Monday, November 26, 2007

The anatomy of a search result

When Matt Cutts, who heads up Google's webspam team, dropped by our Kirkland offices a little while ago we found ourselves with a video camera and an hour to spare. The result? We quickly put together a few videos we hope you'll find useful.

In our first video, Matt talks about the anatomy of a search result, and gives some useful tips on how you can help improve how your site appears in our results pages. This talk covers everything you'll see in a search result, including page title, page description, and sitelinks, and explains those other elements that can appear, such as stock quotes, cached pages links, and more.

If you like the video format (and even if you don't), or have ideas for subjects you'd like covered in the future, let us know what you think in our Webmaster Help Group. And rest assured, we'll be working to improve the sound quality for our next batch of vids.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A dozen ways to discuss "webmaster help"

Our goal for the Webmaster Help Group is to be an authoritative source for accurate, friendly information and discussion. There are many terrific members of the Webmaster Groups community, and we're glad to know them all. In our English discussion group, a big Webmaster Central (WMC) thank-you to our comrades and fellow webmasters for their helpful knowledge and insight: webado, Phil Payne, JLH, cass-hacks, cristina, Sebastian, and dockarl, just to name a few.

Webado and cass-hacks both speak several languages -- thankfully, some of us do as well. We now have Googlers posting to the Google Webmaster Help Group in 12 languages! Here's a brief introduction of the Googlers, most of whom work together at our European headquarters in Dublin, in the Non-English groups (several have been posting for months, but we'd still like to give them an intro). :)

French Webmaster Help Group
Salut, I come from the French city Bordeaux where I spent most of my time, before I moved to Paris and then Dublin where I work now in Google Search Quality. When not in front of my computer, I like to go to the cinema, play chess and organize dinners
with my friends.
- Guide Google
Italian Webmaster Help Group
Ciao, my name is Stefano and I’m responsible for the Italian Webmaster Help Group. I work on search quality issues in Italian. I’m from Italy and have been living in Ireland for more than 2 years. I do love the multicultural environment you can find in Dublin and all the people from everywhere you get to know here, but sometimes it’s difficult to be so far away from my favorite football team, so now and then I really have to fly back home to get a bit of Serie A.
- Guida Google
German Webmaster Help Group
Grüss Gott! My name is Uli, and I post in the German Webmaster Help Group. I am originally from Germany but live in Ireland now. Unfortunately, I don't have my own website to show off. The German Help Group has grown into a big, vibrant community of very helpful and savvy webmasters, so if you speak German, go and check it out!
- Google Webmeister Guide
Spanish Webmaster Help Group
Hola! My name is Alvar and I'll be monitoring the Spanish Webmaster Help Group. Please join us if you speak a word or two in Spanish :-) More on the personal side, I don't own a portal or something like that but rather a tiny blog with nearly no visibility on the Internet, and I'm happy with that. I studied telecommunication engineering and my hobbies include soccer, foosball, table tennis, basically almost any other sport, traveling, photography, cinema, and technology, so I admit sitting in front of a computer can be counted as a hobby :-) Another important fact about me is that I'm from Barcelona, a city everyone should visit at least once in their life. What are you waiting for?
- Guía de Google para webmasters

Hola, I'm Rebecca. I studied to be a librarian but somehow along the way ended up being drawn into the digital side of information. So while I still snuggle up to books at night, computers take up most of my day. As for things I like to do (but wouldn't go so far as to call them hobbies…) I'm still pretty new to Dublin so I rather enjoy walking around until I'm lost and then trying to figure out how to get back home, and then when I get back home I like to play with my cat, best known for her fantastic Gollum impersonation when she gets riled up.
- Guía de Google
Dutch Webmaster Help Group
Hallo, I'm Andre. I'm very fond of Dutch music. But since living in Dublin for almost 2 years now, my taste for music has fused with the Irish sound. I like listening to live music in pubs, hanging out with the locals, have a pint or two and talking about upcoming gigs, artists, and all other topics that pass the day.
- André
Swedish Webmaster Help Group
Hejsan! My name is Hessam and I'm responsible for the Swedish Webmaster Help Group. I've been with Google for the last 2 years, working on search quality issues in Sweden. I'm originally from Sweden but moved to Dublin two years ago. My main interest is traveling and living in Dublin makes it easy to visit to all corners of Europe without blowing the budget. Thanks to cheap airlines, it takes merely a few hours from my door to the beer gardens of Munich, wine bars of Paris, ski slopes of Italy or beaches of Spain, depending on the mood. Looking forward to talking to you all!
- Google Webbansvarig Guide
Finnish Webmaster Help Group
Hei, I'm Anu and I work in the Search Quality team. I'm originally from Finland but these days I hold my umbrella high in Dublin. When I'm not online, you can catch me cycling (be it one or two wheels), playing virtual tennis or at the airport. I've been bitten by the travel bug, and try to see as many places near and far as possible. Besides all things webmaster related, I also have an interest in foreign languages, books and films. I look forward to meeting you in the Finnish Webmaster Help Group!
- Googlen Web-ylläpidon Ryhmän Opas
Polish Webmaster Help Group
Cześć, I'm Guglarz (it stands for Googler in Polish), the Googler on the Polish Webmaster Help Group. I was lucky to grow up in the city of Kraków, Poland's most beautiful city and the place where Google recently opened a research center. I've been with Google for two years now and I still love this job as much as I did the very first day. It's my favorite hobby activity in fact. If I don't work, I like to keep myself busy with general aviation, running or bowling, a sport I recently found out I was talented in. ;-)

