sysadmin

App deep linking with goo.gl

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Wed, 2015-05-27 14:39

Starting now, goo.gl short links function as a single link you can use to all your content — whether that content is in your Android app, iOS app, or website. Once you’ve taken the necessary steps to set up App Indexing for Android and iOS, goo.gl URLs will send users straight to the right page in your app if they have it installed, and everyone else to your website. This will provide additional opportunities for your app users to re-engage with your app.

This feature works for both new short URLs and retroactively, so any existing goo.gl short links to your content will now also direct users to your app.

Share links that ‘do the right thing’

You can also make full use of this feature by integrating the URL Shortener API into your app’s share flow, so users can share links that automatically redirect to your native app cross-platform. This will also allow others to embed links in their websites and apps which deep link directly to your app.

Take Google Maps as an example. With the new cross-platform goo.gl links, the Maps share button generates one link that provides the best possible sharing experience for everyone. When opened, the link auto-detects the user’s platform and if they have Maps installed. If the user has the app installed, the short link opens the content directly in the Android or iOS Maps app. If the user doesn’t have the app installed or is on desktop, the short link opens the page on the Maps website.

Try it out for yourself! Don’t forget to use a phone with the Google Maps app installed: http://goo.gl/maps/xlWFj.

How to set it up

To set up app deep linking on goo.gl:

  1. Complete the necessary steps to participate in App Indexing for Android and iOS at g.co/AppIndexing. Note that goo.gl deep links are open to all iOS developers, unlike deep links from Search currently. After this step, existing goo.gl short links will start deep linking to your app.
  2. Optionally integrate the URL Shortener API with your app’s share flow, your email campaigns, etc. to programmatically generate links that will deep link directly back to your app.

We hope you enjoy this new functionality and happy cross-platform sharing!

Posted by Fabian Schlup, Software Engineer
Categories: sysadmin

Surfacing content from iOS apps in Google Search

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Wed, 2015-05-27 11:03

We’ve been helping users discover relevant content from Android apps in Google search results for a while now. Starting today, we’re bringing App Indexing to iOS apps as well. This means users on both Android and iOS will be able to open mobile app content straight from Google Search.

Indexed links from an initial group of apps we’ve been working with will begin appearing on iOS in search results both in the Google App and Chrome for signed-in users globally in the coming weeks:

How to get your iOS app indexed

While App Indexing for iOS is launching with a small group of test partners initially, we’re working to make this technology available to more app developers as soon as possible. In the meantime, here are the steps to get a head start on App Indexing for iOS:

  1. Add deep linking support to your iOS app.
  2. Make sure it’s possible to return to Search results with one click.
  3. Provide deep link annotations on your site.
  4. Let us know you’re interested. Keep in mind that expressing interest does not automatically guarantee getting app deep links in iOS search results.

If you happen to be attending Google I/O this week, stop by our talk titled “Get your app in the Google index” to learn more about App Indexing. You’ll also find detailed documentation on App Indexing for iOS at g.co/AppIndexing. If you’ve got more questions, drop by our Webmaster help forum.


Posted by Eli Wald, Product Manager
Categories: sysadmin

Rolling out the red carpet for app owners in Search Console

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Fri, 2015-05-22 05:58
Wouldn’t it be nifty if you could track where your indexed app content shows up in search results, for which queries, which app pages are most popular, and which ones have errors? Yeah, we thought so too! So we’ve equipped our freshly renamed Search Console with new reports to show you how Google understands and treats your app content in search results.
Our goal is to make Search Console a comprehensive source of information for everyone who cares about search, regardless of the format of their content. So, if you own or develop an app, Search Console is your new go-to place for search stats.
Add your app to Search ConsoleSimply open Search Console and enter your app name: android-app://com.example. Of course, we’ll only show data to authorized app owners, so you need to use your Google Play account to let Search Console know you have access to the app. If you don’t have access to your app in Google Play, ask an owner to verify the app in Search Console and add you next.
Connect your site to your appAssociating your site with your app is necessary for App Indexing to work. Plus, it helps with understanding and ranking the app content better.
Track your app content’s performance in searchThe new Search Analytics report provides detailed information on top queries, top app pages, and traffic by country. It also has a comprehensive set of filters, allowing you to narrow down to a specific query type or region, or sort by clicks, impressions, CTR, and positions.
Use the Search Analytics report to compare which app content you consider most important with the content that actually shows up in search and gets the most clicks. If they match, you’re on the right track! Your users are finding and liking what you want them to see. If there’s little overlap, you may need to restructure your navigation, or make the most important content easier to find. Also worth checking in this case: have you provided deep links to all the app content you want your users to find?
Make sure Google understands your app contentIf we encounter errors while indexing your app content, we won’t be able to show deep links for those app pages in search results. The Crawl Errors report will show you the type and number of errors we’ve detected.
See your app content the way Google sees itWe’ve created an alpha version of the Fetch as Google tool for apps to help you check if an app URI works and see how Google renders it. It can also be useful for comparing the app content with the webpage content to debug errors such as content mismatch. In many cases, the mismatch errors are caused by blocked resources within the app or by pop-ups asking users to sign in or register. Now you can see and resolve these issues.
To get started on optimizing and troubleshooting your own app, add it to Search Console now. If you want to know more about App Indexing, read about it on our Developer Site. And, as always, you’re welcome to drop by the help forum with more questions.
Posted by:
Hillel Maoz, Engineering Lead, Search Console Team (favorite app: Flipboard) and
Mariya Moeva, Webmaster Trends Analyst (favorite app: Spotify)
Categories: sysadmin

