Category Archives: Google Webmaster Central Blog

Official news on crawling and indexing sites for the Google index

Consolidating your website traffic on canonical URLs

In Search Console, the Performance report currently credits all page metrics to the exact URL that the user is referred to by Google Search. Although this provides very specific data, it makes property management more difficult; for example: if your site has mobile and desktop versions on different properties, you must open multiple properties to see all your Search data for the same piece of content.

To help unify your data, Search Console will soon begin assigning search metrics to the (Google-selected) canonical URL, rather than the URL referred to by Google Search. This change has several benefits:

  • It unifies all search metrics for a single piece of content into a single URL: the canonical URL. This shows you the full picture about a specific piece of content in one property.
  • For users with separate mobile or AMP pages, it unifies all (or most, since some mobile URLs may end up as canonical) of your data to a single property (the "canonical" property).
  • It improves the usability of the AMP and Mobile-Friendly reports. These reports currently show issues in the canonical page property, but show the impression in the property that owns the actual URL referred to by Google Search. After this change, the impressions and issues will be shown in the same property.

When will this happen?

We plan to transition all performance data on April 10, 2019. In order to provide continuity to your data, we will pre-populate your unified data beginning from January 2018. We will also enable you to view both old and new versions for a few weeks during the transition to see the impact and understand the differences.

API and Data Studio users: The Search Console API will change to canonical data on April 10, 2019.

How will this affect my data?

  • At an individual URL level, you will see traffic shift from any non-canonical (duplicate) URLs to the canonical URL.
  • At the property level, you will see data from your alternate property (for example, your mobile site) shifted to your "canonical property". Your alternate property traffic probably won't drop to zero in Search Console because canonicalization is at the page, not the property level, and your mobile property might have some canonical pages. However, for most users, most property-level data will shift to one property. AMP property traffic will drop to zero in most cases (except for self-canonical pages).
  • You will still be able to filter data by device, search appearance (such as AMP), country, and other dimensions without losing important information about your traffic.

You can see some examples of these traffic changes below.

Preparing for the change

  • Consider whether you need to change user access to your various properties; for example: do you need to add new users to your canonical property, or do existing users continue to need access to the non-canonical properties.
  • Modify any custom traffic reports you might have created in order to adapt for this traffic shift.
  • If you need to learn the canonical URL for a given URL, you can use the URL Inspection tool.
  • If you want to save your traffic data calculated using the current system, you should download your data using either the Performance report's Export Data button, or using the Search Console API.

Examples

Here are a few examples showing how data might change on your site. In these examples, you can see how your traffic numbers would change between a canonical site (called example.com) and alternate site (called m.example.com).

Important: In these examples, the desktop site contains all the canonical pages and the mobile contains all the alternate pages. In the real world, your desktop site might contain some alternate pages and your mobile site might contain some canonical pages. You can determine the canonical for a given URL using the URL Inspection tool.

Total traffic

In the current version, some of your traffic is attributed to the canonical property and some to the alternate property. The new version should attribute all of your traffic to the canonical property.


Canonical property
(http://example.com)
Alternate property
(http://m.example.com)
Current

New, based on canonical URLs

Change +0.7K     |        +3K -0.7K        |          -3K

Individual page traffic

You can see traffic changes between the duplicate and canonical URLs for individual pages in the Pages view. The next example shows how traffic that used to be split between the canonical and alternate pages are now all attributed to the canonical URL:


Canonical property
(http://example.com)
Alternate property
(http://m.example.com)

Old

New

Change

+150     |        +800

-150     |        -800

Mobile traffic

In the current version, all of your mobile traffic was attributed to your m. property. The new version attributes all traffic to your canonical property when you apply the "Device: Mobile" filter as shown here:


Canonical property
(http://example.com)
Alternate property
(http://m.example.com)

Old

New

Change

+0.7K      | +3K

-0.7K      | -3K

In conclusion

We know that this change might seem a little confusing at first, but we're confident that it will simplify your job of tracking traffic data for your site. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out on the Webmaster Help Forum.


