John Mueller on Page Experience, FAQ Markup and Tool for Submitting Indexing Requests

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This week, Google employee John Mueller spoke at SMX Tuesday on “Google Search 2020: What's New and Important for SEO Pros”.

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During his speech, Mueller presented an overview of the main changes in Google search this year and talked about what awaits webmasters in 2021.

  • What has changed at Google in 2020

Google is constantly improving the search experience. In 2019, 3,600 such changes were implemented and more than 380,000 different tests were carried out.

In 2020, Google rebranded Google Webmaster Central and moved all search content, including industry blogs, to a new site, Google Search Central.

The search engine has also set a deadline for a full transition to mobile-first indexing: this should be done in March 2021.

During the Q&A session, Mueller made it clear that after the transition, Google will continue to index sites that are not optimized for mobile devices. Therefore, if a company does not have a mobile site, then the search engine will index the desktop version.

At the same time, he previously stated that only mobile content would be indexed.

Mueller also touched on changes to structured data markup related to COVID-19, updates to Search Console launched during the year, and updates to Google's search algorithms.

  • Page Experience Update

As previously announced, the launch of the new Page Experience ranking signal will take place in May 2021. For now, this factor will only apply in mobile search.

In a Q&A session, Mueller made it clear that Core Web Vitals (LCP, FID, and CLS metrics) will only be used in mobile rankings. Other aspects of Page Experience, such as HTTPS, Safe Browsing, and interstitial ad recommendations, are already and will remain ranking signals on desktops. However, Core Web Vitals signals will only be used in mobile searches.

Will this update be major and visible? Mueller doesn't know for sure, but he says the search team is already working on these ranking changes. Since they spend a lot of time on this factor, it suggests that the update will be noticeable, but how much is difficult to say yet.

  • Changes to the use of FAQ markup in search

Google added support for FAQ markup targeting frequently asked questions and answers in 2019. In 2020, he tightened his requirements for the use of this type of structured data.

According to Mueller, this year Google began to limit the display of rich FAQ results for sites, as some webmasters abuse this markup and add it everywhere. Therefore, Google has become more selective about who to show these results to in search.

Google has done this in the past with other types of rich results.

  • Tool for submitting indexing requests

In October, Google temporarily disabled its Search Console indexing query tool. It's been about two months now and it's still not available.

During the Q&A session, Mueller revealed that he sent messages to the Search Console team showing how upset the SEO community is that the tool has not yet been reactivated.

According to him, the team heard him and took these messages with all seriousness. He hopes the feature will be brought back before the end of 2020.

Müller also added that he personally pushes the team to find a solution.

  • Diversity and Inclusion in the SEO Industry

One of the themes of SMX Tuesday was diversity & inclusion. Diversity is critical for the SEO industry, according to Mueller. He believes that it is important for growers to listen to new and different people in order to get their opinions and views. This will help their sites perform better and rank in search.

He also encouraged professionals to be proactive about diversity in their workforce and to support organizations such as Women In Tech SEO.