Announcing Google Search Console - the new Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Wed, 2015-05-20 05:43

For nearly ten years, Google Webmaster Tools has provided users with constantly evolving tools and metrics to help make fantastic websites that our systems love showing in Google Search. In the past year, we sought to learn more about you, the loyal users of Google Webmaster Tools: we wanted to understand your role and goals in order to make our product more useful to you.

It turns out that the traditional idea of the “webmaster” reflects only some of you. We have all kinds of Webmaster Tools fans: hobbyists, small business owners, SEO experts, marketers, programmers, designers, app developers, and, of course, webmasters as well. What you all share is a desire to make your work available online, and to make it findable through Google Search. So, to make sure that our product includes everyone who cares about Search, we've decided to rebrand Google Webmaster Tools as Google Search Console.

We're looking forward to an exciting future with Google Search Console, and hope to see users of all types—including webmasters—drop by and use our service to diagnose and improve the visibility of their content in search. We'll be rolling out the updated branding across the product over the coming weeks, so stay tuned.

Just come over to g.co/SearchConsole and get started!

Posted by Michael Fink, product manager Google Search Console
Categories: sysadmin

More precise data in the new Search Analytics report

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Wed, 2015-05-06 08:46
If you manage a website, you need a deep understanding of how users find your site and how your content appears on Google's search results. Until now, this data was shown in the Search Queries report, probably the most used feature in Webmaster Tools. Over the years, we’ve been listening to your feedback and features requests. How many of you wished they could compare traffic on desktop and mobile? How many of you needed to compare metrics in different countries? or in two different time frames?

We’ve heard you! Today, we’re very happy to announce Search Analytics, the new report in Google Webmaster Tools that will allow you to make the most out of your traffic analysis.
The new Search Analytics report enables you to break down your site's search data and filter it in many different ways in order to analyze it more precisely. For instance, you can now compare your mobile traffic before and after the April 21st Mobile update, to see how it affected your traffic.



Or, if you have an international website, you can now find the countries where people search most for your brand: choose “impressions” as your metric, filter by your brand name, and group results by country to show a sorted list of impressions by country.



These use cases are just two examples out of many more. Search Analytics allows you to really dig deeper into your traffic analysis and helps you make the best decisions for your website’s performance.

There are some differences between Search Analytics and Search Queries. Data in the Search Analytics report is much more accurate than data in the older Search Queries report, and it is calculated differently. To learn more read out Search Analytics Help Center article’s section about data. Because we understand that some of you will still need to use the old report, we’ve decided to leave it available in Google Webmaster Tools for three additional months. To learn more about the new report, please read our Search Analytics Help Center article.

We hope you find the new Search Analytics report useful for your traffic analysis. Please share your feedback in the comments below or on our Google Webmasters Google+ page. As usual, if you have any question or need help with the report, feel free to post in our Webmasters Help Forum.

Last but not least, we sincerely thank all the Trusted Testers and webmaster forums’ Top Contributors who spent time testing the alpha version of Search Analytics, and who helped us create such a good report: we wouldn’t have made it that great without your constant feedback and suggestions. Thank you for being so amazing!


Posted by Zineb, on behalf of the awesome Google Webmaster Tools engineers and UX designers.
Categories: sysadmin

Five ways to grow your business this Small Business Week

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Wed, 2015-05-06 04:29

Susan Brown, owner of Los Angeles gardening store Potted, recently updated her business listing on Google. Susan says, “Putting your business on Google lets people find you easily. Your directions are right there, your hours are right there, what you sell is right there.”

Thanks to her decision, Susan has seen more customers walk through her door: “So many of the customers that come in here find us on Google. As a small business, you want to use every opportunity to help your business grow.”

National Small Business Week is one of those opportunities. So from May 4-8, instead of three cheers, we’re giving you five—five simple ways to get your small business online and growing.

Celebrating National Small Business Week with Google

A handful of bright ideas and quick-fixes, all five ways are doable in a week or less and will help you throw a digital spotlight on your business all year round.

1. SHOW UP ON GOOGLE

Check to see how your business shows up on Google. Then, claim your listing so that customers can find the right info about your business on Google Search and Maps. When you claim your listing this week: You could be one of 100 randomly selected businesses to get a 360° virtual tour photoshoot—a $255 value.

2. LEARN FROM PROS & PEERS

Get business advice from experts and colleagues in the Google Small Business Community. They're ready to chat! When you visit or join this week: Share your tips for summertime business success and we'll feature your tip in front of an audience of 400K members.

