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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 easily access content on mobile

    In Google Search, our goal is to help users quickly find the best answers to their questions, regardless of the device they’re using. Today, we’re announcing two upcoming changes to mobile search results that make finding content easier for users.

    Simplifying mobile search results

    Two years ago, we added a mobile-friendly label to help users find pages where the text and content was readable without zooming and the tap targets were appropriately spaced. Since then, we’ve seen the ecosystem evolve and we recently found that 85% of all pages in the mobile search results now meet this criteria and show the mobile-friendly label. To keep search results uncluttered, we’ll be removing the label, although the mobile-friendly criteria will continue to be a ranking signal. We’ll continue providing the mobile usability report in Search Console and the mobile-friendly test to help webmasters evaluate the effect of the mobile-friendly signal on their pages.

    Helping users find the content they’re looking for

    Although the majority of pages now have text and content on the page that is readable without zooming, we’ve recently seen many examples where these pages show intrusive interstitials to users. While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result.

    Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller. To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.

    Here are some examples of techniques that make content less accessible to a user:

    • Showing a popup that covers the main content, either immediately after the user navigates to a page from the search results, or while they are looking through the page.
    • Displaying a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before accessing the main content.
    • Using a layout where the above-the-fold portion of the page appears similar to a standalone interstitial, but the original content has been inlined underneath the fold.

    Examples of interstitials that make content less accessible


    An example of an intrusive popup

    An example of an intrusive standalone interstitial

    Another example of an intrusive standalone interstitial

     

    By contrast, here are some examples of techniques that, used responsibly, would not be affected by the new signal:

    • Interstitials that appear to be in response to a legal obligation, such as for cookie usage or for age verification.
    • Login dialogs on sites where content is not publicly indexable. For example, this would include private content such as email or unindexable content that is behind a paywall.
    • Banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space and are easily dismissible. For example, the app install banners provided by Safari and Chrome are examples of banners that use a reasonable amount of screen space.

    Examples of interstitials that would not be affected by the new signal, if used responsibly


    An example of an interstitial for cookie usage

    An example of an interstitial for age verification

    An example of a banner that uses a reasonable amount of screen space

     

    We previously explored a signal that checked for interstitials that ask a user to install a mobile app. As we continued our development efforts, we saw the need to broaden our focus to interstitials more generally. Accordingly, to avoid duplication in our signals, we've removed the check for app-install interstitials from the mobile-friendly test and have incorporated it into this new signal in Search.

    Remember, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please visit our webmaster forums.


    Posted by Doantam Phan, Product Manager


  • Promote your local businesses reviews with schema.org markup
    Since the launch of critic reviews last year, we have been focused on supporting more types of reviews, like restaurant reviews, cafes, or any other type of a local business. Recently we’ve announced the availability of critic reviews for local businesses. By incorporating structured data to their sites, publishers can promote their content on local Knowledge Graph cards and users can enjoy a range of reviews and opinions.

    Critic reviews are available across mobile, tablet and desktop, allowing publishers to increase the visibility of their reviews and expose their reviews to new audiences, whenever a local Knowledge Graph card is surfaced. English reviews for businesses in the US are already supported and we’ll very soon support many other languages and countries.

    Publishers with critic reviews for local entities can get up and running by selecting snippets of reviews from their sites and annotating them and the associated business with schema.org markup. This process, detailed in our critic reviews markup instructions, allows publishers to communicate to Google which snippet they prefer, what URL is associated with the review and other metadata about the local business that allows us to ensure that we’re showing the right review for the right entity.

    Google can understand a variety of markup formats, including the JSON-LD data format, which makes it easier than ever to incorporate structured data about reviews into webpages! Publishers can get started here. And as always, if you have any questions, please visit our webmaster forums.

    Posted by Jaeho Kang, Software Engineer


  • AMP your content - A Preview of AMP'ed results in Search

    It's 2016 and it's hard to believe that browsing the web on a mobile phone can still feel so slow with users abandoning sites that just don't load quickly. To us — and many in the industry — it was clear that something needed to change. That was why we started working with the Accelerated Mobile Pages Project, an open source initiative to improve the mobile web experience for everyone.

    Less than six months ago, we started sending people to AMP pages in the “Top stories” section of the Google Search Results page on mobile phones. Since then, we’ve seen incredible global adoption of AMP that has gone beyond the news industry to include e-commerce, entertainment, travel, recipe sites and so on. To date we have more than 150 million AMP docs in our index, with over 4 million new ones being added every week. As a result, today we’re sharing an early preview of our expanded AMP support across the entire search results page --not just the “Top stories” section.

    To clarify, this is not a ranking change for sites. As a result of the growth of AMP beyond publishers, we wanted to make it easier for people to access this faster experience. The preview shows an experience where web results that that have AMP versions are labeled with The AMP Logo. When you tap on these results, you will be directed to the corresponding AMP page within the AMP viewer.


    AMP in Search Preview

    Try it out for yourself on your mobile device by navigating to g.co/ampdemo. Once you’re in the demo, search for something like “french toast recipe” or music lyrics by your favorite artist to experience how AMP can provide a speedier reading experience on the mobile web. The “Who” page on AMPProject.org has a flavor of some of the sites already creating AMP content.

