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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween to our spooktacular webmasters!



With apologizes to Vic Mizzy, we've written short verse to the tune of the "Addams Family" theme (please use your imagination):

We may be hobbyists or just geeky,
Building websites and acting cheeky,
Javascript redirects we won't make sneaky,
Our webmaster fam-i-ly!

Happy Halloween everyone! Feel free to join the discussion and share your Halloween stories and costumes.


Magnum P.I., Punk Rocker, Rubik's Cube, Mr. T., and Rainbow Brite
a.k.a. Several members of our Webmaster Tools team: Dennis Geels, Jonathan Simon, Sean Harding, Nish Thakkar, and Amanda Camp


Panda and Lolcat
Or just Evan Tang and Matt Cutts?


7 Indexing Engineers and 1 Burrito


Cheese Wysz, Internet Repairman, Community Chest, Internet Pirate (don't tell the RIAA)
Helpful members of the Webmaster Help Group: Wysz, MattD, Nathan Johns (nathanj) , and Bergy


Count++
Webspam Engineer Shashi Thakur (in the same outfit he wore to Searchnomics)


Hawaiian Surfer Dude and Firefox
Members of Webmaster Central's communications team: Reid Yokoyama and Mariya Moeva


Napolean Dynamite and Raiderfan
Shyam Jayaraman (speaking at SES Chicago, hopefully doing the dance) and me

Better geographic choices for webmasters

Written by Amanda Camp, Webmaster Tools and Trystan Upstill, International Search Quality Team

Starting today Google Webmaster Tools helps you better control the country association of your content on a per-domain, per-subdomain, or per-directory level. The information you give us will help us determine how your site appears in our country-specific search results, and also improves our search results for geographic queries.

We currently only allow you to associate your site with a single country and location. If your site is relevant to an even more specific area, such as a particular state or region, feel free to tell us that. Or let us know if your site isn't relevant to any particular geographic location at all. If no information is entered in Webmaster Tools, we'll continue to make geographic associations largely based on the top-level domain (e.g. .co.uk or .ca) and the IP of the webserver from which the context was served.

For example, if we wanted to associate www.google.com with Hungary:


But you don't want www.google.com/webmasters/tools" associated with any country...


This feature is restricted for sites with a country code top level domain, as we'll always associate that site with the country domain. (For example, google.ru will always be the version of Google associated with Russia.)


Note that in the same way that Google may show your business address if you register your brick-and-mortar business with the Google Local Business Center, we may show the information that you give us publicly.

This feature was largely initiated by your feedback, so thanks for the great suggestion. Google is always committed towards helping more sites and users get better and more relevant results. This is a new step as we continue to think about how to improve searches around the world.

We encourage you to tell us what you think in the Webmaster Tools section of our discussion group.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dealing with Sitemap cross-submissions



Since the launch of Sitemaps, webmasters have been asking if they could submit their Sitemaps for multiple hosts on a single dedicated host. A fair question -- and now you can!

Why would someone want to do this? Let's say that you own www.example.com and mysite.google.com and you have Sitemaps for both hosts, e.g. sitemap-example.xml and sitemap-mysite.xml. Until today, you would have to store each Sitemap on its respective host. If you tried to place sitemap-mysite.xml on www.example.com, you would get an error because, for security reasons, a Sitemap on www.example.com can only contains URLs from www.example.com. So how do we solve this? Well, if you can "prove" that you own or control both of these hosts, then either one can host a Sitemap containing URLs for the other. Just follow the normal verification process in Google Webmaster Tools and any verified site in your account will be able to host Sitemaps for any other verified site in the same account.

Here is an example showing both sites verified:

And now, from a single host, you can submit Sitemaps for both sites without any errors. sitemap-example.xml contains URLs from www.example.com and sitemap-mysite.xml contains URLs from mysite.google.com but both now reside on www.example.com:
We've also added more information on handling cross-submits in our Webmaster Help Center.
For those of you wondering how this affects the other search engines that support the Sitemap Protocol, rest assured that we're talking to them about how to make cross-submissions work seamlessly across all of them. Until then, this specific solution will work only for users of Google Webmaster Tools.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Blast from the past

Written by Sahala Swenson, Webmaster Tools Team

As you know, the queries used to find your website in search results can change over time. Your website content changes, as do the needs of all the busy searchers out there. Whether the queries associated with your site change subtly or dramatically, it's pretty useful to see how they transform over time.