3. WORK BETTER, TOGETHER:

With professional email, calendars, and docs that you can access anywhere, Google Apps for Work makes it easy for your team to create and collaborate. When you sign up this week you’ll receive 25% off Google Apps for Work for one year.

4. CLAIM YOUR DOMAIN:

With a custom domain name and website, Google Domains helps you create a place for your business on the web. When you sign up and purchase a .co, .com or .company domain this week you could be one of 1,500 randomly selected businesses to get reimbursed for the first year of registration.

5. GET ADVICE FROM AN ADVERTISING PRO:

Learn how you can promote your business online and work with a local digital marketing expert to craft a strategy that’s right for your business goals. When you RSVP this week you’ll get help from an expert who knows businesses like yours.

While these resources are available year-round, there’s no better time to embark on a digital reboot.

For more information, visit google.com/smallbusinessweek.

Wishing everyone a happy and productive Small Business Week!

Posted by Rachel Sterling, Product Marketing Manager, Google Small Business Team

PS: To join the conversation, use #5Days5Ways and #SBW15 on G+, Facebook or Twitter.

Categories: sysadmin

Faster and lighter mobile web pages for Indonesia

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Thu, 2015-04-30 13:00

We believe everyone should have fast and easy access to information online. However, many people still have slow and costly mobile connections. To speed up the experience of our users on slow connections, we recently launched streamlined search results. However, we wondered if we could also speed up the web pages themselves, so they don't load slowly or consume too much mobile data. So we’ve developed a way to optimize web pages to be faster and lighter, while preserving most of the relevant content.

In two weeks, we’re starting a field test in Indonesia to provide streamlined search results and optimized pages when the user searches on slow mobile connections, such as 2G. Our experiments show that optimized pages load four times faster than the original page and use 80% fewer bytes. As our users’ overall experience became faster, we saw a 50% increase in traffic to these optimized pages.

These faster optimized pages help publishers and advertisers reach new audiences. In addition, a link to the original page will always be available, so users can still choose to view that version. Publishers, you can preview how your page will look in this optimized format by visiting our help page for webmasters.  If you would prefer your pages not be optimized, the help page also provides the relevant details on how to opt out.

Webmasters can continue to monetize their content with these optimized pages. We have been working with Zedo and Sovrn to support their ads along with AdSense, and we are working to support DoubleClick for Publishers as well. We're just getting started, but hope to add support for other ad networks. If you are interested in getting your ad network supported, please see our help page for ad networks for more details on how to contact us.

Posted by Ram Ramani and Hiroto Tokusei
Categories: sysadmin

#MobileMadness: a campaign to help you go mobile-friendly

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Mon, 2015-04-27 13:19
Millions of people tuned in this past March to #MobileMadness, a global campaign to help prepare webmasters for the mobile search ranking change that went live last week. The monthlong highlights included presentations, a Q&A session, office hours, polls, tips and a 30 day challenge to go mobile-friendly. Enjoy the full recap below!
Maximize your online strategy & search performanceIn this presentation, learn to create an online strategy for your business, measure your search performance, and choose the right partner to design and manage your mobile website. The 3 topics are:
1. Choosing the right online channel
2. Webmaster Tools
3. SEO as a long term strategy
Basics of a mobile website for small and medium businessesIf you own a small business, this series of short videos will show you how easy it can be to make your web pages mobile-friendly. The 4-part series include:
1. Learn the tools: PageSpeed Insights, Mobile-Friendly Test and Mobile-Usability
2. Bring it in: Viewports, zoom and plugins
3. Focus on the user: Tap targets, margins and font sizes
4. Set it right: Redirects and canonicals
Q&A sessionHere are answers to questions you asked about the mobile-friendly ranking change. Check the comments section here for answers to questions we weren’t able to get to during the live event.

Results from audience pollsThousands of people participated in the 3 polls below. What are your thoughts on the results—surprising or predictable?

What device are you using to read this post?
Of 871 responses, desktop/laptop and mobile phone usage only differed by 28 votes. View on Google+ and Twitter.What do you dislike the most when browsing the web on your mobile device?
Almost half of 570 respondents said their top frustration was waiting for slow pages to load. View on Google+ and Twitter.What's the hardest part about having a mobile-friendly site?
More than half of 490 respondents said it’s not hard to have a mobile-friendly site. However, 1 in 5 said it's technically challenging. View on Google+ and Twitter.Mobile-friendly tipsThese tips highlight specific resources to help you go mobile-friendly. View a few of them below and the entire #mobilefriendly collection here.

View on Google+ and Twitter

View on Google+ and Twitter

View on Google+ and Twitter

Mobile-friendly one-sheeterDownload the one-sheeter so you can access and share these 5 steps to mobile-friendliness on-the-go.
Results from our 30 Day Challenge to go mobile-friendlyMany people took our 30 Day Challenge to make their sites mobile-friendly in March. Take a look at some of the responses we got at the end of the challenge.
  • Nicolas Chevallier: "Almost every sites we managed have been redesigned in RWD since the beginning of #mobilemadness"
  • Daniel Harrison: "Still working on the responsive design site. Hope to be 100% finished in 2 weeks."
  • Gina Gaudio-Graves: “Our site is now totally #mobilefriendly [...] And, many of our students sites are now #mobilefriendly as well! Thanks for the help!”
  • Andreas Becker: "just a few more days ... so many sites :) i think 90%"

Thanks to all who participated in #MobileMadness! As a reminder, take the Mobile-Friendly Test, check the Mobile Usability Report for mobile usability issues, and read the step-by-step mobile guide which contains all our mobile resources. And as always, head on over to our webmasters help forum if you need any help.

