Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Now you can polish up Google’s translation of your website

Webmaster level: All
(Cross-posted on the Google Translate Blog)

Since we first launched the Website Translator plugin back in September 2009, more than a million websites have added the plugin. While we’ve kept improving our machine translation system since then, we may not reach perfection until someone invents full-blown Artificial Intelligence. In other words, you’ll still sometimes run into translations we didn’t get quite right.

So today, we’re launching a new experimental feature (in beta) that lets you customize and improve the way the Website Translator translates your site. Once you add the customization meta tag to a webpage, visitors will see your customized translations whenever they translate the page, even when they use the translation feature in Chrome and Google Toolbar. They’ll also now be able to ‘suggest a better translation’ when they notice a translation that’s not quite right, and later you can accept and use that suggestion on your site.

To get started:
  1. Add the Website Translator plugin and customization meta tag to your website
  2. Then translate a page into one of 60+ languages using the Website Translator
To tweak a translation:
  1. Hover over a translated sentence to display the original text
  2. Click on ‘Contribute a better translation’
  3. And finally, click on a phrase to choose an automatic alternative translation -- or just double-click to edit the translation directly.
For example, if you’re translating your site into Spanish, and you want to translate Cat not to gato but to Cat, you can tweak it as follows:

If you’re signed in, the corrections made on your site will go live right away -- the next time a visitor translates a page on your website, they’ll see your correction. If one of your visitors contributes a better translation, the suggestion will wait until you approve it. You can also invite other editors to make corrections and add translation glossary entries. You can learn more about these new features in the Help Center.

This new experimental feature is currently free of charge. We hope this feature, along with Translator Toolkit and the Translate API, can provide a low cost way to expand your reach globally and help to break down language barriers.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Multilingual and multinational site annotations in Sitemaps

Webmaster level: All

In December 2011 we announced annotations for sites that target users in many languages and, optionally, countries. These annotations define a cluster of equivalent pages that target users around the world, and were implemented using rel-alternate-hreflang link elements in the HTML of each page in the cluster.

Based on webmaster feedback and other considerations, today we’re adding support for specifying the rel-alternate-hreflang annotations in Sitemaps. Using Sitemaps instead of HTML link elements offers many advantages including smaller page size and easier deployment for some websites.

To see how this works, let's take a simple example: We wish to specify that for the URL, targeting English language users, the equivalent URL targeting German language speakers Up till now, the only way to add such annotation is to use a link element, either as an HTTP header or as HTML elements on both URLs like this:

<link rel="alternate" hreflang="en" href="" >
<link rel="alternate" hreflang="de" href="" >

As of today, you can alternately use the following equivalent markup in Sitemaps:

href="" />

href="" />

href="" />

href="" />


Briefly, the new Sitemaps tags shown in bold function in the same way as the HTML link tags, with both using the same attributes. The full technical details of how the annotations are implemented in Sitemaps, including how to implement the xhtml namespace for the link tag, are in our new Help Center article.

A more detailed example can be found in our new Help Center article, and if you need more help, please ask in our brand new internationalization help forum.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Introducing Webmaster Academy

Webmaster Level: Beginner

Looking through all of the information in Webmaster Central can feel overwhelming, especially if you’re just getting started with a website. This is why we’re excited to introduce a new set of educational materials in a program called Webmaster Academy. Webmaster Academy provides practical and easy-to-understand lessons for beginner webmasters to help you improve your site with topics like getting your site in our index, providing search engines with helpful information about your video and image content, and understanding Webmaster Tools features.

We’ve organized the content to represent what beginner webmasters should know in a way that’s both structured and modular, meaning you can go through the whole curriculum, or pick and choose your own path. Once you’ve read the articles, you can easily delve deeper into each topic, as we provide links to more in-depth articles. Most lessons are also accompanied by a video from the Webmaster Central YouTube Channel. If you’re looking to understand search and improve your site, Webmaster Academy is for you!

Have feedback? Excellent. Post it in our Webmaster Help Forum.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Making more pages load instantly

Webmaster level: All

At Google we're obsessed with speed. We've long known that even seemingly minor speed increases can have surprisingly large impacts on user engagement and happiness. About a year ago we rolled out Instant Pages in pursuit of that goal. Instant Pages makes use of prerendering technology in Chrome to make your site appear to load instantly in some cases, with no need for any extra work on your part. Here's a video of it in action:

We've been closely watching performance and listening to webmaster feedback. Since Instant Pages rolled out we've saved more than a thousand years of ours users' time. We're very happy with the results so far, and we'll be gradually increasing how often we trigger the feature.

