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Webmaster level: advanced

Over the summer the Webmaster Tools team has been cooking up an update to the Webmaster Tools API. The new API is consistent with other Google APIs, makes it easier to authenticate for apps or web-services, and provides access to some of the main features of Webmaster Tools.

If you've used other Google APIs, getting started with the new Webmaster Tools API will be easy! We have examples for Python, Java, as well as OACurl (for fans of command lines).

This API allows you to:

  • list, add, or remove sites from your account (you can currently have up to 500 sites in your account)
  • list, add, or remove sitemaps for your websites
  • get warning, error, and indexed counts for individual sitemaps
  • get a time-series of all kinds of crawl errors for your site
  • list crawl error samples for specific types of errors
  • mark individual crawl errors as "fixed" (this doesn't change how they're processed, but can help simplify the UI for you)

We'd love to see what you're building with our APIs! Feel free to link to your projects in the comments below. Should you have any questions about the usage of the API, feel free to post in our help forum as well.


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Webmaster level: Beginner

Today, the new Webmaster Academy goes live in 22 languages! New or beginner webmasters speaking a multitude of languages can now learn the fundamentals of making a great site, providing an enjoyable user experience, and ranking well in search results. And if you think you’re already familiar with these topics, take the quizzes at the end of each module to prove it :).

So give Webmaster Academy a read in your preferred language and let us know in the comments or help forum what you think. We’ve gotten such great and helpful feedback after the English version launched this past March so we hope this straightforward and easy-to-read guide can be helpful (and fun!) to everyone.

Let’s get great sites and searchable content up and running around the world.

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Webmaster level: All
Today you’ll see a new and improved sitelinks search box. When shown, it will make it easier for users to reach specific content on your site, directly through your own site-search pages.

What’s this search box and when does it appear for my site?

When users search for a company by name—for example, [Megadodo Publications] or [Dunder Mifflin]—they may actually be looking for something specific on that website. In the past, when our algorithms recognized this, they'd display a larger set of sitelinks and an additional search box below that search result, which let users do site: searches over the site straight from the results, for example [site:example.com hitchhiker guides].
This search box is now more prominent (above the sitelinks), supports Autocomplete, and—if you use the right markup—will send the user directly to your website's own search pages.

How can I mark up my site?

You need to have a working site-specific search engine for your site. If you already have one, you can let us know by marking up your homepage as a schema.org/WebSite entity with the potentialAction property of the schema.org/SearchAction markup. You can use JSON-LD, microdata, or RDFa to do this; check out the full implementation details on our developer site.
If you implement the markup on your site, users will have the ability to jump directly from the sitelinks search box to your site’s search results page. If we don’t find any markup, we’ll show them a Google search results page for the corresponding site: query, as we’ve done until now.
As always, if you have questions, feel free to ask in our Webmaster Help forum.

Update (16:30h CET, September 12th): We're noticing an enthusiastic uptick in the markup implementation after the initial announcement last week! Here are the two main issues we've observed so far, and what you need to do to fix them:

  1. Make sure that when you replace the curly braces and all that's inside of it with a search term it leads to a valid URL on your site.
    For example: if your "target" value is "http://www.example.com/search?q={searchTerm}", ensure that "http://www.example.com/search?q=foo" and "http://www.example.com/search?q=bar" both lead to search result pages about "foo" and "bar".
  2. Make sure that the "query-input" field points to the same string that's inside the curly braces in the "target" field.
    For example: if your "target" value is "http://www.example.com/search?q={searchTerm}", you must use "searchTerm" as the "name" within "query-input".

Posted:

Webmaster level: advanced

Everyone wants to use less bandwidth: hosts want lower bills, mobile users want to stay under their limits, and no one wants to wait for unnecessary bytes. The web is full of opportunities to save bandwidth: pages served without gzip, stylesheets and JavaScript served unminified, and unoptimized images, just to name a few.

So why isn't the web already optimized for bandwidth? If these savings are good for everyone then why haven't they been fixed yet? Mostly it's just been too much hassle. Web designers are encouraged to "save for web" when exporting their artwork, but they don't always remember.  JavaScript programmers don't like working with minified code because it makes debugging harder. You can set up a custom pipeline that makes sure each of these optimizations is applied to your site every time as part of your development or deployment process, but that's a lot of work.

An easy solution for web users is to use an optimizing proxy, like Chrome's. When users opt into this service their HTTP traffic goes via Google's proxy, which optimizes their page loads and cuts bandwidth usage by 50%.  While this is great for these users, it's limited to people using Chrome who turn the feature on and it can't optimize HTTPS traffic.

With Optimize for Bandwidth, the PageSpeed team is bringing this same technology to webmasters so that everyone can benefit: users of other browsers, secure sites, desktop users, and site owners who want to bring down their outbound traffic bills. Just install the PageSpeed module on your Apache or Nginx server [1], turn on Optimize for Bandwidth in your configuration, and PageSpeed will do the rest.

