Introducing the Mobile-Friendly Test API

With so many users on mobile devices, having a mobile-friendly web is important to us all. The Mobile-Friendly Test is a great way to check individual pages manually. We’re happy to announce that this test is now available via API as well.

The Mobile-Friendly Test API lets you test URLs using automated tools. For example, you could use it to monitor important pages in your website in order to prevent accidental regressions in templates that you use. The API method runs all tests, and returns the same information – including a list of the blocked URLs – as the manual test. The documentation includes simple samples to help get you started quickly.

We hope this API makes it easier to check your pages for mobile-friendliness and to get any such issues resolved faster. We’d love to hear how you use the API — leave us a comment here, and feel free to link to any code or implementation that you’ve set up! As always, if you have any questions, feel free to drop by our webmaster help forum.

An update on Google’s feature-phone crawling & indexing

Limited mobile devices, “feature-phones“, require a special form of markup or a transcoder for web content. Most websites don’t provide feature-phone-compatible content in WAP/WML any more. Given these developments, we’ve made changes in how we crawl feature-phone content (note: these changes don’t affect smartphone content):

1. We’ve retired the feature-phone Googlebot

We won’t be using the feature-phone user-agents for crawling for search going forward.

2. Use “handheld” link annotations for dynamic serving of feature-phone content.

Some sites provide content for feature-phones through dynamic serving, based on the user’s user-agent. To understand this configuration, make sure your desktop and smartphone pages have a self-referential alternate URL link for handheld (feature-phone) devices:

<link rel="alternate" media="handheld" href="[current page URL]" />

This is a change from our previous guidance of only using the “vary: user-agent” HTTP header. We’ve updated our documentation on making feature-phone pages accordingly. We hope adding this link element is possible on your side, and thank you for your help in this regard. We’ll continue to show feature-phone URLs in search when we can recognize them, and when they’re appropriate for users.

3. We’re retiring feature-phone tools in Search Console

Without the feature-phone Googlebot, special sitemaps extensions for feature-phone, the Fetch as Google feature-phone options, and feature-phone crawl errors are no longer needed. We continue to support sitemaps and other sitemaps extensions (such as for videos or Google News), as well as the other Fetch as Google options in Search Console.

We’ve worked to make these changes as minimal as possible. Most websites don’t serve feature-phone content, and wouldn’t be affected. If your site has been providing feature-phone content, we thank you for your help in bringing the Internet to feature-phone users worldwide!

For any questions, feel free to drop by our Webmaster Help Forums!

Rich Cards expands to more verticals

At Google I/O in May, we launched Rich Cards for Movies and Recipes, creating a new way for site owners to present previews of their content on the Search results page. Today, we’re expanding to two new verticals: Local restaurants and Online courses.

Evolution of search results for queries like [best New Orleans restaurants] and [leadership courses]: with rich cards, results are presented in new UIs, like carousels that are easy to browse by scrolling left and right, or a vertical three-pack that displays more individual courses

By building Rich Cards, you have a new opportunity to attract more engaged users to your page. Users can swipe through restaurant recommendations from sites like TripAdvisor, Thrillist, Time Out, Eater, and 10Best. In addition to food, users can browse through courses from sites like Coursera, LinkedIn Learning, EdX, Harvard, Udacity, FutureLearn, Edureka, Open University, Udemy, Canvas Network, and NPTEL.

If you have a site that contains local restaurant information or offers online courses, check out our developer docs to start building Rich Cards in the Local restaurant and Online courses verticals.

While AMP HTML is not required for Local restaurant pages and Online Courses rich cards, AMP provides Google Search users with a consistently fast experience, so we recommend that you create AMP pages to further engage users. Users consuming AMP’d content will be able to swipe near instantly from restaurant to restaurant or from recipe to recipe within your site.

Users who tap on your Rich Card will be taken near instantly to your AMP page, and be able to swipe between pages within your site.

Check out our developer site for implementation details.

To make it easier for you to create Rich Cards, we made some changes in our tools:

  • The Structured Data Testing Tool displays markup errors and a preview card for Local restaurant content as it might appear on Search.
  • The Rich Cards report in Search Console shows which cards across verticals contain errors, and which ones could be enhanced with more markup.
  • The AMP Test helps validate AMP pages as well as mark up on the page.

