Surfacing your business's contact and local info in Google

Tuesday, April 08, 2014 at 1:29 AM

Webmaster level: All

Every day, searchers use Google to find information about businesses. Common queries include finding the phone number for customer service, the location of a business, and opening hours.

This information is typically found in a business's location page or a "contact us" section of a company's website. When Google correctly identifies these pages and is able to extract the relevant information from them, it is more likely to surface that information to searchers looking for the business.

Today we would like to share our recommendations for helping Google identify and surface this information.

Corporate phone numbers

National phone numbers for many companies are displayed prominently in Google Search results. For example, a searcher looking for Nest Labs' customer service number will see:

Today, we are launching support for schema.org markup to help you specify your preferred phone numbers using structured data markup embedded on your website. Four types of phone numbers are currently supported:

  • Customer service
  • Technical support
  • Billing support
  • Bill payment

For each phone number, you can also indicate if it is toll-free, suitable for the hearing-impaired, and whether the number is global or serves specific countries. Learn how to specify your national customer service numbers.

Recommendations for local business sites

Many people also turn to Google to find and discover local businesses, and the best information is often on a website's contact us or branch locator page. These location pages typically include the address of the business, the phone number, opening hours, and other information.

Today we're also introducing recommendations about the best way to build these location pages to make them easily accessible and understandable to Googlebot, and more importantly, Google's users. Our recommendations cover both crawling, indexing and visual layout suggestions, as well as new structured data markup guidelines to help Google index pages more accurately.

In addition to building great location pages, businesses are encouraged to continue using Places for Business, which is a fast and easy way to update your information across Google's service such as Google Maps, the Knowledge Graph and AdWords campaigns.

This blog post is only a brief summary of our recommendations for building location pages or branch locators. Please read the guidelines and, as always, please ask on our Webmaster Help forums if you have more questions.

App Indexing updates

Thursday, April 03, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Webmaster Level: Advanced

In October, we announced guidelines for App Indexing for deep linking directly from Google Search results to your Android app. Thanks to all of you that have expressed interest. We’ve just enabled 20+ additional applications that users will soon see app deep links for in Search Results, and starting today we’re making app deep links to English content available globally.


We’re continuing to onboard more publishers in all languages. If you haven’t added deep link support to your Android app or specified these links on your website or in your Sitemaps, please do so and then notify us by filling out this form.

Here are some best practices to consider when adding deep links to your sitemap or website:
  • App deep links should only be included for canonical web URLs.
  • Remember to specify an app deep link for your homepage.
  • Not all website URLs in a Sitemap need to have a corresponding app deep link. Do not include app deep links that aren't supported by your app.
  • If you are a news site and use News Sitemaps, be sure to include your deep link annotations in the News Sitemaps, as well as your general Sitemaps.
  • Don't provide annotations for deep links that execute native ARM code. This enables app indexing to work for all platforms
When Google indexes content from your app, your app will need to make HTTP requests that it usually makes under normal operation. These requests will appear to your servers as originating from Googlebot. Therefore, your server's robots.txt file must be configured properly to allow these requests.

Finally, please make sure the back button behavior of your app leads directly back to the search results page.

For more details on implementation, visit our updated developer guidelines. And, as always, you can ask questions on the mobile section of our webmaster forum.

More Precise Index Status Data for Your Site Variations

Monday, March 31, 2014 at 7:02 AM

Webmaster Level: Intermediate

The Google Webmaster Tools Index Status feature reports how many pages on your site are indexed by Google. In the past, we didn’t show index status data for HTTPS websites independently, but rather we included everything in the HTTP site’s report. In the last months, we’ve heard from you that you’d like to use Webmaster Tools to track your indexed URLs for sections of your website, including the parts that use HTTPS.

We’ve seen that nearly 10% of all URLs already use a secure connection to transfer data via HTTPS, and we hope to see more webmasters move their websites from HTTP to HTTPS in the future. We’re happy to announce a refinement in the way your site’s index status data is displayed in Webmaster Tools: the Index Status feature now tracks your site’s indexed URLs for each protocol (HTTP and HTTPS) as well as for verified subdirectories.

This makes it easy for you to monitor different sections of your site. For example, the following URLs each show their own data in Webmaster Tools Index Status report, provided they are verified separately:

The refined data will be visible for webmasters whose site's URLs are on HTTPS or who have subdirectories verified, such as https://example.com/folder/. Data for subdirectories will be included in the higher-level verified sites on the same hostname and protocol.

If you have a website on HTTPS or if some of your content is indexed under different subdomains, you will see a change in the corresponding Index Status reports. The screenshots below illustrate the changes that you may see on your HTTP and HTTPS sites’ Index Status graphs for instance:

HTTP site’s Index Status showing drop

HTTPS site’s Index Status showing increase

An “Update” annotation has been added to the Index Status graph for March 9th, showing when we started collecting this data. This change does not affect the way we index your URLs, nor does it have an impact on the overall number of URLs indexed on your domain. It is a change that only affects the reporting of data in Webmaster Tools user interface.

In order to see your data correctly, you will need to verify all existing variants of your site (www., non-www., HTTPS, subdirectories, subdomains) in Google Webmaster Tools. We recommend that your preferred domains and canonical URLs are configured accordingly.

Note that if you wish to submit a Sitemap, you will need to do so for the preferred variant of your website, using the corresponding URLs. Robots.txt files are also read separately for each protocol and hostname.

We hope that you’ll find this update useful, and that it’ll help you monitor, identify and fix indexing problems with your website. You can find additional details in our Index Status Help Center article. As usual, if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask in our webmaster Help Forum.


Introducing the new Webmaster Academy

Tuesday, March 18, 2014 at 11:51 AM

Webmaster level: Beginner

Webmaster Academy logo

Our Webmaster Academy is now available with new and targeted content!

