Tag Archives: search results

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!

Introducing the Indexing API for job posting URLs

Last June we launched a job search experience that has since connected tens of millions of job seekers around the world with relevant job opportunities from third party providers across the web. Timely indexing of new job content is critical because many jobs are filled relatively quickly. Removal of expired postings is important because nothing's worse than finding a great job only to discover it's no longer accepting applications.

Today we're releasing the Indexing API to address this problem. This API allows any site owner to directly notify Google when job posting pages are added or removed. This allows Google to schedule job postings for a fresh crawl, which can lead to higher quality user traffic and job applicant satisfaction. Currently, the Indexing API can only be used for job posting pages that include job posting structured data.

For websites with many short-lived pages like job postings, the Indexing API keeps job postings fresh in Search results because it allows updates to be pushed individually. This API can be integrated into your job posting flow, allowing high quality job postings to be searchable quickly after publication. In addition, you can check the last time Google received each kind of notification for a given URL.

Follow the Quickstart guide to see how the Indexing API works. If you have any questions, ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum. We look forward to hearing from you!

We updated our job posting guidelines

Last year, we launched job search on Google to connect more people with jobs. When you provide Job Posting structured data, it helps drive more relevant traffic to your page by connecting job seekers with your content. To ensure that job seekers are getting the best possible experience, it's important to follow our Job Posting guidelines.

We've recently made some changes to our Job Posting guidelines to help improve the job seeker experience.

  • Remove expired jobs
  • Place structured data on the job's detail page
  • Make sure all job details are present in the job description

Remove expired jobs

When job seekers put in effort to find a job and apply, it can be very discouraging to discover that the job that they wanted is no longer available. Sometimes, job seekers only discover that the job posting is expired after deciding to apply for the job. Removing expired jobs from your site may drive more traffic because job seekers are more confident when jobs that they visit on your site are still open for application. For more information on how to remove a job posting, see Remove a job posting.


Place structured data on the job's detail page

Job seekers find it confusing when they land on a list of jobs instead of the specific job's detail page. To fix this, put structured data on the most detailed leaf page possible. Don't add structured data to pages intended to present a list of jobs (for example, search result pages) and only add it to the most specific page describing a single job with its relevant details.

Make sure all job details are present in the job description

We've also noticed that some sites include information in the JobPosting structured data that is not present anywhere in the job posting. Job seekers are confused when the job details they see in Google Search don't match the job description page. Make sure that the information in the JobPosting structured data always matches what's on the job posting page. Here are some examples:

  • If you add salary information to the structured data, then also add it to the job posting. Both salary figures should match.
  • The location in the structured data should match the location in the job posting.

Providing structured data content that is consistent with the content of the job posting pages not only helps job seekers find the exact job that they were looking for, but may also drive more relevant traffic to your job postings and therefore increase the chances of finding the right candidates for your jobs.

If your site violates the Job Posting guidelines (including the guidelines in this blog post), we may take manual action against your site and it may not be eligible for display in the jobs experience on Google Search. You can submit a reconsideration request to let us know that you have fixed the problem(s) identified in the manual action notification. If your request is approved, the manual action will be removed from your site or page.

For more information, visit our Job Posting developer documentation and our JobPosting FAQ.

Using page speed in mobile search ranking

People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.

The “Speed Update,” as we’re calling it, will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users and will only affect a small percentage of queries. It applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.

We encourage developers to think broadly how about performance affects a user’s experience of their page and to consider a variety of user experience metrics. Although there is no tool that directly indicates whether a page is affected by this new ranking factor, here are some resources that can be used to evaluate a page’s performance.

  • Chrome User Experience Report, a public dataset of key user experience metrics for popular destinations on the web, as experienced by Chrome users under real-world conditions
  • Lighthouse, an automated tool and a part of Chrome Developer Tools for auditing the quality (performance, accessibility, and more) of web pages
  • PageSpeed Insights, a tool that indicates how well a page performs on the Chrome UX Report and suggests performance optimizations

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please visit our webmaster forums.

Rendering AJAX-crawling pages

The AJAX crawling scheme was introduced as a way of making JavaScript-based webpages accessible to Googlebot, and we've previously announced our plans to turn it down. Over time, Google engineers have significantly improved rendering of JavaScript for Googlebot. Given these advances, in the second quarter of 2018, we'll be switching to rendering these pages on Google's side, rather than on requiring that sites do this themselves. In short, we'll no longer be using the AJAX crawling scheme.

As a reminder, the AJAX crawling scheme accepts pages with either a "#!" in the URL or a "fragment meta tag" on them, and then crawls them with an "?_escaped_fragment_=" in the URL. That escaped version needs to be a fully-rendered and/or equivalent version of the page, created by the website itself.

