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Newsfeeds from around the industry
Google Webmaster Central Blog
Official news on crawling and indexing sites for the Google index.

  • Helping users fill out online forms

    A lot of websites rely on forms for important goals completion, such as completing a transaction on a shopping site or registering on a news site. For many users, online forms mean repeatedly typing common information like their names, emails, phone numbers or addresses, on different sites across the web. In addition to being tedious, this task is also error-prone, which can lead many users to abandon the flow entirely. In a world where users browse the internet using their mobile devices more than their laptops or desktops, having forms that are easy and quick to fill out is crucial! Three years ago, we announced the support for a new “autocomplete” attribute in Chrome, to make form-filling faster, easier and smarter. Now, Chrome fully supports the "autocomplete" attribute for form fields according to the current WHATWG HTML Standard. This allows webmasters and web developers to label input element fields with common data types, such as ‘name’ or ‘street-address’, without changing the user interface or the backend. Numerous webmasters have increased the rate of form completions on their sites by marking up their forms for auto-completion.

    For example, marking up an email address field on a form to allow auto-completion would look like this (with a full sample form available):

    <input type="email" name="customerEmail" autocomplete="email"/>

    Making websites friendly and easy to browse for users on mobile devices is very important. We hope to see many forms marked up with the “autocomplete” attribute in the future. For more information, you can check out our specifications about Label and name inputs in Web Fundamentals. And as usual, if you have any questions, please post in our Webmasters Help Forums.

    Posted by Mathieu Perreault, Chrome Software Engineer, and Zineb Ait Bahajji, Webmaster Trends Analyst



  • An update on doorway pages
    Google’s Search Quality team is continually working on ways in which to minimize the impact of webspam on users. This includes doorway pages.

    We have a long-standing view that doorway pages that are created solely for search engines can harm the quality of the user’s search experience.

    For example, searchers might get a list of results that all go to the same site. So if a user clicks on one result, doesn't like it, and then tries the next result in the search results page and is taken to that same site that they didn't like, that's a really frustrating experience.

    Over time, we've seen sites try to maximize their “search footprint” without adding clear, unique value. These doorway campaigns manifest themselves as pages on a site, as a number of domains, or a combination thereof. To improve the quality of search results for our users, we’ll soon launch a ranking adjustment to better address these types of pages. Sites with large and well-established doorway campaigns might see a broad impact from this change.

    To help webmasters better understand our guidelines, we've added clarifying examples and freshened our definition of doorway pages in our Quality Guidelines.

    Here are questions to ask of pages that could be seen as doorway pages:
    • Is the purpose to optimize for search engines and funnel visitors into the actual usable or relevant portion of your site, or are they an integral part of your site’s user experience?
    • Are the pages intended to rank on generic terms yet the content presented on the page is very specific?
    • Do the pages duplicate useful aggregations of items (locations, products, etc.) that already exist on the site for the purpose of capturing more search traffic?
    • Are these pages made solely for drawing affiliate traffic and sending users along without creating unique value in content or functionality?
    • Do these pages exist as an “island?” Are they difficult or impossible to navigate to from other parts of your site? Are links to such pages from other pages within the site or network of sites created just for search engines?
    If you have questions or feedback about doorway pages, please visit our webmaster help forum.

    Posted by Brian White, Google Webspam Team


  • Deprecation of the old Webmaster Tools API

    Last fall we announced the new Webmaster Tools API, which helps you to automate a number of important aspects using code. With the pending shutdown of ClientLogin, we're going to turn down the old Webmaster Tools API on April 20, 2015.  

    If you're still using the old API, getting started with the new one is fairly easy. The new API covers everything from the old version except for messages and keywords. We have examples in Python, Java, as well as OACurl (for command-line fans & quick testing).  Additionally, there's the Site Verification API to add sites programmatically to your account. The Python search query data download will continue to be available for the moment, and replaced by an API in the upcoming quarters.

    As always, should you have any questions, feel free to comment here, or post in our Webmaster Help Forum.


    Posted by John Mueller, fan of command lines & APIs, Google Zuerich


  • Unblocking resources with Webmaster Tools

    Webmasters often use linked images, CSS, and JavaScript files in web pages to make them pretty and functional. If these resources are blocked from crawling, then Googlebot can't use them when it renders those pages for search. Google Webmaster Tools now includes a Blocked Resources Report to help you find and resolve these kinds of issues.

    This report starts with the names of the hosts from which your site is using blocked resources such as JavaScript, CSS, and images. Clicking on the rows gives you the list of blocked resources and then the pages that embed them, guiding you through the steps to diagnose and resolve how we're able to crawl and index the page's content.

    An update to Fetch and Render shows how these blocked resources matter. When you request a URL be fetched and rendered, it now shows screenshots rendered both as Googlebot and as a typical user. This makes it easier to recognize the issues that significantly influence why your pages are seen differently by Googlebot.

    Webmaster Tools attempts to show you only the hosts that you might have influence over, so at the moment, we won't show hosts that are used by many different sites  (such as popular analytics services). Because it can be time-consuming (usually not for technical reasons!) to update all robots.txt files, we recommend starting with the resources that make the most important visual difference when blocked. Our Help Center article has more information on the steps involved.

    We hope this new feature makes it easier for you to spot and then unblock resources used by your website! Should you have any questions, feel free to drop by our webmaster help forums.

    Posted by John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst, Google Switzerland


  • Easier website development with Web Components and JSON-LD

    JSON-LD is a JSON-based data format that can be used to implement structured data describing content on your site to Google and other search engines. For example, if you have a list of events, cafes, people or more, you can include this data in your pages in a structured way using the schema.org vocabulary embedded in webpages as a JSON-LD snippet. The structured data helps Google understand your pages better and highlight your content in search features, such events in the Knowledge Graph and rich snippets.

    Web Components are a nascent set of technologies to define custom, reusable user interface widgets and their behavior. Any web developer can build a Web Component. You start by defining a template for a distinct part of the user interface, which you import into the pages on which you want to use the Web Component. A Custom Element is used to define the behavior of the Web Component. Because you’re bundling the display and logic for part of the user interface into the Web Component, you can share and reuse the bundle on other pages and with other developers, thus simplifying web development.

    JSON-LD and Web Components work really well together. The Custom Element functions as the presentation layer and the JSON-LD functions as the data layer that the custom element and search engines consume. This means you can build custom elements for any schema.org type, such as schema.org/Event and schema.org/LocalBusiness.

    Your architecture would then look like this. Your structured data is stored in your database, for example, the store locations in your chain. This data is embedded into your webpage as a JSON-LD snippet, which means it’s available to be consumed by the Custom Element to display to a human visitor and for Googlebot to retrieve for Google indexing.

    To learn more and get started with your own custom elements, please see:

    Posted by Ewa Gasperowicz, Developer Programs Engineer, Mano Marks, Developer Advocate, Pierre Far, Webmaster Trends Analyst


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