Author Archives: Google Webmaster Central

The new Search Console: a sneak peek at two experimental features

Search Console was initially launched with just four reports more than a decade ago. Today, the product includes more than two dozen reports and tools covering AMP, structured data, and live testing tools, all designed to help improve your site's performance on Google Search.
Now we have decided to embark on an extensive redesign to better serve you, our users. Our hope is that this redesign will provide you with:
  • More actionable insights - We will now group the identified issues by what we suspect is the common “root-cause” to help you find where you should fix your code. We organize these issues into tasks that have a state (similar to bug tracking systems) so you can easily see whether the issue is still open, whether Google has detected your fix, and track the progress of re-processing the affected pages.
  • Better support of your organizational workflow - As we talked to many organizations, we’ve learned that multiple people are typically involved in implementing, diagnosing, and fixing issues. This is why we are introducing sharing functionality that allows you to pick-up an action item and share it with other people in your group, like developers who will get references to the code in question.
  • Faster feedback loops between you and Google - We’ve built a mechanism to allow you to iterate quickly on your fixes, and not waste time waiting for Google to recrawl your site, only to tell you later that it’s not fixed yet. Rather, we’ll provide on-the-spot testing of fixes and are automatically speeding up crawling once we see things are ok. Similarly, the testing tools will include code snippets and a search preview - so you can quickly see where your issues are, confirm you've fixed them, and see how the pages will look on Search.
In the next few weeks, we're releasing two exciting BETA features from the new Search Console to a small set of users — Index Coverage report and AMP fixing flow.

The new Index Coverage report shows the count of indexed pages, information about why some pages could not be indexed, along with example pages and tips on how to fix indexing issues. It also enables a simple sitemap submission flow, and the capability to filter all Index Coverage data to any of the submitted sitemaps.
Here’s a peek of our new Index Coverage report:

The new AMP fixing flow

The new AMP fixing experience starts with the AMP Issues report. This report shows the current AMP issues affecting your site, grouped by the underlying error. Drill down into an issue to get more details, including sample affected pages. After you fix the underlying issue, click a button to verify your fix, and have Google recrawl the pages affected by that issue. Google will notify you of the progress of the recrawl, and will update the report as your fixes are validated.
As we start to experiment with these new features, some users will be introduced to the new redesign through the coming weeks.

Badges on Image Search help users find what they really want

When you want to bake cupcakes, but you don't know what kind, Image Search can help you make a decision. Finding an image with a recipe can be challenging: you might end up on a page that has only pictures of these delicious things, or a cupcake fan site that doesn't have recipes, but everything else about them.
To help users find exactly what they want, Image Search on mobile devices now includes relevant badges on the thumbnails. Currently we have badges for recipes, videos, products, and animated images (GIFs).


cupcakes-pr2.gif


If you have images on your site, you can help users identify the type of content associated with the image by using appropriate structured data on your pages. This helps users find relevant content quickly, and sends better targeted traffic to your site.


If you're publishing recipes, add Recipe markup on your page, for products, add Product markup, and for videos, add Video markup. Our algorithms will automatically badge GIFs, without the need of any markup. While we can't guarantee that badges will always be shown, adding the recommended structured data fields in addition to the required fields may increase the chance of adding a badge to your image search results.


You can use the Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that your pages are free of errors, and therefore eligible for the new Image Search badges. In addition, the Rich Cards report in Search Console can provide aggregate stats on your markup.


If you have questions about the feature, please ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum.

Posted by Assaf Broitman, Image Search team

Connect to job seekers with Google Search

At Google I/O this year, we announced Google for Jobs, a new company-wide initiative focused on helping both job seekers and employers, through collaboration with the job matching industry. One major part of this effort is launching an improved experience for job seekers on Google Search. We’re happy to announce this new experience is now open for all developers and site owners.

For queries with clear intent like [head of catering jobs in nyc] or [entry level jobs in DC], we’ll show a job listings preview, and each job can expand to display comprehensive details about the listing:

For employers or site owners with job content, this feature brings many benefits:

  • Prominent place in Search results: your postings are eligible to be displayed in the in the new job search feature on Google, featuring your logo, reviews, ratings, and job details.
  • More, motivated applicants: job seekers can filter by various criteria like location or job title, meaning you’re more likely to get applicants who are looking exactly for that job.
  • Increased chances of discovery and conversion: job seekers will have a new avenue to interact with your postings and click through to your site.

