and ask them directly. Asked many times for Webmaster to join my site to Google+ page, but nothing's happening. Can you help me? This is something you'd probably want to look at with the Google+ team. I don't really know how that connection to the Google+ page is made. I believe you could add markup to your home page, which might be a possibility. Maybe that's easier than using the Tools. But if you're having trouble there with that connection, I'd go and check with the Google+ team. Regarding Google site links, are there any test resources available once we've implemented the change on our home page? Not really. I'm not completely sure what you mean with Google site links. From our point of view, site lengths are the links that we show below the search results when someone is searching, for example, for your company's name. We show different pages from your website below your search results. And that's something that we do completely algorithmically. That's not something that you can force in any way. So if you've set up your website in a way that it's easy to crawl, has a clear structure, then we'll try to pick that up over time. But it's never guaranteed that we'll show that directly.

AUDIENCE: Hi, John. I have a question. Can I ask the question?


AUDIENCE: We made a website responsible for our client recently, maybe in October and November. Since then, we have seen a lot of traffic has dropped. Revenue has dropped. Our keyword rankings are stable. So what could be the possible reasons behind it? [INTERPOSING VOICES]

JOHN MUELLER: A lot of things. I mean, changes in ranking don't come from just one aspect. And making a responsive website is a great idea, but it won't boost a site's rankings, for example. [INTERPOSING VOICES]

AUDIENCE: Rankings are stable. Those keywords we check regularly. Rankings are [INAUDIBLE] stable. One or two drops is nothing to worry about. However, the overall traffic of the website and overall revenue of the site has dropped a lot.

JOHN MUELLER: If your a ranking is stable-- for example, if you look in Webmaster Tools, and you see that the impressions are kind of stable, but the clicks are getting lower, then, usually, that's a sign that people aren't clicking through to your website that often, which might mean that maybe the titles are kind of suboptimal. Maybe the descriptions are suboptimal. Maybe you're providing something on these pages that doesn't match what the user's actually looking for. So what I'd do there is check the top queries that you're looking at, and search for them directly in your browser, as well. See where your site shows up, how it shows up, and think about what the user might be looking for when they're searching for those queries. And think about whether or not the way your site shows up in the search results is encouraging for them to click through and kind of says, oh, this is exactly what I was looking for. Or if maybe the titles are written in a way that are really hard to understand, maybe there are keywords in there, it's like a collection of keywords instead of a coherent title. Maybe the description is, like, a collection of keywords, or maybe a description is completely missing, and we're taking, I don't know, the top menu or the footer from your website as a description, and that's something that you can probably relatively easily fix. I mean, obviously there's no simple cure for picking the right title and right description, but this is something you can try out. You can see what changes. You can try different strategies on different pages and see how users respond to that. So I think that's almost a good situation in the sense that your site is showing up in search already. So it's not really an SEO problem but more-- almost like a marketing problem, how you present yourself.

