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Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Webmaster Academy goes international

Webmaster level: All

Since we launched the Webmaster Academy in English back in May 2012, its educational content has been viewed well over 1 million times.

The Webmaster Academy was built to guide webmasters in creating great sites that perform well in Google search results. It is an ideal guide for beginner webmasters but also a recommended read for experienced users who wish to learn more about advanced topics.

To support webmasters across the globe, we’re happy to announce that we’re launching the Webmaster Academy in 20 languages. So whether you speak Japanese or Italian, we hope we can help you to make even better websites! You can easily access it through Webmaster Central.

We’d love to read your comments here and invite you to join the discussion in the help forums.


Monday, March 25, 2013

A new opt-out tool

Webmasters have several ways to keep their sites' content out of Google's search results. Today, as promised, we're providing a way for websites to opt out of having their content that Google has crawled appear on Google Shopping, Advisor, Flights, Hotels, and Google+ Local search.

Webmasters can now choose this option through our Webmaster Tools, and crawled content currently being displayed on Shopping, Advisor, Flights, Hotels, or Google+ Local search pages will be removed within 30 days.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Easier management of website verifications

Webmaster level: All

To help webmasters manage the verified owners for their websites in Webmaster Tools, we’ve recently introduced three new features:

  • Verification details view: You can now see the methods used to verify an owner for your site. In the Manage owners page for your site, you can now find the new Verification details link. This screenshot shows the verification details of a user who is verified using both an HTML file uploaded to the site and a meta tag:

    Where appropriate, the Verification details will have links to the correct URL on your site where the verification can be found to help you find it faster.

  • Requiring the verification method be removed from the site before unverifying an owner: You now need to remove the verification method from your site before unverifying an owner from Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools now checks the method that the owner used to verify ownership of the site, and will show an error message if the verification is still found. For example, this is the error message shown when an unverification was attempted while the DNS CNAME verification method was still found on the DNS records of the domain:

  • Shorter CNAME verification string: We’ve slightly modified the CNAME verification string to make it shorter to support a larger number of DNS providers. Some systems limit the number of characters that can be used in DNS records, which meant that some users were not able to use the CNAME verification method. We’ve now made the CNAME verification method have a fewer number of characters. Existing CNAME verifications will continue to be valid.

We hope this changes make it easier for you to use Webmaster Tools. As always, please post in our Verification forum if you have any questions or feedback.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Making search-friendly mobile websites — now in 11 more languages

Webmaster level: Intermediate

As more and more users worldwide with mobile devices access the Internet, it’s fantastic to see so many websites making their content accessible and useful for those devices. To help webmasters optimize their sites we launched our recommendations for smartphones, feature-phones, tablets, and Googlebot-friendly sites in June 2012.

We’re happy to announce that those recommendations are now also available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish. US-based webmasters are welcome to read the UK-English version.

We welcome you to go through our recommendations, pick the configuration that you feel will work best with your website, and get ready to jump on the mobile bandwagon!

Thanks to the fantastic webmaster-outreach team in Dublin, Tokyo and Beijing for making this possible!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

We created a first steps cheat sheet for friends & family


Webmaster level: beginner
Everyone knows someone who just set up their first blog on Blogger, installed WordPress for the first time or maybe who had a web site for some time but never gave search much thought. We came up with a first steps cheat sheet for just these folks. It’s a short how-to list with basic tips on search engine-friendly design, that can help Google and others better understand the content and increase your site’s visibility. We made sure it’s available in thirteen languages. Please feel free to read it, print it, share it, copy and distribute it!

We hope this content will help those who are just about to start their webmaster adventure or have so far not paid too much attention to search engine-friendly design. Over time as you gain experience you may want to have a look at our more advanced Google SEO Starter Guide. As always we welcome all webmasters and site owners, new and experienced to join discussions on our Google Webmaster Help Forum.


Posted by Kaspar Szymanski, Search Quality Strategist, Dublin


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

New first stop for hacked site recovery

Webmaster Level: All

We certainly hope you never have to use our new Help for hacked sites informational series. It's a dozen articles and over an hour of videos dedicated to helping webmasters in the unfortunate event that their site is compromised.


Overview: How and why sites are hacked

If you have further interest in why cybercriminals hack sites for spammy purposes, see Tiffany Oberoi’s explanation in Step 5: Assess the damage (hacked with spam).

Tiffany Oberoi, a Webspam engineer, shares more information about sites hacked with spam

And if you’re curious about malware, Lucas Ballard from our Safe Browsing team, explains more about the topic in Step 5: Assess the damage (hacked with malware).

Lucas Ballard, a Safe Browsing engineer, and I pretend to have a totally natural conversation about malware

While we attempt to outline the necessary steps in recovery, each task remains fairly difficult for site owners unless they have advanced knowledge of system administrator commands and experience with source code. For helping fellow webmasters through the difficult recovery time, we'd like to thank the steady members in Webmaster Forum. Specifically, in the subforum Malware and hacked sites, we'd be remiss not to mention the amazing contributions of Redleg and Denis Sinegubko.