Dynamic Rendering with Rendertron

Many frontend frameworks rely on JavaScript to show content. This can mean Google might take some time to index your content or update the indexed content. 
A workaround we discussed at Google I/O this year is dynamic rendering. There are many ways to implement this. This blog post shows an example implementation of dynamic rendering using Rendertron, which is an open source solution based on headless Chromium.

Which sites should consider dynamic rendering?


Not all search engines or social media bots visiting your website can run JavaScript. Googlebot might take time to run your JavaScript and has some limitations, for example. 
Dynamic rendering is useful for content that changes often and needs JavaScript to display.
Your site's user experience (especially the time to first meaningful paint) may benefit from considering hybrid rendering (for example, Angular Universal).

How does dynamic rendering work?


Dynamic rendering means switching between client-side rendered and pre-rendered content for specific user agents.

You will need a renderer to execute the JavaScript and produce static HTML. Rendertron is an open source project that uses headless Chromium to render. Single Page Apps often load data in the background or defer work to render their content. Rendertron has mechanisms to determine when a website has completed rendering. It waits until all network requests have finished and there is no outstanding work.

This post covers:
  1. Take a look at a sample web app
  2. Set up a small express.js server to serve the web app
  3. Install and configure Rendertron as a middleware for dynamic rendering

The sample web app

The “kitten corner” web app uses JavaScript to load a variety of cat images from an API and displays them in a grid.

Cute cat images in a grid and a button to show more - this web app truly has it all!
Here is the JavaScript:


  
const apiUrl = 'https://api.thecatapi.com/v1/images/search?limit=50';
  const tpl = document.querySelector('template').content;
  const container = document.querySelector('ul');

  function init () {
    fetch(apiUrl)
    .then(response => response.json())
    .then(cats => {
      container.innerHTML = '';
      cats
        .map(cat => {
          const li = document.importNode(tpl, true);
          li.querySelector('img').src = cat.url;
          return li;
        }).forEach(li => container.appendChild(li));
    })
  }

  init();

  document.querySelector('button').addEventListener('click', init);

The web app uses modern JavaScript (ES6), which isn't supported in Googlebot yet. We can use the mobile-friendly test to check if Googlebot can see the content:
The mobile-friendly test shows that the page is mobile-friendly, but the screenshot is missing all the cats! The headline and button appear but none of the cat pictures are there.
While this problem is simple to fix, it's a good exercise to learn how to setup dynamic rendering. Dynamic rendering will allow Googlebot to see the cat pictures without changes to the web app code.

Set up the server

To serve the web application, let's use express, a node.js library, to build web servers.
The server code looks like this (find the full project source code here):

const express = require('express');
const app = express();

const DIST_FOLDER = process.cwd() + '/docs';
const PORT = process.env.PORT || 8080;

// Serve static assets (images, css, etc.)
app.get('*.*', express.static(DIST_FOLDER));

// Point all other URLs to index.html for our single page app
app.get('*', (req, res) => {
 res.sendFile(DIST_FOLDER + '/index.html');
});

// Start Express Server
app.listen(PORT, () => {
 console.log(`Node Express server listening on http://localhost:${PORT} from ${DIST_FOLDER}`);
});

You can try the live example here - you should see a bunch of cat pictures, if you are using a modern browser. To run the project from your computer, you need node.js to run the following commands:
npm install --save express rendertron-middleware node server.js
Then point your browser to http://localhost:8080. Now it’s time to set up dynamic rendering.

Deploy a Rendertron instance

Rendertron runs a server that takes a URL and returns static HTML for the URL by using headless Chromium. We'll follow the recommendation from the Rendertron project and use Google Cloud Platform.
The form to create a new Google Cloud Platform project.
Please note that you can get started with the free usage tier, using this setup in production may incur costs according to the Google Cloud Platform pricing.

