Video: Expanding your site to more languages

Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced

We filmed a video providing more details about expanding your site to more languages or country-based language variations. The video covers details about rel=”alternate” hreflang and potential implementation on your multilingual and/or multinational site.

Video and slides on expanding your site to more languages

You can watch the entire video or skip to the relevant sections: Additional resources on hreflang include: Good luck as you expand your site to more languages!

Better backlink data for site owners

Webmaster level: intermediate

In recent years, our free Webmaster Tools product has provided roughly 100,000 backlinks when you click the "Download more sample links" button. Until now, we've selected those links primarily by lexicographical order. That meant that for some sites, you didn't get as complete of a picture of the site's backlinks because the link data skewed toward the beginning of the alphabet.

Based on feedback from the webmaster community, we're improving how we select these backlinks to give sites a fuller picture of their backlink profile. The most significant improvement you'll see is that most of the links are now sampled uniformly from the full spectrum of backlinks rather than alphabetically. You're also more likely to get example links from different top-level domains (TLDs) as well as from different domain names. The new links you see will still be sorted alphabetically.

Starting soon, when you download your data, you'll notice a much broader, more diverse cross-section of links. Site owners looking for insights into who recommends their content will now have a better overview of those links, and those working on cleaning up any bad linking practices will find it easier to see where to spend their time and effort.

Thanks for the feedback, and we'll keep working to provide helpful data and resources in Webmaster Tools. As always, please ask in our forums if you have any questions.

rel=”author” frequently asked (advanced) questions

Webmaster Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Using authorship helps searchers discover great information by highlighting content from authors who they might find interesting. If you’re an author, signing up for authorship will help users recognize content that you’ve written. Additionally, searchers can click the byline to see more articles you’ve authored or to follow you on Google+. It’s that simple! Well, except for several advanced questions that we’d like to help answer...

Authorship featured in search results from one of my favorite authors, John Mueller

Clicking the author’s byline in search results can reveal more articles and a Google+ profile

Recent authorship questions

1. What kind of pages can be used with authorship?
Good question! You can increase the likelihood that we show authorship for your site by only using authorship markup on pages that meet these criteria:
  • The URL/page contains a single article (or subsequent versions of the article) or single piece of content, by the same author. This means that the page isn’t a list of articles or an updating feed. If the author frequently switches on the page, then the annotation is no longer helpful to searchers and is less likely to be featured.
  • The URL/page consists primarily of content written by the author.
  • Showing a clear byline on the page, stating the author wrote the article and using the same name as used on their Google+ profile.
2. Can I use a company mascot as an author and have authorship annotation in search results? For my pest control business, I’d like to write as the “Pied Piper.”
You’re free to write articles in the manner you prefer -- your users may really like the Pied Piper idea. However, for authorship annotation in search results, Google prefers to feature a human who wrote the content. By doing so, authorship annotation better indicates that a search result is the perspective of a person, and this helps add credibility for searchers.

Again, because currently we want to feature people, link authorship markup to an individual’s profile rather than linking to a company’s Google+ Page.
3. If I use authorship on articles available in different languages, such as for English and for the French translation,
should I link to two separate author/Google+ profiles written in each language?

In your scenario, both articles:
should link to the same Google+ profile in the author’s language of choice.
4. Is it possible to add two authors for one article?
In the current search user interface, we only support one author per article, blog post, etc. We’re still experimenting to find the optimal outcome for searchers when more than one author is specified.
5. How can I prevent Google from showing authorship?
The fastest way to prevent authorship annotation is to make the author’s Google+ profile not discoverable in search results. Otherwise, if you still want to keep your profile in search results, then you can remove any profile or contributor links to the website, or remove the markup so that it no longer connects with your profile.
6. What’s the difference between rel=author vs rel=publisher?
rel=publisher helps a business create a shared identity by linking the business’ website (often from the homepage) to the business’ Google+ Page. rel=author helps individuals (authors!) associate their individual articles from a URL or website to their Google+ profile. While rel=author and rel=publisher are both link relationships, they’re actually completely independent of one another.
7. Can I use authorship on my site’s property listings or product pages since one of my employees has customized the description?
Authorship annotation is useful to searchers because it signals that a page conveys a real person’s perspective or analysis on a topic. Since property listings and product pages are less perspective/analysis oriented, we discourage using authorship in these cases. However, an article about products that provides helpful commentary, such as, “Camera X vs. Camera Y: Faceoff in the Arizona Desert” could have authorship.
If you have additional questions, don’t forget to check out (and even post your question if you don’t see it covered :) in the Webmaster Forum.

