Webmaster level: advanced
Over the summer the Webmaster Tools team has been cooking up an update to the Webmaster Tools API. The new API is consistent with other Google APIs, makes it easier to authenticate for apps or web-services, and provides access to some of the main features of Webmaster Tools.
This API allows you to:
- list, add, or remove sites from your account (you can currently have up to 500 sites in your account)
- list, add, or remove sitemaps for your websites
- get warning, error, and indexed counts for individual sitemaps
- get a time-series of all kinds of crawl errors for your site
- list crawl error samples for specific types of errors
- mark individual crawl errors as "fixed" (this doesn't change how they're processed, but can help simplify the UI for you)
We'd love to see what you're building with our APIs! Feel free to link to your projects in the comments below. Should you have any questions about the usage of the API, feel free to post in our help forum as well.
Posted by John Mueller, fan of long command lines, Google Zürich
Today, the new Webmaster Academy goes live in 22 languages! New or beginner webmasters speaking a multitude of languages can now learn the fundamentals of making a great site, providing an enjoyable user experience, and ranking well in search results. And if you think you’re already familiar with these topics, take the quizzes at the end of each module to prove it .
So give Webmaster Academy a read in your preferred language and let us know in the comments or help forum what you think. We’ve gotten such great and helpful feedback after the English version launched this past March so we hope this straightforward and easy-to-read guide can be helpful (and fun!) to everyone.
Let’s get great sites and searchable content up and running around the world.
Posted by Mary Chen, Webmaster Outreach
Today you’ll see a new and improved sitelinks search box. When shown, it will make it easier for users to reach specific content on your site, directly through your own site-search pages.
What’s this search box and when does it appear for my site?
When users search for a company by name—for example, [Megadodo Publications] or [Dunder Mifflin]—they may actually be looking for something specific on that website. In the past, when our algorithms recognized this, they'd display a larger set of sitelinks and an additional search box below that search result, which let users do site: searches over the site straight from the results, for example [site:example.com hitchhiker guides].
This search box is now more prominent (above the sitelinks), supports Autocomplete, and—if you use the right markup—will send the user directly to your website's own search pages.
How can I mark up my site?
You need to have a working site-specific search engine for your site. If you already have one, you can let us know by marking up your homepage as a schema.org/WebSite entity with the potentialAction property of the schema.org/SearchAction markup. You can use JSON-LD, microdata, or RDFa to do this; check out the full implementation details on our developer site.
If you implement the markup on your site, users will have the ability to jump directly from the sitelinks search box to your site’s search results page. If we don’t find any markup, we’ll show them a Google search results page for the corresponding site: query, as we’ve done until now.
As always, if you have questions, feel free to ask in our Webmaster Help forum.
Posted by Mariya Moeva, Webmaster Trends Analyst, and Kaylin Spitz, Software Engineer
Webmaster level: advanced
An easy solution for web users is to use an optimizing proxy, like Chrome's. When users opt into this service their HTTP traffic goes via Google's proxy, which optimizes their page loads and cuts bandwidth usage by 50%. While this is great for these users, it's limited to people using Chrome who turn the feature on and it can't optimize HTTPS traffic.
With Optimize for Bandwidth, the PageSpeed team is bringing this same technology to webmasters so that everyone can benefit: users of other browsers, secure sites, desktop users, and site owners who want to bring down their outbound traffic bills. Just install the PageSpeed module on your Apache or Nginx server , turn on Optimize for Bandwidth in your configuration, and PageSpeed will do the rest.
Posted by Jeff Kaufman, Make the Web Fast
Webmaster level: All
This June, we introduced a weeklong social campaign called #NoHacked. The goals for #NoHacked are to bring awareness to hacking attacks and offer tips on how to keep your sites safe from hackers.
We held the campaign in 11 languages on multiple channels including Google+, Twitter and Weibo. About 1 million people viewed our tips and hundreds of users used the hashtag #NoHacked to spread awareness and to share their own tips. Check them out below!
Posts we shared during the campaign:
Some of the many tips shared by users across the globe:
- Pablo Silvio Esquivel from Brazil recommends users not to use pirated software (source)
- Rens Blom from the Netherlands suggests using different passwords for your accounts, changing them regularly, and using an extra layer of security such as two-step authentication (source)
- Дмитрий Комягин from Russia says to regularly monitor traffic sources, search queries and landing pages, and to look out for spikes in traffic (source)
- 工務店コンサルタント from Japan advises everyone to choose a good hosting company that's knowledgeable in hacking issues and to set email forwarding in Webmaster Tools (source)
- Kamil Guzdek from Poland advocates changing the default table prefix in wp-config to a custom one when installing a new WordPress to lower the risk of the database from being hacked (source)
Hacking is still a surprisingly common issue around the world so we highly encourage all webmasters to follow these useful tips. Feel free to continue using the hashtag #NoHacked to share your own tips or experiences around hacking prevention and awareness. Thanks for supporting the #NoHacked campaign!
And in the unfortunate event that your site gets hacked, we’ll help you toward a speedy and thorough recovery:
Posted by your friendly #NoHacked helpers
Webmaster level: all
Security is a top priority for Google. We invest a lot in making sure that our services use industry-leading security, like strong HTTPS encryption by default. That means that people using Search, Gmail and Google Drive, for example, automatically have a secure connection to Google.