Posted by Mary Chen, Webmaster Outreach
Categories: sysadmin

FAQs about the April 21st mobile-friendly update

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Tue, 2015-04-21 10:12
We’d like to share answers to your frequently asked questions. For background, in February, we announced that the mobile-friendly update will boost the rankings of mobile-friendly pages -- pages that are legible and usable on mobile devices -- in mobile search results worldwide. (Conversely, pages designed for only large screens may see a significant decrease in rankings in mobile search results.) To get us all on the same page, here are the most frequently asked questions:

General FAQs
1. Will desktop and/or tablet ranking also be affected by this change?

No, this update has no effect on searches from tablets or desktops. It affects searches from mobile devices across all languages and locations.

2. Is it a page-level or site-level mobile ranking boost? 

It’s a page-level change. For instance, if ten of your site’s pages are mobile-friendly, but the rest of your pages aren’t, only the ten mobile-friendly pages can be positively impacted.


3. How do I know if Google thinks a page on my site is mobile-friendly?

Individual pages can be tested for “mobile-friendliness” using the Mobile-Friendly Test.

Test individual URLs in real-time with the Mobile-Friendly Test.
To review site-level information on mobile-friendliness, check out the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools. This feature’s data is based on the last time we crawled and indexed your site’s pages.
Mobile Usability in Webmaster Tools provides a snapshot of your entire site’s mobile-friendliness.


4. Unfortunately, my mobile-friendly pages won’t be ready until after April 21st. How long before they can be considered mobile-friendly in ranking?
We determine whether a page is mobile-friendly every time it’s crawled and indexed -- you don’t have to wait for another update. Once a page is mobile-friendly, you can wait for Googlebot for smartphones to naturally (re-)crawl and index the page or you can expedite processing by using Fetch as Google with Submit to Index in Webmaster Tools. For a large volume of URLs, consider submitting a sitemap. In the sitemap, if your mobile content uses pre-existing URLs (such as with Responsive Web Design or dynamic serving), also include the lastmod tag.

5. Since the mobile ranking change rolls out on April 21st, if I see no drop in traffic on April 22nd, does that mean that my site’s rankings aren't impacted?
You won't be able to definitively determine whether your site’s rankings are impacted by the mobile-friendly update by April 22nd. While we begin rolling out the mobile-friendly update on April 21st, it’ll be a week or so before it makes its way to all pages in the index. 

6. I have a great mobile site, but the Mobile-Friendly Test tells me that my pages aren't mobile-friendly. Why?
If a page is designed to work well on mobile devices, but it’s not passing the Mobile-Friendly Test, the most common reason is that Googlebot for smartphones is blocked from crawling resources, like CSS and JavaScript, that are critical for determining whether the page is legible and usable on a mobile device (i.e., whether it’s mobile-friendly). To remedy:
  1. Check if the Mobile-Friendly Test shows blocked resources (often accompanied with a partially rendered image).
  2. Allow Googlebot to crawl the necessary files.
  3. Double-check that your page passes the Mobile-Friendly Test.
  4. Use Fetch as Google with Submit to Index and submit your updated robots.txt to Google to expedite the re-processing of the updated page (or just wait for Google to naturally re-crawl and index).
The most common reason why a mobile page fails the Mobile-Friendly Test is that Googlebot for smartphones is blocked from crawling resources, like CSS and JavaScript, that are crucial for understanding the page’s mobile-friendliness. 

To reiterate, we recommend that site owners allow Googlebot to crawl all resources for a page (including CSS, JavaScript, and images), so that we can properly render, index, and in this case, assess whether the page is mobile-friendly.

7. What if I link to a site that’s not mobile-friendly?
Your page can still be “mobile-friendly” even if it links to a page that’s not mobile-friendly, such as a page designed for larger screens, like desktops. It’s not the best experience for mobile visitors to go from a mobile-friendly page to a desktop-only page, but hopefully as more sites become mobile-friendly, this will become less of a problem.

8. Does Google give a stronger mobile-friendly ranking to pages using Responsive Web Design (which uses the same URL and the same HTML for the desktop and mobile versions) vs. hosting a separate mobile site (like www for desktop and m.example.com for mobile)?
No, mobile-friendliness is assessed the same, whether you use responsive web design (RWD), separate mobile URLs, or dynamic serving for your configuration. If your site uses separate mobile URLs or dynamic serving, we recommend reviewing the Mobile SEO guide to make sure Google is properly crawling and indexing your mobile pages.


9. Will my site / page disappear on mobile search results if it's not mobile-friendly?
While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal -- so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query.