Making smartphone sites load fast

Webmaster level: Intermediate

Users tell us they use smartphones to search online because it’s quick and convenient, but today’s average mobile page typically takes more than 7 seconds to load. Wouldn’t it be great if mobile pages loaded in under one second? Today we’re announcing new guidelines and an updated PageSpeed Insights tool to help webmasters optimize their mobile pages for best rendering performance.

Prioritizing above-the-fold content

Research shows that users’ flow is interrupted if pages take longer than one second to load. To deliver the best experience and keep the visitor engaged, our guidelines focus on rendering some content, known as the above-the-fold content, to users in one second (or less!) while the rest of the page continues to load and render in the background. The above-the-fold HTML, CSS, and JS is known as the critical rendering path.

We can achieve sub-second rendering of the above-the-fold content on mobile networks by applying the following best practices:
  • Server must render the response (< 200 ms)
  • Number of redirects should be minimized
  • Number of roundtrips to first render should be minimized
  • Avoid external blocking JavaScript and CSS in above-the-fold content
  • Reserve time for browser layout and rendering (200 ms)
  • Optimize JavaScript execution and rendering time
These are explained in more details in the mobile-specific help pages, and, when you’re ready, you can test your pages and the improvements you make using the PageSpeed Insights

As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please post in our discussion group.

View manual webspam actions in Webmaster Tools

Webmaster level: All

We strive to keep spam out of our users’ search results. This includes both improving our webspam algorithms as well as taking manual action for violations of our quality guidelines. Many webmasters want to see if their sites are affected by a manual webspam action, so today we’re introducing a new feature that should help. The manual action viewer in Webmaster Tools shows information about actions taken by the manual webspam team that directly affect that site’s ranking in Google’s web search results. To try it out, go to Webmaster Tools and click on the “Manual Actions” link under “Search Traffic."

You’ll probably see a message that says, “No manual webspam actions found.” A recent analysis of our index showed that well under 2% of domains we've seen are manually removed for webspam. If you see this message, then your site doesn't have a manual removal or direct demotion for webspam reasons.

If your site is in the very small fraction that do have a manual spam action, chances are we’ve already notified you in Webmaster Tools. We’ll keep sending those notifications, but now you can also do a live check against our internal webspam systems. Here’s what it would look like if Google had taken manual action on a specific section of a site for "User-generated spam":

Partial match. User-generated spam affects

In this hypothetical example, there isn’t a site-wide match, but there is a “partial match." A partial match means the action applies only to a specific section of a site. In this case, the webmaster has a problem with other people leaving spam on By fixing this common issue, the webmaster can not only help restore his forum's rankings on Google, but also improve the experience for his users. Clicking the "Learn more" link will offer new resources for troubleshooting.

Once you’ve corrected any violations of Google’s quality guidelines, the next step is to request reconsideration. With this new feature, you'll find a simpler and more streamlined reconsideration request process. Now, when you visit the reconsideration request page, you’ll be able to check your site for manual actions, and then request reconsideration only if there’s a manual action applied to your site. If you do have a webspam issue to address, you can do so directly from the Manual Actions page by clicking "Request a review."

The manual action viewer delivers on a popular feature request. We hope it reassures the vast majority of webmasters who have nothing to worry about. For the small number of people who have real webspam issues to address, we hope this new information helps speed up the troubleshooting. If you have questions, come find us in the Webmaster Help Forum or stop by our Office Hours.

