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.

Verify your site in Webmaster Tools using Google Tag Manager

Webmaster level: Intermediate

If you use Google Tag Manager to add and update your site tags, now you can quickly and easily verify ownership of your site in Webmaster Tools using the container snippet code.

Here’s how it’s done:

1. On the Webmaster Tools home page, click Manage site for the site you’d like to verify, then select Verify this site. If you haven’t added the site yet, you can click the Add a site button in the top right corner.

To do this, you must have "View, Edit, and Manage" account level permissions in Google Tag Manager.

2. On the Verification page, select Google Tag Manager as the verification method and follow the steps on your screen.

3. Click Verify.

And you’re done!

If you’ve got any questions about this verification method, drop by the Webmaster Help Forum.

Getting started with structured data

Webmaster level: All

If Google understands your website’s content in a structured way, we can present that content more accurately and more attractively to Google users. For example, our algorithms can enhance your search results with “rich snippets” when we understand that your page is a structured product listing, event, recipe, review, or similar. We can also feature your data in Knowledge Graph panels or in Google Now cards, helping to spread the word about your content.

Today we’re excited to announce two features that make it simpler than ever before to participate in structured data features. The first is an expansion of Data Highlighter to seven new types of structured data. The second is a brand new tool, the Structured Data Markup Helper.

Support for Products, Businesses, Reviews and more in Data Highlighter

Data Highlighter launched in December 2012 as a point-and-click tool for teaching Google the pattern of structured data about events on your website — without even having to edit your site’s HTML. Now, you can also use Data Highlighter to teach us about many other kinds of structured data on your site: products, local businesses, articles, software applications, movies, restaurants, and TV episodes. Update: You can see the full list of schemas supported in Data Highlighter here.

To get started, visit Webmaster Tools, select your site, click the "Optimization" link in the left sidebar, and click "Data Highlighter". You’ll be prompted to enter the URL of a typically structured page on your site (for example, a product or event’s detail page) and “tag” its key fields with your mouse.

Google Structured Data Highlighter

The tagging process takes about 5 minutes for a single page, or about 15 minutes for a pattern of consistently formatted pages. At the end of the process, you’ll have the chance to verify Google’s understanding of your structured data and, if it’s correct, “publish” it to Google. Then, as your site is recrawled over time, your site will become eligible for enhanced displays of information like prices, reviews, and ratings right in the Google search results.

New Structured Data Markup Helper tool

While Data Highlighter is a great way to quickly teach Google about your site’s structured data without having to edit your HTML, it’s ultimately preferable to embed structured data markup directly into your web pages, so your structured content is available to everyone. To assist web authors with that task, we’re happy to announce a new tool: the Structured Data Markup Helper.

Like in Data Highlighter, you start by submitting a web page (URL or HTML source) and using your mouse to “tag” the key properties of the relevant data type. When you’re done, the Structured Data Markup Helper generates sample HTML code with microdata markup included. This code can be downloaded and used as a guide as you implement structured data on your website.

Structured Data Markup Helper

The Structured Data Markup Helper supports a subset of data types, including all the types supported by Data Highlighter as well as several types used for embedding structured data in Gmail. Consult for complete schema documentation.

We hope these two tools make it easier for all websites to participate in Google’s growing suite of structured data features! As always, please post in our forums if you have any questions or feedback.

Using markup for organization logos

Webmaster level: all

Today, we’re launching support for the markup for organization logos, a way to connect your site with an iconic image. We want you to be able to specify which image we use as your logo in Google search results.

Using Organization markup, you can indicate to our algorithms the location of your preferred logo. For example, a business whose homepage is can add the following markup using visible on-page elements on their homepage:

<div itemscope itemtype="">
<a itemprop="url" href="">Home</a>
<img itemprop="logo" src="" />

This example indicates to Google that this image is designated as the organization’s logo image for the homepage also included in the markup, and, where possible, may be used in Google search results. Markup like this is a strong signal to our algorithms to show this image in preference over others, for example when we show Knowledge Graph on the right hand side based on users’ queries.

As always, please ask us in the Webmaster Help Forum if you have any questions.

The Webmaster Academy goes international

Webmaster level: All

Since we launched the Webmaster Academy in English back in May 2012, its educational content has been viewed well over 1 million times.

The Webmaster Academy was built to guide webmasters in creating great sites that perform well in Google search results. It is an ideal guide for beginner webmasters but also a recommended read for experienced users who wish to learn more about advanced topics.

To support webmasters across the globe, we’re happy to announce that we’re launching the Webmaster Academy in 20 languages. So whether you speak Japanese or Italian, we hope we can help you to make even better websites! You can easily access it through Webmaster Central.

We’d love to read your comments here and invite you to join the discussion in the help forums.

Easier management of website verifications

Webmaster level: All

To help webmasters manage the verified owners for their websites in Webmaster Tools, we’ve recently introduced three new features:

  • Verification details view: You can now see the methods used to verify an owner for your site. In the Manage owners page for your site, you can now find the new Verification details link. This screenshot shows the verification details of a user who is verified using both an HTML file uploaded to the site and a meta tag:

    Where appropriate, the Verification details will have links to the correct URL on your site where the verification can be found to help you find it faster.

  • Requiring the verification method be removed from the site before unverifying an owner: You now need to remove the verification method from your site before unverifying an owner from Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools now checks the method that the owner used to verify ownership of the site, and will show an error message if the verification is still found. For example, this is the error message shown when an unverification was attempted while the DNS CNAME verification method was still found on the DNS records of the domain:

  • Shorter CNAME verification string: We’ve slightly modified the CNAME verification string to make it shorter to support a larger number of DNS providers. Some systems limit the number of characters that can be used in DNS records, which meant that some users were not able to use the CNAME verification method. We’ve now made the CNAME verification method have a fewer number of characters. Existing CNAME verifications will continue to be valid.

We hope this changes make it easier for you to use Webmaster Tools. As always, please post in our Verification forum if you have any questions or feedback.