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Friday, April 22, 2011

An update on Google Video: Finding an easier way to migrate Google Video content to YouTube

[Cross-posted on the YouTube Blog]

Last week we sent an email to Google Video users letting them know we would be ending playbacks of Google Videos on April 29 and providing instructions on how to download videos currently hosted on the platform. Since then we’ve received feedback from you about making the migration off of Google Video easier. We work every day to make sure you have a great user experience and should have done better. Based on your feedback, here’s what we’re doing to fix things.

Google Video users can rest assured that they won't be losing any of their content and we are eliminating the April 29 deadline. We will be working to automatically migrate your Google Videos to YouTube. In the meantime, your videos hosted on Google Video will remain accessible on the web and existing links to Google Videos will remain accessible. If you want to migrate to YouTube now, here’s how you do it:
  • We’ve created an “Upload Videos to YouTube” option on the Google Video status page. To do this, you’ll need to have a YouTube account associated with your Google Video account (you can create one here). Before doing this you should read YouTube’s Terms of Use and Copyright Policies. If you choose this option, we’ll do our best to ensure your existing Google Video links continue to function.


If you’d prefer to download your videos from Google Video, that option is still available.

As we said nearly two years ago, the team is now focused on tackling the tough challenge of video search. We want to thank the millions of people around the world who have taken the time to create and share videos on Google Video. We hope today's improvements will help ease your transition to another video hosting service.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

WordPress Plugin for Webmaster Tools verification

Webmaster Level: All

For webmasters with self-hosted WordPress blogs, there’s now a Webmaster Tools site verifcation plugin for Wordpress that completely automates our verification process! You can install it directly from the “Install Plugins” control panel built into your WordPress blog, or you can download the ZIP file from the WordPress plugin site. This plugin can only be used by self-hosted WordPress blogs; it can’t be installed on blogs hosted on wordpress.com.

With verified ownership of your site in Webmaster Tools, you can receive specific statistics and information (e.g. relevant search queries, malware notices) about your site directly from Google. For recent news about verification for other types of sites, please see our recent blog post, “Your fast pass through security.”


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Your fast pass through security

Webmaster level: All

Security checks are nobody's cup of tea. We've never seen people go through airport baggage checks for fun. But while security measures are often necessary, that doesn't mean they have to be painful. In that spirit, we’ve implemented several major improvements to make the Google Site Verification process faster, more straightforward, and perhaps even a pleasure to use—so you can get on with the tasks that matter to you.

New verification method recommendations


You’ll quickly notice the changes we’ve made to the verification page, namely the new tabbed interface. These tabs allow us to give greater visibility to the verification method that we think will be most useful to you, which is listed in the Recommended Method tab.


Our recommendation is just an educated guess, but sometimes guesses can be wrong. It’s possible that the method we recommend might not work for you. If this is the case, simply click the "Alternate methods" tab to see the other verification methods that are available. Verifying with an alternate method is just as powerful as verifying with a recommended method.

Our recommendations are computed from statistical data taken from users with a similar configuration to yours. For example, we can guess which verification methods might be successful by looking at the public hosting information for your website. In the future we plan to add more signals so that we can provide additional customized instructions along with more relevant recommendations.

New Google Sites Are Automatically Verified
For some of you, we’ve made the process even more effortless—Google Sites administrators are now automatically verified for all new sites that they create. When you create a new Google Site, it’ll appear verified in the details page. The same goes for adding or removing owners: when you edit the owners list in your Google Site's settings, the changes will automatically appear in Webmaster Tools.

One thing to note is that we’re unable to automatically verify preexisting Google Sites at this time. If you’d like to verify your older Google Sites, please continue to use the meta tag method already available.

We hope these enhancements help get you through security even faster. Should you get pulled over and have any questions, feel free to check out our Webmaster Help Forums.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sharing advice from our London site clinic

Webmaster level: Beginner - Intermediate

We recently hosted our second site clinic, this time at TechHub in London, UK. Like last year, here’s our summary of the topics that came up.