Update (12:50pm PT, August 9th): Unfortunately we've hit a snag during our feature deployment, so it will be another couple days before the feature is available to everyone. We will post another update once the feature is fully rolled out.

Update (10:30am PT, August 12th): The feature is now fully rolled out.

In-depth articles in search results

Webmaster level: all

Users often turn to Google to answer a quick question, but research suggests that up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic. That’s why today we’re introducing new search results to help users find in-depth articles.

These results are ranked algorithmically based on many signals that look for high-quality, in-depth content. You can help our algorithms understand your pages better by following these recommendations:

Following these best practices along with our webmaster guidelines helps our systems to better understand your website’s content, and improves the chances of it appearing in this new set of search results.

The in-depth articles feature is rolling out now on in English. For more information, check out our help center article, and feel free to post in the comments in our forums.

A reminder about manipulative or deceptive behavior

Webmaster level: All

Our quality guidelines prohibit manipulative or deceptive behavior, and this stance has remained unchanged since the guidelines were first published over a decade ago. Recently, we’ve seen some user complaints about a deceptive technique which inserts new pages into users’ browsing histories. When users click the "back" button on their browser, they land on a new page that they've never visited before. Users coming from a search results page may think that they’re going back to their search results. Instead, they’re taken to a page that looks similar, but is actually entirely advertisements:

list of advertisements

To protect our users, we may take action on, including removal of, sites which violate our quality guidelines, including for inserting deceptive or manipulative pages into a user's browser history. As always, if you believe your site has been impacted by a manual spam action and is no longer violating our guidelines, you can let us know by requesting reconsideration.

Easier navigation without GPS

Webmaster level: All

Today we’re unveiling a shiny new navigation in Webmaster Tools. The update will make the features you already use easier to find, as well as unveil some exciting additions.

Navigation reflects how search works

We’ve organized the Webmaster Tools features in groups that match the stages of search:
  • Crawl: see information about how we discover and crawl your content. Here you will find crawl stats, crawl errors, any URLs you’ve blocked from crawling, Sitemaps, URL parameters, and the Fetch as Google feature.
  • Google Index: keep track of how many of your pages are in Google’s index and how we understand their content: you can monitor the overall indexed counts for your site (Index Status), see what keywords we’ve found on your pages (Content Keywords), or request to remove URLs from the search results.
  • Search Traffic: check how your pages are doing in the search results — how people find your site (Search Queries), who’s recommended your site (Links to Your Site), and see a sample of pages from your site that have incoming links from other internal pages.
  • Search Appearance: mark up your pages to help Google understand your content better during indexing and potentially influence how your pages appear in our search results. This includes the Structured Data dashboard, Data Highlighter, Sitelinks, and HTML Improvements.

Account-level administrative tasks now accessible from the Settings menu

Account-level admin tasks such as setting User permissions, Site Settings, and Change of Address are now grouped under the gear icon in the top right corner so they’re always accessible to you:

This is the list of items as visible to site owners, “full” or “restricted” users will see a subset of these options. For example, if you're a “restricted” user for a site, the "Users & Site Owners" menu item will not appear.

New Search Appearance pop-up

Beginner webmasters will appreciate the new Search Appearance pop-up, which can be used to visualize how your site may appear in search and learn more about the content or structure changes that may help to influence each element:

To access the pop-up window, click on the question mark icon next to the Search Appearance menu in the side navigation.

It includes the essential search result elements like title, snippet and URL, as well as optional elements such as sitelinks, breadcrumbs, search within a site, event and product rich snippets, and authorship information.

We hope the new navigation makes it easier for you to make the most of Webmaster Tools. As always, if you have additional questions, feel free to post in the Webmaster Help Forum.

Introducing website satisfaction by Google Consumer Surveys

Webmaster level: all

We're now offering webmasters an easy and free way to collect feedback from your website visitors with website satisfaction surveys. All you have to do is paste a small snippet of code in the HTML for your website and this will load a discreet satisfaction survey in the lower right hand corner of your website. Google automatically aggregates and analyzes responses, providing the data back to you through a simple online interface.