If you later decide you're interested in PageSpeed's more advanced optimizations, from cache extension and inlining to the more aggressive image lazyloading and defer JavaScript, it's just a matter of enabling them in your PageSpeed configuration.

Learn more about installing PageSpeed or enabling Optimize for Bandwidth.





[1] If you're using a different web server, consider running PageSpeed on an Apache or Nginx proxy.  And it's all open source, with porting efforts underway for IIS, ATS, and others.

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Webmaster level: All

This June, we introduced a weeklong social campaign called #NoHacked. The goals for #NoHacked are to bring awareness to hacking attacks and offer tips on how to keep your sites safe from hackers.

We held the campaign in 11 languages on multiple channels including Google+, Twitter and Weibo. About 1 million people viewed our tips and hundreds of users used the hashtag #NoHacked to spread awareness and to share their own tips. Check them out below!

Posts we shared during the campaign:


Some of the many tips shared by users across the globe:
  • Pablo Silvio Esquivel from Brazil recommends users not to use pirated software (source)
  • Rens Blom from the Netherlands suggests using different passwords for your accounts, changing them regularly, and using an extra layer of security such as two-step authentication (source)
  • Дмитрий Комягин from Russia says to regularly monitor traffic sources, search queries and landing pages, and to look out for spikes in traffic (source)
  • 工務店コンサルタント from Japan advises everyone to choose a good hosting company that's knowledgeable in hacking issues and to set email forwarding in Webmaster Tools (source)
  • Kamil Guzdek from Poland advocates changing the default table prefix in wp-config to a custom one when installing a new WordPress to lower the risk of the database from being hacked (source)

Hacking is still a surprisingly common issue around the world so we highly encourage all webmasters to follow these useful tips. Feel free to continue using the hashtag #NoHacked to share your own tips or experiences around hacking prevention and awareness. Thanks for supporting the #NoHacked campaign!

And in the unfortunate event that your site gets hacked, we’ll help you toward a speedy and thorough recovery:

Posted:

Webmaster level: all

Security is a top priority for Google. We invest a lot in making sure that our services use industry-leading security, like strong HTTPS encryption by default. That means that people using Search, Gmail and Google Drive, for example, automatically have a secure connection to Google.

Beyond our own stuff, we’re also working to make the Internet safer more broadly. A big part of that is making sure that websites people access from Google are secure. For instance, we have created resources to help webmasters prevent and fix security breaches on their sites.

We want to go even further. At Google I/O a few months ago, we called for “HTTPS everywhere” on the web.

We’ve also seen more and more webmasters adopting HTTPS (also known as HTTP over TLS, or Transport Layer Security), on their website, which is encouraging.

For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We've seen positive results, so we're starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal. For now it's only a very lightweight signal — affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content — while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.


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In the coming weeks, we’ll publish detailed best practices (it's in our help center now) to make TLS adoption easier, and to avoid common mistakes. Here are some basic tips to get started:

  • Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  • Use 2048-bit key certificates
  • Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  • Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  • Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  • Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  • Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

If your website is already serving on HTTPS, you can test its security level and configuration with the Qualys Lab tool. If you are concerned about TLS and your site’s performance, have a look at Is TLS fast yet?. And of course, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to post in our Webmaster Help Forums.

We hope to see more websites using HTTPS in the future. Let’s all make the web more secure!

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(Cross-posted on the Google News Blog)

Webmaster level: All

If you're a news publisher, your website has probably evolved and changed over time -- just like your stories. But in the past, when you made changes to the structure of your site, we might not have discovered your new content. That meant a lost opportunity for your readers, and for you. Unless you regularly checked Webmaster Tools, you might not even have realized that your new content wasn’t showing up in Google News. To prevent this from happening, we are letting you make changes to our record of your news site using the just launched Google News Publisher Center.

With the Publisher Center, your potential readers can be more informed about the articles they’re clicking on and you benefit from better discovery and classification of your news content. After verifying ownership of your site using Google Webmaster Tools, you can use the Publisher Center to directly make the following changes:

  • Update your news site details, including changing your site name and labeling your publication with any relevant source labels (e.g., “Blog”, “Satire” or “Opinion”)
  • Update your section URLs when you change your site structure (e.g., when you add a new section such as http://example.com/2014commonwealthgames or http://example.com/elections2014)
  • Label your sections with a specific topic (e.g., “Technology” or “Politics”)

Whenever you make changes to your site, we’d recommend also checking our record of it in the Publisher Center and updating it if necessary.

Try it out, or learn more about how to get started.

At the moment the tool is only available to publishers in the U.S. but we plan to introduce it in other countries soon and add more features.  In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you about what works well and what doesn’t. Ultimately, our goal is to make this a platform where news publishers and Google News can work together to provide readers with the best, most diverse news on the web.