Google’s John Mueller clarifies confusion over indexing WebP images

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

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

Mueller addresses the concerns of Reddit users

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 since they are image files and not web pages.

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

They also asked Mueller why images are included in the report if they cannot 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 when something looks like a webpage link leading to the URL, or the “extension” seems unclear (e.g. .php or none).

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

Insights from Mueller’s interaction

Mueller’s answers 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 – Not Currently Indexed report when a link looks like a web page URL or the extension is unclear.

What is WebP?

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

The format offers excellent lossless and lossy compression for images on the web, resulting in faster loading times.

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

  • Smaller file sizes: WebP images are often smaller than other formats such as JPEG and PNG.
  • Flexible image reproduction: WebP supports lossy and lossless compression, transparency (like PNGs) and animations (like GIFs), making it versatile for different image needs.
  • Improved website performance: Faster loading times can have a positive impact on SEO as Google’s search algorithms favor fast-loading websites.

Considerations & Challenges

However, there are a few challenges to be aware of when using WebP:

  • Browser Compatibility: Not all browsers support WebP. Fallbacks are essential for browsers that don’t support this format.
  • picture quality: WebP’s lossy compression can sometimes result in a visible degradation in image quality.
  • Conversion and Storage: Converting and saving original and WebP versions can make image management of your website difficult.

Using WebP images for SEO

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

  • Faster website speeds can potentially improve SEO rankings.
  • Use that element in HTML to serve different images for different devices, serve WebP images for browsers that support them, and fall back to JPEG or PNG for others.
  • Find the right balance between file size and quality to ensure images look good and load quickly.

While WebP isn’t a perfect solution for improving load times, it can help optimize your website when used properly.


Featured image created by the author using Midjourney