With this change, Googlebot will render the #! URL directly, making it unnecessary for the website owner to provide a rendered version of the page. We'll continue to support these URLs in our search results.

We expect that most AJAX-crawling websites won't see significant changes with this update. Webmasters can double-check their pages as detailed below, and we'll be sending notifications to any sites with potential issues.

If your site is currently using either #! URLs or the fragment meta tag, we recommend:

  • Verify ownership of the website in Google Search Console to gain access to the tools there, and to allow Google to notify you of any issues that might be found.
  • Test with Search Console's Fetch & Render. Compare the results of the #! URL and the escaped URL to see any differences. Do this for any significantly different part of the website. Check our developer documentation for more information on supported APIs, and see our debugging guide when needed.
  • Use Chrome's Inspect Element to confirm that links use "a" HTML elements and include a rel=nofollow where appropriate (for example, in user-generated content)
  • Use Chrome's Inspect Element to check the page's title and description meta tag, any robots meta tag, and other meta data. Also check that any structured data is available on the rendered page.
  • Content in Flash, Silverlight, or other plugin-based technologies needs to be converted to either JavaScript or "normal" HTML, if their content should be indexed in search.

We hope that this change makes it a bit easier for your website, and reduces the need to render pages on your end. Should you have any questions or comments, feel free to drop by our webmaster help forums, or to join our JavaScript sites working group.


A reminder about “event” markup

Lately we’ve been receiving feedback from users seeing non-events like coupons or vouchers showing up in search results where “events” snippets appear. This is really confusing for users and also against our guidelines, where we have added additional clarification.

So, what’s the problem?

We’ve seen a number of  publishers in the coupons/vouchers space use the “event” markup to describe their offers. And as much as using a discount voucher can be a very special thing, that doesn’t make coupons or vouchers events or “saleEvents”. Using Event markup to describe something that is not an event creates a bad user experience, by triggering a rich result for something that will happen at a particular time, despite no actual event being present.

Here are some examples to illustrate the issue:

Since this creates a misleading user experience, we may take manual action on such cases. In case your website is affected by such a manual action, you will find a notification in your Search Console account. If a manual action is taken, it can result in structured data markup for the whole site not being used for search results.  

While we’re specifically highlighting coupons and vouchers in this blogpost, this applies to all other non-event items being annotated with “event” markup as well -- or, really, for applying a type of markup to something other than the type of thing it is meant to describe.

For more information, please visit our developer documentation or stop by our Webmaster Forum in case you have additional questions!


Engaging users through high quality AMP pages

To improve our users' experience with AMP results, we are making changes to how we enforce our policy on content parity with AMP. Starting Feb 1, 2018, the policy requires that the AMP page content be comparable to the (original) canonical page content. AMP is not a ranking signal and there is no change in terms of the ranking policy with respect to AMP.

The open source accelerated mobile pages project (AMP) launched in 2015 and has seen tremendous growth with over 25M domains having implemented the AMP format. This rapid progress comes with a sense of responsibility of ensuring that our users continue to have a great content consumption experience that ultimately leads to more engagement with publisher content.

In some cases, webmasters publish two versions of their content: a canonical page that is not based on AMP and an AMP page. In the ideal scenario, both these pages have equivalent content leading the user to get the same content but with a faster and smoother experience via AMP.  However, in some cases the content on the AMP page does not match the content on its original (canonical) page.

In a small number of cases, AMP pages are used as teaser pages which create a particularly bad user experience since they only contain minimal content. In these instances, users have to click twice to get to the real content. Below is an example of how this may look like: a brief text of the main article and then asking the user to click to visit another page to complete reading the article.

AMP was introduced to dramatically improve the performance of the web and deliver a fast, consistent content consumption experience. In keeping with this goal, we'll be enforcing the requirement of close parity between AMP and canonical page, for pages that wish to be shown in Google Search as AMPs.

Where we find that an AMP page doesn't contain the same critical content as its non-AMP equivalent, we will direct our users to the non-AMP page. This does not affect Search ranking. However, these pages will not be considered for Search features that require AMP, such as the Top Stories carousel with AMP. Additionally, we will notify the webmaster via Search console as a manual action message and give the publisher the opportunity to fix the issue before its AMP page can be served again. The AMP open source website has several helpful guides to help produce fast, beautiful and high-performing AMP pages.

We hope this change encourages webmasters to maintain content parity between the canonical and AMP equivalent. This will lead to better experience on your site and ultimately happier users.


Make your site’s complete jobs information accessible to job seekers

In June, we announced a new experience that put the convenience of Search into the hands of job seekers. Today, we are taking the next step in improving the job search experience on Google by adding a feature that shows estimated salary information from the web alongside job postings, as well as adding new UI features for users.

