Pages

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A new tool to disavow links

Webmaster level: Advanced

Today we’re introducing a tool that enables you to disavow links to your site. If you’ve been notified of a manual spam action based on “unnatural links” pointing to your site, this tool can help you address the issue. If you haven’t gotten this notification, this tool generally isn’t something you need to worry about.

First, a quick refresher. Links are one of the most well-known signals we use to order search results. By looking at the links between pages, we can get a sense of which pages are reputable and important, and thus more likely to be relevant to our users. This is the basis of PageRank, which is one of more than 200 signals we rely on to determine rankings. Since PageRank is so well-known, it’s also a target for spammers, and we fight linkspam constantly with algorithms and by taking manual action.

If you’ve ever been caught up in linkspam, you may have seen a message in Webmaster Tools about “unnatural links” pointing to your site. We send you this message when we see evidence of paid links, link exchanges, or other link schemes that violate our quality guidelines. If you get this message, we recommend that you remove from the web as many spammy or low-quality links to your site as possible. This is the best approach because it addresses the problem at the root. By removing the bad links directly, you’re helping to prevent Google (and other search engines) from taking action again in the future. You’re also helping to protect your site’s image, since people will no longer find spammy links pointing to your site on the web and jump to conclusions about your website or business.

If you’ve done as much as you can to remove the problematic links, and there are still some links you just can’t seem to get down, that’s a good time to visit our new Disavow links page. When you arrive, you’ll first select your site.


You’ll then be prompted to upload a file containing the links you want to disavow.


The format is straightforward. All you need is a plain text file with one URL per line. An excerpt of a valid file might look like the following:

# Contacted owner of spamdomain1.com on 7/1/2012 to

# ask for link removal but got no response
domain:spamdomain1.com
# Owner of spamdomain2.com removed most links, but missed these
http://www.spamdomain2.com/contentA.html
http://www.spamdomain2.com/contentB.html
http://www.spamdomain2.com/contentC.html

In this example, lines that begin with a pound sign (#) are considered comments and Google ignores them. The “domain:” keyword indicates that you’d like to disavow links from all pages on a particular site (in this case, “spamdomain1.com”). You can also request to disavow links on specific pages (in this case, three individual pages on spamdomain2.com). We currently support one disavowal file per site and the file is shared among site owners in Webmaster Tools. If you want to update the file, you’ll need to download the existing file, modify it, and upload the new one. The file size limit is 2MB.

One great place to start looking for bad links is the “Links to Your Site” feature in Webmaster Tools. From the homepage, select the site you want, navigate to Traffic > Links to Your Site > Who links the most > More, then click one of the download buttons. This file lists pages that link to your site. If you click “Download latest links,” you’ll see dates as well. This can be a great place to start your investigation, but be sure you don’t upload the entire list of links to your site -- you don’t want to disavow all your links!

To learn more about the feature, check out our Help Center, and we’d welcome your comments and questions in our forum. You’ll also find a video about the tool and a quick Q&A below.





Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Make the web faster with mod_pagespeed, now out of Beta



If your page is on the web, speed matters. For developers and webmasters, making your page faster shouldn’t be a hassle, which is why we introduced mod_pagespeed in 2010. Since then the development team has been working to improve the functionality, quality and performance of this open-source Apache module that automatically optimizes web pages and their resources. Now, after almost two years and eighteen releases, we are announcing that we are taking off the Beta label.

We’re committed to working with the open-source community to continue evolving mod_pagespeed, including more, better and smarter optimizations and support for other web servers. Over 120,000 sites are already using mod_pagespeed to improve the performance of their web pages using the latest techniques and trends in optimization. The product is used worldwide by individual sites, and is also offered by hosting providers, such as DreamHost, Go Daddy and content delivery networks like EdgeCast. With the move out of beta we hope that even more sites will soon benefit from the web performance improvements offered through mod_pagespeed.

mod_pagespeed is a key part of our goal to help make the web faster for everyone. Users prefer faster sites and we have seen that faster pages lead to higher user engagement, conversions, and retention. In fact, page speed is one of the signals in search ranking and ad quality scores. Besides evangelizing for speed, we offer tools and technologies to help measure, quantify, and improve performance, such as Site Speed Reports in Google Analytics, PageSpeed Insights, and PageSpeed Optimization products. In fact, both mod_pagespeed and PageSpeed Service are based on our open-source PageSpeed Optimization Libraries project, and are important ways in which we help websites take advantage of the latest performance best practices.



To learn more about mod_pagespeed and how to incorporate it in your site, watch our recent Google Developers Live session or visit the mod_pagespeed product page.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Rich snippets guidelines

Webmaster level: All


Traditional, text-only, search result snippets aim to summarize the content of a page in our search results. Rich snippets (shown above) allow webmasters to help us provide even better summaries using structured data markup that they can add to their pages. Today we're introducing a set of guidelines to help you implement high quality structured data markup for rich snippets.

Once you've correctly added structured data markup to you site, rich snippets are generated algorithmically based on that markup. If the markup on a page offers an accurate description of the page's content, is up-to-date, and is visible and easily discoverable on your page and by users, our algorithms are more likely to decide to show a rich snippet in Google’s search results.

Alternatively, if the rich snippets markup on a page is spammy, misleading, or otherwise abusive, our algorithms are much more likely to ignore the markup and render a text-only snippet. Keep in mind that, while rich snippets are generated algorithmically, we do reserve the right to take manual action (e.g., disable rich snippets for a specific site) in cases where we see actions that hurt the experience for our users.

To illustrate these guidelines with some examples:
  • If your page is about a band, make sure you mark up concerts being performed by that band, not by related bands or bands in the same town.
  • If you sell products through your site, make sure reviews on each page are about that page's product and not the store itself.
  • If your site provides song lyrics, make sure reviews are about the quality of the lyrics, not the quality of the song itself.
In addition to the general rich snippets quality guidelines we're publishing today, you'll find usage guidelines for specific types of rich snippets in our Help Center. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please tell us in the Webmaster Help Forum.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Google Webmaster Guidelines updated

Webmaster level: All

Today we’re happy to announce an updated version of our Webmaster Quality Guidelines. Both our basic quality guidelines and many of our more specific articles (like those on links schemes or hidden text) have been reorganized and expanded to provide you with more information about how to create quality websites for both users and Google.

The main message of our quality guidelines hasn’t changed: Focus on the user. However, we’ve added more guidance and examples of behavior that you should avoid in order to keep your site in good standing with Google’s search results. We’ve also added a set of quality and technical guidelines for rich snippets, as structured markup is becoming increasingly popular.

We hope these updated guidelines will give you a better understanding of how to create and maintain Google-friendly websites.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Keeping you informed of critical website issues

Webmaster level: All

Having a healthy and well-performing website is important, both to you as the webmaster and to your users. When we discover critical issues with a website, Webmaster Tools will now let you know by automatically sending an email with more information.

We’ll only notify you about issues that we think have significant impact on your site’s health or search performance and which have clear actions that you can take to address the issue. For example, we’ll email you if we detect malware on your site or see a significant increase in errors while crawling your site.

For most sites these kinds of issues will occur rarely. If your site does happen to have an issue, we cap the number of emails we send over a certain period of time to avoid flooding your inbox.  If you don’t want to receive any email from Webmaster Tools you can change your email delivery preferences.

We hope that you find this change a useful way to stay up-to-date on critical and important issues regarding your site’s health. If you have any questions, please let us know via our Webmaster Help Forum.