I discovered my passion for the Internet early in school and after graduating in information science studies I was looking for a challenging position in the industry, although after the year 2000 crash there was little hope for that. It took me a couple of jobs in the established industries and some traveling around the globe before I found my dream job here at Google.

Ever since I started helping on the Polish Webmaster Help Group, it has been growing rapidly, both in terms of user numbers as much as in terms of the activity. It's really exciting to see how Polish webmasters help each other and make the web a more interesting place. Three group members, Cezary Lech, Umik and krzys in particular made an effort to vitalize the community in its early days. I'd like to say dziękuję (thank you in Polish) and please keep up the great spirit - thumbs up!
- Guglarz
Portuguese Webmaster Help Group
Olá, my name is Pedro. I'm Portuguese and I'm part of the Search Quality team. I've been working at Google since March 2006 mostly focused on the Portuguese language markets. I grew up in Tavira, a small town in the Algarve region – South of Portugal – and I always had a nerdy side, playing with computers since my very early days when memory meant 128KB. Most of my interests fall on my origins, I enjoy sailing and scuba diving, music is also on my top list. I'm based in the European Headquarters – Dublin office, and I'll be looking to strengthening contact with Portuguese webmasters (non Portuguese are also welcome).
- Ajuda a Webmasters do Google
Russian Webmaster Help Group
Привет! My name is Oxana and I come from Moldova, a teeny tiny country in Eastern Europe. My background is in mathematics and computer sciences and I have worked as a web developer for more than 7 years now. Of course I have a web site, but it features only an, unfortunately, eternal "under construction" message and a hope for a better future. :) I love to read and to travel, and at the moment I am a helpless wannabe photographer. Also, I'm a passionate WoW player and soon I'll become the best Warlock Orc on this side of Kalimdor! When I'm a grown-up person I work at Google on the Search Quality team and I primarily support the Russian market.
- Оксана
Danish Webmaster Help Group
Hej, my name is Jonas, and I am from Copenhagen, the wonderful capital of beautiful Denmark. I've been a webmaster of a blog since 2001, where I still drop a few lines every now and then. I am a jack of many trades, with a background in human geography and communication, design, and media. I've done some authoring for the web, but mostly administrative backends in PHP/MySQL, so they are not that interesting. I've been active on Usenet for awhile as well, and spent many hours there, getting smarter with the help of others.

I've been with Google for a couple of years now, working exclusively with search quality and I am now helping out in the Danish Webmaster Help Group. Looking forward to seeing you there (:
- GoogleGuide

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bringing the conference to you

We're fortunate to meet many of you at conferences, where we can chat about web search and Webmaster Tools. We receive a lot of good feedback at these events: insight into the questions you're asking and issues you're facing. However, as several of our Webmaster Help Group friends have pointed out, not everyone can afford the time or expense of a conference; and many of you live in regions where webmaster-related conferences are rare.

So, we're bringing the conference to you.

We've posted notes in our Help Group from conferences we recently attended:
Next month, Jonathan and Wysz will post their notes from PubCon, while Bergy and I will cover SES Chicago.

If you can make it to one of these, we'd love to meet you face to face, but if you can't, we hope you find our jottings useful.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Go Daddy and Google offer easy access to Webmaster Tools

Welcome Go Daddy webmasters to the Google Webmaster Tools family! Today, we're announcing that Go Daddy, the world's largest hostname provider in the web hosting space, is working with us as a pilot partner so that their customers can more easily access Google Webmaster Tools. Go Daddy is a great partner, and we hope to educate more webmasters on how to make their site more search engine-friendly.