  1. Create a new project in the Google Cloud console. Take note of the “Project ID” below the input field.
  2. Clone the Rendertron repository from GitHub with:
    git clone https://github.com/GoogleChrome/rendertron.git 
    cd rendertron 
  3. Run the following commands to install dependencies and build Rendertron on your computer:
    npm install && npm run build
  4. Enable Rendertron’s cache by creating a new file called config.json in the rendertron directory with the following content:
    { "datastoreCache": true }
  5. Run the following command from the rendertron directory. Substitute YOUR_PROJECT_ID with your project ID from step 1.
    gcloud app deploy app.yaml --project YOUR_PROJECT_ID

  6. Select a region of your choice and confirm the deployment. Wait for it to finish.

  7. Enter the URL YOUR_PROJECT_ID.appspot.com (substitute YOUR_PROJECT_ID for your actual project ID from step 1 in your browser. You should see Rendertron’s interface with an input field and a few buttons.
Rendertron’s UI after deploying to Google Cloud Platform
When you see the Rendertron web interface, you have successfully deployed your own Rendertron instance. Take note of your project’s URL (YOUR_PROJECT_ID.appspot.com) as you will need it in the next part of the process.

Add Rendertron to the server

The web server is using express.js and Rendertron has an express.js middleware. Run the following command in the directory of the server.js file:

npm install --save rendertron-middleware

This command installs the rendertron-middleware from npm so we can add it to the server:

const express = require('express');
const app = express();
const rendertron = require('rendertron-middleware');

Configure the bot list

Rendertron uses the user-agent HTTP header to determine if a request comes from a bot or a user’s browser. It has a well-maintained list of bot user agents to compare with. By default this list does not include Googlebot, because Googlebot can execute JavaScript. To make Rendertron render Googlebot requests as well, add Googlebot to the list of user agents:

const BOTS = rendertron.botUserAgents.concat('googlebot');
const BOT_UA_PATTERN = new RegExp(BOTS.join('|'), 'i');

Rendertron compares the user-agent header against this regular expression later.

Add the middleware

To send bot requests to the Rendertron instance, we need to add the middleware to our express.js server. The middleware checks the requesting user agent and forwards requests from known bots to the Rendertron instance. Add the following code to server.js and don’t forget to substitute “YOUR_PROJECT_ID” with your Google Cloud Platform project ID:

app.use(rendertron.makeMiddleware({
 proxyUrl: 'https://YOUR_PROJECT_ID.appspot.com/render',
 userAgentPattern: BOT_UA_PATTERN
}));

Bots requesting the sample website receive the static HTML from Rendertron, so the bots don’t need to run JavaScript to display the content.

Testing our setup

To test if the Rendertron setup was successful, run the mobile-friendly test again.
Unlike the first test, the cat pictures are visible. In the HTML tab we can see all HTML the JavaScript code generated and that Rendertron has removed the need for JavaScript to display the content.

Conclusion

You created a dynamic rendering setup without making any changes to the web app. With these changes, you can serve a static HTML version of the web app to crawlers.

Post content

Focusing on the new Search Console

Over the last year, the new Search Console has been growing and growing, with the goal of making it easier for site owners to focus on the important tasks. For us, focus means being able to put in all our work into the new Search Console, being committed to the users, and with that, being able to turn off some of the older, perhaps already-improved, aspects of the old Search Console. This gives us space to further build out the new Search Console, adding and improving features over time.

Here are some of the upcoming changes in Search Console that we're planning on making towards end of March, 2019:

Crawl errors in the new Index Coverage report

One of the more common pieces of feedback we received was that the list of crawl errors in Search Console was not actionable when it came to setting priorities (it's normal that Google crawls URLs which don't exist, it's not something that needs to be fixed on the website). By changing the focus on issues and patterns used for site indexing, we believe that site owners will be able to find and fix issues much faster (and when issues are fixed, you can request reprocessing quickly too). With this, we're going to remove the old Crawl Errors report - for desktop, smartphone, and site-wide errors. We'll continue to improve the way issues are recognized and flagged, so if there's something that would help you, please submit feedback in the tools.

