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Google’s John Mueller Clarifies WebP Image Indexing Confusion

Google's John Mueller Clarifies WebP Image Indexing Confusion

A recent discussion on the r/BigSEO forum on Reddit revealed some confusion surrounding Google’s treatment of WebP images when it comes to indexing.

John Mueller, a Google Search Advocate, weighed in on the matter and explained why WebP images appear in the “Crawled – currently not indexed” report in Google Search Console.

Mueller Addresses Reddit User’s Concerns

A user on Reddit raised a question about the presence of many “Crawled – currently not indexed” entries related to WebP images in their Google Search Console reports.

In response, Mueller clarified that WebP images are not indexed as HTML pages because they are image files, not webpages.

Another user inquired whether only WebP images appear in the “crawled – currently not indexed” report or if any other image formats (e.g., JPEG, PNG, GIF) can also show up.

Additionally, they asked Mueller why images are included in the report if they can’t be indexed as HTML and whether CSS and JS files can also appear in the report.

Mueller offered further clarification, explaining that this usually happens if something looks like a webpage link going to the URL or the “extension” appears unclear (e.g., .php or none).

He emphasized that he doesn’t believe the phenomenon is limited to WebP images.

Takeaways From Mueller’s Interaction

Mueller’s responses on Reddit provide valuable insights for website owners and SEO professionals:

  • WebP images and other image formats are not indexed as HTML pages.
  • Image files may appear in the “Crawled – currently not indexed” report if a link looks like a webpage URL or the extension is unclear.

What Is WebP?

WebP is an image format developed by Google in 2010. It gained attention for its performance benefits in web development and SEO.

The format provides superior lossless and lossy compression for images on the web, leading to faster load times.

There are several advantages to using WebP images on your website:

  • Smaller file sizes: WebP images are often smaller than other formats like JPEG and PNG.
  • Flexible image rendering: WebP supports lossy and lossless compression, transparency (like PNGs), and animation (like GIFs), making it versatile for various image needs.
  • Improved website performance: Faster load times can positively impact SEO, as Google’s search algorithms favor fast-loading sites.

Considerations & Challenges

However, there are some challenges to consider when using WebP:

  • Browser compatibility: Not all browsers support WebP. Fallbacks are essential for browsers that don’t support this format.
  • Image quality: The lossy compression of WebP can sometimes result in visible degradation in image quality.
  • Conversion and storage: Converting and storing original and WebP versions can complicate your website’s image management.

Leveraging WebP Images For SEO

To make the most of WebP images for SEO, consider the following:

  • Faster website speeds can potentially boost SEO rankings.
  • Use the <picture> element in HTML to serve different images to different devices, providing WebP images to browsers that support them and falling back to JPEG or PNG for others.
  • Find the right balance between file size and quality to ensure images look good while loading quickly.

While WebP isn’t a perfect solution for improving loading times, it can help optimize your site when used correctly.


Featured Image generated by the author using Midjourney

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