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.

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.

A new opt-out tool

Webmasters have several ways to keep their sites' content out of Google's search results. Today, as promised, we're providing a way for websites to opt out of having their content that Google has crawled appear on Google Shopping, Advisor, Flights, Hotels, and Google+ Local search.

Webmasters can now choose this option through our Webmaster Tools, and crawled content currently being displayed on Shopping, Advisor, Flights, Hotels, or Google+ Local search pages will be removed within 30 days.

Make the most of Search Queries in Webmaster Tools

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

If you’re intrigued by the Search Queries feature in Webmaster Tools but aren’t sure how to make it actionable, we have a video that we hope will help!

Maile shares her approach to Search Queries in Webmaster Tools

This video explains the vocabulary of Search Queries, such as:
  • Impressions
  • Average position (only the top-ranking URL for the user’s query is factored in our calculation)
  • Click
  • CTR
The video also reviews an approach to investigating Top queries and Top pages:
  1. Prepare by understanding your website’s goals and your target audience (then using Search Queries “filters” to support your knowledge)
  2. Sort by clicks in Top queries to understand the top queries bringing searchers to your site (for the given time period)
  3. Sort by CTR to notice any missed opportunities
  4. Categorize queries into logical buckets that simplify tracking your progress and staying in touch with users’ needs
  5. Sort Top pages by clicks to find the URLs on your site most visited by searchers (for the given time period)
  6. Sort Top pages by impressions to find valuable pages that can be used to help feature your related, high-quality, but lower-ranking pages
After you’ve watched the video and applied the knowledge of your site with the findings from Search Queries, you’ll likely have several improvement ideas to help searchers find your site. If you’re up for it, let us know in the comments what Search Queries information you find useful (and why!), and of course, as always, feel free to share any tips or feedback.

A quick word about Googlebombs

Co-written with Ryan Moulton and Kendra Carattini

We wanted to give a quick update about "Googlebombs." By improving our analysis of the link structure of the web, Google has begun minimizing the impact of many Googlebombs. Now we will typically return commentary, discussions, and articles about the Googlebombs instead. The actual scale of this change is pretty small (there are under a hundred well-known Googlebombs), but if you'd like to get more details about this topic, read on.

First off, let's back up and give some background. Unless you read all about search engines all day, you might wonder "What is a Googlebomb?" Technically, a "Googlebomb" (sometimes called a "linkbomb" since they're not specific to Google) refers to a prank where people attempt to cause someone else's site to rank for an obscure or meaningless query. Googlebombs very rarely happen for common queries, because the lack of any relevant results for that phrase is part of why a Googlebomb can work. One of the earliest Googlebombs was for the phrase "talentless hack," for example.

People have asked about how we feel about Googlebombs, and we have talked about them in the past. Because these pranks are normally for phrases that are well off the beaten path, they haven't been a very high priority for us. But over time, we've seen more people assume that they are Google's opinion, or that Google has hand-coded the results for these Googlebombed queries. That's not true, and it seemed like it was worth trying to correct that misperception. So a few of us who work here got together and came up with an algorithm that minimizes the impact of many Googlebombs.

The next natural question to ask is "Why doesn't Google just edit these search results by hand?" To answer that, you need to know a little bit about how Google works. When we're faced with a bad search result or a relevance problem, our first instinct is to look for an automatic way to solve the problem instead of trying to fix a particular search by hand. Algorithms are great because they scale well: computers can process lots of data very fast, and robust algorithms often work well in many different languages. That's what we did in this case, and the extra effort to find a good algorithm helps detect Googlebombs in many different languages. We wouldn't claim that this change handles every prank that someone has attempted. But if you are aware of other potential Googlebombs, we are happy to hear feedback in our Google Web Search Help Group.

Again, the impact of this new algorithm is very limited in scope and impact, but we hope that the affected queries are more relevant for searchers.

Information about Sitelinks

You may have noticed that some search results include a set of links below them to pages within the site. We've just updated our help center with information on how we generate these links, called Sitelinks, and why we show them.

Our process for generating Sitelinks is completely automated. We show them when we think they'll be most useful to searchers, saving them time from hunting through web pages to find the information they are looking for. Over time, we may look for ways to incorporate input from webmasters too.

Better details about when Googlebot last visited a page

Most people know that Googlebot downloads pages from web servers to crawl the web. Not as many people know that if Googlebot accesses a page and gets a 304 (Not-Modified) response to a If-Modified-Since qualified request, Googlebot doesn't download the contents of that page. This reduces the bandwidth consumed on your web server.

When you look at Google's cache of a page (for instance, by using the cache: operator or clicking the Cached link under a URL in the search results), you can see the date that Googlebot retrieved that page. Previously, the date we listed for the page's cache was the date that we last successfully fetched the content of the page. This meant that even if we visited a page very recently, the cache date might be quite a bit older if the page hadn't changed since the previous visit. This made it difficult for webmasters to use the cache date we display to determine Googlebot's most recent visit. Consider the following example:
  1. Googlebot crawls a page on April 12, 2006.
  2. Our cached version of that page notes that "This is G o o g l e's cache of as retrieved on April 12, 2006 20:02:06 GMT."
  3. Periodically, Googlebot checks to see if that page has changed, and each time, receives a Not-Modified response. For instance, on August 27, 2006, Googlebot checks the page, receives a Not-Modified response, and therefore, doesn't download the contents of the page.
  4. On August 28, 2006, our cached version of the page still shows the April 12, 2006 date -- the date we last downloaded the page's contents, even though Googlebot last visited the day before.
We've recently changed the date we show for the cached page to reflect when Googlebot last accessed it (whether the page had changed or not). This should make it easier for you to determine the most recent date Googlebot visited the page. For instance, in the above example, the cached version of the page would now say "This is G o o g l e's cache of as retrieved on August 27, 2006 13:13:37 GMT."

