Today, we’re launching support for the schema.org markup for organization logos, a way to connect your site with an iconic image. We want you to be able to specify which image we use as your logo in Google search results.
Using schema.org Organization markup, you can indicate to our algorithms the location of your preferred logo. For example, a business whose homepage is www.example.com can add the following markup using visible on-page elements on their homepage:
<div itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Organization"> <a itemprop="url" href="http://www.example.com/">Home</a> <img itemprop="logo" src="http://www.example.com/logo.png" /> </div>
This example indicates to Google that this image is designated as the organization’s logo image for the homepage also included in the markup, and, where possible, may be used in Google search results. Markup like this is a strong signal to our algorithms to show this image in preference over others, for example when we show Knowledge Graph on the right hand side based on users’ queries.
As always, please ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum if you have any questions.
Posted by RJ Ryan, Google Engineer
Webmaster Level: All
The homepages of multinational and multilingual websites are sometimes configured to point visitors to localized pages, either via redirects or by changing the content to reflect the user’s language. Today we’ll introduce a new rel-alternate-hreflang annotation that the webmaster can use to specify such homepages that is supported by both Google and Yandex.
To see this in action, let’s look at an example. The website example.com has content that targets users around the world as follows:
- http://example.com/en-gb: For English-speaking users in the UK
- http://example.com/en-us: For English-speaking users in the USA
- http://example.com/en-au: For English-speaking users in Australia
- http://example.com/: The homepage shows users a country selector and is the default page for users worldwide
<link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-gb" hreflang="en-gb" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-us" hreflang="en-us" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/en-au" hreflang="en-au" /> <link rel="alternate" href="http://example.com/" hreflang="x-default" />
The new x-default hreflang attribute value signals to our algorithms that this page doesn’t target any specific language or locale and is the default page when no other page is better suited. For example, it would be the page our algorithms try to show French-speaking searchers worldwide or English-speaking searchers on google.ca.
The same annotation applies for homepages that dynamically alter their contents based on a user’s perceived geolocation or the Accept-Language headers. The x-default hreflang value signals to our algorithms that such a page doesn’t target a specific language or locale.
As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please tell us in the Internationalization Webmaster Help Forum.
Posted by Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst
Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced
Including a rel=canonical link in your webpage is a strong hint to search engines your preferred version to index among duplicate pages on the web. It’s supported by several search engines, including Yahoo!, Bing, and Google. The rel=canonical link consolidates indexing properties from the duplicates, like their inbound links, as well as specifies which URL you’d like displayed in search results. However, rel=canonical can be a bit tricky because it’s not very obvious when there’s a misconfiguration.
While the webmaster sees the “red velvet” page on the left in their browser, search engines notice on the webmaster’s unintended “blue velvet” rel=canonical on the right.
We recommend the following best practices for using rel=canonical:
- A large portion of the duplicate page’s content should be present on the canonical version.
- Double-check that your rel=canonical target exists (it’s not an error or “soft 404”)
- Verify the rel=canonical target doesn’t contain a noindex robots meta tag
- Make sure you’d prefer the rel=canonical URL to be displayed in search results (rather than the duplicate URL)
- Include the rel=canonical link in either the <head> of the page or the HTTP header
- Specify no more than one rel=canonical for a page. When more than one is specified, all rel=canonicals will be ignored.
One test is to imagine you don’t understand the language of the content—if you placed the duplicate side-by-side with the canonical, does a very large percentage of the words of the duplicate page appear on the canonical page? If you need to speak the language to understand that the pages are similar; for example, if they’re only topically similar but not extremely close in exact words, the canonical designation might be disregarded by search engines.
Mistake 1: rel=canonical to the first page of a paginated series
Imagine that you have an article that spans several pages:
- and so on
Specifying a rel=canonical from page 2 (or any later page) to page 1 is not correct use of rel=canonical, as these are not duplicate pages. Using rel=canonical in this instance would result in the content on pages 2 and beyond not being indexed at all.
Good content (e.g., “cookies are superior nutrition” and “to vegetables”) is lost when specifying rel=canonical from component pages to the first page of a series.
In cases of paginated content, we recommend either a rel=canonical from component pages to a single-page version of the article, or to use rel=”prev” and rel=”next” pagination markup.
If rel=canonical to a view-all page isn’t designated, paginated content can use rel=”prev” and rel=”next” markup.
Mistake 2: Absolute URLs mistakenly written as relative URLs
The <link> tag, like many HTML tags, accepts both relative and absolute URLs. Relative URLs include a path “relative” to the current page. For example, “images/cupcake.png” means “from the current directory go to the “images” subdirectory, then to cupcake.png.” Absolute URLs specify the full path—including the scheme like http://.
