Category Archives: Google Webmaster Central Blog

Official news on crawling and indexing sites for the Google index

#NoHacked: A year in review

We hope your year started out safe and secure!
We wanted to share with you a summary of our 2016 work as we continue our #NoHacked campaign. Let’s start with some trends on hacked sites from the past year.

State of Website Security in 2016

First off, some unfortunate news. We’ve seen an increase in the number of hacked sites by approximately 32% in 2016 compared to 2015. We don’t expect this trend to slow down. As hackers get more aggressive and more sites become outdated, hackers will continue to capitalize by infecting more sites.
On the bright side, 84% webmasters who do apply for reconsideration are successful in cleaning their sites. However, 61% of webmasters who were hacked never received a notification from Google that their site was infected because their sites weren't verified in Search Console. Remember to register for Search Console if you own or manage a site. It’s the primary channel that Google uses to communicate site health alerts.

More Help for Hacked Webmasters


We’ve been listening to your feedback to better understand how we can help webmasters with security issues. One of the top requests was easier to understand documentation about hacked sites. As a result we’ve been hard at work to make our documentation more useful.
First, we created new documentation to give webmasters more context when their site has been compromised. Here is a list of the new help documentation:
Next, we created clean up guides for sites affected by known hacks. We’ve noticed that sites often get affected in similar ways when hacked. By investigating the similarities, we were able to create clean up guides for specific known type of hack. Below is a short description of each of the guides we created:
Gibberish Hack: The gibberish hack automatically creates many pages with non-sensical sentences filled with keywords on the target site. Hackers do this so the hacked pages show up in Google Search. Then, when people try to visit these pages, they’ll be redirected to an unrelated page, like a porn site. Learn more on how to fix this type of hack.
Japanese Keywords Hack: The Japanese keywords hack typically creates new pages with Japanese text on the target site in randomly generated directory names. These pages are monetized using affiliate links to stores selling fake brand merchandise and then shown in Google search. Sometimes the accounts of the hackers get added in Search Console as site owners. Learn more on how to fix this type of hack.
Cloaked Keywords Hack: The cloaked keywords and link hack automatically creates many pages with non-sensical sentence, links, and images. These pages sometimes contain basic template elements from the original site, so at first glance, the pages might look like normal parts of the target site until you read the content. In this type of attack, hackers usually use cloaking techniques to hide the malicious content and make the injected page appear as part of the original site or a 404 error page. Learn more on how to fix this type of hack.

Prevention is Key


As always it’s best to take a preventative approach and secure your site rather than dealing with the aftermath. Remember a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You can read more about how to identify vulnerabilities on your site in our hacked help guide. We also recommend staying up-to-date on releases and announcements from your Content Management System (CMS) providers and software/hardware vendors.

Looking Forward

Hacking behavior is constantly evolving, and research allows us to stay up to date on and combat the latest trends. You can learn about our latest research publications in the information security research site. Highlighted below are a few specific studies specific to website compromises:
If you have feedback or specific questions about compromised sites, the Webmaster Help Forums has an active group of Googlers and technical contributors that can address your questions and provide additional technical support.

Closing down for a day

Even in today's "always-on" world, sometimes businesses want to take a break. There are times when even their online presence needs to be paused. This blog post covers some of the available options so that a site's search presence isn't affected.

Option: Block cart functionality

If a site only needs to block users from buying things, the simplest approach is to disable that specific functionality. In most cases, shopping cart pages can either be blocked from crawling through the robots.txt file, or blocked from indexing with a robots meta tag. Since search engines either won't see or index that content, you can communicate this to users in an appropriate way. For example, you may disable the link to the cart, add a relevant message, or display an informational page instead of the cart.

Option: Always show interstitial or pop-up

If you need to block the whole site from users, be it with a "temporarily unavailable" message, informational page, or popup, the server should return a 503 HTTP result code ("Service Unavailable"). The 503 result code makes sure that Google doesn't index the temporary content that's shown to users. Without the 503 result code, the interstitial would be indexed as your website's content.