In the vast majority of cases, webmasters don't have to do anything for their sites to work correctly with prerendering. As we mentioned in our initial announcement of Instant Pages, search traffic will be measured in Webmaster Tools just like before this feature: only results the user visits will be counted. If your site keeps track of pageviews on its own, you might be interested in the Page Visibility API, which allows you to detect when prerendering is occurring and factor those out of your statistics. If you use an ads or analytics package, check with them to see if their solution is already prerender-aware; if it is, in many cases you won't need to make any changes at all. If you're interested in triggering Chrome's prerendering within your own site, see the Prerendering in Chrome article.

Instant Pages means that users arrive at your site happier and more engaged, which is great for everyone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sorting and Filtering Results in Custom Search

Webmaster level: All
(Cross-posted on the Custom Search Blog)

Using Custom Search Engine (CSE), you can create rich search experiences that make it easier for visitors to find the information they’re looking for on your site. Today we’re announcing two improvements to sorting and filtering of search results in CSE.

First, CSE now supports UI-based results sorting, which you can enable in the Basics tab of the CSE control panel. Once you’ve updated the CSE element code on your site, a “sort by” picker will become visible at the top of the results section.

By default CSE supports sorting by date and relevance. In the control panel, you can specify additional “sort by” keys that are based on the structure of your site’s content, giving users more options to find the results that are most relevant to them. For example, if you’ve marked up pages for product rich snippets, you could enable sorting based on price as shown below:

Second, we’re introducing compact queries for filtering by attribute. Currently you can issue a query like
[more:pagemap:product-description:search more:pagemap:product-description:engine]
which will only show pages with a ‘product-description’ attribute that contains both ‘search’ and ‘engine’.

With a compact query, you can issue the same request as:

We hope these new features help you create richer and more useful search experiences for your visitors. As always, if you have any questions or feedback please let us know via our Help Forum.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Navigation, Dashboard and Home page

Webmaster level: All

After announcing Webmaster Tools spring cleaning earlier this quarter, it’s time to do the job. There are a few changes coming along: an updated navigation, revamped dashboard, and a compact view for the home page site-list.

Here's the new sample Webmaster Tools Dashboard for

We’ve regrouped the features in Webmaster Tools to create an improved navigation structure (shown on the left-hand side of the above image). We distinguished the following groups: Configuration, Health, Traffic and Optimization. Each group represents a related set of functionality:
  • Configuration: Things you configure and generally don’t change very often.
  • Health: Where you look to make sure things are OK.
  • Traffic: Where you go to understand how your site is doing in Google search, who’s linking to you; where you can explore the data about your site.
  • Optimization: Where you can find ideas to enhance your site, which enables us to better understand and represent your site in Search and other services.

If you have a moment, please take time to familiarize yourself with the new Webmaster Tools navigation. Some features were slightly renamed, such as HTML Suggestions became HTML Improvements, however the functionality remains the same.

Hoping you’ll find the new navigation useful, we also think you’ll like the new Dashboard. At the top of the Dashboard you can see recent, important, prioritized messages regarding your site. Just below that, you’ll find another section which provides a brief summary of the current status of your site. There are three widgets displayed: Crawl Errors, Search Queries and Sitemaps, each representing a different navigation group: Health, Traffic and Optimization (respectively). We know your time is valuable. With the new Dashboard, we've surfaced more messages and charts to let you see how your site is doing at a glance. Take a quick look before diving into the details.

Finally, those of you who manage a large number of sites can choose to view your site-list in a 'Compact' layout, without the large site-preview thumbnails. Don't worry, if you want the more expanded layout you can always switch back.

Compact layout of the Home page

If you have questions or comments about these changes please post them in our Help Forum.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Coding guidelines for HTML and CSS

Webmaster level: All

Great code has many attributes. It’s effective, efficient, maintainable, elegant. When working on code with many developers and teams and maybe even companies, great code needs to also be consistent and easy to understand. For that purpose there are style guides. We use style guides for a lot of languages, and our newest public style guide is the Google HTML and CSS Style Guide.

Our HTML and CSS Style Guide, just like other Google style guides, deals with a lot of formatting-related matters. It also hints at best practices so to encourage developers to go beyond indentation. Many style guide authors know the underlying motivation from the question whether to describe the code they write—or to prescribe what code they want to write. Not surprisingly then, in our HTML and CSS style guide you’ll find both (as much as you’ll still find a lot of different development styles in our not entirely small code base).

At this time we only want to introduce you to this new style guide. We hope to share more about its design decisions and future updates with you. In the meantime please share your thoughts and experiences, and as with the other style guides, feel free to use our style guide for your own projects, as you see fit.