In the Google Search Central Office Hours Hangout on 09/03/2021, one webmaster was asking about the behavior of data within Google Search Console (GSC).
He was curious about the differences between lists of what should be the same types of errors. It’s an issue with lists of URLs not appearing valid when they were valid before.
John explained that for these reports, they will show a sample of URLs from a specific website, which is what’s reported on in GSC.
It’s not that they ignore the other URLs from the website or they are bad. It’s that they just didn’t check those other URLs, which is why they were excluded from the report.
He explained that the total number of URLs checked can change over time. They might check 200 URLs of a 1,000-URL website for mobile friendliness. Then another time, they only check 100. It means that the total number of mobile-friendly URLs can likely go down.
But it doesn’t mean the number of physical mobile-friendly URLs on your site went down.
This webmaster also asked about structured data markup for products. They explained that they know you need to at least include reviews, the aggregate rating, or offers—one of these three specific structured data types. Otherwise, the structured data markup is invalid.
They also asked if they can link to other sites for reviews instead of having them on the site.
John explained that there shouldn’t be a problem with linking to other sites for those reviews. It shouldn’t present a problem.
Google has guidelines for how you must markup this type of review data, shown here.
This webmaster is concerned about these links because of the following:
Google has rules regarding where you are not allowed to copy/paste reviews from Google onto your own site.
The main issue is copying and pasting Google reviews into your site from Google Maps. You can’t do this because this is a violation of their TOS, even if they are reviews for your own site, product, service, etc. But linking to other sites for those reviews shouldn’t be a problem.
This discussion occurs at the 9:56 mark in the video:
John Mueller 09/03/2021 Hangout Transcript
So a question about mobile-friendly criteria in the Google Search Console. And we have information sites with, let’s say, about 1,400 pages now about product specification reviews, and so on. And the first strange thing is that only 20 percent of these pages are listed in the valid mobile usability list, you know.
Even if the structure of the pages are more or less the same because the structure is the same, of course, it changes the product to be described within the rule. So this first thread. But even stranger, since ten days ago, I saw a major drop of about 40 percent in the number of the URLs that are listed as mobile valid, no and without any site restructure. So what I did, I took the list of ten days ago and took the list yesterday, I compared the list.
The list from yesterday is much, much shorter, and I picked up some URLs that are no more appearing as valid, no. So they were valid ten days ago, they are no more valid. And I use the search check URL tool in the Search Console. And the search tool says they are mobile-optimized, so they are fine. And so what’s happening, what to look at? Thanks.
Yeah, I agree, this is kind of confusing. What is happening there is in Search Console for these kinds of aggregate reports, we show a sample of the URLs from your website. And that’s what we report on there. And that doesn’t mean that we ignore the other URLs from your website or that they’re, they’re bad in any way, it doesn’t mean that they’re not mobile-friendly.
It’s just that we didn’t check them. So, essentially, you can think of it a little bit like you have 1000 URLs on your website and we will double check 200 of them for mobile friendliness. And that number, 200, that can change over time. So it can happen that maybe one time we only check 100 URLs to see if they’re mobile-friendly. That means the total mobile-friendly count can go down. But that doesn’t mean that the number of pages that are mobile-friendly on your website go down.
So, in short, what you need to look for there is more the number of errors and kind of the proportion of normal pages to errors that we report in in Search Console for those reports. So this is, I think, specific for mobile-friendly for the different structured data reports also for the AMP report, and, in a different way, for the core web vitals as well. So it’s not a sign that these are not kind of well-made for mobile-friendliness. It’s just that we didn’t check them.
Webmaster 6 13:09
Okay. And if it can just be a very small addition, because the only thing we were trying to do in the last couple of weeks is about using structured data markup and about the product. But since this is an informative information site, so with aggregation of information, I know that Google prescribes that to include the product markup, you need at least to include either reviews or aggregate rating or offers—one of the three at least, otherwise the structure is not valid. No?
But I know that about reviews, you cannot link to third-party sites. So the reviews must be on the current sites. And the question is about offers. I mean, is it allowed to include the links to other sellers like affiliate links, Amazon links, or you have to sell the product in a specific site? To be valid?
Yeah. I think it should be fine to include links to other sources like that. Because it’s also something that sometimes sites are just set up this way that their affiliate sites, sometimes they’re set up in a way that the shopping cart system is on a separate site. So, I mean, I haven’t explicitly asked the team about this, but from my point of view that seems okay, that seems unproblematic.