Googlebot will retry pages that return 503 for up to about a week, before treating it as a permanent error that can result in those pages being dropped from the search results. You can also include a "Retry after" header to indicate how long the site will be unavailable. Blocking a site for longer than a week can have negative effects on the site's search results regardless of the method that you use.

Option: Switch whole website off

Turning the server off completely is another option. You might also do this if you're physically moving your server to a different data center. For this, have a temporary server available to serve a 503 HTTP result code for all URLs (with an appropriate informational page for users), and switch your DNS to point to that server during that time.

  1. Set your DNS TTL to a low time (such as 5 minutes) a few days in advance.
  2. Change the DNS to the temporary server's IP address.
  3. Take your main server offline once all requests go to the temporary server.
  4. … your server is now offline ...
  5. When ready, bring your main server online again.
  6. Switch DNS back to the main server's IP address.
  7. Change the DNS TTL back to normal.

We hope these options cover the common situations where you'd need to disable your website temporarily. If you have any questions, feel free to drop by our webmaster help forums!

PS If your business is active locally, make sure to reflect these closures in the opening hours for your local listings too!


Introducing the Mobile-Friendly Test API

With so many users on mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly web is important to us all. The Mobile-Friendly Test is a great way to check individual pages manually. We're happy to announce that this test is now available via API as well.

The Mobile-Friendly Test API lets you test URLs using automated tools. For example, you could use it to monitor important pages in your website in order to prevent accidental regressions in templates that you use. The API method runs all tests, and returns the same information - including a list of the blocked URLs - as the manual test. The documentation includes simple samples to help get you started quickly.

We hope this API makes it easier to check your pages for mobile-friendliness and to get any such issues resolved faster. We'd love to hear how you use the API -- leave us a comment here, and feel free to link to any code or implementation that you've set up! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop by our webmaster help forum.


Protect your site from user generated spam

As a website owner, you might have come across some auto-generated content in comments sections or forum threads. When such content is created on your pages, not only does it disrupt those visiting your site, but it also shows some content that you may not want to be associated with your site to Google and other search engines.


In this blog post, we will give you tips to help you deal with this type of spam in your site and forum.


Some spammers abuse sites owned by others by posting deceiving content and links, in an attempt to get more traffic to their sites. Here are a few examples:


Comments and forum threads can be a really good source of information and an efficient way of engaging a site's users in discussions. This valuable content should not be buried by auto-generated keywords and links placed there by spammers.


There are many ways of securing your site’s forums and comment threads and making them unattractive to spammers:


  • Keep your forum software updated and patched. Take the time to keep your software up-to-date and pay special attention to important security updates. Spammers take advantage of security issues in older versions of blogs, bulletin boards, and other content management systems.

  • Add a CAPTCHA. CAPTCHAs require users to confirm that they are not robots in order to prove they're a human being and not an automated script. One way to do this is to use a service like reCAPTCHA, Securimage and  Jcaptcha .
  • Block suspicious behavior. Many forums allow you to set time limits between posts, and you can often find plugins to look for excessive traffic from individual IP addresses or proxies and other activity more common to bots than human beings. For example, phpBB, Simple Machines, myBB, and many other forum platforms enable such configurations.

  • Check your forum’s top posters on a daily basis. If a user joined recently and has an excessive amount of posts, then you probably should review their profile and make sure that their posts and threads are not spammy.

  • Consider disabling some types of comments. For example, It’s a good practice to close some very old forum threads that are unlikely to get legitimate replies.
    If you plan on not monitoring your forum going forward and users are no longer interacting with it, turning off posting completely may prevent spammers from abusing it.

  • Make good use of moderation capabilities. Consider enabling features in moderation that require users to have a certain reputation before links can be posted or where comments with links require moderation.
    If possible, change your settings so that you disallow anonymous posting and make posts from new users require approval before they're publicly visible.
    Moderators, together with your friends/colleagues and some other trusted users can help you review and approve posts while spreading the workload. Keep an eye on your forum's new users by looking on their posts and activities on your forum.  

  • Consider blacklisting obviously spammy terms. Block obviously inappropriate comments with a blacklist of spammy terms (e.g. Illegal streaming or pharma related terms) . Add inappropriate and off-topic terms that are only used by spammers, learn from the spam posts that you often see on your forum or other forums. Built-in features or plugins can delete or mark comments as spam for you.

