Thursday, March 26, 2009

Helping your site look great with Google Chrome

Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Since launching Google Chrome last September, we received a number of questions from webmasters and web developers about how to make their sites look great in Google Chrome. The questions were very insightful and illuminating for the Chrome team, and I want to respond with a few helpful tips for making your site look stellar in Google Chrome.

Detecting Google Chrome

Most sites will render the same in both Safari and Google Chrome, because they're both WebKit-based browsers. If your site looks right in Safari, then it should look right in Google Chrome, too.

Since Chrome is relatively new, many sites have confused Google Chrome with another browser. If your site doesn't look quite right in Chrome but works fine in Safari, it's possible your site may just not recognize Chrome's user-agent string.

As platforms and browsers adopt WebKit as their rendering engine, your site can detect and support them automatically with the right JavaScript checks. Commonly, sites use JavaScript to 'sniff' the navigator.userAgent property for "Chrome" or "Safari", but you should use proper object detection if possible. In fact, Gmail has been detecting WebKit properly in Chrome since day one!

If you must detect the user-agent type, you can use this simple JavaScript to detect WebKit:

var isWebkit =
  navigator.userAgent.indexOf("AppleWebKit") > -1;

Or, if you want to check that the version of WebKit is at least a certain version—say, if you want to use a spiffy new WebKit feature:

var webkitVersion =
  parseFloat(navigator.userAgent.split("AppleWebKit/")[1]) ||
if (webkitVersion && webkitVersion > 500 ) {
  // use spiffy WebKit feature here

For reference, here are a few browser releases and the version of WebKit they shipped:

BrowserVersion of WebKit
Chrome 1.0525.19
Chrome 2.0 beta530.1
Safari 3.1525.19
Safari 3.2525.26.2
Safari 4.0 beta528.16

We do not recommend adding "Google" or "Apple" to your navigator.vendor checks to detect WebKit or Google Chrome, because this will not detect other WebKit or Chromium-based browsers!

You can find more information about detecting WebKit at

Other helpful tips
  • Google Chrome doesn't support ActiveX plug-ins, but does support NPAPI plug-ins. This means you can show plug-in content like Flash and Java in Google Chrome the same way you do with Firefox and Safari.
  • If text on your site looks a bit off, make sure you provide the proper content type and character encoding information in the HTTP response headers, or at the beginning of your pages, preferably near the top of the <head> section.
  • Don't put block elements inside inline elements.
Wrong:   <a><div>This will look wrong.</div></a>

Right:     <div><a>This will look right!</a></div>
  • If your JavaScript isn't working in Google Chrome, you can debug using Chrome's built-in JavaScript debugger, under the "page" menu -> 'Developer' -> 'Debug JavaScript' menu option.
To help webmasters and web developers find more answers, we created a support center and forum specifically to answer your questions. Of course, if you find something you think is really a bug in Chrome, please report it to us!

Help us improve Google Chrome!

If you'd like to help even more, we're looking for sites that may be interested in allowing Google to use their site as a benchmark for our internal compatibility and performance measurements. If you're interested in having Google Chrome development optimized against a cached version of your site, please contact us about details at

Please keep the feedback coming, and we'll keep working to improve Google Chrome!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Making more tools available with just a click

Last July, we launched our Webmaster Tools Access Provider Program and it's been a huge hit. Hundreds of providers have signed up, and thousands of users now access Webmaster Tools via their provider's control panel.

Today we are launching the Google Services for Websites Access Provider Program which enables providers to offer the following features to site owners:
  • Enhance their site with Custom Search or Google Site Search
  • Monetize with AdSense
  • Optimize for search with Webmaster Tools
How can you get in on this?

Webmasters: Watch to see if your provider join this program, so the next time you manage your site, everything will be all set for you. Better yet, send your provider a link to this post and tell them we're here to help them help you.

Providers: Check out the Google Services for Websites site and sign up today!

And in case you're wondering, providers that have signed up for the Webmaster Tools Access Provider program will automatically be upgraded to the new program. Also, no worries for developers -- the backend Webmaster Tools APIs remain unchanged.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Get up-to-date on Image Search

Webmaster Level: All

Recently at SMX West, I gave an Image Search presentation that I'd like to share with our broader webmaster community. The goal of the presentation was to provide insights into how image search is used, how it works, and how webmasters can optimize their pages for image searchers.

You'll see more information about:
  • Some background on the reach of Image Search
  • Interesting findings on the behavior of image searchers
  • Our efforts at handling multiple image referrers
  • How to best feature images (image quality and placement, relevant surrounding text, etc.)
Take a look and let us know your thoughts in the comments. We'd love to hear from you.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Using stats from site: and Sitemap details

Webmaster Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Every now and then in the webmaster blogosphere and forums, this issue comes up: when a webmaster performs a [] query on their website, the number of indexed results differs from what is displayed in their Sitemaps report in Webmaster Tools. Such a discrepancy may smell like a bug, but it's actually by design. Your Sitemap report only reflects the URLs you've submitted in your Sitemap file. The site operator, on the other hand, takes into account whatever Google has crawled, which may include URLs not included in your Sitemap, such as newly added URLs or other URLs discovered via links.

Think of the site operator as a quick diagnosis of the general health of your site in Google's index. Site operator results can show you:
  • a rough estimate of how many pages have been indexed
  • one indication of if your site has been hacked
  • if you have duplicate titles or snippets
Here is an example query using the site operator:

Your Sitemap report provides more granular statistics about the URLs you submitted, such as the number of indexed URLs vs. the number submitted for crawling, and Sitemap-specific warnings or errors that may have occurred when Google tried to access your URLs.

Sitemap report

Feel free to check out our Help Center for more on the site: operator and Sitemaps. If you have further questions or issues, please post to our Webmaster Help Forum, where experienced webmasters and Googlers are happy to help.

Posted by Charlene Perez