How to avoid ever needing Help for hacked sites
Just as you focus on making a site that's good for users and search-engine friendly, keeping your site secure -- for you and your visitors -- is also paramount. When site owners fail to keep their site secure, hackers may exploit the vulnerability. If a hacker exploits a vulnerability, then you might need Help for hacked sites. So, to potentially avoid this scenario:
  • Be vigilant about keeping software updated
  • Understand the security practices of all applications, plugins, third-party software, etc., before you install them on your server. A security vulnerability in one software application can affect the safety of your entire site
  • Remove unnecessary or unused software
  • Enforce creation of strong passwords
  • Keep all devices used to log in to your servers secure (updated operating system and browser)
  • Make regular, automated backups of your site
Help for hacked sites can be found at www.google.com/webmasters/hacked. We look forward to not seeing you there!

Friday, February 22, 2013

A reminder about selling links that pass PageRank

Webmaster level: all

Google has said for years that selling links that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines. We continue to reiterate that guidance periodically to help remind site owners and webmasters of that policy.

Please be wary if someone approaches you and wants to pay you for links or "advertorial" pages on your site that pass PageRank. Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations. The consequences for a linkselling site start with losing trust in Google's search results, as well as reduction of the site's visible PageRank in the Google Toolbar. The consequences can also include lower rankings for that site in Google's search results.

If you receive a warning for selling links that pass PageRank in Google's Webmaster Tools, you'll see a notification message to look for "possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank." That's an indication that your site has lost trust in Google's index.

To address the issue, make sure that any paid links on your site don't pass PageRank. You can remove any paid links or advertorial pages, or make sure that any paid hyperlinks have the rel="nofollow" attribute. After ensuring that no paid links on your site pass PageRank, you can submit a reconsideration request and if you had a manual webspam action on your site, someone at Google will review the request. After the request has been reviewed, you'll get a notification back about whether the reconsideration request was granted or not.

We do take this issue very seriously, so we recommend you avoid selling (and buying) links that pass PageRank in order to prevent loss of trust, lower PageRank in the Google Toolbar, lower rankings, or in an extreme case, removal from Google's search results.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Make the most of Search Queries in Webmaster Tools

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

If you’re intrigued by the Search Queries feature in Webmaster Tools but aren’t sure how to make it actionable, we have a video that we hope will help!


Maile shares her approach to Search Queries in Webmaster Tools

This video explains the vocabulary of Search Queries, such as:
  • Impressions
  • Average position (only the top-ranking URL for the user’s query is factored in our calculation)
  • Click
  • CTR
The video also reviews an approach to investigating Top queries and Top pages:
  1. Prepare by understanding your website’s goals and your target audience (then using Search Queries “filters” to support your knowledge)
  2. Sort by clicks in Top queries to understand the top queries bringing searchers to your site (for the given time period)
  3. Sort by CTR to notice any missed opportunities
  4. Categorize queries into logical buckets that simplify tracking your progress and staying in touch with users’ needs
  5. Sort Top pages by clicks to find the URLs on your site most visited by searchers (for the given time period)
  6. Sort Top pages by impressions to find valuable pages that can be used to help feature your related, high-quality, but lower-ranking pages
After you’ve watched the video and applied the knowledge of your site with the findings from Search Queries, you’ll likely have several improvement ideas to help searchers find your site. If you’re up for it, let us know in the comments what Search Queries information you find useful (and why!), and of course, as always, feel free to share any tips or feedback.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A faster image search

Webmaster level: all

People looking for images on Google often want to browse through many images, looking both at the images and their metadata (detailed information about the images). Based on feedback from both users and webmasters, we redesigned Google Images to provide a better search experience. In the next few days, you’ll see image results displayed in an inline panel so it’s faster, more beautiful, and more reliable. You will be able to quickly flip through a set of images by using the keyboard. If you want to go back to browsing other search results, just scroll down and pick up right where you left off.

Screenshot of new Google Images results using the query nasa earth as an example


Here’s what it means for webmasters:
  • We now display detailed information about the image (the metadata) right underneath the image in the search results, instead of redirecting users to a separate landing page.
  • We’re featuring some key information much more prominently next to the image: the title of the page hosting the image, the domain name it comes from, and the image size.
  • The domain name is now clickable, and we also added a new button to visit the page the image is hosted on. This means that there are now four clickable targets to the source page instead of just two. In our tests, we’ve seen a net increase in the average click-through rate to the hosting website.
  • The source page will no longer load up in an iframe in the background of the image detail view. This speeds up the experience for users, reduces the load on the source website’s servers, and improves the accuracy of webmaster metrics such as pageviews. As usual, image search query data is available in Top Search Queries in Webmaster Tools.
As always, please ask on our Webmaster Help forum if you have questions.