  • Use the "nofollow" attribute for links in the comment field. This will deter spammers from targeting your site. By default, many blogging sites (such as Blogger) automatically add this attribute to any posted comments.

  • Use automated systems to defend your site.  Comprehensive systems like Akismet, which has plugins for many blogs and forum systems are easy to install and do most of the work for you.




For detailed information about these topics, check out our Help Center document on User Generated Spam and comment spam. You can also visit our Webmaster Central Help Forum if you need any help.



What Crawl Budget Means for Googlebot

Recently, we've heard a number of definitions for "crawl budget", however we don't have a single term that would describe everything that "crawl budget" stands for externally. With this post we'll clarify what we actually have and what it means for Googlebot.

First, we'd like to emphasize that crawl budget, as described below, is not something most publishers have to worry about. If new pages tend to be crawled the same day they're published, crawl budget is not something webmasters need to focus on. Likewise, if a site has fewer than a few thousand URLs, most of the time it will be crawled efficiently.

Prioritizing what to crawl, when, and how much resource the server hosting the site can allocate to crawling is more important for bigger sites, or those that auto-generate pages based on URL parameters, for example.

Crawl rate limit

Googlebot is designed to be a good citizen of the web. Crawling is its main priority, while making sure it doesn't degrade the experience of users visiting the site. We call this the "crawl rate limit," which limits the maximum fetching rate for a given site.


Simply put, this represents the number of simultaneous parallel connections Googlebot may use to crawl the site, as well as the time it has to wait between the fetches. The crawl rate can go up and down based on a couple of factors:
  • Crawl health: if the site responds really quickly for a while, the limit goes up, meaning more connections can be used to crawl. If the site slows down or responds with server errors, the limit goes down and Googlebot crawls less.
  • Limit set in Search Console: website owners can reduce Googlebot's crawling of their site. Note that setting higher limits doesn't automatically increase crawling.


Crawl demand

Even if the crawl rate limit isn't reached, if there's no demand from indexing, there will be low activity from Googlebot. The two factors that play a significant role in determining crawl demand are:
  • Popularity: URLs that are more popular on the Internet tend to be crawled more often to keep them fresher in our index.
  • Staleness: our systems attempt to prevent URLs from becoming stale in the index.
Additionally, site-wide events like site moves may trigger an increase in crawl demand in order to reindex the content under the new URLs.

Taking crawl rate and crawl demand together we define crawl budget as the number of URLs Googlebot can and wants to crawl.


Factors affecting crawl budget

According to our analysis, having many low-value-add URLs can negatively affect a site's crawling and indexing. We found that the low-value-add URLs fall into these categories, in order of significance:
Wasting server resources on pages like these will drain crawl activity from pages that do actually have value, which may cause a significant delay in discovering great content on a site.


Top questions

Crawling is the entry point for sites into Google's search results. Efficient crawling of a website helps with its indexing in Google Search.

Q: Does site speed affect my crawl budget? How about errors?
A: Making a site faster improves the users' experience while also increasing crawl rate. For Googlebot a speedy site is a sign of healthy servers, so it can get more content over the same number of connections. On the flip side, a significant number of 5xx errors or connection timeouts signal the opposite, and crawling slows down.
We recommend paying attention to the Crawl Errors report in Search Console and keeping the number of server errors low.

Q: Is crawling a ranking factor?
A: An increased crawl rate will not necessarily lead to better positions in Search results. Google uses hundreds of signals to rank the results, and while crawling is necessary for being in the results, it's not a ranking signal.

Q: Do alternate URLs and embedded content count in the crawl budget?
A: Generally, any URL that Googlebot crawls will count towards a site's crawl budget. Alternate URLs, like AMP or hreflang, as well as embedded content, such as CSS and JavaScript, may have to be crawled and will consume a site's crawl budget. Similarly, long redirect chains may have a negative effect on crawling.

Q: Can I control Googlebot with the "crawl-delay" directive?
A: The non-standard "crawl-delay" robots.txt directive is not processed by Googlebot.

