Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Google Webmaster Guidelines Change on November 20, 2018 at 06:10 AM

In today's change to Google's guidelines, it made some clarifications on how you can help Google find pages on your website.

Linking from one page, to another

What changed?

Under, "Help Google find your pages, Google elaborated on the first bullet point by adding the last sentence: "Crawlable links are <a> tags with an href attribute." They also linked to a page to learn more about what makes a link crawlable.

What's the implications?

Honestly, I'm a little puzzled by this. This is a sort-of "No, duh" to me. Then again, sometimes crazy developers do strange things, thinking they're doing something productive. I'd be surprised, however, to find that so many developers are adding bad links, like these examples, to sites:
  • <a routerLink="some/path">
  • <span href="https://example.com">
  • <a onclick="goto('https://example.com')">
Perhaps this has to do with the rise of javascript frameworks in websites. It also might be useful in cases where you DON'T want Google to follow a link. For example, you might not want Google to follow a link to:
  • A PDF (to keep it out of Google's index)
  • A login page to the backend of a website
  • etc

No more submitting pages to Google?

What changed?

Google made two changes about submitting them pages. First of all, you can no longer submit pages to Google.  Again, under "Help Google find your pages" and then under "Ways to help Google find your site" the guidelines used to invite people to submit a page to Google. Now it simply says to "Ask Google to crawl your pages." If you were to visit that link, you'd find the ways to ask Google to crawl your pages to be limited. There are now only three ways to do this:
  • Using Google Search Console
  • Pinging Google with your XML sitemap
  • Submitting an XML sitemap through your robots.txt file
The second change to the guidelines was to remove the reference to submitting your XML sitemap. You can still submit a sitemap (as you can see, above) but they removed this from the basic guidelines.

One thing that didn't change: Google's suggestion to "make sure that any sites that should know about your pages are aware your site is online." That awkwardly-worded sentence is still good advice. Ironically, that's as close as we get to Google explicitly recommending building links to your site. 

What's the implication?

We've been warned that Google was going to remove the public submissions of pages to their index, for a while. I guess, today's the day. Don't worry. Google was only taking that as a suggestion anyway. You can still tell Google about your pages. Of course, that doesn't guarantee ranking- it just puts them into consideration.

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