John Mueller and Martin Splitt both hold Google Search Central office hours hangouts via YouTube livestream. These are great opportunities for webmasters to get together with the best and brightest of the Google Search Trends Analysts and learn SEO insights.
At these events, you can ask questions on just about anything that is relevant to the world of SEO on Google.
John never disappoints, and this hangout was no different.
At the latest office hours hangout, we gleaned insights about AMP, page titles, mobile indexing and more.
Can the AMP Version of a Site Differ from the Canonical Version?
It’s usually considered a bad SEO practice to have the mobile or Google AMP version of the site be different from the canonical version. In some cases, when severe enough, it could even be considered cloaking. John Mueller had some insights into how different versions of sites appear to Google in this context:
The first question was from Christian Kutz:
“I have two questions regarding amp the first question is: is it a problem if the amp version differs slightly from the canonical html version in that you have small ads in the m version which is not in the html version and secondly, I have discovered that the largest contentful paint for my AMP page when I wait awhile to click on the search results page is very high compared to when I click immediately on a search result and i wanted to ask if that’s normal.”
John Mueller answered:
“I think for the first one that’s that’s perfectly fine so the pages should be the same content and images that kind of thing but things like monetization that can always vary and even within a normal html page you could have something like dynamic ads where sometimes you have an ad unit there and sometimes over here so those kinds of changes. Regarding largest contentful paint, I don’t know exactly when that starts counting when it comes to the crux data but it would surprise me if the time on the search results page were counted. That would be the wrong way to set that up.”
Key SEO Insight 1
It’s okay to have small ads in the mobile version of the site that are not in the HTML (i.e. canonical) version. In other words – if you have smaller changes that don’t impact the content significantly, then don’t sweat it. It’s when you go overboard on ads or other smaller changes that Google tends to care—just d on’t be spammy.
John was also concerned regarding how Largest Contentful Paint was very high on the AMP page when waiting a while to click on a search result, and that should not happen. He said he would be surprised if Google even used this at all as a measured metric.
Does Google Use Signals from Both Desktop and Mobile Versions for Ranking?
Praveen Sharma asked:
“Does Google use signals just for mobile-first indexing or do they also apply mobile-first signals to desktop sites?”
John Mueller Answered:
“We will index the content ones with the mobile crawler and we will use that version with all of the signals that we have as a basis for both desktop and mobile rankings so that’s something that’s mostly focused on the indexing side. It’s not focused on things like core web vitals where we do use different metrics for different places but just purely when it comes to the content and how we would rank that content we would only use the mobile version.”
Key SEO Insight 2
Based on John Mueller’s answer, Google uses only the site’s mobile version as the basis for both desktop and mobile rankings. This is an important distinction to understand, so you should ensure that your mobile site is 100 percent as polished as your desktop site. Don’t necessarily favor one or the other, but make sure both are equally up to par.
Can You Noindex a Paragraph?
Mark Opitz asked:
“Google is now able to show certain paragraphs of a site as a search result. And now I wonder if you have something like a product page, where you can find third party content, like for example, recommendations, or tests or something like that. I mean, that is useful content for the user. However, it’s still duplicate content in a certain way. Is there a chance to mark these things as ‘do not index this paragraph’ or something like that?”
John Mueller said:
“Not really. There is no direct way that you can do that. You could use the no snippet tag, to say that this is something that you don’t want to have shown in this snippet. That might be enough, in a lot of cases.
If it’s just you prefer that this is not indexed, or you prefer that Google doesn’t give this much weight, then I will just let it be indexed. Normally, if it’s duplicate content within the website, then we’ll try to pick one of the pages anyway, it’s not that we will see your page as being worse, because it also has some duplicate content on it.
Because it’s kind of a really common situation, especially with product pages, where if you have products from I don’t know, various sources, you often have the original product description on there. And then that product description is duplicate. But that doesn’t mean the page is bad.”
Key SEO Insight 3
There is no direct method of removing a specific paragraph from the SERPs. You can use the data-nosnippet tag to mark certain content as non-indexable, and this is likely to be enough in many cases.
Mueller recommends you just let your content be indexed, even if you have a preference for it not to be. Google will still attempt to pick one of the pages anyway.
Just don’t obsess over this unless something like a legal reason is prohibiting you from indexing this content.
Mobile Site Redirects
Rishabh Ranjan asked:
“We have a site, which has a desktop and mobile version separately for our website. And we migrated let’s say from XYZ to ABC, and the desktop version will go to desktop and the web version will go to mobile m.XYZ.com will go to m.abc.com. So it’s been a month and a half. We have migrated from a different domain name to another one. And we have also requested this change of address using Google Search Console. Now my point is: I convinced my developer to remove m dot and have a responsive site. And then they’re going to remove m dot – was m – and have abc.com. So my question here is: since there is another redirection going from m. to website. And since I don’t have an option in the change to address field, because it’s already going from an older website to a newer website. How does it impact overall SEO?
John Mueller said:
“I think that’s perfectly fine. That’s a normal move, essentially. That’s something where I would set up the redirects from the m-dot version to your new responsive version, what I would make sure is that the change of address that you have in the Search Console goes to the final destination. If you have I don’t know, www and m dot, the change of address goes to the www version, not to the m dot version, just so that we can really transfer everything directly to your preferred version. Otherwise, it’s like setting up the redirects, making sure the internal linking works. Well, all of that, I think, is fairly normal. So that should be fine.”
Key SEO Insight 4
When you’re implementing a mobile site, redirecting the m. version to your responsive site is just fine, and is what John Mueller would consider to be a normal move.
Just make sure that the change of address goes to the www. version rather than the m. version.
Overall Technical Issues
A viewer asked:
“One more question, please. Our site is also an e-commerce store. I’m facing some issues like product issues and schema issues, breadcrumb issues, and code battle issues, like for e-commerce, apart from these techniques, which factors matters for the e-commerce store, which we have to focus on to enhance the visibility of the site?”
John Mueller responded:
“In general, e-commerce sites are normal websites for us. That’s kind of the starting point. Anything that you would do on a normal website would apply. For e-commerce, I would also look into everything around Google Shopping, where you can go to the Merchant Center and submit a feed, I think submitting a feed is for free now, pretty much everywhere. So that’s something that you can also set up. A lot of e-commerce systems have connections for that automatically. So that that might be an option to be a little bit more visible. But otherwise, there’s no, like, special trick, especially specifically for e-commerce that you could do.”
Key SEO Insight 5
Again, John Mueller is pretty frank here that there is no real special trick—you could simply go directly to the Google Merchant Center and submit a feed. Also take the time to research everything that surrounds Google Shopping. Many e-commerce systems have automatic importing for this system.
As before, there is no special trick you need to know. Just make sure you take advantage of the options already available to you for optimizing your e-commerce store on Google’s services.
How to Watch John Mueller’s Next Office Hours Hangout
John Mueller, Search Trends Analyst at Google, frequently hosts office hours hangouts where webmasters can ask questions, submit requests and get general information regarding issues on their sites’ requests.
For example, John is not able to answer questions like “Why is my site not ranking?” Asking these types of questions is discouraged.
But, for getting SEO-related answers directly from Google, you can’t get much better than this.
Be sure to keep an eye on Mueller’s twitter feed for information on when the next office hours hangout is going to occur.
Don’t forget to subscribe to the Google Search Central YouTube channel as well.
To watch the hangout discussed in this article, view the official recording on YouTube.