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22Apr/150

Rolling out the mobile-friendly update

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.
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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.

Posted by Takaki Makino and Doantam Phan

22Apr/150

FAQs about the April 21st mobile-friendly update

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.

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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.
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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).
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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.
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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.

17Apr/150

Better presentation of URLs in search results

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 URLs

As 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

17Apr/150

Drive app installs through App Indexing

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.

App installs through app indexing

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

17Mar/150

Helping users fill out online forms

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="text" 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

17Mar/150

An update on doorway pages

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

13Mar/150

Deprecation of the old Webmaster Tools API

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

12Mar/150

Unblocking resources with Webmaster Tools

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

9Mar/150

Easier website development with Web Components and JSON-LD

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

27Feb/150

Finding more mobile-friendly search results

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

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