Q: Does the nofollow directive affect crawl budget?
A: It depends. Any URL that is crawled affects crawl budget, so even if your page marks a URL as nofollow it can still be crawled if another page on your site, or any page on the web, doesn't label the link as nofollow.

For information on how to optimize crawling of your site, take a look at our blogpost on optimizing crawling from 2009 that is still applicable. If you have questions, ask in the forums!

Posted by Gary, Crawling and Indexing teams
















Enhancing property sets to cover more reports in Search Console

Since initially announcing property sets earlier this year, one of the most popular requests has been to expand this functionality to more sections of Search Console. Thanks to your feedback, we're now expanding property sets to more features!

Property sets help to show how your business is seen by Google across separate websites or apps. For example, if you have multiple international or brand-specific websites, and perhaps even an Android app, it can be useful to see changes of the whole set over time: are things headed in the expected direction? are there any outliers that you'd want to drill down into? Similarly, you could monitor your site's hreflang setup across different versions of the same website during a planned transition, such as when you move from HTTP to HTTPS, or change domains.

With Search Console's property sets, you can now just add any verified properties to a set, let the data collect, and then check out features like the mobile usability report, review your AMP implementation, double-check rich cards, or hreflang / internationalization markup, and more.


We hope these changes make it easier to understand your properties in Search Console. Should you have any questions - or if you just want to help others, feel free to drop by our Webmaster Help Forums.


An update on Google’s feature-phone crawling & indexing

Limited mobile devices, "feature-phones", require a special form of markup or a transcoder for web content. Most websites don't provide feature-phone-compatible content in WAP/WML any more. Given these developments, we've made changes in how we crawl feature-phone content (note: these changes don't affect smartphone content):

1. We've retired the feature-phone Googlebot

We won't be using the feature-phone user-agents for crawling for search going forward.

2. Use "handheld" link annotations for dynamic serving of feature-phone content.

Some sites provide content for feature-phones through dynamic serving, based on the user's user-agent. To understand this configuration, make sure your desktop and smartphone pages have a self-referential alternate URL link for handheld (feature-phone) devices:

<link rel="alternate" media="handheld" href="[current page URL]" />

This is a change from our previous guidance of only using the "vary: user-agent" HTTP header. We've updated our documentation on making feature-phone pages accordingly. We hope adding this link element is possible on your side, and thank you for your help in this regard. We'll continue to show feature-phone URLs in search when we can recognize them, and when they're appropriate for users.

3. We're retiring feature-phone tools in Search Console

Without the feature-phone Googlebot, special sitemaps extensions for feature-phone, the Fetch as Google feature-phone options, and feature-phone crawl errors are no longer needed. We continue to support sitemaps and other sitemaps extensions (such as for videos or Google News), as well as the other Fetch as Google options in Search Console.


We've worked to make these changes as minimal as possible. Most websites don't serve feature-phone content, and wouldn't be affected. If your site has been providing feature-phone content, we thank you for your help in bringing the Internet to feature-phone users worldwide!

For any questions, feel free to drop by our Webmaster Help Forums!

Saying goodbye to Content Keywords

In the early days - back when Search Console was still called Webmaster Tools - the content keywords feature was the only way to see what Googlebot found when it crawled a website. It was useful to see that Google was able to crawl your pages at all, or if your site was hacked.

In the meantime, you can easily check any page on your website and see how Googlebot fetches it immediately, Search Analytics shows you which keywords we've shown your site in search for, and Google informs you of many kinds of hacks automatically. Additionally, users were often confused about the keywords listed in content keywords. And so, the time has come to retire the Content Keywords feature in Search Console.

The words on your pages, the keywords if you will, are still important for Google's (and your users') understanding of your pages. While our systems have gotten better, they can't read your mind: be clear about what your site is about, and what you'd like to be found for. Tell visitors what makes your site, your products and services, special!

What was your most surprising, or favorite, keyword shown? Let us know in the comments!

Rich Cards expands to more verticals

At Google I/O in May, we launched Rich Cards for Movies and Recipes, creating a new way for site owners to present previews of their content on the Search results page. Today, we’re expanding to two new verticals for US-based sites: Local restaurants and Online courses.