    We’re starting with a preview to get feedback from users, developers and sites so that we can create a better Search experience when we make this feature more broadly available later this year. In addition, we want to give everyone who might be interested in “AMPing up” their content enough time to learn how to implement AMP and to see how their content appears in the demo. And beyond developing AMP pages, we invite everyone to get involved and contribute to the AMP Project.

    We can’t wait to hear from you as we work together to speed up the web. And as always, if you have any questions, please visit our webmaster forums.


    Posted by Nick Zukoski, Software Engineer


  • More security notifications via Google Analytics
    Over a year ago, we launched Safe Browsing alerts in Google Analytics to warn users about websites identified as compromised and being used for distributing malware or phishing attacks. Since launch, we’ve alerted more than 24,000 Google Analytics property owners whose websites had been compromised by 3rd parties.

    Today, we’re happy to announce that we’ll be expanding our set of alerts in Google Analytics by adding notifications about sites hacked for spam in violation of our Webmaster Guidelines. In the unlikely event of your site being compromised by a 3rd party, the alert will flag the affected domain right within the Google Analytics UI and will point you to resources to help you resolve the issue.
                                           An example of a Google Analytics alert for a compromised site.

    Website security is still something to take very seriously. In September of last year, we shared that we’d seen a 180% increase in sites getting hacked for spam compared to the previous year. Our research has shown that direct contact with website owners increases the likelihood of remediation to over 75%. This new alert gives us an additional method for letting website owners know that their site may be compromised.

    What can you do to prevent your site being compromised?


    Prevention plays an important role in keeping your site, and your users, safe. We’ve recently published tips and best practices to protect your content on the web, we recommend them to any site, large or small.

    Verify your site on Search Console.

    Aside from receiving alerts in Google Analytics or via Search results labels when your site is compromised, we recommend taking the extra step to verify your site in Search Console.

    The Security Issues feature will alert you when things don’t look good and will pin-point the issues we’ve uncovered on your properties. We have detailed a recovery journey in our hacked step-by-step recovery guide to help you resolve the issue and keep your website and users safe.

    We’re always looking for ideas and feedback—feel free to use the comments section below. For any support questions, visit google.com/webmasters and our support communities available in 14 languages.

    Posted by Giacomo Gnecchi Ruscone, Search Outreach and Anthony Medeiros, Google Analytics


  • Search at I/O 16 Recap: Eight things you don't want to miss

    Cross-posted from the Google Developers Blog

    Two weeks ago, over 7,000 developers descended upon Mountain View for this year’s Google I/O, with a takeaway that it’s truly an exciting time for Search. People come to Google billions of times per day to fulfill their daily information needs. We’re focused on creating features and tools that we believe will help users and publishers make the most of Search in today’s world. As Google continues to evolve and expand to new interfaces, such as the Google assistant and Google Home, we want to make it easy for publishers to integrate and grow with Google.

    In case you didn’t have a chance to attend all our sessions, we put together a recap of all the Search happenings at I/O.

    1: Introducing rich cards

    We announced rich cards, a new Search result format building on rich snippets, that uses schema.org markup to display content in an even more engaging and visual format. Rich cards are available in English for recipes and movies and we’re excited to roll out for more content categories soon. To learn more, browse the new gallery with screenshots and code samples of each markup type or watch our rich cards devByte.

    2: New Search Console reports

    We want to make it easy for webmasters and developers to track and measure their performance in search results. We launched a new report in Search Console to help developers confirm that their rich card markup is valid. In the report we highlight “enhanceable cards,” which are cards that can benefit from marking up more fields. The new Search Appearance filter also makes it easy for webmasters to filter their traffic by AMP and rich cards.

    3: Real-time indexing

    Users are searching for more than recipes and movies: they’re often coming to Search to find fresh information about what’s happening right now. This insight kickstarted our efforts to use real-time indexing to connect users searching for real-time events with fresh content. Instead of waiting for content to be crawled and indexed, publishers will be able to use the Google Indexing API to trigger the indexing of their content in real time. It’s still in its early days, but we’re excited to launch a pilot later this summer.

    3: Getting up to speed with Accelerated Mobile Pages

    We provided an update on our use of AMP, an open source effort to speed up the mobile web. Google Search uses AMP to enable instant-loading content. Speed is important---over 40% of users abandon a page that takes more than three seconds to load. We announced that we’re bringing AMPed news carousels to the iOS and Android Google apps, as well as experimenting with combining AMP and rich cards. Stay tuned for more via our blog and github page.

    In addition to the sessions, attendees could talk directly with Googlers at the Search & AMP sandbox.

    5: A new and improved Structured Data Testing Tool

    We updated the popular Structured Data Testing tool. The tool is now tightly integrated with the DevSite Search Gallery and the new Search Preview service, which lets you preview how your rich cards will look on the search results page.

    6: App Indexing got a new home (and new features)

    We announced App Indexing’s migration to Firebase, Google’s unified developer platform. Watch the session to learn how to grow your app with Firebase App Indexing.

    7: App streaming

    App streaming is a new way for Android users to try out games without having to download and install the app -- and it’s already available in Google Search. Check out the session to learn more.

    8. Revamped documentation

    We also revamped our developer documentation, organizing our docs around topical guides to make it easier to follow.

    Thanks to all who came to I/O -- it’s always great to talk directly with developers and hear about experiences first-hand. And whether you came in person or tuned in from afar, let’s continue the conversation on the webmaster forum or during our office hours, hosted weekly via hangouts-on-air.

    Posted by Posted by Fabian Schlup, Software Engineer


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