Specifying <link rel=canonical href=“example.com/cupcake.html” /> (a relative URL since there’s no “http://”) implies that the desired canonical URL is http://example.com/example.com/cupcake.html even though that is almost certainly not what was intended. In these cases, our algorithms may ignore the specified rel=canonical. Ultimately this means that whatever you had hoped to accomplish with this rel=canonical will not come to fruition.
Mistake 3: Unintended or multiple declarations of rel=canonical
Occasionally, we see rel=canonical designations that we believe are unintentional. In very rare circumstances we see simple typos, but more commonly a busy webmaster copies a page template without thinking to change the target of the rel=canonical. Now the site owner’s pages specify a rel=canonical to the template author’s site.
Another issue is when pages include multiple rel=canonical links to different URLs. This happens frequently in conjunction with SEO plugins that often insert a default rel=canonical link, possibly unbeknownst to the webmaster who installed the plugin. In cases of multiple declarations of rel=canonical, Google will likely ignore all the rel=canonical hints. Any benefit that a legitimate rel=canonical might have offered will be lost.
In both these types of cases, double-checking the page’s source code will help correct the issue. Be sure to check the entire <head> section as the rel=canonical links may be spread apart.
Mistake 4: Category or landing page specifies rel=canonical to a featured article
Let’s say you run a site about desserts. Your dessert site has useful category pages like “pastry” and “gelato.” Each day the category pages feature a unique article. For instance, your pastry landing page might feature “red velvet cupcakes.” Because the “pastry” category page has nearly all the same content as the “red velvet cupcake” page, you add a rel=canonical from the category page to the featured individual article.
If we were to accept this rel=canonical, then your pastry category page would not appear in search results. That’s because the rel=canonical signals that you would prefer search engines display the canonical URL in place of the duplicate. However, if you want users to be able to find both the category page and featured article, it’s best to only have a self-referential rel=canonical on the category page, or none at all.
Remember that the canonical designation also implies the preferred display URL. Avoid adding a rel=canonical from a category or landing page to a featured article.
Mistake 5: rel=canonical in the <body>
The rel=canonical link tag should only appear in the <head> of an HTML document. Additionally, to avoid HTML parsing issues, it’s good to include the rel=canonical as early as possible in the <head>. When we encounter a rel=canonical designation in the <body>, it’s disregarded.
This is an easy mistake to correct. Simply double-check that your rel=canonical links are always in the <head> of your page, and as early as possible if you can.
To create valuable rel=canonical designations:
- Verify that most of the main text content of a duplicate page also appears in the canonical page.
- Check that rel=canonical is only specified once (if at all) and in the <head> of the page.
- Check that rel=canonical points to an existent URL with good content (i.e., not a 404, or worse, a soft 404).
- Avoid specifying rel=canonical from landing or category pages to featured articles as that will make the featured article the preferred URL in search results.
And, as always, please ask any questions in our Webmaster Help forum.
Written by Allan Scott, Software Engineer, Indexing Team
Webmaster level: All
Since we launched the Webmaster Academy in English back in May 2012, its educational content has been viewed well over 1 million times.
The Webmaster Academy was built to guide webmasters in creating great sites that perform well in Google search results. It is an ideal guide for beginner webmasters but also a recommended read for experienced users who wish to learn more about advanced topics.
To support webmasters across the globe, we’re happy to announce that we’re launching the Webmaster Academy in 20 languages. So whether you speak Japanese or Italian, we hope we can help you to make even better websites! You can easily access it through Webmaster Central.
We’d love to read your comments here and invite you to join the discussion in the help forums.
Posted by Giacomo Gnecchi Ruscone, Search Quality
Webmasters have several ways to keep their sites' content out of Google's search results. Today, as promised, we're providing a way for websites to opt out of having their content that Google has crawled appear on Google Shopping, Advisor, Flights, Hotels, and Google+ Local search.
Webmasters can now choose this option through our Webmaster Tools, and crawled content currently being displayed on Shopping, Advisor, Flights, Hotels, or Google+ Local search pages will be removed within 30 days.
Posted by Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer
Webmaster level: All
Verification details view: You can now see the methods used to verify an owner for your site. In the Manage owners page for your site, you can now find the new Verification details link. This screenshot shows the verification details of a user who is verified using both an HTML file uploaded to the site and a meta tag:
Where appropriate, the Verification details will have links to the correct URL on your site where the verification can be found to help you find it faster.
Requiring the verification method be removed from the site before unverifying an owner: You now need to remove the verification method from your site before unverifying an owner from Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools now checks the method that the owner used to verify ownership of the site, and will show an error message if the verification is still found. For example, this is the error message shown when an unverification was attempted while the DNS CNAME verification method was still found on the DNS records of the domain:
Shorter CNAME verification string: We’ve slightly modified the CNAME verification string to make it shorter to support a larger number of DNS providers. Some systems limit the number of characters that can be used in DNS records, which meant that some users were not able to use the CNAME verification method. We’ve now made the CNAME verification method have a fewer number of characters. Existing CNAME verifications will continue to be valid.