Salary information has been one of the most requested additions from job seekers. This helps people evaluate whether a job is a good fit, and is an opportunity for sites with estimated salary information to:

  • Increase brand awareness: Estimated salary information shows a representative logo from the estimated salary provider.
  • Get more referral traffic: Users can click through directly to salary estimate pages when salary information surfaces in job search results.

If your site provides salary estimates, you can take advantage of these changes in the following ways:

Specify actual salary information

Actual salary refers to the base salary information that is provided by the employer. If your site publishes job listings, you can add JobPosting structured data and populate the baseSalary property to be eligible for inclusion in job search results.

This salary information will be made available in both the list and the detail views.

Provide estimated salary information

In cases where employers don’t provide actual salary, job seekers may see estimated salaries sourced from multiple partners for the same or similar occupation. If your site provides salary estimate information, you can add Occupation structured data to be eligible for inclusion in job search results.  

Include exact location information

We've heard from users that having accurate, street-level location information helps them to focus on opportunities that work best for them. Sites that publish job listings can do this can do this by using the jobLocation property in JobPosting structured data.

Validate your structured data

To double-check the structured data on your pages, we'll be updating the Structured Data Testing Tool and the Search Console reports in the near future. In the meantime, you can monitor the performance of your job postings in Search Analytics. Stay tuned!

Since launching this summer, we’ve seen over 60% growth in number of companies with jobs showing on Google and connected tens of millions of people to new job opportunities. We are excited to help users find jobs with salaries that meet their needs, and to route them to your site for more information. We invite sites that provide salary estimates to mark up their salary pages using the Occupation structured data. Should you have any questions regarding the use of structured data on your site, feel free to drop by our webmaster help forums.


Enabling more high quality content for users

In Google’s mission to organize the world's information, we want to guide Google users to the highest quality content, the principle exemplified in our quality rater guidelines. Professional publishers provide the lion’s share of quality content that benefits users and we want to encourage their success.

The ecosystem is sustained via two main sources of revenue: ads and subscriptions, with the latter requiring a delicate balance to be effective in Search. Typically subscription content is hidden behind paywalls, so that users who don’t have a subscription don’t have access. Our evaluations have shown that users who are not familiar with the high quality content behind a paywall often turn to other sites offering free content. It is difficult to justify a subscription if one doesn't already know how valuable the content is, and in fact, our experiments have shown that a portion of users shy away from subscription sites. Therefore, it is essential that sites provide some amount of free sampling of their content so that users can learn how valuable their content is.

The First Click Free (FCF) policy for both Google web search and News was designed to address this issue. It offers promotion and discovery opportunities for publishers with subscription content, while giving Google users an opportunity to discover that content. Over the past year, we have worked with publishers to investigate the effects of FCF on user satisfaction and on the sustainability of the publishing ecosystem. We found that while FCF is a reasonable sampling model, publishers are in a better position to determine what specific sampling strategy works best for them. Therefore, we are removing FCF as a requirement for Search, and we encourage publishers to experiment with different free sampling schemes, as long as they stay within the updated webmaster guidelines. We call this Flexible Sampling.

One of the original motivations for FCF is to address the issues surrounding cloaking, where the content served to Googlebot is different from the content served to users. Spammers often seek to game search engines by showing interesting content to the search engine, say healthy food recipes, but then showing users an offer for diet pills. This “bait and switch” scheme creates a bad user experience since users do not get the content they expected. Sites with paywalls are strongly encouraged to apply the new structured data to their pages, because without it, the paywall may be interpreted as a form of cloaking, and the pages would then be removed from search results.

Based on our investigations, we have created detailed best practices for implementing flexible sampling. There are two types of sampling we advise: metering, which provides users with a quota of free articles to consume, after which paywalls will start appearing; and lead-in, which offers a portion of an article’s content without it being shown in full.

For metering, we think that monthly (rather than daily) metering provides more flexibility and a safer environment for testing. The user impact of changing from one integer value to the next is less significant at, say, 10 monthly samples than at 3 daily samples. All publishers and their audiences are different, so there is no single value for optimal free sampling across publishers. However, we recommend that publishers start by providing 10 free clicks per month to Google search users in order to preserve a good user experience for new potential subscribers. Publishers should then experiment to optimize the tradeoff between discovery and conversion that works best for their businesses.

Lead-in is generally implemented as truncated content, such as the first few sentences or 50-100 words of the article. Lead-in allows users a taste of how valuable the content may be. Compared to a page with completely blocked content, lead-in clearly provides more utility and added value to users.

We are excited by this change as it allows the growth of the premium content ecosystem, which ultimately benefits users. We look forward to the prospect of serving users more high quality content!