Along with the Crawl Errors report, we're also deprecating the crawl errors API that's based on the same internal systems. At the moment, we don't have a replacement for this API. We'll inform API users of this change directly.

Sitemaps data in Index Coverage

As we move forward with the new Search Console, we're turning the old sitemaps report off. The new sitemaps report has most of the functionality of the old report, and we're aiming to bring the rest of the information - specifically for images & video - to the new reports over time. Moreover, to track URLs submitted in sitemap files, within the Index Coverage report you can select and filter using your sitemap files. This makes it easier to focus on URLs that you care about.

Using the URL inspection tool to fetch as Google

The new URL inspection tool offers many ways to check and review URLs on your website. It provides both a look into the current indexing, as well as a live check of URLs that you've recently changed. In the meantime, this tool shows even more information on URLs, such as the HTTP headers, page resource, the JavaScript console log, and a screenshot of the page. From there, you can also submit pages for re-processing, to have them added or updated in our search results as quickly as possible.

User-management is now in settings

We've improved the user management interface and decreased clutter from the tool by merging it with the Settings section of the new Search Console. This replaces the user-management features in the old Search Console.

Structured data dashboard to dedicated reports per vertical

To help you implement Rich Results for you site, we added several reports to the new Search Console last year. These include Jobs, Recipes, Events and Q&A. We are committed to keep adding reports like these to the new Search Console. When Google encounters a syntax error parsing Structured Data on a page, it will also be reported in aggregate to make sure you don’t miss anything critical.

Other Structured Data types that are not supported with Rich Results features, will not be reported in Search Console anymore. We hope this reduces distraction from non-critical issues, and help you to focus on fixing problems which could be visible in Search.

Letting go of some old features

With the focus on features that we believe are critical to site owners, we've had to make a hard decision to drop some features in Search Console. In particular:

HTML suggestions - finding short and duplicated titles can be useful for site owners, but Google's algorithms have gotten better at showing and improving titles over the years. We still believe this is something useful for sites to look into, and there are some really good tools that help you to crawl your website to extract titles & descriptions too.

Property Sets - while they're loved by some site owners, the small number of users makes it hard to justify maintaining this feature. However, we did learn that users need a more comprehensive view of their website and so we will soon add the option of managing a search console account over an entire domain (regardless of schema type and sub-domains). Stay tuned!

Android Apps - most of the relevant functionality has been moved to the Firebase console over the years.

Blocked resources - we added this functionality to help sites with unblocking of CSS and JavaScript files for mobile-friendliness several years back. In the meantime, these issues have gotten much fewer, the usage of this tool has dropped significantly, and you're able to find blocked resources directly in the URL inspection tool.

Please send us feedback!

We realize some of these changes will affect your work-flows, so we want to let you know about them as early as possible. Please send us your feedback directly in the new Search Console, if there are aspects which are unclear, or which would ideally be different for your use-case. For more detailed feedback, please use our help forums, feel free to include screenshots & ideas. In the long run, we believe the new Search Console will make things much easier, help you focus on the issues affecting your site, and the opportunities available to your site, with regards to search.

We're looking forward to an exciting year!


Ways to succeed in Google News

With the New Year now underway, we'd like to offer some best practices and advice we hope will lead publishers to more success within Google News in 2019.

General advice

There is a lot of helpful information to consider within the Google News Publisher Help Center. Be sure to have read the material in this area, in particular the content and technical guidelines.

Headlines and dates


  • Present clear headlines: Google News looks at a variety of signals to determine the headline of an article, including within your HTML title tag and for the most prominent text on the page. Review our headline tips.
  • Provide accurate times and dates: Google News tries to determine the time and date to display for an article in a variety of ways. You can help ensure we get it right by using the following methods:
    • Show one clear date and time: As per our date guidelines, show a clear, visible date and time between the headline and the article text. Prevent other dates from appearing on the page whenever possible, such as for related stories.
    • Use structured data: Use the datePublished and dateModified schema and use the correct time zone designator for AMP or non-AMP pages
  • Avoid artificially freshening stories: If an article has been substantially changed, it can make sense to give it a fresh date and time. However, don't artificially freshen a story without adding significant information or some other compelling reason for the freshening. Also, do not create a very slightly updated story from one previously published, then delete the old story and redirect to the new one. That's against our article URLs guidelines.