Recognizing this, Top Search Queries in Webmaster Tools now presents historical data and other enhancements. Let's take a closer look:


Up to 6 months of historical data:
Previously we only showed query stats for the last 7 days. Now you can jump between 9 query stats snapshots ranging from now to 6 months ago. Note that the time interval for each of these snapshots is different. For the 7 day, 2 week, and 3 week snapshots, we report the top queries for the previous week. For the 1 to 6 month snapshots, we report statistics for the previous month. And still others of you who log in may notice that you don't have query stats data going back to 6 months ago. We hope to improve that experience in the future. :)

Top query percentages:
You might have noticed a new column in the top query listings. Previously we just ranked your query results and clicks. While useful, this didn't really tell you to what extent one query was ranked higher than another. Now we show what percentage each query result or click represents out of the top 20 queries. This should help you see how well the result or click volume is distributed in the top 20.

Downloads:

Since we're now showing historical data on the Top Search Queries screen, we figured it would be rude to not let you download it all and play with the data yourself (spreadsheet masochists, I'm looking at you). We added a “Download data” link that lets you download all the stats in CSV format. Note that this exports all query stats historical data across all snapshots as well as search types and languages, so you can slice and dice to your satisfaction. The “Download all stats (including subfolders)” link, however, will still only show query stats for your site and sub-folders for the last 7 days.

Freshness:

We've improved data freshness in Webmaster Tools a couple of times in the past, and we've done it again with the new Top Search Queries. Statistics are being now updated constantly. Top query results and clicks may visibly change rank a lot more often now, sometimes daily.


So enough talk. Sign in and play around with the new improvements for yourself. As always we welcome feedback (especially in the form of beer), so feel free to drop us a note in the Webmaster Help Group and let us know what you think.

Introducing Code Search Sitemaps


Update: Code Search Sitemaps are no longer supported. More information.


The Sitemaps team is continuing its trend of extending the Sitemap Protocol for specific products and content types. Our latest work with the Google Code Search team now enables you to create Sitemaps that contain information about public source code you host and would like to include in Code Search. There's more information about this new functionality on the Google Code blog. If you're eager to get going, take a look at our Help Center documentation, create a Code Search Sitemap, sign into Google Webmaster Tools, and submit a Sitemap for Code Search!

Webmasters can now provide feedback on Sitelinks



Sitelinks are extra links that appear below some search results in Google. They serve as shortcuts to help users quickly navigate to the important pages on your site.

Selecting pages to appear as sitelinks is a completely automated process. Our algorithms parse the structure and content of websites and identify pages that provide fast navigation and relevant information for the user's query. Since our algorithms consider several factors to generate sitelinks, not all websites have them.

Now, Webmaster Tools lets you view potential sitelinks for your site and block the ones you don't want to appear in Google search results. Because sitelinks are extremely useful in helping users navigate your site, we don't typically recommend blocking them. However, occasionally you might want to exclude a page from your sitelinks, for example: a page that has become outdated or unavailable, or a page that contains information you don't want emphasized to users. Once you block a page, it won't appear as a sitelink for 90 days unless you choose to unblock it sooner. It may take a week or so to remove a page from your sitelinks, but we are working on making this process faster.

To view and manage your sitelinks, go to the Webmaster Tools Dashboard and click the site you want. In the left menu click Links, then click Sitelinks.
Thanks for your feedback and stay tuned for more updates!



Update: the user-interface for this feature has changed. For more information, please see the Sitelinks Help Center article.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Data freshness



Common feedback we hear from webmasters is that you want us to improve the freshness of the data in Webmaster Tools. Understood. :) We've increased the update frequency for your verified sites' data, such as crawl, index, and search query stats. Much of this data depends on the content of your site. If your content doesn't change very often, or if you're not getting new links to your site, you may not see updates to your data every time you sign in to Webmaster Tools.

Please continue to post your Suggestions & feature requests in the Webmaster Help Group. It's one of our most important sources of feedback from the webmaster community. We seriously take it seriously.