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Maria Belkina

5 Major Takeaways from Recent Google Webmaster Hangout

Maria Belkina
5 Major Takeaways from Recent Google Webmaster Hangout

Hello, SEMrush Blog readers. First of all, as a new face on the SEMrush Blog, let me introduce myself.

My name is Maria and I’m one of the team members who is responsible for our tools that provide actionable SEO data – Site Audit and SEO Ideas. Some of you probably already know me because I had a chance to discuss some of our products with you. I’ve also run a couple of webinars.

I’m a huge SEO fan and product development junkie, and I love helping people get the most out of their websites. Of course, this forces me to stay updated on the latest SEO news and trends. After every Google Webmaster Hangout, which I consider a great source of knowledge, I always create a recap for my friends and colleagues, and I thought I would share this one with you.

So, here is my first recap of the major takeaways from the previous hangout with John Mueller, Google’s Webmaster Trends Analyst.

Let’s dive in and learn something new!

Google Search Console Data Evaluation Tips

The session started with an interesting case regarding Google Search Console data.

Search Console provided data on particular website that ranked number one for a specific query; although a simple manual search couldn’t confirm this information – this website just didn’t appear on first position.

John Mueller explained that there are two possible scenarios that could lead to this result.

The first one: personalization. “Look at the number of impressions that you see [in Google Search Console] . If you see a query where a number of impressions should be high, but Search Console says it has a very low number of impressions, then it’s probably something that has to do with personalization.”

This means that you are somehow “connected” with a domain; for example, you follow its page on Google+. That way Google can personalize your search results and that particular domain will have a higher position in your SERP.

The second scenario: if your website’s image showed up in universal search results, Google would count this appearance as a web result as well, which means you’ll see the domain ranking number one in Google Search Console.

Should You Use Nofollow Links On Your Website?

Another tip from John – don’t put nofollow links on your website, unless it’s really necessary. And if you do so, be really attentive. If your website has a complicated structure and you accidentally forget about those nofollow links, you can face some problems when trying to understand why Google is not crawling your new pages. But if this happens, there’s always a solution – conduct a technical site audit. If you do this regularly, you might avoid this problem.

Knowledge Graph Clicks Are Not Counted in Google Search Console

Another interesting point that I consider to be the most important one made during this hangout is John Mueller’s announcement that Knowledge Graph clicks are not counted in Google Search Console.

You can get all the details from Barry Shwarz’s recent post here.

Also, here’s an important quote from Barry’s post:

“What I know we don’t count is the Knowledge Graph sidebar. So if I search for your company name and then it has a link in the sidebar that goes to your company’s website as well. So that is something we wouldn’t count in the Search Console. But I think the site links we should be counting. Otherwise, I see that as a bug.”

Rich Snippets Won’t Show Up If Your Website Is Low Quality

If you’ve ever tried to implement a Schema markup, then you probably know that, although it seems easy, it can be quite tricky. So, what if you implement an “organization” type of schema and all the tools are saying that you did it right, but there is no proof in the SERP?

When making a decision about showing rich snippets, Google takes into account three criteria:

  • Everything implemented technically correct
  • It has to be implemented in accordance with Google policy
  • The overall quality of the website should be high

Well, if you are sure that everything was done correctly, but you still don’t see any results, I think that’s a pretty serious signal to think about your website overall presence and quality.

How to Decide Whether You Need to Implement AMP

And for dessert, another interesting question: is it necessary to have AMP pages if you already have a responsive website?

OK, first of all, let’s explain what an AMP is. “AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, a Google-backed project intended as an open standard for any publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices.” – searchengineland.com

On December 15, SEL posted the article “Google Search Will Integrate AMP Pages In Feb. 2016, May Get Ranking Boost,” which stated:

“Google discussed mobile page speed as an existing ranking factor (there’s debate about how much of a factor). Since AMP improves load time and page speed, publishers that have AMP pages will likely be prioritized in search results. Google didn’t confirm this explicitly but reiterated the importance of page speed. AMP is likely to be the most accessible way to improve page load times.”

John Mueller confirmed that responsive websites and AMP technology serves different needs:

“Responsive design helps users navigate your website while AMP is a lightning-fast technology intended for displaying news articles right in the SERP while users are doing mobile search.”

Google recently started promoting AMP pages by embedding them directly in the news carousel on SERPs, which will most likely appear for the news search results. And we're all curious how it's going to go. As John mentioned, it's best to look at how things go after the launch and act accordingly. My personal opinion is that we should all keep an eye on AMP, but not act just yet, as there is lots of uncertainty in this field.

OK, that’s it for today. I hope you guys like the recap – please share with me your comments and feedback!

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