Duplicate content

Google News seeks to reward independent, original journalistic content by giving credit to the originating publisher, as both users and publishers would prefer. This means we try not to allow duplicate content—which includes scraped, rewritten, or republished material—to perform better than the original content. In line with this, these are guidelines publishers should follow:

  • Block scraped content: Scraping commonly refers to taking material from another site, often on an automated basis. Sites that scrape content must block scraped content from Google News.
  • Block rewritten content: Rewriting refers to taking material from another site, then rewriting that material so that it is not identical. Sites that rewrite content in a way that provides no substantial or clear added value must block that rewritten content from Google News. This includes, but is not limited to, rewrites that make only very slight changes or those that make many word replacements but still keep the original article's overall meaning.
  • Block or consider canonical for republished content: Republishing refers to when a publisher has permission from another publisher or author to republish an original work, such as material from wire services or in partnership with other publications.
    Publishers that allow others to republish content can help ensure that their original versions perform better in Google News by asking those republishing to block or make use of canonical.
    Google News also encourages those that republish material to consider proactively blocking such content or making use of the canonical, so that we can better identify the original content and credit it appropriately.
  • Avoid duplicate content: If you operate a network of news sites that share content, the advice above about republishing is applicable to your network. Select what you consider to be the original article and consider blocking duplicates or making use of the canonical to point to the original.

Transparency


  • Be transparent: Visitors to your site want to trust and understand who publishes it and information about those who have written articles. That's why our content guidelines stress that content should have posts with clear bylines, information about authors, and contact information for the publication.
  • Don't be deceptive: Our content policies do not allow sites or accounts that impersonate any person or organization, or that misrepresent or conceal their ownership or primary purpose. We do not allow sites or accounts that engage in coordinated activity to mislead users. This includes, but isn't limited to, sites or accounts that misrepresent or conceal their country of origin or that direct content at users in another country under false premises.

More tips


  • Avoid taking part in link schemes: Don't participate in link schemes, which can include large-scale article marketing programs or selling links that pass PageRank. Review our page on link schemes for more information.
  • Use structured for rich presentation: Both those using AMP and non-AMP pages can make use of structured data to optimize your content for rich results or carousel-like presentations.
  • Protect your users and their data: Consider securing every page of your website with HTTPS to protect the integrity and confidentiality of the data users exchange on your site. You can find more useful tips in our best practices on how to implement HTTPS.

Here's to a great 2019!

We hope these tips help publishers succeed in Google News over the coming year. For those who have more questions about Google News, we are unable to do one-to-one support. However, we do monitor our Google News Publisher Forum—which has been newly-revamped—and try to provide guidance on questions that might help a number of publishers all at once. The forum is also a great resource where publishers share tips and advice with each other.

An update on the Google Webmaster Central blog comments

For every train there's a passenger, but it turns out comments are not our train.

Over the years we read thousands of comments we've received on our blog posts on the Google Webmaster Central blog. Sometimes they were extremely thoughtful, other times they made us laugh out loud, but most of the time they were off-topic or even outright spammy; if you think about it, the latter is rather ironic, considering this is the Google Webmaster Blog.

Effective today, we're closing the commenting feature on the Google Webmaster Central blog. Instead of reading the comments here on the blog, we're going to focus on interacting with the community on our other channels. For all of our subsequent posts, if you have comments, feedback, or funny stories, you can find us in our help forums or on Twitter.

Posted by Gary, House elf

2018, celebrating our global Webmaster community

2018 has been a very important year for our webmaster support community. What has happened? There’s been a program rebranding, a global summit, and loads of community hangouts.