Specialized FAQs
10. What if my audience is desktop only? Then there’s no reason to have a mobile site, right?
Not exactly. Statistics show that more people are going “mobile only” -- either because they never had a desktop or because they won’t replace their existing desktop. Additionally, a non-mobile-friendly site may not see many mobile visitors precisely for that reason. 
The mobile-friendly update will apply to mobile searches conducted across all sites, regardless of the site’s target audiences’ language, region, or proportion of mobile to desktop traffic.

11. I have pages showing mobile usability errors because they embed a YouTube video. What can I do?
We suggest paying close attention to how the YouTube video is embedded. If you are using the “old-style” <object> embeds in the mobile page, convert to <iframe> embeds for broader compatibility. YouTube now uses the HTML5 player on the web by default, so it’s mobile-friendly to embed videos using the <iframe> tags from the “share” feature on the watch page or from the YouTube iFrame API. If you have a more complex integration, that should also be mobile-friendly, since it’ll instruct the device to use the device’s native support. 
For Flash content from sites other than YouTube, check if there is an equivalent HTML5 embed tag or code snippet to avoid using proprietary plugins.

12. Is there a clear standard for sizing tap targets?
Yes, we suggest a minimum of 7mm width/height for primary tap targets and a minimum margin of 5mm between secondary tap targets. The average width of an adult's finger pad is 10mm, and these dimensions can provide a usable interface while making good use of screen real estate.

13. To become mobile-friendly quickly, we’re thinking of creating a very stripped down version of our site (separate mobile pages) until our new responsive site is complete. Do you foresee any problems with this?
First, keep in mind that we support three mobile configurations and that your website doesn't have to be responsive to be mobile-friendly. In response to your question, please be cautious about creating a “stripped down” version of your site. While the page may be formatted for mobile, if it doesn’t allow your visitors to easily complete their common tasks or have an overall smooth workflow, it may become frustrating to your visitors and perhaps not worth the effort. Should a temporary mobile site be created, once the RWD is live, be sure to move the site properly. For example, update all links so they no longer reference the separate mobile URLs and 301 redirect mobile URLs to their corresponding RWD version.
Recommendations
If you’re totally new to building a mobile-friendly site, it’s not too late! Check out our Getting Started guide in the Mobile-Friendly Websites documentation.
Get started on your mobile site at https://developers.google.com/webmasters/mobile-sites/.

If you already have a mobile site, investigate the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools to make sure that Google detects your site’s pages as mobile-friendly. 
Still more questions? Please ask below or check out the Mobile Websites section of the Webmaster Forum

Written by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead.
Categories: sysadmin

Rolling out the mobile-friendly update

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Tue, 2015-04-21 09:59
As we noted earlier this year, today’s the day we begin globally rolling out our mobile-friendly update. We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.

April 21st’s mobile-friendly update boosts mobile search rankings for pages that are legible and usable on mobile devices.
This update:
  • Affects only search rankings on mobile devices
  • Affects search results in all languages globally 
  • Applies to individual pages, not entire websites

While the mobile-friendly change is important, we still use a variety of signals to rank search results. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal -- so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank high if it has great content for the query. 
To check if your site is mobile-friendly, you can examine individual pages with the Mobile-Friendly Test or check the status of your entire site through the Mobile Usability report in Webmaster Tools. If your site’s pages aren’t mobile-friendly, there may be a significant decrease in mobile traffic from Google Search. But have no fear, once your site becomes mobile-friendly, we will automatically re-process (i.e., crawl and index) your pages.  You can also expedite the process by using Fetch as Google with Submit to Index, and then your pages can be treated as mobile-friendly in ranking.
Questions? See our FAQ or ask on the Mobile Websites section of the Webmaster Forum

Posted by Takaki Makino and Doantam Phan
Categories: sysadmin

Better presentation of URLs in search results

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Thu, 2015-04-16 16:45
Well-structured URLs offer users a quick hint about the page topic and how the page fits within the website. To help mobile searchers understand your website better when we show it in the mobile search results, today we’re updating the algorithms that display URLs in the search results to better reflect the names of websites, using the real-world name of the site instead of the domain name, and the URL structure of the sites in a breadcrumbs-like format.

Structured data site names and URLsAs part of this launch, we’re also introducing support for schema.org structured data for websites to signal to our algorithms:
  • The website name to be used instead of the domain name
  • The URL structure of the URL as breadcrumbs
For more details and code examples, please see our structured data documentation for providing site names and breadcrumbs.

These changes are rolling out gradually and affect only mobile results. The site name change is US-only for now and breadcrumbs are rolling out worldwide.

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please ask in the Webmaster Help Forum.

Posted by Bartlomiej Niechwiej, Software Engineer, and Rob Ennals, Product Manager
Categories: sysadmin

Drive app installs through App Indexing

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Thu, 2015-04-16 13:05
You’ve invested time and effort into making your app an awesome experience, and we want to help people find the great content you’ve created. App Indexing has already been helping people engage with your Android app after they’ve installed it — we now have 30 billion links within apps indexed. Starting this week, people searching on Google can also discover your app if they haven’t installed it yet. If you’ve implemented App Indexing, when indexed content from your app is relevant to a search done on Google on Android devices, people may start to see app install buttons for your app in search results. Tapping these buttons will take them to the Google Play store where they can install your app, then continue straight on to the right content within it.