Users will be asked to complete a four-question satisfaction survey. Surveys will run until they have received 500 responses and will start again after 30 days so you can track responses over time. This is currently limited to US English visitors on non-mobile devices. The default questions are free and you can customize questions for just $0.01 per response or $5.00 for 500 responses.

Survey Setup and Code Placement Tips

To set up the survey code, you'll need to have access to the source code for your website.
  1. Sign into Google Consumer Surveys for website satisfaction to find the code snippet.
  2. You have the option to enter the website name and URL, survey timing, and survey frequency.
  3. Click on the “Activate survey” button when ready.
  4. Once you find the code snippet on top of the setup page, copy and paste it into your web page, just before the closing </head> tag. If your website uses templates to generate pages, enter it just before the closing </head> tag in the file that contains the <head> section.
If  you have any questions, please read our Help Center article to learn more.

Backlinks and reconsideration requests

Webmaster level: advanced

When talking to site owners on Google Webmaster Forums we come across questions on reconsideration requests and how to handle backlink-related issues. Here are some common questions, along with our recommendations.

When should I file a reconsideration request?

If your site violates our Google Quality Guidelines or did in the past, a manual spam action may be applied to your site to prevent spam in our search results. You may learn about this violation from a notification in Google Webmaster Tools, or perhaps from someone else such as a previous owner or SEO of the site. To get this manual action revoked, first make sure that your site no longer violates the quality guidelines. After you've done that, it's time to file a reconsideration request.

Should I file a reconsideration request if I think my site is affected by an algorithmic change?

Reconsideration requests are intended for sites with manual spam actions. If your site’s visibility has been solely affected by an algorithmic change, there's no manual action to be revoked, and therefore no need to file a reconsideration request. If you're unsure if it's an algorithmic change or a manual action, and have found issues that you have resolved, then submitting a reconsideration request is fine.

How can I assess the quality of a site’s backlinks?

The links to your site section of Google Webmaster Tools is a great starting point for an investigation as it shows a significant amount of your site’s inbound links. If you know that you ran an SEO campaign during a particular period of time, downloading the latest links can come handy in slicing links created at that time. Using the links found in Google Webmaster Tools, we recommend looking for patterns that point to general issues that are worth resolving. For example, spammy blog comments, auto generated forum posts or text advertisements with links that pass PageRank are likely to be seen as unnatural links and would violate Google’s quality guidelines. For individual examples and hands-on advice we recommend getting help of peers and expert webmasters on the Google Webmaster Forum.

How do I clean a bad backlink profile?

Make sure to identify poor links first, then make a strong effort to get them either removed or nofollowed. Then use the Disavow Links Tool to deal with remaining unnatural backlinks. We recommend using domain-wide operator for sites with a complicated URL structure, very obvious spam sites, such as gibberish content sites or low quality sites with content that shows no editorial value. See our video on common mistakes when using the disavow tool for more information.

How much information do I need to provide?

Detailed documentation submitted along with a reconsideration request can contribute to its success, as it demonstrates the efforts made by the webmaster and helps Googlers with their investigation. If you are including a link to a shared document, make sure that it’s accessible to anyone with the link.

How long does it take to process reconsideration requests?

Reconsideration requests for sites affected by a manual spam action are investigated by a Googler. We strive to respond in a timely manner, normally within just a few days. However, the volume of incoming reconsideration requests can vary considerably, hence we don't provide a guaranteed turnaround time.

What are the possible outcomes of a reconsideration request?

Upon submitting a reconsideration request, you will first receive an automated confirmation in Google Webmaster Tools. After your request is processed, we'll send you another message to let you know the outcome of the request. In most cases, this message will either inform you that the manual action has been revoked or that your site still violates our quality guidelines.

Where can I get more guidance?

For more information on reconsideration requests, please visit our Help Center. And as always, the Google Webmaster Forum is a great place for further discussions as well as seeking more advice from experienced webmasters and Google guides.