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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Changes in the Chrome user agent

Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced

The Chrome team is exploring a few changes to Chrome’s UA string. These changes are designed to provide additional details in the user-agent, remove redundancy, and increase compatibility with Internet Explorer. They’re also happening in conjunction with similar changes in Firefox 4.

We intend to ship Chrome 11 with these changes, assuming they don't cause major web compatibility problems. To test them out and ensure your website remains compatible with Chrome, we recommend trying the Chrome Dev and Beta channel builds. If you have any questions, please check out the blog post on the Chromium blog or drop us a line at our help forum.

Introducing Page Speed Online, with mobile support

Webmaster level: intermediate

At Google, we’re striving to make the whole web fast. As part of that effort, we’re launching a new web-based tool in Google Labs, Page Speed Online, which analyzes the performance of web pages and gives specific suggestions for making them faster. Page Speed Online is available from any browser, at any time. This allows website owners to get immediate access to Page Speed performance suggestions so they can make their pages faster.

In addition, we’ve added a new feature: the ability to get Page Speed suggestions customized for the mobile version of a page, specifically smartphones. Due to the relatively limited CPU capabilities of mobile devices, the high round-trip times of mobile networks, and rapid growth of mobile usage, understanding and optimizing for mobile performance is even more critical than for the desktop, so Page Speed Online now allows you to easily analyze and optimize your site for mobile performance. The mobile recommendations are tuned for the unique characteristics of mobile devices, and contain several best practices that go beyond the recommendations for desktop browsers, in order to create a faster mobile experience. New mobile-targeted best practices include eliminating uncacheable landing page redirects and reducing the amount of JavaScript parsed during the page load, two common issues that slow down mobile pages today.


Page Speed Online is powered by the same Page Speed SDK that powers the Chrome and Firefox extensions and webpagetest.org.

Please give Page Speed Online a try. We’re eager to hear your feedback on our mailing list and how you’re using it to optimize your site.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Mo’ better to also detect “mobile” user-agent

Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Here’s a trending User-Agent detection misstep we hope to help you prevent: While it seems completely reasonable to key off the string “android” in the User-Agent and then redirect users to your mobile version, there’s a small catch... Android tablets were just released! Similar to mobile, the User-Agent on Android tablets also contains “android,” yet tablet users usually prefer the full desktop version over the mobile equivalent. If your site matches “android” and then automatically redirects users, you may be forcing Android tablet users into a sub-optimal experience.

As a solution for mobile sites, our Android engineers recommend to specifically detect “mobile” in the User-Agent string as well as “android.” Let’s run through a few examples.

With a User-Agent like this:
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 3.0; en-us; Xoom Build/HRI39) AppleWebKit/534.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Safari/534.13
since there is no “mobile” string, serve this user the desktop version (or a version customized for Android large-screen touch devices). The User-Agent tells us they’re coming from a large-screen device, the XOOM tablet.

On the other hand, this User-Agent:
Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; U; Android 2.2.1; en-us; Nexus One Build/FRG83) AppleWebKit/533.1 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/4.0 Mobile Safari/533.1
contains “mobile” and “android,” so serve the web surfer on this Nexus One the mobile experience!

You’ll notice that Android User-Agents have commonalities:


While you may still want to detect “android” in the User-Agent to implement Android-specific features, such as touch-screen optimizations, our main message is: Should your mobile site depends on UA sniffing, please detect the strings “mobile” and “android,” rather than just “android,” in the User-Agent. This helps properly serve both your mobile and tablet visitors.

For questions, please join our Android community in their developer forum.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Introducing the +1 button

Webmaster level: All

We all know what it’s like to get a bit of help when you’re looking for it. Online, that advice can come from a number of places: a tweet, a shared video, or a blog post, to name a few. With Google Social Search we’ve been working to show that content when it’s useful, making search more personally relevant.

We think sharing on the web can be even better--that people might share more recommendations, more often, if they knew their advice would be used to help their friends and contacts right when they’re searching for relevant topics on Google. That’s why we’re introducing the +1 button, an easy way for Google users to recommend your content right from the search results pages (and, soon, from your site).