In October, the former Top Contributors became Gold Product Experts, and the Rising Stars, Silver Product Experts. This rebranding happened throughout all of the product forums and these are some of the new badges and names:
Silver Product Expert: Newer members who are developing their product knowledge
Gold Product Expert: Trusted members who are knowledgeable and active contributors


In November, we invited all of our Gold Product Experts from every Google help forum (such as Blogger or Google My Business) to a global summit. This meetup happened in the Google campus in Sunnyvale, California. Out of the almost 550 attendees from all over the world, around 70 were Webmaster Gold Product Experts. Coming from 25 different countries, this was the second biggest community that attended the event. Later that month, another very successful meetup took place in Moscow, gathering 23 Russian speaking Product Experts (of which 10 were Webmasters).

Gold Webmaster Product Experts at this year’s global summit in Sunnyvale.

Many of the attendees acknowledged that this “was a really valuable time”, that the “sessions were very insightful and interesting” and that “the entire event was fantastic!”.


This knowledgeable group of super users provides invaluable help in 16 languages to more than 2 million users a year, about everything related to Search, Structured Data or Search Console in the forums.


And what is the profile of our community? Many of our Product Experts (Silver and Gold) are site owners who started out on the Webmaster forums (some more than a decade ago) by asking questions about their own sites. After their issues were fixed, most of them stayed to give back to the community, as they realized that their expertise could be of use to others. We want to thank all of our experts for their dedication and constant knowledge sharing to help users who are having trouble with their websites.


Throughout the year, we’ve held 75 live office hours hangouts on the Webmaster YouTube channel, in English, Japanese, German, Hindi, French, and we’ve also kick started the calls in Spanish. On those hangouts, anyone can raise their questions to the Google team directly and interact with one another.


If you’re interested in joining the community, meeting everyone and helping other users on the Webmaster forums, you can learn more on the Product Experts program website. We are always excited to meet users from diverse backgrounds and skill-sets!


Looking forward to what 2019 will bring to our community... And looking forward to meeting you!




Written by Aurora Morales, Trust & Safety Outreach team

Mobile-First indexing, structured data, images, and your site

It's been two years since we started working on "mobile-first indexing" - crawling the web with smartphone Googlebot, similar to how most users access it. We've seen websites across the world embrace the mobile web, making fantastic websites that work on all kinds of devices. There's still a lot to do, but today, we're happy to announce that we now use mobile-first indexing for over half of the pages shown in search results globally.

Checking for mobile-first indexing

In general, we move sites to mobile-first indexing when our tests assure us that they're ready. When we move sites over, we notify the site owner through a message in Search Console. It's possible to confirm this by checking the server logs, where a majority of the requests should be from Googlebot Smartphone. Even easier, the URL inspection tool allows a site owner to check how a URL from the site (it's usually enough to check the homepage) was last crawled and indexed.

If your site uses responsive design techniques, you should be all set! For sites that aren't using responsive web design, we've seen two kinds of issues come up more frequently in our evaluations:

Missing structured data on mobile pages

Structured data is very helpful to better understand the content on your pages, and allows us to highlight your pages in fancy ways in the search results. If you use structured data on the desktop versions of your pages, you should have the same structured data on the mobile versions of the pages. This is important because with mobile-first indexing, we'll only use the mobile version of your page for indexing, and will otherwise miss the structured data.

Testing your pages in this regard can be tricky. We suggest testing for structured data in general, and then comparing that to the mobile version of the page. For the mobile version, check the source code when you simulate a mobile device, or use the HTML generated with the mobile-friendly testing tool. Note that a page does not need to be mobile-friendly in order to be considered for mobile-first indexing.

Missing alt-text for images on mobile pages

The value of alt-attributes on images ("alt-text") is a great way to describe images to users with screen-readers (which are used on mobile too!), and to search engine crawlers. Without alt-text for images, it's a lot harder for Google Images to understand the context of images that you use on your pages.