AUDIENCE: OK. Thank you very much.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. Custom domains like .entertainment, .education, .music-- are they any good? Should I use them? Sure. . If you want to use them, that's absolutely fine. We don't give preferential treatment to any of these top level domains in the sense that, if there are keywords in the top level domain, then you're not automatically going to rank for that. So if you get, like, I don't know, best.seo, and that's your new home page, it's not automatically going to rank for best SEO. Just because there are keywords doesn't mean that they'll rank. On the other hand, if you had this really long .com domain because that was the only one that was left for your business or for your market, and you could switch to something really short, then that's something where, I think, you'll have a marketing advantage. It's not really an SEO advantage, but if it's easier for your clients or your users to remember your domain name, then it's probably easier for them to recommended it to go there directly. The other thing to keep in mind with all of these new top level domains is that we treat them as generic top level domains. So they're not geo-targeted by default. They're not country specific, locations specific by default, even if the name looks like it might be. So if you have something like .berlin, then, from our point of view, that's essentially the same as a .com domain. That could be anything. So you can set geo-targeting in Webmaster Tools for that to let us know what you want to target, but it won't automatically be more visible in Berlin. It won't be more visible in Germany in general. That's essentially not what we're doing with the new top level domains. We treat them all essentially equivalent. Let's see. Bunch of questions left. Let me try to run through a whole bunch of these, and then we can go back to live questions for a while. Is using tags good or bad? We're using various tags on our pages and probably have, like, category pages. Essentially, that's up to you. If you think that these tags add value to your website, that it's easier for users to navigate your site, that's perfectly fine. We'll try to use them for kind of crawling your website, as well. We might index some if there are no index, the kinds of tag pages, the category pages. Depending on the content that you have there, that might be good or bad. So it's not something where I'd say tags or categories are inherently good or bad. What's the best way to hide the content of a page from crawlers? Is it JavaScript, Ajax iframe, what else? In general, I'd recommend showing Googlebot exactly what you're showing users, so if there's something that you need to hide in general from the general public, then don't put it on your pages. And put it behind authentication, for example. Block it by robots.txt if it's individual pages. I wouldn't recommend, like, carving out elements of the page and saying, this is something Googlebot shouldn't see, or this is something Googlebot shouldn't index. I guess in severe situations this is something you might want to do, that you maybe, like, have a roboted iframe, for example. Then we wouldn't want to crawl that. But for most general websites, just make sure that we can crawl your page as a user would see it. Can Webmaster Tools team answer this question about how web spam is handled? I think we looked at that once before. Let me just really briefly take a look. OK. So other people are mentioning, essentially, someone's website, and they're showing up in Google Alerts. And that's essentially not something that we would always take care of immediately, so I wouldn't really worry about that. If you're seeing Google Alerts for other people using your name on their pages, unless there is a trademark issue or some other kind of legal issue where you can say, well, I have a right to prevent them from even putting this on their web pages, then that's something I would essentially just let go. Submitting a spam report is a great idea if this is just spammy content, but we can't guarantee that we'll be able to take down all spammy content. We have to prioritize our efforts, as well. We try to focus on algorithms, but these things take quite a bit of time to ramp up. I write articles illustrated with low quality image. The high quality image is uploaded to Flickr, and I put a link back to my article. Is this good or bad? That sounds fine. From my point of view, that's perfectly fine. From Image Search point of view, we'll probably index both of those versions and, depending on what the user's searching for, show one or the other. But I imagine that's probably fine by your side, as well, depending on, of course, the preferences you have on the Flickr page to kind of let us know if this should be indexed or not. I'm trying to figure out why my site is not picked up by Google search. I'd have to take a look at that in detail. It's not really something I can just fly by and give you the perfect answer in five seconds. Let me see. After moving international domains to subdomains, we found Google is still using old domains in search despite 301s. Is this normal behavior? Do we need to worry about that? That can be absolutely normal. So if you're 301ing from one domain to another one, and you explicitly do a site query for the old domain, then we'll remember that connection between the old and new domain, and we'll try to show you what you're searching for. So if we see someone searching for this content, and we know about this connection, then we'll still show that in search, even if there is a 301, even if we've already passed all the signals on to the new pages. So that's not something I'd really worry about there. I'd look at maybe the site maps index count for these individual pages and the index that's in general in Webmaster Tools to get a picture of how much we've been able to pick up. I have multiple sites that need reverifying. Is there a way to display just the unverified sites? No, unfortunately, not at the moment. That's something we've been kind of looking into to kind of make that a little bit easier. I have the same problem, as well. I have a ton of sites that I used to kind of check on, and a lot of them get unverified because I do something stupid on the hosting. What I usually just do is use control F and look for the right words and kind of handle it like that. So no, no really easy answer there. Address conflicts between search and AdSense teams. For example, search says use https, but AdSense says publisher revenue will decrease as less bidding is there for https ads. AdSense says put ads above fold. Search can penalize for that. There are other conflicts, too. That's definitely a valid criticism, I think. The important part for us is really that we try to stay as neutral as possible with search, and we don't give AdSense advance heads up on bigger changes that we make in search, so they might hear about these kind of changes at the same time normal webmasters do, and that's really important for us to just make sure that, for example, AdSense publishers don't have any kind of extra advantage in search. So just because you have a business relationship with Google doesn't mean that we're going to show your site more visibly or that you're going to get more helpful kind of background confidential tips from the Google teams than any other random website out there would. So whether that's AdSense or AdWords, essentially, we really try to separate the two from the core search side so that we to make sure that we give impartial results and can treat webmasters fairly so that everyone gets the right advice at the same time. We have hreflang implemented across 40 plus global websites. Webmaster Tools international targeting is reporting hundreds of hreflang errors across the whole suite of sites. I challenge this, having manually spot checked reciprocal tags. We do have a problem in Webmaster Tools with the report for hreflang information. I think it's stuck at a fairly old date at the moment. I know the team is aware of that and is working to resolve that as quickly as possible. I imagine it's not going to be that long before we can kind of refresh all of that data in Webmaster Tools. The data in Webmaster Tools is, of course, separate from what we use in search, so we're processing your site normally if you have these tags set up normally on your website. All right. Let me see if there's anything really new that we have here. External 301 redirection, mostly content between two different sites, from site A to site B. Brand new domain, submitting new site map for site B. Does it help to crawl all the pages from Googlebot? Yes. Submitting a site map is always a great idea. It always helps us to see what has changed. So that's something I'd definitely do. We have more information about what you can do in the Help Center. If you search for something like Google site move guidelines, you can get a lot of that. That also includes site map help there. All right. Let's jump to more live questions if you have any.