We hope this changes make it easier for you to use Webmaster Tools. As always, please post in our Verification forum if you have any questions or feedback.
Posted by Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst
Webmaster level: Intermediate
As more and more users worldwide with mobile devices access the Internet, it’s fantastic to see so many websites making their content accessible and useful for those devices. To help webmasters optimize their sites we launched our recommendations for smartphones, feature-phones, tablets, and Googlebot-friendly sites in June 2012.
We’re happy to announce that those recommendations are now also available in Arabic, Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Russian, Simplified Chinese, and Spanish. US-based webmasters are welcome to read the UK-English version.
We welcome you to go through our recommendations, pick the configuration that you feel will work best with your website, and get ready to jump on the mobile bandwagon!
Thanks to the fantastic webmaster-outreach team in Dublin, Tokyo and Beijing for making this possible!
Posted (but not translated) by John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Zürich Switzerland
Everyone knows someone who just set up their first blog on Blogger, installed WordPress for the first time or maybe who had a web site for some time but never gave search much thought. We came up with a first steps cheat sheet for just these folks. It’s a short how-to list with basic tips on search engine-friendly design, that can help Google and others better understand the content and increase your site’s visibility. We made sure it’s available in thirteen languages. Please feel free to read it, print it, share it, copy and distribute it!
We hope this content will help those who are just about to start their webmaster adventure or have so far not paid too much attention to search engine-friendly design. Over time as you gain experience you may want to have a look at our more advanced Google SEO Starter Guide. As always we welcome all webmasters and site owners, new and experienced to join discussions on our Google Webmaster Help Forum.
Webmaster Level: All
We certainly hope you never have to use our new Help for hacked sites informational series. It's a dozen articles and over an hour of videos dedicated to helping webmasters in the unfortunate event that their site is compromised.
If you have further interest in why cybercriminals hack sites for spammy purposes, see Tiffany Oberoi’s explanation in Step 5: Assess the damage (hacked with spam).
And if you’re curious about malware, Lucas Ballard from our Safe Browsing team, explains more about the topic in Step 5: Assess the damage (hacked with malware).
While we attempt to outline the necessary steps in recovery, each task remains fairly difficult for site owners unless they have advanced knowledge of system administrator commands and experience with source code. For helping fellow webmasters through the difficult recovery time, we'd like to thank the steady members in Webmaster Forum. Specifically, in the subforum Malware and hacked sites, we'd be remiss not to mention the amazing contributions of Redleg and Denis Sinegubko.
How to avoid ever needing Help for hacked sites
Just as you focus on making a site that's good for users and search-engine friendly, keeping your site secure -- for you and your visitors -- is also paramount. When site owners fail to keep their site secure, hackers may exploit the vulnerability. If a hacker exploits a vulnerability, then you might need Help for hacked sites. So, to potentially avoid this scenario:
- Be vigilant about keeping software updated
- Understand the security practices of all applications, plugins, third-party software, etc., before you install them on your server. A security vulnerability in one software application can affect the safety of your entire site
- Remove unnecessary or unused software
- Enforce creation of strong passwords
- Keep all devices used to log in to your servers secure (updated operating system and browser)
- Make regular, automated backups of your site
Help for hacked sites can be found at www.google.com/webmasters/hacked. We look forward to not seeing you there!
Written by Maile Ohye, Developer Programs Tech Lead
Webmaster level: all
Google has said for years that selling links that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines. We continue to reiterate that guidance periodically to help remind site owners and webmasters of that policy.
Please be wary if someone approaches you and wants to pay you for links or "advertorial" pages on your site that pass PageRank. Selling links (or entire advertorial pages with embedded links) that pass PageRank violates our quality guidelines, and Google does take action on such violations. The consequences for a linkselling site start with losing trust in Google's search results, as well as reduction of the site's visible PageRank in the Google Toolbar. The consequences can also include lower rankings for that site in Google's search results.
If you receive a warning for selling links that pass PageRank in Google's Webmaster Tools, you'll see a notification message to look for "possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank." That's an indication that your site has lost trust in Google's index.
To address the issue, make sure that any paid links on your site don't pass PageRank. You can remove any paid links or advertorial pages, or make sure that any paid hyperlinks have the rel="nofollow" attribute. After ensuring that no paid links on your site pass PageRank, you can submit a reconsideration request and if you had a manual webspam action on your site, someone at Google will review the request. After the request has been reviewed, you'll get a notification back about whether the reconsideration request was granted or not.
We do take this issue very seriously, so we recommend you avoid selling (and buying) links that pass PageRank in order to prevent loss of trust, lower PageRank in the Google Toolbar, lower rankings, or in an extreme case, removal from Google's search results.
Posted by Matt Cutts, Distinguished Engineer