Check "img" tags in the source code of the mobile version for representative pages of your website. As above, the source of the mobile version can be seen by either using the browser to simulate a mobile device, or by using the Mobile-Friendly test to check the Googlebot rendered version. Search the source code for "img" tags, and double-check that your page is providing appropriate alt-attributes for any that you want to have findable in Google Images.

For example, that might look like this:

With alt-text (good!):
<img src="cute-puppies.png" alt="A photo of cute puppies on a blanket">

Without alt-text:
<img src="sad-puppies.png">

It's fantastic to see so many great websites that work well on mobile! We're looking forward to being able to index more and more of the web using mobile-first indexing, helping more users to search the web in the same way that they access it: with a smartphone. We’ll continue to monitor and evaluate this change carefully. If you have any questions, please drop by our Webmaster forums or our public events.


Why & how to secure your website with the HTTPS protocol

A few days ago, Fatih Ozkosemen and I led an episode of the AdSense On Air series. This program consists of monthly videos which cover many topics of interest to online publishers (we recommend you sign up if you use Google AdSense). The November 2018 version was dedicated to HTTPS migrations.

You can find the whole session, about one hour long, in this video:





The video covers the following topics:
  • What HTTPS encryption is, and why it is important to protect your visitors and yourself,
  • How HTTPS enables a more modern web,
  • What are the usual complaints about HTTPS, and are they still true today?
    • “But HTTPS certificates cost so much money!”
    • “But switching to HTTPS will destroy my SEO!”
    • “But “mixed content” is such a headache!”
    • “But my ad revenue will get destroyed!”
    • “But HTTPS is sooooo sloooow!"
  • Some practical advice to run the migration. Those are an aggregation of:

We hope that this sort of content is useful. Don’t hesitate to let us know if you like it and if we should do more! You can reach out to us directly on Twitter (Vincent & Fatih). Let us know which topics are of interest to you by commenting here or on the YouTube page. If you have questions when you plan your own HTTPS migration, don’t hesitate to ask in our Webmaster Help Forums.

Posted by Vincent Courson, Search Outreach Specialist

Introducing the Indexing API and structured data for livestreams

Over the past few years, it's become easier than ever to stream live videos online, from celebrity updates to special events. But it's not always easy for people to determine which videos are live and know when to tune in.
Today, we're introducing new tools to help more people discover your livestreams in Search and Assistant. With livestream structured data and the Indexing API, you can let Google know when your video is live, so it will be eligible to appear with a red "live" badge:

Add livestream structured data to your page

If your website streams live videos, use the livestream developer documentation to flag your video as a live broadcast and mark the start and end times. In addition, VideoObject structured data is required to tell Google that there's a video on your page.

Update Google quickly with the Indexing API

The Indexing API now supports pages with livestream structured data. We encourage you to call the Indexing API to request that your site is crawled in time for the livestream. We recommend calling the Indexing API when your livestream begins and ends, and if the structured data changes.
For more information, visit our developer documentation. If you have any questions, ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum. We look forward to seeing your live videos on Google!

Rich Results expands for Question & Answer pages

People come to Google seeking information about all kinds of questions.
Frequently, the information they're looking for is on sites where users ask and answer each other's questions. Popular social news sites, expert forums, and help and support message boards are all examples of this pattern.

A screenshot of an example search result for a page titled “Why do touchscreens sometimes register a touch when ...” with a preview of the top answers from the page.
In order to help users better identify which search results may give the best information about their question, we have developed a new rich result type for question and answer sites. Search results for eligible Q&A pages display a preview of the top answers. This new presentation helps site owners reach the right users for their content and helps users get the relevant information about their questions faster.
A screenshot of an example search result for a page titled “Why do touchscreens sometimes register a touch when ...” with a preview of the top answers from the page.

To be eligible for this feature, add Q&A structured data to your pages with Q&A content. Be sure to use the Structured Data Testing Tool to see if your page is eligible and to preview the appearance in search results. You can also check out Search Console to see aggregate stats and markup error examples. The Performance report also tells you which queries show your Q&A Rich Result in Search results, and how these change over time.
If you have any questions, ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum or reach out on Twitter!