Go Daddy users will now see our link right in their hosting control center, and can launch Google Webmaster Tools directly from their hosting account. And Go Daddy makes the Google Webmaster Tools account creation process faster by adding the site, verifying the site, and submitting Sitemaps on behalf of hosting customers. Our tools show users how Google views their site, give useful stats like queries and links, diagnose problems, and share information with us in order to improve their site's visibility in search results.

As a continuation of these efforts, we look forward to working with other web hosting companies to add Google Webmaster Tools to their products soon.

And in case you're wondering, Webmaster Tools will stay 100% the same for current users. If you have questions or suggestions about our partnership with Go Daddy, let us know in our Webmaster community discussion groups.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

A spider's view of Web 2.0

Update on July 29, 2010: We've improved our Flash indexing capability and we also now support an AJAX crawling scheme! Please check out the posts (linked above) for more details.

Many webmasters have discovered the advantages of using Ajax to improve the user experience on their sites, creating dynamic pages that act as powerful web applications. But, like Flash, Ajax can make a site difficult for search engines to index if the technology is not implemented carefully. As promised in our post answering questions about Server location, cross-linking, and Web 2.0 technology, we've compiled some tips for creating Ajax-enhanced websites that are also understood by search engines.

How will Google see my site?

One of the main issues with Ajax sites is that while Googlebot is great at following and understanding the structure of HTML links, it can have a difficult time finding its way around sites which use JavaScript for navigation. While we are working to better understand JavaScript, your best bet for creating a site that's crawlable by Google and other search engines is to provide HTML links to your content.

Design for accessibility

We encourage webmasters to create pages for users, not just search engines. When you're designing your Ajax site, think about the needs of your users, including those who may not be using a JavaScript-capable browser. There are plenty of such users on the web, including those using screen readers or mobile devices.

One of the easiest ways to test your site's accessibility to this type of user is to explore the site in your browser with JavaScript turned off, or by viewing it in a text-only browser such as Lynx. Viewing a site as text-only can also help you identify other content which may be hard for Googlebot to see, including images and Flash.

Develop with progressive enhancement

If you're starting from scratch, one good approach is to build your site's structure and navigation using only HTML. Then, once you have the site's pages, links, and content in place, you can spice up the appearance and interface with Ajax. Googlebot will be happy looking at the HTML, while users with modern browsers can enjoy your Ajax bonuses.

Of course you will likely have links requiring JavaScript for Ajax functionality, so here's a way to help Ajax and static links coexist:
When creating your links, format them so they'll offer a static link as well as calling a JavaScript function. That way you'll have the Ajax functionality for JavaScript users, while non-JavaScript users can ignore the script and follow the link. For example:

<a href=”ajax.htm?foo=32” onClick=”navigate('ajax.html#foo=32'); return false”>foo 32</a>

Note that the static link's URL has a parameter (?foo=32) instead of a fragment (#foo=32), which is used by the Ajax code. This is important, as search engines understand URL parameters but often ignore fragments. Web developer Jeremy Keith labeled this technique as Hijax. Since you now offer static links, users and search engines can link to the exact content they want to share or reference.

While we're constantly improving our crawling capability, using HTML links remains a strong way to help us (as well as other search engines, mobile devices and users) better understand your site's structure.

Follow the guidelines

In addition to the tips described here, we encourage you to also check out our Webmaster Guidelines for more information about what can make a site good for Google and your users. The guidelines also point out some practices to avoid, including sneaky JavaScript redirects. A general rule to follow is that while you can provide users different experiences based on their capabilities, the content should remain the same. For example, imagine we've created a page for Wysz's Hamster Farm. The top of the page has a heading of "Wysz's Hamster Farm," and below it is an Ajax-powered slideshow of the latest hamster arrivals. Turning JavaScript off on the same page shouldn't surprise a user with additional text reading:
Wysz's Hamster Farm -- hamsters, best hamsters, cheap hamsters, free hamsters, pets, farms, hamster farmers, dancing hamsters, rodents, hampsters, hamsers, best hamster resource, pet toys, dancing lessons, cute, hamster tricks, pet food, hamster habitat, hamster hotels, hamster birthday gift ideas and more!
A more ideal implementation would display the same text whether JavaScript was enabled or not, and in the best scenario, offer an HTML version of the slideshow to non-JavaScript users.

This is a pretty advanced topic, so please continue the discussion by asking questions and sharing ideas over in the Webmaster Help Group. See you there!