Google Search Console FAQs

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The most common questions when it comes to understanding Google Search Console are listed here. To be honest, this tool is super ambiguous (probably intentionally) and confusing. This article aims at getting a bit of closure when it comes to the ambiguity and confusion that comes when we spend a few hours analyzing our websites on Google Search Console.

 

Mobile-Friendly valid pages are less than indexed pages

You would generally see a big difference between the total indexed pages of your website and total “Mobile-Friendly pages”. There’s nothing to worry about.  Basically there are several “types” of bots that crawl your site.

 

For example, Googlebot is a generic name for two types of google web crawlers, Smartphone and Desktop. These two crawlers crawl the pages of your site by simulating a user on the desktop and a user on a mobile screen.

 

Here is a full user agent string for Googlebot (this is what you would get if you track the bot using PHP and echo/save the value of $_SERVER['HTTP_USER_AGENT']).


 

Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 6.0.1; Nexus 5X Build/MMB29P) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/W.X.Y.Z‡ Mobile Safari/537.36 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)

 

As of July 1 2019, mobile-first indexing is enabled by default for new sites and will be enabled for all websites from September 2020. Mobile-first indexing means that when a Googlebot is crawling the pages of your site, it would prefer crawling more using the Smartphone Googlebot crawler more than the Desktop Googlebot crawler.

 

As per this article by Google Help, it is clear that this is a natural behavior and is not a cause of worry. If your site has mobile-first indexing, you would’ve seen more Mobile-friendly pages in your Mobile Usability report of Google Search console. 

 

“the minority crawler crawls only URLs that have already been crawled by the majority crawler.”

Conclusion

Based on all the above references from Google, we can safely come to the following conclusions

  • Less mobile-friendly pages will be seen when your “primary” crawler is Googlebot Desktop crawler. Google only checks a subset of indexed pages from the majority crawler and tests them with the minority crawler. It does not always bother to crawl every page of your website with both the Googlebot crawlers.

  • Less mobile-friendly pages does not necessarily mean that other pages of your site won’t show up in the mobile search results. It’s just that Googlebot has only crawled a subset of all indexed pages with the Smartphone crawler.

  • After September 2020, since all the websites will be automatically converted to “Mobile-first” indexing, you would see that the total mobile-friendly pages will indeed be more (if your pages are responsive/mobile friendly).

data.vocabulary is deprecated

To understand and fix this, check this article.

What are Links to Your Site on Search Console

The Links to Your Site report lists links that Googlebot discovered during its crawling and indexing process, as well as the most common links sources and the pages on your site with the most links. 

In addition you can also see the most common anchor text found by Google. Click each list item to see more detailed information. If users reach a page on your site as a result of clicking a link with a redirect, that intermediate link will also be listed.

 

Bad Spammy Backlinks

  • Google works very hard to make sure that actions on third-party sites do not negatively affect a website. In some circumstances, incoming links can affect Google’s opinion of a page or site. 

  • For example, you or a search engine optimizer (SEO) you’ve hired may have built bad links to your site via paid links or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines. 

  • First and foremost, we recommend that you remove as many spammy or low-quality links from the web as possible.

  • If you’ve done as much work as you can to remove spammy or low-quality links from the web, and are unable to make further progress on getting the links taken down, you can disavow the remaining links. In other words, you can ask Google not to take certain links into account when assessing your site.

 

This is an advanced feature and should only be used with caution. If used incorrectly, this feature can potentially harm your site’s performance in Google’s search results. We recommend that you disavow backlinks only if you believe you have a considerable number of spammy, artificial, or low-quality links pointing to your site, and if you are confident that the links are causing issues for you. In most cases, Google can assess which links to trust without additional guidance, so most normal or typical sites will not need to use this tool.

 

Steps to Disavow Backlinks

  1. On the Webmaster Tools home page, click the site you want.

  2. On the Dashboard, click Search Traffic, and then click Links to Your Site.

  3. Under Who links the most, click More.

  4. Click Download more sample links. If you click Download latest links, you'll see dates as well

Note: When looking at the links to your site in Search Console, you may want to verify both the www and the non-www version of your domain in your Search Console account. To Google, these are entirely different sites. Take a look at the data for both sites.

 

  • You’ll download a file containing all the pages linking to your site. 

  • Use this to create a text file (the file type must be .txt and it must be encoded in UTF-8 or 7-bit ASCII) containing only the links you want to disavow—one link per line. 

  • If you want Google to ignore all links from an entire domain (like example.com), add the line "domain:example.com". Your text file can include additional information about excluded links, as long as each line of description begins with the "#" character (all lines beginning with # will be ignored). Don't upload the entire list of links to your site: the text file that you upload is the list of links you want Google to ignore.

Example

 

Here's a sample of a valid file:

# example.com removed most links, but missed these
http://spam.example.com/stuff/comments.html
http://spam.example.com/stuff/paid-links.html
# Contacted owner of shadyseo.com on 7/1/2012 to
# ask for link removal but got no response
domain:shadyseo.com

 

If you want Google to ignore all links from an entire domain (like example.com), add the line domain:example.com. 

Upload a list of links to disavow

  1. Read this before you disavow any link.

  2. Go to the disavow links tool page.

  3. Select your website.

  4. Click Disavow links.

  5. Click Choose file.

 

Note: Uploading a new file will replace all previously uploaded ones.

It may take some time for Google to process the information you’ve uploaded. In particular, this information will be incorporated into our index as we recrawl the web and reprocess the pages that we see, which can take a number of weeks. These links will continue to be shown in the Search Console inbound links section.

 

How to check rankings for my images

  • Check your performance of Images that drive you traffic, using Google Search Console > Performance > Search Type: Image

How to check visitors coming from images on your website using Google Search Console. Go to PERFORMANCE and then you can change the Search Type to Images

 

How to specify language or country of website

 

Are you losing a big chunk of traffic that belongs to a certain language just because you are only focussing on English?

 

For international sites, certain situations warrant having the rel=alternate and hreflang= attributes for alternate local or regional versions of your site’s pages. For example, if your site has pages with fully translated content in separate languages, you should make the associations between the localized versions of your content. Read Use hreflang for language and regional URLs in the Search Console Help Center.

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