Get your job listings on Google

Implementation involves two steps:

  1. Mark up your job listings with Job Posting structured data.
  2. Submit a sitemap (or an RSS or Atom feed) with a <lastmod> date for each listing.

If you have more than 100,000 job postings or more than 10,000 changes per day, you can express interest to use the High Change Rate feature.

If you already publish your job openings on another site like LinkedIn, Monster, DirectEmployers, CareerBuilder, Glassdoor, and Facebook, they are eligible to appear in the feature as well.

Job search is an enriched search experience. We’ve created a dedicated guide to help you understand how Google ranking works for enriched search and practices for improving your presence

Keep track of how you’re doing and fix issues

There’s a suite of tools to help you with the implementation:

In the coming weeks, we’ll add new job listings filters in the Search Analytics report in Search Console, so you can track clicks and impressions for your listings.

As always, if you have questions, ask in the forums or find us on Twitter!


Making the Internet safer and faster: Introducing reCAPTCHA Android API

When we launched reCAPTCHA ten years ago, we had a simple goal: enable users to visit the sites they love without worrying about spam and abuse. Over the years, reCAPTCHA has changed quite a bit. It evolved from the distorted text to street numbers and names, then No CAPTCHA reCAPTCHA in 2014 and Invisible reCAPTCHA in March this year.

By now, more than a billion users have benefited from reCAPTCHA and we continue to work to refine our protections.

reCAPTCHA protects users wherever they may be online. As the use of mobile devices has grown rapidly, it’s important to keep the mobile applications and data safe. Today, on reCAPTCHA’s tenth birthday, we’re glad to announce the first reCAPTCHA Android API as part of Google Play Services.

With this API, reCAPTCHA can better tell human and bots apart to provide a streamlined user experience on mobile. It will use our newest Invisible reCAPTCHA technology, which runs risk analysis behind the scene and has enabled millions of human users to pass through with zero click everyday. Now mobile users can enjoy their apps without being interrupted, while still staying away from spam and abuse.

reCAPTCHA Android API is included with Google SafetyNet, which provides services like device attestation and safe browsing to protect mobile apps. Mobile developers can do both the device and user attestations in the same API to mitigate security risks of their apps more efficiently. This adds to the diversity of security protections on Android: Google Play Protect to monitor for potentially harmful applications, device encryption, and regular security updates. Please visit our site to learn more about how to integrate with the reCAPTCHA Android API, and keep an eye out for our iOS library.

The journey of reCAPTCHA continues: we’ll make the Internet safer and easier to use for everyone (except bots).


Better Snippets for your Users

Before buying a book, people like to get a snapshot of how they’re about to spend a few hours reading. They'll take a look at the synopsis, the preface, or even the prologue just to get a sense about whether they'll like the book.
Search result snippets are much the same; they help people decide whether or not it makes sense to invest the time reading the page the snippet belongs to.  
The more descriptive and relevant a search result snippet is, the more likely that people will click through and be satisfied with the page they land on. Historically, snippets came from 3 places:
  1. The content of the page
  2. The meta description
  3. DMOZ listings
The content of the page is an obvious choice for result snippets, and  the content that can be extracted is often the most relevant to people’s queries. However, there are times when the content itself isn't the best source for a snippet. For instance, when someone searches for a publishing company for their book, the relevant homepages in the result set may contain only a few images describing the businesses and a logo, and maybe some links, none of which are particularly useful for a snippet.
The logical fallback in cases when the content of a page doesn't have much textual content for a search result snippet is the meta description. This should be short blurbs that describe accurately and precisely the content in a few words.
Finally, when a page doesn't have much textual content for snippet generation and the meta description is missing, unrelated to the page, or low quality, our fallback was DMOZ, also known as The Open Directory Project. For over 10 years, we relied on DMOZ for snippets because the quality of the DMOZ snippets were often much higher quality than those  provided by webmasters in their meta description, or were more descriptive than what the page provided.
With DMOZ now closed, we've stopped using its listings for snippeting, so it's a lot more important that webmasters provide good meta descriptions, if adding more content to the page is not an option.
What makes a good meta description?
Good meta descriptions are short blurbs that describe accurately the content of the page. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they're looking for. For more tips, we have a handy help center article on the topic. Remember to make sure that both your desktop and your mobile pages include both a title and a meta description.
What are the most common problems with meta descriptions?
Because meta descriptions are usually visible only to search engines and other software, webmasters sometimes forget about them, leaving them completely empty. It's also common, for the same reason, that the same meta description is used across multiple (and sometimes many) pages. On the flip side, it's also relatively common that the description is completely off-topic, low quality, or outright spammy. These issues tarnish our users' search experience, so we prefer to ignore such meta descriptions.
Is there a character limit for meta descriptions?
There's no limit on how long a meta description can be, but the search result snippets are truncated as needed, typically to fit the device width.
What will happen with the "NOODP" robots directive?
With DMOZ (ODP) closed, we stopped relying on its data and thus the NOODP directive is already no-op.
Can I prevent Google from using the page contents as snippet?
You can prevent Google from generating snippets altogether by specifying the "nosnippet" robots directive. There's no way to prevent using page contents as snippet while allowing other sources.