  • Title tags and meta description tags are easy ways to improve your site's visibility in Google search results, yet we still see webmasters not fully utilizing their potential. We have a bit of help available about writing good page titles and descriptions which you can read to brush up on the subject. That said, you can ignore the meta keywords, at least as far as Google is concerned.
  • One way Google's algorithms determine the context of content on a page is by looking at the page’s headings. The way semantic markup is used throughout a site, including h1, h2, and h3 tags, helps us to understand the priorities of a site’s content. One should not fret, though, about every single H tag. Using common sense is the way to go.
  • Just as we recommend you structuring pages logically, it is similarly important to structure the whole website, particularly by linking to related documents within your site as necessary. This helps both users and search engine bots explore all the content you provide. To augment this, be sure to provide a regularly updated Sitemap, which can be conveniently linked to from your site’s robots.txt file for automatic discovery by Google and other search engines.
  • Duplicate content and canonicalization issues were discussed for many websites reviewed at the site clinic. Duplicate content within a website is generally not a problem, but can make it more difficult for search engines to properly index your content and serve the right version to users. There are two common ways to signal what your preferred versions of your content are: By using 301 redirects to point to your preferred versions, or by using the rel="canonical" link element. If you’re concerned about setting your preferred domain in terms of whether to use www or non-www, we recommend you check out the related feature for setting the preferred domain feature in Webmaster Tools.
  • Another commonly seen issue is that some sites have error pages which do not return an error HTTP result code, but instead return the HTTP success code 200. Only documents that are actually available should reply with the HTTP success result code 200. When a page no longer exists, it should return a 404 (Not found) response. Header responses of any URL can be checked using Fetch as Googlebot in Webmaster Tools or using third party tools such as the Live HTTP Headers Firefox addon or web-sniffer.net.
  • Ranking for misspelled queries, e.g. local business names including typos, seems to be an area of concern. In some cases, Google’s automatic spelling correction gets the job done for users by suggesting the correct spelling. It isn’t a wise idea to stuff a site's content with every typo imaginable. It’s also not advisable to hide this or any other type of content using JavaScript, CSS or similar techniques. These methods are in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and we may take appropriate action against a site that employs them. If you’re not sure how Googlebot “sees” your pages, e.g. when using lots of JavaScript, you can get a better idea by looking at the text-only version of the cached copy in Google web search results.
  • Users love fast websites. That’s why webpage loading speed is an important consideration for your users. We offer a wide range of tools and recommendations to help webmasters understand the performance of their websites and how to improve them. The easiest way to get started is to use Page Speed Online, which is the web-based version of our popular Page Speed Chrome extension. Our Let's make the web faster page has great list of resources from Google and elsewhere for improving website speed, which we recommend you to read.

We’d like to thank the TechHub team, who helped us facilitate the event, and give a big thank you to all participants. We hope you found the presentation and Q&A session interesting. We've embedded the presentation below.

And as we mentioned in the site clinic, sign up at the Google Webmaster Help Forum to discuss any further questions you might have and keep an eye on our Webmaster Central Blog.



Monday, April 11, 2011

High-quality sites algorithm goes global, incorporates user feedback

Over a month ago we introduced an algorithmic improvement designed to help people
find more high-quality sites in search. Since then we’ve gotten a lot of positive responses about the change: searchers are finding better results, and many great publishers are getting more traffic.

Today we’ve rolled out this improvement globally to all English-language Google users, and we’ve also incorporated new user feedback signals to help people find better search results. In some high-confidence situations, we are beginning to incorporate data about the sites that users block into our algorithms. In addition, this change also goes deeper into the “long tail” of low-quality websites to return higher-quality results where the algorithm might not have been able to make an assessment before. The impact of these new signals is smaller in scope than the original change: about 2% of U.S. queries are affected by a reasonable amount, compared with almost 12% of U.S. queries for the original change.

Based on our testing, we’ve found the algorithm is very accurate at detecting site quality. If you believe your site is high-quality and has been impacted by this change, we encourage you to evaluate the different aspects of your site extensively. Google's quality guidelines provide helpful information about how to improve your site. As sites change, our algorithmic rankings will update to reflect that. In addition, you’re welcome to post in our Webmaster Help Forums. While we aren’t making any manual exceptions, we will consider this feedback as we continue to refine our algorithms.

We will continue testing and refining the change before expanding to additional languages, and we’ll be sure to post an update when we have more to share.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Our SEO Guide — now available in ten more languages

Webmaster Level: Beginner

We’re very glad to announce that our recently updated SEO guide is now available in ten more languages: Spanish, French, German, Russian, Turkish, Finnish, Swedish, Hungarian, Traditional Chinese and Simplified Chinese.

For this new version, we’ve thoroughly reviewed and updated the content; we’ve also added a brand new section on best practices for mobile websites.



You can download each PDF file in its full 32-page glory from goo.gl/seoguide and print it to have it as a useful resource.