Note that this change will be reflected for individual pages as we update those pages in our index.

How search results may differ based on accented characters and interface languages

When a searcher enters a query that includes a word with accented characters, our algorithms consider web pages that contain versions of that word both with and without the accent. For instance, if a searcher enters [México], we'll return results for pages about both "Mexico" and "México."

Conversely, if a searcher enters a query without using accented characters, but a word in that query could be spelled with them, our algorithms consider web pages with both the accented and non-accented versions of the word. So if a searcher enters [Mexico], we'll return results for pages about both "Mexico" and "México."

How the searcher's interface language comes into play
The searcher's interface language is taken into account during this process. For instance, the set of accented characters that are treated as equivalent to non-accented characters varies based on the searcher's interface language, as language-level rules for accenting differ.

Also, documents in the chosen interface language tend to be considered more relevant. If a searcher's interface language is English, our algorithms assume that the queries are in English and that the searcher prefers English language documents returned.

This means that the search results for the same query can vary depending on the language interface of the searcher. They can also vary depending on the location of the searcher (which is based on IP address) and if the searcher chooses to see results only from the specified language. If the searcher has personalized search enabled, that will also influence the search results.

The example below illustrates the results returned when a searcher queries [Mexico] with the interface language set to Spanish.

Note that when the interface language is set to Spanish, more results with accented characters are returned, even though the query didn't include the accented character.

How to restrict search results
To obtain search results for only a specific version of the word (with or without accented characters), you can place a + before the word. For instance, the search [+Mexico] returns only pages about "Mexico" (and not "México"). The search [+México] returns only pages about "México" and not "Mexico." Note that you may see some search results that don't appear to use the version of word you specified in your query, but that version of the word may appear within the content of the page or in anchor text to the page, rather than in the title or description listed in the results. (You can see the top anchor text used to link to your site by choosing Statistics > Page analysis in webmaster tools.)

The example below illustrates the results returned when a searcher queries [+Mexico].

Back from SES San Jose

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hi at the Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose last week!

I had a great time meeting people and talking about our new webmaster tools. I got to hear a lot of feedback about what webmasters liked, didn't like, and wanted to see in our Webmaster Central site. For those of you who couldn't make it or didn't find me at the conference, please feel free to post your comments and suggestions in our discussion group. I do want to hear about what you don't understand or what you want changed so I can make our webmaster tools as useful as possible.

Some of the highlights from the week:

This year, Danny Sullivan invited some of us from the team to "chat and chew" during a lunch hour panel discussion. Anyone interested in hearing about Google's webmaster tools was welcome to come and many did -- thanks for joining us! I loved showing off our product, answering questions, and getting feedback about what to work on next. Many people had already tried Sitemaps, but hadn't seen the new features like Preferred domain and full crawling errors.

One of the questions I heard more than once at the lunch was about how big a Sitemap can be, and how to use Sitemaps with very large websites. Since Google can handle all of your URLs, the goal of Sitemaps is to tell us about all of them. A Sitemap file can contain up to 50,000 URLs and should be no larger than 10MB when uncompressed. But if you have more URLs than this, simply break them up into several smaller Sitemaps and tell us about them all. You can create a Sitemap Index file, which is just a list of all your Sitemaps, to make managing several Sitemaps a little easier.

While hanging out at the Google booth I got another interesting question: One site owner told me that his site is listed in Google, but its description in the search results wasn't exactly what he wanted. (We were using the description of his site listed in the Open Directory Project.) He asked how to remove this description from Google's search results. Vanessa Fox knew the answer! To specifically prevent Google from using the Open Directory for a page's title and description, use the following meta tag:
<meta name="GOOGLEBOT" content="NOODP">

My favorite panel of the week was definitely Pimp My Site. The whole group was dressed to match the theme as they gave some great advice to webmasters. Dax Herrera, the coolest "pimp" up there (and a fantastic piano player), mentioned that a lot of sites don't explain their product clearly on each page. For instance, when pimping Flutter Fetti, there were many instances when all the site had to do was add the word "confetti" to the product description to make it clear to search engines and to users reaching the page exactly what a Flutter Fetti stick is.

Another site pimped was a Yahoo! Stores web site. Someone from the audience asked if the webmaster could set up a Google Sitemap for their store. As Rob Snell pointed out, it's very simple: Yahoo! Stores will create a Google Sitemap for your website automatically, and even verify your ownership of the site in our webmaster tools.

Finally, if you didn't attend the Google dance, you missed out! There were Googlers dancing, eating, and having a great time with all the conference attendees. Vanessa Fox represented my team at the Meet the Google Engineers hour that we held during the dance, and I heard Matt Cutts even starred in a music video! While demo-ing Webmaster Central over in the labs area, someone asked me about the ability to share site information across multiple accounts. We associate your site verification with your Google Account, and allow multiple accounts to verify ownership of a site independently. Each account has its own verification file or meta tag, and you can remove them at any time and re-verify your site to revoke verification of a user. This means that your marketing person, your techie, and your SEO consultant can each verify the same site with their own Google Account. And if you start managing a site that someone else used to manage, all you have to do is add that site to your account and verify site ownership. You don't need to transfer the account information from the person who previously managed it.

Thanks to everyone who visited and gave us feedback. It was great to meet you!