AUDIENCE: Hi, John. Hey. I've got some questions about the new changes with the mobile search results. So will the mobile results now be becoming significantly different from the desktop search, or is this change going to be across all platforms?

JOHN MUELLER: This is specific to mobile search results. So if you're searching on a smartphone, we'll try to show more smartphone friendly content in the search results. If you're searching on a desktop, then it doesn't really make sense to kind of bubble up the smartphone friendly content.

AUDIENCE: OK. So then the results there will probably be becoming significantly different.

JOHN MUELLER: I imagine.

AUDIENCE: Between the two. Was there a significant restructuring needed to separate that, or was that already--

JOHN MUELLER: I mean, we've been doing experiments on these kind of things for quite some time, so that's something where we try to keep our infrastructure in a way that we can make changes like this fairly quickly, on the one hand, for both experiments, which I think are really necessary to do in these kinds of cases-- on the other hand, to also able to move quickly when we decide to do make changes.

AUDIENCE: All right. And one question I had you basically answered, where you said, we're going to surface mobile friendly content-- good mobile friendly content more. So inverse of that, does that or does that not mean that non-mobile friendly content may be demoted? I mean, they will naturally replace each other, but--

JOHN MUELLER: I mean, if we move some content up, the other content has to move down, so it always includes both sides.

AUDIENCE: But what I mean is will non-mobile friendly content be specifically targeted with that algorithm result? Or is it just the friendly content that is being targeted with the algorithm?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know which side they're putting the lever on, but essentially, the outcome is essentially the same. Like, we try to boost the mobile friendly content. With that, the other content kind of goes down. Essentially, which side you pull, you'll see the same results.

AUDIENCE: OK. And in Webmaster Tools, we have the different factors listed there. Is that the factors that we can expect will be affecting that ranking? Or is that just as a notification, something that operates entirely separately?

JOHN MUELLER: We try to keep that in sync. I would expect that we'll tweak those factors over time. So as we see maybe other factors that make more sense, or as we see maybe we were too harsh with one of these elements where we say, well, actually, these sites kind of work OK, and we shouldn't, I don't know, take it like that, so I expect those factors to kind of evolve over time. I don't think this is something that you can ever really nail down and say, this is going to be exactly this factor, and it's going to remain like this forever. We're always kind of looking at what makes sense, what makes sense to change. Where do we get good results that should kind of satisfy what the users are looking for?