Evolution of search results for queries like [best New Orleans restaurants] and [leadership courses]: with rich cards, results are presented in new UIs, like carousels that are easy to browse by scrolling left and right, or a vertical three-pack that displays more individual courses

By building Rich Cards, you have a new opportunity to attract more engaged users to your page. Users can swipe through restaurant recommendations from sites like TripAdvisor, Thrillist, Time Out, Eater, and 10Best. In addition to food, users can browse through courses from sites like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, EdX, Harvard, Udacity, FutureLearn, Edureka, Open University, Udemy, Canvas Network, and NPTEL.

If you have a site that contains local restaurant information or offers online courses, check out our developer docs to start building Rich Cards in the Local restaurant and Online courses verticals.

While AMP HTML is not required for Local restaurant pages and Online Courses rich cards, AMP provides Google Search users with a consistently fast experience, so we recommend that you create AMP pages to further engage users. Users consuming AMP’d content will be able to swipe near instantly from restaurant to restaurant or from recipe to recipe within your site.

Users who tap on your Rich Card will be taken near instantly to your AMP page, and be able to swipe between pages within your site.

Check out our developer site for implementation details.

To make it easier for you to create Rich Cards, we made some changes in our tools:

  • The Structured Data Testing Tool displays markup errors and a preview card for Local restaurant content as it might appear on Search.
  • The Rich Cards report in Search Console shows which cards across verticals contain errors, and which ones could be enhanced with more markup.
  • The AMP Test helps validate AMP pages as well as mark up on the page.

What’s next?

We are actively experimenting with new verticals globally to provide more opportunities for you to display richer previews of your content.

If you have questions, find us in the dedicated Structured data section of our forum, on Twitter or on Google+.


Building Indexable Progressive Web Apps

Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) are taking advantage of new technologies to bring the best of mobile sites and native applications to users -- and they’re one of the most exciting new ideas on the web. But to truly have an impact, it's important that they’re indexable and linkable. Every recommendation presented in this article is an existing best practice for indexability -- regardless of whether you're building a Progressive Web App or a simple static website. Nonetheless, we have collated these best practices to provide a checklist to guide you:

Make Your Content Crawlable

Why? Historically, websites would always generate or render their HTML on the server which is the simplest way to ensure your content is directly linkable. Web applications popularised the concept of client-side rendering in which content is updated dynamically on the page as the users navigates without requiring the page to be reloaded.

The modern approach is hybrid rendering, in which server-side rendering is used when a user navigates directly to a URL and client-side rendering is used after the initial page load for subsequent navigation and asynchronous requests.

Our server-side PWA sample demonstrates pure server-side rendering, while our hybrid PWA sample demonstrates the combined approach.

If you are unfamiliar with the server-side and client-side rendering terminology, check out these articles on the web read here and here.

Best Practice:

Use server-side or hybrid rendering so users receive the content in the initial payload of their web request.

Always ensure your URLs are independently accessible:

https://www.example.com/product/25/

The above should deep link to that particular resource.

If you can’t support server-side or hybrid rendering for your Progressive Web App and you decide to use client-side rendering, we recommend using the Google Search Console “Fetch as Google tool” to verify your content successfully renders for our search crawler.

Don’t:

Don't redirect users accessing deep links back to your web app's homepage.

Additionally, serving an error page to users instead of deep linking should also be avoided.


Provide Clean URLs

Why? Fragment identifiers (#user/24601/ or #!user/24601/) were an effective workaround for browsers to AJAX new content from a server without reloading the page. This design is known as client-side rendering.

However, the fragment identifier syntax isn’t compatible with some web tools, frameworks and protocols such as Facebook’s Open Graph protocol.

The History API enables us to update the URL without fragment identifiers while still fetching resources asynchronously and therefore avoiding page reloads -- it’s the best of both worlds. The AJAX crawling scheme (with its #! / escaped-fragment URLs) made sense at its time, but is now no longer recommended.

Our hybrid PWA and client-side PWA samples demonstrate the History API.

Best Practice:

Provide clean URLs without fragment identifiers (# or #!) such as:

https://www.example.com/product/25/

If using client-side or hybrid rendering be sure to support browser navigation with the History API.