As always, if you have questions, ask in the forums or find us on Twitter!
Posted by Gary, Search Team

A reminder about links in large-scale article campaigns

Lately we've seen an increase in spammy links contained in articles referred to as contributor posts, guest posts, partner posts, or syndicated posts. These articles are generally written by or in the name of one website, and published on a different one.

Google does not discourage these types of articles in the cases when they inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company. However, what does violate Google's guidelines on link schemes is when the main intent is to build links in a large-scale way back to the author’s site. Below are factors that, when taken to an extreme, can indicate when an article is in violation of these guidelines:

  • Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles
  • Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites
  • Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on
  • Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised)

When Google detects that a website is publishing articles that contain spammy links, this may change Google's perception of the quality of the site and could affect its ranking. Sites accepting and publishing such articles should carefully vet them, asking questions like: Do I know this person? Does this person’s message fit with my site’s audience? Does the article contain useful content? If there are links of questionable intent in the article, has the author used rel=”nofollow” on them?


For websites creating articles made for links, Google takes action on this behavior because it’s bad for the Web as a whole. When link building comes first, the quality of the articles can suffer and create a bad experience for users. Also, webmasters generally prefer not to receive aggressive or repeated "Post my article!" requests, and we encourage such cases to be reported to our spam report form. And lastly, if a link is a form of endorsement, and you’re the one creating most of the endorsements for your own site, is this putting forth the best impression of your site? Our best advice in relation to link building is to focus on improving your site’s content and everything--including links--will follow (no pun intended).

Posted by the Google Webspam Team

How we fought webspam – Webspam Report 2016


With 2017 well underway, we wanted to take a moment and share some of the insights we gathered in 2016 in our fight against webspam. Over the past year, we continued to find new ways of keeping spam from creating a poor quality search experience, and worked with webmasters around the world to make the web better.

We do a lot behind the scenes to make sure that users can make full use of what today’s web has to offer, bringing relevant results to everyone around the globe, while fighting webspam that could potentially harm or simply annoy users.

Webspam trends in 2016


How we fought spam in 2016


Working with users and webmasters for a better web


  • In 2016 we received over 180,000 user-submitted spam reports from around the world. After carefully checking their validity, we considered 52% of those reported sites to be spam. Thanks to all who submitted reports and contributed towards a cleaner and safer web ecosystem!
  • We conducted more than 170 online office hours and live events around the world to audiences totaling over 150,000 website owners, webmasters and digital marketers.
  • We continued to provide support to website owners around the world through our Webmaster Help Forums in 15 languages. Through these forums we saw over 67,000 questions, with a majority of them being identified as having a Best Response by our community of Top contributors, Rising Stars and Googlers. 
  • We had 119 volunteer Webmaster Top Contributors and Rising Stars, whom we invited to join us at our local Top Contributor Meetups in 11 different locations across 4 continents (Asia, Europe, North America, South America). 


We think everybody deserves high quality, spam-free search results. We hope that this report provides a glimpse of what we do to make that happen.

Posted by Michal Wicinski, Search Quality Strategist and Kiyotaka Tanaka, User Education & Outreach Specialist 

How we fought webspam – Webspam Report 2016


With 2017 well underway, we wanted to take a moment and share some of the insights we gathered in 2016 in our fight against webspam. Over the past year, we continued to find new ways of keeping spam from creating a poor quality search experience, and worked with webmasters around the world to make the web better.

We do a lot behind the scenes to make sure that users can make full use of what today’s web has to offer, bringing relevant results to everyone around the globe, while fighting webspam that could potentially harm or simply annoy users.

