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22May/150

Rolling out the red carpet for app owners in Search Console

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 Console

Simply 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 app

Associating 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 search

The 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 content

If 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 it

We’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)

20May/150

Announcing Google Search Console – the new Webmaster Tools

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

7May/150

More precise data in the new Search Analytics report

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.

1May/150

Faster and lighter mobile web pages for Indonesia

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

28Apr/150

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

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 performance

In 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 businesses

If 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 session

Here 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 polls

Thousands 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 tips

These 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-sheeter

Download 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-friendly

Many 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

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.
Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 2.20.01 AM.png
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.

Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 5.41.16 PM.png
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.
Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 5.39.24 PM.png
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).
Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.27.58 PM.png
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.
Screen Shot 2015-04-08 at 8.53.30 PM.png
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

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