Beyond our own stuff, we’re also working to make the Internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure. For instance, we have created resources to help webmasters prevent and fix security breaches on their sites.
For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it's only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.
In the coming weeks, we’ll publish detailed best practices (we’ll add a link to it from here) to make TLS adoption easier, and to avoid common mistakes. Here are some basic tips to get started:
- Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
- Use 2048-bit key certificates
- Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
- Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
- Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
- Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
- Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.
If your website is already serving on HTTPS, you can test its security level and configuration with the Qualys Lab tool. If you are concerned about TLS and your site’s performance, have a look at Is TLS fast yet?. And of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to post in our Webmaster Help Forums.
We hope to see more websites using HTTPS in the future. Let’s all make the web more secure!
Webmaster level: intermediate-advanced
To crawl, or not to crawl, that is the robots.txt question.
Making and maintaining correct robots.txt files can sometimes be difficult. While most sites have it easy (tip: they often don't even need a robots.txt file!), finding the directives within a large robots.txt file that are or were blocking individual URLs can be quite tricky. To make that easier, we're now announcing an updated robots.txt testing tool in Webmaster Tools.
You can find the updated testing tool in Webmaster Tools within the Crawl section:
Here you'll see the current robots.txt file, and can test new URLs to see whether they're disallowed for crawling. To guide your way through complicated directives, it will highlight the specific one that led to the final decision. You can make changes in the file and test those too, you'll just need to upload the new version of the file to your server afterwards to make the changes take effect. Our developers site has more about robots.txt directives and how the files are processed.
Additionally, you'll be able to review older versions of your robots.txt file, and see when access issues block us from crawling. For example, if Googlebot sees a 500 server error for the robots.txt file, we'll generally pause further crawling of the website.
We hope this updated tool makes it easier for you to test & maintain the robots.txt file. Should you have any questions, or need help with crafting a good set of directives, feel free to drop by our webmaster's help forum!
Posted by Asaph Arnon, Webmaster Tools team
Webmaster level: all
A common annoyance for web users is when websites require browser technologies that are not supported by their device. When users access such pages, they may see nothing but a blank space or miss out a large portion of the page's contents.
Starting today, we will indicate to searchers when our algorithms detect pages that may not work on their devices. For example, Adobe Flash is not supported on iOS devices or on Android versions 4.1 and higher, and a page whose contents are mostly Flash may be noted like this:
Developing modern multi-device websites
Fortunately, making websites that work on all modern devices is not that hard: websites can use HTML5 since it is universally supported, sometimes exclusively, by all devices. To help webmasters build websites that work on all types of devices regardless of the type of content they wish to serve, we recently announced two resources:
- Web Fundamentals: a curated source for modern best practices.
- Web Starter Kit: a starter framework supporting the Web Fundamentals best practices out of the box.
As always, if you need more help you can ask a question in our webmaster forum.
Posted by Keita Oda, Software Engineer, and Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst
Missing return links: annotations must be confirmed from the pages they are pointing to. If page A links to page B, page B must link back to page A, otherwise the annotations may not be interpreted correctly.
For each error of this kind we report where and when we detected them, as well as where the return link is expected to be.
Incorrect hreflang values: The value of the hreflang attribute must either be a language code in ISO 639-1 format such as "es", or a combination of language and country code such as "es-AR", where the country code is in ISO 3166-1 Alpha 2 format.
In case our indexing systems detect language or country codes that are not in these formats, we provide example URLs to help you fix them.
Posted by Gary Illyes, Webmaster Trends
Do you have an Android app in addition to your website? You can now connect the two so that users searching from their smartphones and tablets can easily find and reach your app content.
App deep links in search results help your users find your content more easily and re-engage with your app after they’ve installed it. As a site owner, you can show your users the right content at the right time — by connecting pages of your website to the relevant parts of your app you control when your users are directed to your app and when they go to your website.
Hundreds of apps have already implemented app indexing. This week at Google I/O, we’re announcing a set of new features that will make it even easier to set up deep links in your app, connect your site to your app, and keep track of performance and potential errors.
Getting started is easy
We’ve greatly simplified the process to get your app deep links indexed. If your app supports HTTP deep linking schemes, here’s what you need to do:
As we index your URLs, we’ll discover and index the app / site connections and may begin to surface app deep links in search results.
We can discover and index your app deep links on our own, but we recommend you publish the deep links. This is also the case if your app only supports a custom deep link scheme. You can publish them in one of two ways:
- Insert a rel=alternate elment in the section of each web page, or in your sitemap to specify app URIs. Find out how to implement these methods on our developer site.
- Use the App indexing API
There’s one more thing: we’ve added a new feature in Webmaster Tools to help you debug any issues that might arise during app indexing. It will show you what type of errors we’ve detected for the app page-web page pairs, together with example app URIs so you can debug:
We’ll also give you detailed instructions on how to debug each issue, including a QR code for the app deep links, so you can easily open them on your phone or tablet. We’ll send you Webmaster Tools error notifications as well, so you can keep up to date.
Give app indexing a spin, and as always, if you need more help ask questions on the Webmaster help forum.
Posted by Mariya Moeva, Webmaster Trends Analyst