AUDIENCE: OK. But it would be safe to assume that the Webmaster Tools data that we're seeing there is probably the content that is being used for that?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I mean, it matches the mobile friendly test. And if we were to change the criteria significantly, we'd definitely put that in there, as well. And I think the criteria is pretty sane. It's not something that is completely off the wall. From the feedback I've seen, these are things that people are really kind of fighting with, that people have trouble with on their phones. So I wouldn't expect this to significantly change, but I am sure it'll evolve over time. These things are never static forever.

AUDIENCE: All right. And my last question on that is, of these different factors, we've got the Flash usage, viewport, content size to viewport, small font size and touch elements. Which would you say would be the most important? Or are any of these more important that they will more strongly be affected in this? Or is that straining out a gnat?

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I think that's almost like trying to optimize for the algorithm instead of optimizing for the user. So the goal behind-- [INTERPOSING VOICES]

AUDIENCE: I wanted to prioritize which--

JOHN MUELLER: Yeah. I don't know if you can really even do that. I mean, if you're trying to make a mobile friendly website, you can't just, like, make the font size larger and put everything in Flash. It has to work together. So it's something where I wouldn't say one element is more important than the other. And when you're working on making a site mobile friendly, you kind of have to focus on everything that kind of comes together there. You can't just say, well, I'll make the font size larger, and then I'll change my viewport, because if you change your viewport later, then the font size will be completely different again. So these things are inherently connected, to a large extent.

AUDIENCE: So will users' reaction in mobile, do you think, be playing a stronger role?

JOHN MUELLER: I mean, we always look at user feedback. We see what people write on the blogs about these changes on mobile. A lot of the changes that we see being written about-- we see people are happy about these changes, where webmasters even say, well, this definitely makes sense. I've been kind of lazy and not been doing this. It's not something where we see a lot of feedback saying these changes that Google is making are so artificial, no user would actually notice. So from that point of view, I think we're always looking at user feedback and seeing what we need to change there.

AUDIENCE: All right. Thanks. Hey, John. A couple of questions, also, regarding your mobile presentation. So kind of segueing in what Joshua said regarding what's more important, does the effect that the mobile ranking factor give to mobile friendly websites, is it simply black and white, so if it's mobile friendly website, we post it; if it's not, we don't? Or is it also depending-- is there a degree, like, depending, maybe, on the score of the mobile usability or anything other than just being mobile friendly or not? Passing the test or not?

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I can't say at this point. I think this is something where there are good arguments to be made for both sides. So if we say, well, this isn't mobile friendly. Why should we, like, give, like, half a boost to it just because it has big fonts? On other hand, maybe it's almost usable, and there's just something small block, then maybe that's a sign that it doesn't pass the test, but it's kind of pretty good. So I think there are kind of arguments to be made for both sides. I don't really have any final answer on that. I would expect that this is also something that will change over time.

AUDIENCE: Yes, because a lot of people focus on the mobile site, and maybe there's something that they can't really change or are very hard to change that just doesn't pass them to test, but other than that, it's a great user experience. So I was wondering if those are going to be left behind and force users to really try to fix that last issue.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I don't know. I can't say. I can't rule out one or the other. Let me put it that way.

AUDIENCE: OK. OK. And the other question's regarding interstitials. So would that also be a problem if the interstitials showed up later, like an offer or something like that? Some e-commerce websites also ask you to get a newsletter subscription or something like that, but maybe, like, one minute later after viewing the website-- is this something that Google sees or just, like, when the user enters the website, the first thing they see has to be non-interstitial?