With the addition of these install links, we are starting to use App Indexing as a ranking signal for all users on Android, regardless of whether they have your app installed or not. We hope that Search will now help you acquire new users, as well as re-engage your existing ones. To get started, visit g.co/AppIndexing and to learn more about the other ways you can integrate with Google Search, visit g.co/DeveloperSearch.

Posted by Lawrence Chang, Product Manager
Categories: sysadmin

Helping users fill out online forms

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Tue, 2015-03-17 09:26

A lot of websites rely on forms for important goals completion, such as completing a transaction on a shopping site or registering on a news site. For many users, online forms mean repeatedly typing common information like their names, emails, phone numbers or addresses, on different sites across the web. In addition to being tedious, this task is also error-prone, which can lead many users to abandon the flow entirely. In a world where users browse the internet using their mobile devices more than their laptops or desktops, having forms that are easy and quick to fill out is crucial! Three years ago, we announced the support for a new “autocomplete” attribute in Chrome, to make form-filling faster, easier and smarter. Now, Chrome fully supports the "autocomplete" attribute for form fields according to the current WHATWG HTML Standard. This allows webmasters and web developers to label input element fields with common data types, such as ‘name’ or ‘street-address’, without changing the user interface or the backend. Numerous webmasters have increased the rate of form completions on their sites by marking up their forms for auto-completion.

For example, marking up an email address field on a form to allow auto-completion would look like this (with a full sample form available):

<input type="email" name="customerEmail" autocomplete="email"/>

Making websites friendly and easy to browse for users on mobile devices is very important. We hope to see many forms marked up with the “autocomplete” attribute in the future. For more information, you can check out our specifications about Label and name inputs in Web Fundamentals. And as usual, if you have any questions, please post in our Webmasters Help Forums.

Posted by Mathieu Perreault, Chrome Software Engineer, and Zineb Ait Bahajji, Webmaster Trends Analyst

Categories: sysadmin

An update on doorway pages

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Mon, 2015-03-16 12:42
Google’s Search Quality team is continually working on ways in which to minimize the impact of webspam on users. This includes doorway pages.

We have a long-standing view that doorway pages that created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s search experience.

For example, searchers might get a list of results that all go to the same site. So if a user clicks on one result, doesn't like it, and then tries the next result in the search results page and is taken to that same site that they didn't like, that's a really frustrating experience.
Over time, we've seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.
To help webmasters better understand our guidelines, we've added clarifying examples and freshened our definition of doorway pages in our Quality Guidelines.
Here are questions to ask of pages that could be seen as doorway pages:
  • Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site, or are they an integral part of your site’s user experience?
  • Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
  • Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?
  • Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
  • Do these pages exist as an “island?” Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from other pages within the site or network of sites created just for search engines?
If you have questions or feedback about doorway pages, please visit our webmaster help forum.
Posted by Brian White, Google Webspam Team
Categories: sysadmin

Deprecation of the old Webmaster Tools API

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Thu, 2015-03-12 17:31

Last fall we announced the new Webmaster Tools API, which helps you to automate a number of important aspects using code. With the pending shutdown of ClientLogin, we're going to turn down the old Webmaster Tools API on April 20, 2015.  

If you're still using the old API, getting started with the new one is fairly easy. The new API covers everything from the old version except for messages and keywords. We have examples in Python, Java, as well as OACurl (for command-line fans & quick testing).  Additionally, there's the Site Verification API to add sites programmatically to your account. The Python search query data download will continue to be available for the moment, and replaced by an API in the upcoming quarters.

As always, should you have any questions, feel free to comment here, or post in our Webmaster Help Forum.


Posted by John Mueller, fan of command lines & APIs, Google Zuerich
Categories: sysadmin

Unblocking resources with Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Wed, 2015-03-11 07:48

Webmasters often use linked images, CSS, and JavaScript files in web pages to make them pretty and functional. If these resources are blocked from crawling, then Googlebot can't use them when it renders those pages for search. Google Webmaster Tools now includes a Blocked Resources Report to help you find and resolve these kinds of issues.

This report starts with the names of the hosts from which your site is using blocked resources such as JavaScript, CSS, and images. Clicking on the rows gives you the list of blocked resources and then the pages that embed them, guiding you through the steps to diagnose and resolve how we're able to crawl and index the page's content.

An update to Fetch and Render shows how these blocked resources matter. When you request a URL be fetched and rendered, it now shows screenshots rendered both as Googlebot and as a typical user. This makes it easier to recognize the issues that significantly influence why your pages are seen differently by Googlebot.

Webmaster Tools attempts to show you only the hosts that you might have influence over, so at the moment, we won't show hosts that are used by many different sites  (such as popular analytics services). Because it can be time-consuming (usually not for technical reasons!) to update all robots.txt files, we recommend starting with the resources that make the most important visual difference when blocked. Our Help Center article has more information on the steps involved.