Webspam trends in 2016


How we fought spam in 2016


Working with users and webmasters for a better web


  • In 2016 we received over 180,000 user-submitted spam reports from around the world. After carefully checking their validity, we considered 52% of those reported sites to be spam. Thanks to all who submitted reports and contributed towards a cleaner and safer web ecosystem!
  • We conducted more than 170 online office hours and live events around the world to audiences totaling over 150,000 website owners, webmasters and digital marketers.
  • We continued to provide support to website owners around the world through our Webmaster Help Forums in 15 languages. Through these forums we saw over 67,000 questions, with a majority of them being identified as having a Best Response by our community of Top contributors, Rising Stars and Googlers. 
  • We had 119 volunteer Webmaster Top Contributors and Rising Stars, whom we invited to join us at our local Top Contributor Meetups in 11 different locations across 4 continents (Asia, Europe, North America, South America). 


We think everybody deserves high quality, spam-free search results. We hope that this report provides a glimpse of what we do to make that happen.

Posted by Michal Wicinski, Search Quality Strategist and Kiyotaka Tanaka, User Education & Outreach Specialist 

Similar items: Rich products feature on Google Image Search

Image Search recently launched “Similar items” on mobile web and the Android Search app. The “Similar items” feature is designed to help users find products they love in photos that inspire them on Google Image Search. Using machine vision technology, the Similar items feature identifies products in lifestyle images and displays matching products to the user. Similar items supports handbags, sunglasses, and shoes and will cover other apparel and home & garden categories in the next few months.

The Similar items feature enables users to browse and shop inspirational fashion photography and find product info about items they’re interested in. Try it out by opening results from queries like [designer handbags].

Finding price and availability information was one of the top Image Search feature requests from our users. The Similar items carousel gets millions of impressions and clicks daily from all over the world.

To make your products eligible for Similar items, make sure to add and maintain schema.org product metadata on your pages. The schema.org/Product markup helps Google find product offerings on the web and give users an at-a-glance summary of product info.

To ensure that your products are eligible to appear in Similar items:

  • Ensure that the product offerings on your pages have schema.org product markup, including an image reference. Products with name, image, price & currency, and availability meta-data on their host page are eligible for Similar items
  • Test your pages with Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to verify that the product markup is formatted correctly
  • See your images on image search by issuing the query “site:yourdomain.com.” For results with valid product markup, you may see product information appear once you tap on the images from your site. It can take up to a week for Googlebot to recrawl your website.

Right now, Similar items is available on mobile browsers and the Android Google Search App globally, and we plan to expand to more platforms in 2017.

If you have questions, find us in the dedicated Structured data section of our forum, on Twitter, or on Google+. To prevent your images from showing in Similar items, webmasters can opt-out of Google Image Search.

We’re excited to help users find your products on the web by showcasing buyable items. Thanks for partnering with us to make the web more shoppable!

Updates to the Google Safe Browsing’s Site Status Tool

(Cross-posted from the Google Security Blog)
Google Safe Browsing gives users tools to help protect themselves from web-based threats like malware, unwanted software, and social engineering. We are best known for our warnings, which users see when they attempt to navigate to dangerous sites or download dangerous files. We also provide other tools, like the Site Status Tool, where people can check the current safety status of a web page (without having to visit it).

We host this tool within Google’s Safe Browsing Transparency Report. As with other sections in Google’s Transparency Report, we make this data available to give the public more visibility into the security and health of the online ecosystem. Users of the Site Status Tool input a webpage (as a URL, website, or domain) into the tool, and the most recent results of the Safe Browsing analysis for that webpage are returned...plus references to troubleshooting help and educational materials.



We’ve just launched a new version of the Site Status Tool that provides simpler, clearer results and is better designed for the primary users of the page: people who are visiting the tool from a Safe Browsing warning they’ve received, or doing casual research on Google’s malware and phishing detection. The tool now features a cleaner UI, easier-to-interpret language, and more precise results. We’ve also moved some of the more technical data on associated ASes (autonomous systems) over to the malware dashboard section of the report.

 While the interface has been streamlined, additional diagnostic information is not gone: researchers who wish to find more details can drill-down elsewhere in Safe Browsing’s Transparency Report, while site-owners can find additional diagnostic information in Search Console. One of the goals of the Transparency Report is to shed light on complex policy and security issues, so, we hope the design adjustments will indeed provide our users with additional clarity.