What’s next?

We are actively experimenting with new verticals globally to provide more opportunities for you to display richer previews of your content.

If you have questions, find us in the dedicated Structured data section of our forum, on Twitter or on Google+.

Mobile-first Indexing

Today, most people are searching on Google using a mobile device. However, our ranking systems still typically look at the desktop version of a page’s content to evaluate its relevance to the user. This can cause issues when the mobile page has less content than the desktop page because our algorithms are not evaluating the actual page that is seen by a mobile searcher.

To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results. Of course, while our index will be built from mobile documents, we’re going to continue to build a great search experience for all users, whether they come from mobile or desktop devices.

We understand this is an important shift in our indexing and it’s one we take seriously. We’ll continue to carefully experiment over the coming months on a small scale and we’ll ramp up this change when we’re confident that we have a great user experience. Though we’re only beginning this process, here are a few recommendations to help webmasters prepare as we move towards a more mobile-focused index.

  • If you have a responsive site or a dynamic serving site where the primary content and markup is equivalent across mobile and desktop, you shouldn’t have to change anything.
  • If you have a site configuration where the primary content and markup is different across mobile and desktop, you should consider making some changes to your site.
    • Make sure to serve structured markup for both the desktop and mobile version.
      • Sites can verify the equivalence of their structured markup across desktop and mobile by typing the URLs of both versions into the Structured Data Testing Tool and comparing the output.
      • When adding structured data to a mobile site, avoid adding large amounts of markup that isn’t relevant to the specific information content of each document.
    • Use the robots.txt testing tool to verify that your mobile version is accessible to Googlebot.
    • Sites do not have to make changes to their canonical links; we’ll continue to use these links as guides to serve the appropriate results to a user searching on desktop or mobile.
  • If you are a site owner who has only verified their desktop site in Search Console, please add and verify your mobile version.
  • If you only have a desktop site, we’ll continue to index your desktop site just fine, even if we’re using a mobile user agent to view your site.
    • If you are building a mobile version of your site, keep in mind that a functional desktop-oriented site can be better than a broken or incomplete mobile version of the site. It’s better for you to build up your mobile site and launch it when ready.  

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us via the Webmaster forums or our public events. We anticipate this change will take some time and we’ll update you as we make progress on migrating our systems.

Using AMP? Try our new webpage tester

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a great way to make content on your website accessible in an extremely fast way. To help ensure that your AMP implementation is working as expected , Search Console now has an enhanced AMP testing tool.

This testing tool is mobile-friendly and uses Google’s live web-search infrastructure to analyze the AMP page with the real Googlebot. The tool tests the validity of the AMP markup as well as any structured data on the page. If issues are found, click on them to see details, and to have the line in the source-code highlighted. For valid AMP pages, we may also provide a link to a live preview of how this page may appear in Google’s search results.

With the share button on the bottom right, you can now share a snapshot of the results that you’re currently seeing with others. This makes it easier to discuss issues with your team, whether they’re regular occurrences or one-time quirks that you need to iron out. Just click the share button and pass on the URL for this test snapshot. This share feature is now also available in the mobile-friendly testing tool.

We hope this tool makes it easier to create great AMP’d content while finding and resolving issues that may appear on your AMP pages. For any questions, feel free to drop by our webmaster’s help forum.

8 tips to AMPlify your clients

Here is our list of the top 8 things to consider when helping your clients AMPlify their websites (and staying ahead of their curiosity!) after our announcement to expand support for Accelerated Mobile Pages.

  1. Getting started can be simple

If a site uses a popular Content Management System (CMS), getting AMP pages up and running is as straightforward as installing a plug-in. Sites that use custom HTML or that are built from scratch will require additional development resources.

  1. Not all types of sites are suitable

AMP is great for all types of static web content such as news, recipes, movie listings, product pages, reviews, videos, blogs and more. AMP is less useful for single-page apps that are heavy on dynamic or interactive features, such as route mapping, email or social networks.