We hope this new feature makes it easier for you to spot and then unblock resources used by your website! Should you have any questions, feel free to drop by our webmaster help forums.

Posted by John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google Switzerland
Categories: sysadmin

Easier website development with Web Components and JSON-LD

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Mon, 2015-03-09 06:57

JSON-LD is a JSON-based data format that can be used to implement structured data describing content on your site to Google and other search engines. For example, if you have a list of events, cafes, people or more, you can include this data in your pages in a structured way using the schema.org vocabulary embedded in webpages as a JSON-LD snippet. The structured data helps Google understand your pages better and highlight your content in search features, such events in the Knowledge Graph and rich snippets.

Web Components are a nascent set of technologies to define custom, reusable user interface widgets and their behavior. Any web developer can build a Web Component. You start by defining a template for a distinct part of the user interface, which you import into the pages on which you want to use the Web Component. A Custom Element is used to define the behavior of the Web Component. Because you’re bundling the display and logic for part of the user interface into the Web Component, you can share and reuse the bundle on other pages and with other developers, thus simplifying web development.

JSON-LD and Web Components work really well together. The Custom Element functions as the presentation layer and the JSON-LD functions as the data layer that the custom element and search engines consume. This means you can build custom elements for any schema.org type, such as schema.org/Event and schema.org/LocalBusiness.

Your architecture would then look like this. Your structured data is stored in your database, for example, the store locations in your chain. This data is embedded into your webpage as a JSON-LD snippet, which means it’s available to be consumed by the Custom Element to display to a human visitor and for Googlebot to retrieve for Google indexing.

To learn more and get started with your own custom elements, please see:

Posted by Ewa Gasperowicz, Developer Programs Engineer, Mano Marks, Developer Advocate, Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst
Categories: sysadmin

Safe Browsing and Google Analytics: Keeping More Users Safe, Together

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Tue, 2015-03-03 09:20

The following was originally posted on the Google Online Security Blog.

If you run a web site, you may already be familiar with Google Webmaster Tools and how it lets you know if Safe Browsing finds something problematic on your site. For example, we’ll notify you if your site is delivering malware, which is usually a sign that it’s been hacked. We’re extending our Safe Browsing protections to automatically display notifications to all Google Analytics users via familiar Google Analytics Notifications.

Google Safe Browsing has been protecting people across the Internet for over eight years and we're always looking for ways to extend that protection even further. Notifications like these help webmasters like you act quickly to respond to any issues. Fast response helps keep your site—and your visitors—safe.


Posted by: Stephan Somogyi, Product Manager, Security and Privacy
Categories: sysadmin

Finding more mobile-friendly search results

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Thu, 2015-02-26 13:23

Webmaster level: all

When it comes to search on mobile devices, users should get the most relevant and timely results, no matter if the information lives on mobile-friendly web pages or apps. As more people use mobile devices to access the internet, our algorithms have to adapt to these usage patterns. In the past, we’ve made updates to ensure a site is configured properly and viewable on modern devices. We’ve made it easier for users to find mobile-friendly web pages and we’ve introduced App Indexing to surface useful content from apps. Today, we’re announcing two important changes to help users discover more mobile-friendly content:

1. More mobile-friendly websites in search results

Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal. This change will affect mobile searches in all languages worldwide and will have a significant impact in our search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.

To get help with making a mobile-friendly site, check out our guide to mobile-friendly sites. If you’re a webmaster, you can get ready for this change by using the following tools to see how Googlebot views your pages:

  • If you want to test a few pages, you can use the Mobile-Friendly Test.
  • If you have a site, you can use your Webmaster Tools account to get a full list of mobile usability issues across your site using the Mobile Usability Report.
2. More relevant app content in search results

Starting today, we will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search. To find out how to implement App Indexing, which allows us to surface this information in search results, have a look at our step-by-step guide on the developer site.

If you have questions about either mobile-friendly websites or app indexing, we’re always happy to chat in our Webmaster Help Forum.


Posted by Takaki Makino, Chaesang Jung, and Doantam Phan
Categories: sysadmin

Case Studies: Fixing Hacked Sites

Google Webmaster Central Blog - Wed, 2015-02-18 15:40

Webmaster Level: All

Every day, thousands of websites get hacked. Hacked sites can harm users by serving malicious software, collecting personal information, or redirecting them to sites they didn't intend to visit. Webmasters want to fix hacked sites quickly, but unfortunately recovering from a hack can be a complicated process.

We're trying to make the process of recovering from a hack easier for webmasters with features like Security Issues, Help for Hacked Sites, and a section of our forum just for hacked sites. Recently we talked to two webmasters with hacked sites to learn more about how they were able to fix their sites. We're sharing their stories with the hope that they might provide ideas to other webmasters who have been victims of hacking. We're also using these stories and other feedback for improving our documentation for hacked sites to make the process easier for everyone going forward.