Avoid:

Using the #! URL structure to drive unique URLs is discouraged:

https://www.example.com/#!product/25/

It was introduced as a workaround before the advent of the History API. It is considered a separate pattern to the purely # URL structure.

Don’t:

Using the # URL structure without the accompanying ! symbol is unsupported:

https://www.example.com/#product/25/

This URL structure is already a concept in the web and relates to deep linking into content on a particular page.


Specify Canonical URLs

Why? The best way to eliminate confusion for indexing when the same content is available under multiple URLs (be it the same or different domains) is to mark one page as the canonical, and all other pages that duplicate that content to refer to it.

Best Practice:

Include the following tag across all pages mirroring a particular piece of content:

<link rel="canonical" href="https://www.example.com/your-url/" />

If you are supporting Accelerated Mobile Pages be sure to correctly use its counterpart rel=”amphtml” instruction as well.

Avoid:

Avoid purposely duplicating content across multiple URLs and not using the rel="canonical" link element.

For example, the rel="canonical" link element can reduce ambiguity for URLs with tracking parameters.

Don’t:

Avoid creating conflicting canonical references between your pages.


Design for Multiple Devices

Why? It’s important that all your users get the best experience possible when viewing your website, regardless of their device.

Make your site responsive in its design -- fonts, margins, paddings, buttons and general design of your site should scale dynamically based on screen resolutions and device viewports.

Small images scaled up for desktop or tablet devices give a poor experience. Conversely, super high resolution images take a long time to download on mobile phones and may impact mobile scroll performance.

Read more UX for PWAs here.

Best Practice:

Use “srcset” attribute to fetch different resolution images for different density screens to avoid downloading images larger than the device’s screen is capable of displaying.

Scale your font size and line height to ensure your text is legible no matter the size of the device. Similarly ensure the padding and margins of elements also scale sensibly.

Test various screen resolutions using the Chrome Developer Tool’s Device Mode feature and Mobile Friendly Test tool.

Don’t:

Don't show different content to users than you show to Google. If you use redirects or user agent detection (a.k.a. browser sniffing or dynamic serving) to alter the design of your site for different devices it’s important that the content itself remains the same.

Use the Search Console “Fetch as Google” tool to verify the content fetched by Google matches the content a user sees.

For usability reasons, avoid using fixed-size fonts.


Develop Iteratively

Why? One of the safest paths to take when adding features to a web application is to make changes iteratively. If you add features one at a time you can observe the impact of each individual change.

Alternatively many developers prefer to view their progressive web application as an opportunity to overhaul their mobile site in one fell swoop -- developing the new web app in an isolated environment and swapping it with their existing mobile site once ready.

When developing features iteratively try to break the changes into separate pieces. For example, if you intend to move from server-side rendering to hybrid rendering then tackle that as a single iteration -- rather than in combination with other features.

Both approaches have their own pros and cons. Iterating reduces the complexity of dealing with search indexability as the transition is continuous. However, iterating might result in a slower development process and potentially a less innovative overhaul if development is not starting from scratch.

In either case, the most sensitive areas to keep an eye on are your canonical URLs and your site’s robots.txt configuration.

Best Practice:

Iterate on your website incrementally by adding new features piece by piece.

For example, if don’t support HTTPS yet then start by migrating to a secure site.

Avoid:

If you’ve developed your progressive web app in an isolated environment, then avoid launching it without checking the rel-canonical links and robots.txt are setup appropriately.

Ensure your rel-canonical links point to the real site and that your robots.txt configuration allows crawlers to crawl your new site.

Don’t:

It’s logical to prevent crawlers from indexing your in-development site before launch but don’t forget to unblock crawlers from accessing your new site when you launch.


Use Progressive Enhancement

Why? Wherever possible it’s important to detect browser features before using them. Feature detection is also better than testing for browsers that you believe support a given feature.

A common bad practice in the past was to enable or disable features by testing which browser the user had. However, as browsers are constantly evolving with features this technique is strongly discouraged.

Service Worker is a relatively new technology and it’s important to not break compatibility in the pursuit of progress -- it's a perfect example of when to use progressive enhancement.