+1 is a simple idea. Let’s use Brian as an example. When Brian signs in to his Google Account and sees one of your pages in the organic search results on Google (or your search ads if you’re using AdWords), he can +1 it and recommend your page to the world.


The next time Brian’s friend Mary is signed in and searching on Google and your page appears, she might see a personalized annotation letting her know that Brian +1’d it. So Brian’s +1 helps Mary decide that your site is worth checking out.


We expect that these personalized annotations will help sites stand out by showing users which search results are personally relevant to them. As a result, +1’s could increase both the quality and quantity of traffic to the sites people care about.

But the +1 button isn’t just for search results. We’re working on a +1 button that you can put on your pages too, making it easy for people to recommend your content on Google search without leaving your site. If you want to be notified when the +1 button is available for your website, you can sign up for email updates at our +1 webmaster site.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll add +1 buttons to search results and ads on Google.com. We’ll also start to look at +1’s as one of the many signals we use to determine a page’s relevance and ranking, including social signals from other services. For +1's, as with any new ranking signal, we'll be starting carefully and learning how those signals affect search quality over time. At first the +1 button will appear for English searches only on Google.com, but we’re working to add more languages in the future.

We’re excited about using +1’s to make search more personal, relevant and compelling. We hope you’re excited too! If you have questions about the +1 button and how it affects search on Google.com, you can check the Google Webmaster Central Help Center.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tag Your TV Shows!

Webmaster Level: All

If your website is the authoritative source for the video of a particular TV show, make sure we know about it! Hopefully, you already submit Video Sitemaps or mRSS feeds to inform us about video content on your website. We now support additional fields in both video Sitemaps and mRSS feeds where you can specify metadata specific to television or episodic content. This includes the series’ title, the season and episode numbers for the video in question, the premiere date, as well as other additional information. The metadata from your video feed helps us provide more detailed, relevant results to users wanting to view your show.

Here’s an example Video Sitemap entry that includes all the required and some optional TV metadata in the <video:tvshow> element:

<video:video>
  <video:title>The Sample Show, Season 1, Episode 2</video:title>
  <!-- other required root level video tags omitted -->
  <video:tvshow>
    <video:show_title>The Sample Show</video:show_title>
    <video:video_type>full</video:video_type>
    <video:episode_title>A Sample Episode Title</video:episode_title>
    <video:season_number>1</video:season_number>
    <video:episode_number>2</video:episode_number>
  </video:tvshow>
</video:video>


The full documentation for the tags for both mRSS and Video Sitemaps can be found in our Webmaster Tools Help Center. As always, if you have any questions about Video Sitemaps or mRSS feeds, feel free to reach out to us in the Sitemaps section of the Webmaster Help Forum.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Page Speed for Chrome, and in 40 languages!

Webmaster Level: All

This article is cross-posted on the Google Code Blog.

Today we’re launching the most requested feature for Page Speed, Page Speed for Chrome. Now Google Chrome users can get Page Speed performance suggestions to make their sites faster, right inside the Chrome browser. We would like to thank all our users for your great feedback and support since we launched. We’re humbled that 1.4 M unique users are using the Page Speed extension and finding it useful to help with their web performance diagnosis.

Google Chrome support has always been high on our priority list but we wanted to get it right. It was critical that the same engine that powers the Page Speed Add-On for Firefox be used here as well. So we first built the Page Speed SDK, which we then integrated into the Chrome extension.

Page Speed for Chrome retains the same core features as the Firefox add-on. In addition, there are two major improvements appearing in this version first. We’ve improved scoring and suggestion ordering to help web developers focus on higher-potential optimizations first. Plus, because making the web faster is a global initiative, Page Speed now supports displaying localized rule results in 40 languages! These improvements are part of the Page Speed SDK, so they will also appear in the next release of our Firefox add-on as well.

If your site serves different content based on the browser’s user agent, you now have a good method for page performance analysis as seen by different browsers, with Page Speed coverage for Firefox and Chrome through the extensions, and Internet Explorer via webpagetest.org, which integrates the Page Speed SDK.

We’d love to hear from you, as always. Please try Page Speed for Chrome, and give us feedback on our mailing list about additional functionality you’d like to see. Stay tuned for updates to Page Speed for Chrome that take advantage of exciting new technologies such as Native Client.