Case Study #1: Restaurant website with multiple hack-injected scripts

A restaurant website using Wordpress received a message from Google in their Webmaster Tools account, alerting them that their site had been altered by hackers. To protect Google users, the website was labelled as hacked in Google's search results. The webmaster of the site, Sam, looked at the source code and noticed many unfamiliar links on the site with pharmaceuticals terms such as "viagra" and "cialis." She also noticed many pages where the meta description tags (in the HTML) had added content such as "buy valtrex in florida." There were also hidden div tags (also in the HTML) of many pages that linked to many sites. None of these links were added by Sam.

Sam removed all of the hacked content she found and filed a reconsideration request. The request was rejected but in the message she received from Google, she was advised to check for any unfamiliar scripts in the any PHP files (or any other server files), as well as changes to the .htaccess file. These files are likely to have scripts added by the hackers that modify the site. These scripts typically only show the hacked content to search engines, while hiding the content from a normal user. Sam checked out all of the .php files and compared them to the clean copies she had in her backup. She found new content added to her footer.php, index.php, and functions.php. When she replaced those files with the clean backups, she could no longer find any hacked content on her site. When she filed another reconsideration request, she got a response from Google notifying her that her site was free from hacked content!

Even though Sam had cleaned up the hacked content on her site, she knew that she would need to continue to secure her site against future attacks. She followed the steps below to keep her site safe in the future:

  • Keep the CMS (content management system like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, etc) up to date with the most current version. Make sure plugins are up to date as well.
  • Make sure the account used to access the administrative features of the CMS uses a difficult and unique password.
  • If the CMS supports it, enable 2-step verification for login. (This might also be called two factor authentication or two step authentication.) This is recommended for the account being used for password recovery as well. Most email providers, like Google, Microsoft, Yahoo all support this!
  • Make sure the plugins and themes installed are from a reputable source - pirated plugins or themes can often contain code that makes it even easier for hackers to get in!
Case Study #2: Professional website with lots of hard to find hacked pages

A small business owner named Maria who also manages her own website received a message in her Webmaster Tools that her site was hacked. The message provided an example of a page added by hackers: http://example.com/where-to-buy-cialis-over-the-counter/. She talked to her hosting provider who looked at the source code on the homepage but could not find any pharmaceutical keywords. When the hosting provider visited http://example.com/where-to-buy-cialis-over-the-counter/, it returned an error page. Maria also bought a malware scanning service but the service was not able to find any malicious content on her site.

Maria then went to Webmaster Tools and used the Fetch as Google tool on the example URL Google had provided (http://example.com/where-to-buy-cialis-over-the-counter/) which returned no content. Confused, she filed a reconsideration request and received a rejection message which advised her to do two things:

  1. Verify the non-www version of her site as hackers often try to hide content in folders that may be overlooked by the webmaster.

    While it may seem like http://example.com and http://www.example.com are the same site, Google actually treats these as different sites. http://example.com is referred to as the "root domain" while http://www.example.com is called the subdomain. Maria had http://www.example.com verified but not http://example.com verified which is important because the pages added by hackers were non-www pages like http://example.com/where-to-buy-cialis-over-the-counter/. Once she verified http://example.com she was able to successfully see the hacked content on the provided URL with the Fetch as Google tool in Webmaster Tools.

  2. Check her .htaccess file for new rules.

    Maria talked to her hosting provider who showed her how to access her .htaccess file. She noticed right away that her .htaccess file had some strange content that she had not added:

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
    RewriteEngine On
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} (google|yahoo|msn|aol|bing) [OR]
    RewriteCond %{HTTP_REFERER} (google|yahoo|msn|aol|bing)
    RewriteRule ^([^/]*)/$ /main.php?p=$1 [L]
    </IfModule>

    The mod_rewrite rule you see above was inserted by the hacker and redirects anyone coming from certain search engines, as well as search engine crawlers, to main.php, which generates all of the hacked content. It's also possible that these rules can redirect users accessing the site on a mobile device. On the same day, she also saw that a recent malware scan found suspicious content on the main.php file. One top of that, she also noticed an unknown user in the ftp users area of her website development software.

She removed the main.php file, the .htaccess file, and removed the unknown user from her FTP users area and her site was no longer hacked!

Steps to prevent getting hacked in the future
  • Avoid using FTP when transferring files to your servers. FTP does not encrypt any traffic, including passwords. Instead, use SFTP, which will encrypt everything, including your password, as a protection against eavesdroppers examining network traffic.
  • Check the permissions on sensitive files like .htaccess. Your hosting provider may be able to assist you if you need help. The .htaccess file can be used to improve and protect your site, but it can also be used for malicious hacks if they are able to gain access to it.
  • Be vigilant and look for new and unfamiliar users in your administrative panel and any other place where there may be users that can modify your site.

We hope your site never gets hacked, but if it does, we have many resources for hacked webmasters on our Help for Hacked Sites page. If you need more help or would like to share your own tips, you can post in our Webmaster Help Forum. If you do post to the forum or submit a reconsideration request for your site, please include #NoHacked.

Posted by Julian Prentice and Yuan Niu, Search Quality Team
Categories: sysadmin

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