Best Practice:

Before registering a Service Worker check for the availability of its API:

if ('serviceWorker' in navigator) {
...

Use per API detection method for all your website’s features.

Don’t:

Never use the browser’s user agent to enable or disable features in your web app. Always check whether the feature’s API is available and gracefully degrade if unavailable.

Avoid updating or launching your site without testing across multiple browsers! Check your site analytics to learn which browsers are most popular among your user base.


Test with Search Console

Why? It’s important to understand how Google Search views your site’s content. You can use Search Console to fetch individual URLs from your site and see how Google Search views them using the “Crawl > Fetch as Google“ feature. Search Console will process your JavaScript and render the page when that option is selected; otherwise only the raw HTML response is shown

Google Search Console also analyses the content on your page in a variety of ways including detecting the presence of Structured Data, Rich Cards, Sitelinks & Accelerated Mobile Pages.

Best Practice:

Monitor your site using Search Console and explore its features including “Fetch as Google”.

Provide a Sitemap via Search Console “Crawl > Sitemaps” It can be an effective way to ensure Google Search is aware of all your site’s pages.


Annotate with Schema.org structured data

Why? Schema.org structured data is a flexible vocabulary for summarizing the most important parts of your page as machine-processable data. This can be as general as simply saying that a page is a NewsArticle, or as specific as detailing the location, band name, venue and ticket vendor for a touring band, or summarizing the ingredients and steps for a recipe.

The use of this metadata may not make sense for every page on your web application but it’s recommended where it’s sensible. Google extracts it after the page is rendered.

There are a variety of data types including “NewsArticle”, “Recipe” & “Product” to name a few. Explore all the supported data types here.

Best Practice:

Verify that your Schema.org meta data is correct using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool.

Check that the data you provided is appearing and there are no errors present.

Don’t:

Avoid using a data type that doesn’t match your page’s actual content. For example don’t use “Recipe” for a T-Shirt you’re selling -- use “Product” instead.


Annotate with Open Graph & Twitter Cards

Why? In addition to the Schema.org metadata it can be helpful to add support for Facebook’s Open Graph protocol and Twitter rich cards as well.

These metadata formats improve the user experience when your content is shared on their corresponding social networks.

If your existing site or web application utilises these formats it’s important to ensure they are included in your progressive web application as well for optimal virality.

Best Practice:

Test your Open Graph markup with the Facebook Object Debugger Tool.

Familiarise yourself with Twitter’s metadata format.

Don’t:

Don’t forget to include these formats if your existing site supports them.


Test with Multiple Browsers

Why? Clearly from a user perspective it’s important that a website behaviors the same across all browsers. While the experience might adapt for different screen sizes we all expect a mobile site to work the same on similarly sized devices whether it’s an iPhone or an Android mobile phone.

While the web can be perceived as fragmented due to number of browsers in use around the world, this variety and competition is part of what makes the web such an innovative platform. Thankfully, web standards have never been more mature than they are now and modern tools enable developers to build rich, cross browser compatible websites with confidence.

Best Practice:

Use cross browser testing tools such as BrowserStack.com, Browserling.com or BrowserShots.org to ensure your PWA is cross browser compatible.


Measure Page Load Performance

Why? The faster a website loads for a user the better their user experience will be. Optimizing for page speed is already a well known focus in web development but sometimes when developing a new version of a site the necessary optimizations are not considered a high priority.

When developing a progressive web application we recommend measuring the performance of your page load speed and optimizing before launching the site for the best results.

Best Practice:

Use tools such as Page Speed Insights and Web Page Test to measure the page load performance of your site. While Googlebot has a bit more patience in rendering, research has shown that 40% of consumers will leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load..

Read more about our web page performance recommendations and the critical rendering path here.

Don’t:

Avoid leaving optimization as a post-launch step. If your website’s content loads quickly before migrating to a new progressive web application then it’s important to not regress in your optimizations.


We hope that the above checklist is useful and provides the right guidance to help you develop your Progressive Web Applications with indexability in mind.

As you get started, be sure to check out our Progressive Web App indexability samples that demonstrate server-side, client-side and hybrid rendering. As always, if you have any questions, please reach out on our Webmaster Forums.