JOHN MUELLER: We have to kind of find some cut off point for when we render the page for search. And I imagine if you show your interstitial much later, then we won't even see that, and that's something we wouldn't be able to take into account. I think the bigger effect you'd see there is really more on user behavior on your side. So if you kind of show an interstitial after, I don't know, one minute after someone is on the e-commerce site, maybe they're not going to click around and actually buy something. And that's, I think, the bigger problem. That's not something where we'd say from a search point of view, this is our problem. This is essentially your problem. We've sent someone to your site. They're kind of happy to get there, and then suddenly you're, like, bombarding them with all of these things that just drive them away. So that's more a marketing issue, I'd say, something that you're doing with your users that's kind of between you and your users, and if you do it wrong, then they're going to hold it against you.

AUDIENCE: And does that apply to desktop, as well, or is it more a factor in mobile websites?

JOHN MUELLER: Essentially, this applies everywhere, because we've started really rendering these pages to see what these pages look like and using that in search, and we'll see these interstitials. They'll cause problems for us there, as well. So I'd really, if you can do it, really avoid trying to do that.

AUDIENCE: OK. And if an interstitial proves to be quite beneficial for, I don't know, sales or the overall revenue of a website-- because I actually had a case where somebody told me they added an interstitial right when the user enters the website, and it did actually boost their conversion rate and their sales and everything. And I don't know if that's something that still should be avoided, even if it's the benefit of the, I don't know, user or website overall.

JOHN MUELLER: I don't know. I don't know where to, like, draw the line there. I think the situation you're describing is almost like if I had a different landing page, then people would buy more from your website, then maybe you should just have a different landing page instead of putting it into an interstitial. I don't know. That would be my immediate response to that. It seems like maybe we should to find a way to write these different situations down, and maybe turn them into a blog post or something. I don't know. It's definitely something where we see a lot of problems on mobile. And it's really a significant, even a technical hurdle on mobile, which is the main reason that we're pulling this up. But it might be good to find some more general answer there, as well.

AUDIENCE: Looking forward for a blog post, then.

JOHN MUELLER: I can't promise too much. All right. I think there was some question in the chat.

AUDIENCE: Oh, yeah, John. That was Mr. [INAUDIBLE] there. And he can't speak out about it right now, so he asked me to share his question. And he had shared an image about a new search result that he had seen. And in this search result on mobile, there's a little label in red that says "slow" next to some of the search results. So it looks like something experimental that's being tested. And he was asking about that, if that's something that's going into play now, or whether that's just a temporary test. The funny thing is one of the labels marked "slow" was a YouTube link. But maybe that's just going to be shown for mobile phones that have difficulty loading?

JOHN MUELLER: I really have no idea about this. I think, from my point of view, we always make experiments when we're trying to figure out what makes sense, what works for users, what doesn't work for users. It's possible that this is one of those experiments. With regards to YouTube being flagged, that's something where we-- again, we try to be as impartial as possible. And that if we see that some Google sites are doing something wrong, then we'll flag them as such. If we see that Google embedded content, for example, causes sites to slow down, then we'll tell webmasters about that. We won't say, well, this is Google. We'll just kind of ignore that label on our side. If we think this is a problem, then we'll show that. I believe, even with the mobile friendly label, there are lots of things on Google that don't have the mobile friendly label, just because they aren't mobile friendly. And we don't carve that out for Google and say, well, just because you're on Google, you get all of the advantages without actually having to do any of the work. You really kind of have to deliver the same things as any normal webmaster would have to deliver.

AUDIENCE: All right. Thanks.

JOHN MUELLER: All right. I have to run to another meeting, but it's been really, really insightful and helpful with you guys. I'll set up the next event later today, so if there's something I missed-- I see a bunch of you are ready to ask the next question-- maybe you can jump in there and just ask that early so that it can collect a bunch of votes, and we can go through that in the beginning of the next Hangout. So with that, I'd like to wish you guys a great weekend. And hopefully we'll see each other again in one of the future Hangouts. What you can also do, maybe, if you're trying to ask more questions and you have something that's really on your mind but can't wait, put them in the Event entry, and I'll try to answer them there. All right. Thanks a lot.

AUDIENCE: Thanks, John.

JOHN MUELLER: Have a great weekend. Bye, everyone. | Copyright 2019