Two years ago, Webmaster Academy launched to teach new and beginner webmasters how to make great websites. In addition to adding new content, we've now expanded and improved information on three important topics:
  • Making a great site that’s valuable to your audience (Module 1)
  • Learning how Google sees and understands your site (Module 2)
  • Communicating with Google about your site (Module 3)
If you often find yourself overwhelmed by the depth or breadth of our resources, Webmaster Academy will help you understand the basics of creating a website and having it found in Google Search. If you’re an experienced webmaster, you might learn something new too.

Enjoy, learn, and share your feedback!

App Engine IP Range Change Notice

Google uses a wide range of IP addresses for its different services, and the addresses may change without notification. Google App Engine is a Platform as a Service offering which hosts a wide variety of 3rd party applications. This post announces changes in the IP address range and headers used by the Google App Engine URLFetch (outbound HTTP) and outbound sockets APIs.

While we recommend that App Engine IP ranges not be used to filter inbound requests, we are aware that some services have created filters that rely on specific addresses. Google App Engine will be changing its IP range beginning this month. Please see these instructions to determine App Engine’s IP range.

Additionally, the HTTP User-Agent header string that historically allowed identification of individual App Engine applications should no longer be relied on to identify the application. With the introduction of outbound sockets for App Engine, applications may now make HTTP requests without using the URLFetch API, and those requests may set a User-Agent of their own choosing.


Musical artists: your official tour dates in the Knowledge Graph

Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Webmaster level: all

tour dates online

When music lovers search for their favorite band on Google, we often show them a Knowledge Graph panel with lots of information about the band, including the band’s upcoming concert schedule. It’s important to fans and artists alike that this schedule be accurate and complete. That’s why we’re trying a new approach to concert listings. In our new approach, all concert information for an artist comes directly from that artist’s official website when they add structured data markup.

If you’re the webmaster for a musical artist’s official website, you have several choices for how to participate:

  1. You can implement schema.org markup on your site. That’s easier than ever, since we’re supporting the new JSON-LD format (alongside RDFa and microdata) for this feature.
  2. Even easier, you can install an events widget that has structured data markup built in, such as Bandsintown, BandPage, ReverbNation, Songkick, or GigPress.
  3. You can label the site’s events with your mouse using Google’s point-and-click webmaster tool: Data Highlighter.

All these options are explained in detail in our Help Center. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in our Webmaster Help forums. So don’t you worry `bout a schema.org/Thing ... just mark up your site’s events and let the good schema.org/Times roll!


3 tips to find hacking on your site, and ways to prevent and fix it

Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 7:48 PM



Google shows this message in search results for sites that we believe may have been compromised.You might not think your site is a target for hackers, but it's surprisingly common. Hackers target large numbers of sites all over the web in order to exploit the sites' users or reputation.

One common way hackers take advantage of vulnerable sites is by adding spammy pages. These spammy pages are then used for various purposes, such as redirecting users to undesired or harmful destinations. For example, we’ve recently seen an increase in hacked sites redirecting users to fake online shopping sites.

Once you recognize that your website may have been hacked, it’s important to diagnose and fix the problem as soon as possible. We want webmasters to keep their sites secure in order to protect users from spammy or harmful content.

3 tips to help you find hacked content on your site

  1. Check your site for suspicious URLs or directories
    Keep an eye out for any suspicious activity on your site by performing a “site:” search of your site in Google, such as [site:example.com]. Are there any suspicious URLs or directories that you do not recognize?

    You can also set up a Google Alert for your site. For example, if you set a Google Alert for [site:example.com (viagra|cialis|casino|payday loans)], you’ll receive an email when these keywords are detected on your site.

  2. Look for unnatural queries on the Search Queries page in Webmaster Tools
    The Search Queries page shows Google Web Search queries that have returned URLs from your site. Look for unexpected queries as it can be an indication of hacked content on your site.

    Don’t be quick to dismiss queries in different languages. This may be the result of spammy pages in other languages placed on your website.


    Example of an English site hacked with Japanese content.
  3. Enable email forwarding in Webmaster Tools
    Google will send you a message if we detect that your site may be compromised. Messages appear in Webmaster Tools’ Message Center but it's a best practice to also forward these messages to your email. Keep in mind that Google won’t be able to detect all kinds of hacked content, but we hope our notifications will help you catch things you may have missed.

Tips to fix and prevent hacking

  • Stay informed
    The Security Issues section in Webmaster Tools will show you hacked pages that we detected on your site. We also provide detailed information to help you fix your hacked site. Make sure to read through this documentation so you can quickly and effectively fix your site.

  • Protect your site from potential attacks
    It's better to prevent sites from being hacked than to clean up hacked content. Hackers will often take advantage of security vulnerabilities on commonly used website management software. Here are some tips to keep your site safe from hackers:

    • Always keep the software that runs your website up-to-date.
    • If your website management software tools offer security announcements, sign up to get the latest updates.
    • If the software for your website is managed by your hosting provider, try to choose a provider that you can trust to maintain the security of your site.

We hope this post makes it easier for you to identify, fix, and prevent hacked spam on your site. If you have any questions, feel free to post in the comments, or drop by the Google Webmaster Help Forum.

If you find suspicious sites in Google search results, please report them using the Spam Report tool.

Congratulations! You've discovered botcoins, a new currency for webmasters! You can use botcoins for your daily searches, even without typing anything! (100 botcoins = 1 free search). To redeem your botcoins, simply find a Google Search Team member in person, hand over your botcoin certificate, and request your query. The Googler will then make the search for you. Note: Googler may ignore you or choose to search for a different phrase or topic if they are in a bad mood. And, currently no mining opportunities are provided for botcoins.