  1. You don’t have to #AMPlify the whole site

Add AMP to a client’s existing site progressively by starting with simple, static content pages like articles, products, or blog posts. These are the “leaf” pages that users access through platforms and search results, and could be simple changes that also bring the benefits of AMP to the website. This approach allows you to keep the homepage and other “browser” pages that might require advanced, non-AMP dynamic functionality.

If you’re creating a new, content-heavy website from scratch, consider building the whole site with AMP from the start. To begin with, check out the getting started guidelines.

  1. The AMP Project is open source and still evolving

If a site’s use case is not supported in the AMP format yet, consider filing a feature request on GitHub, or you could even design a component yourself.

  1. AMP pages might need to meet additional requirements to show up in certain places

In order to appear in Google’s search results, AMP pages need only be valid AMP HTML. Some products integrating AMP might have further requirements than the AMP validation. For example, you’ll need to mark up your AMP pages as Article markup with Structured Data to make them eligible for the Google Top Stories section.

  1. There is no ranking change on Search

Whether a page or site has valid and eligible AMP pages has no bearing on the site’s ranking on the Search results page. The difference is that web results that have AMP versions will be labeled with an icon.

  1. AMP on Google is expanding globally

AMP search results on Google will be rolling out worldwide when it launches in the coming weeks. The Top Stories carousel which shows newsy and fresh AMP content is already available in a number of countries and languages.

  1. Help is on hand

There’s a whole host of useful resources that will help if you have any questions:

Webmasters Help Forum: Ask questions about AMP and Google’s implementation of AMP
Stack Overflow: Ask technical questions about AMP
GitHub: Submit a feature request or contribute

What are your top tips to #AMPlify pages? Let us know in the comments below or on our Google Webmasters Google+ page. Or as usual, if you have any questions or need help, feel free to post in our Webmasters Help Forum.

How to best evaluate issues with your Accelerated Mobile Pages

As you #AMPlify your site with Accelerated Mobile Pages, it’s important to keep an eye periodically on the validation status of your pages, as only valid AMP pages are eligible to show on Google Search.

When implementing AMP, sometimes pages will contain errors causing them to not be indexed by Google Search. Pages may also contain warnings that are elements that are not best practice or are going to become errors in the future.

Google Search Console is a free service that lets you check which of your AMP pages Google has identified as having errors. Once you know which URLs are running into issues, there are a few handy tools that can make checking the validation error details easier.

1. Browser Developer Tools

To use Developer Tools for validation:

  1. Open your AMP page in your browser
  2. Append “#development=1” to the URL, for example, http://localhost:8000/released.amp.html#development=1.
  3. Open the Chrome DevTools console and check for validation errors.

Developer Console errors will look similar to this:

2. AMP Browser Extensions

With the AMP Browser Extensions (available for Chrome and Opera), you can quickly identify and debug invalid AMP pages. As you browse your site, the extension will evaluate each AMP page visited and give an indication of the validity of the page.

Red AMP icon indicating invalid AMP document.

When there are errors within an AMP page, the extension’s icon shows in a red color and displays the number of errors encountered.

Green AMP icon indicating valid AMP document.

When there are no errors within an AMP page, the icon shows in a green color and displays the number of warnings, if any exist.

Blue AMP icon indicating AMP HTML variant if clicked.

When the page isn’t AMP but the page indicates that an AMP version is available, the icon shows in a blue color with a link icon, and clicking on the extension will redirect the browser to the AMP version.

Using the extensions means you can see what errors or warnings the page has by clicking on the extension icon. Every issue will list the source line, source column, and a message indicating what is wrong. When a more detailed description of the issue exists, a “Learn more” link will take you to the relevant page on ampproject.org.

3. AMP Web Validator

The AMP Web Validator, available at validator.ampproject.org, provides a simple web UI to test the validity of your AMP pages.

To use the tool, you enter an AMP URL, or copy/paste your source code, and the web validator displays error messages between the lines. You can make edits directly in the web validator which will trigger revalidation, letting you know if your proposed tweaks will fix the problem.

What’s your favourite way to check the status of your AMP Pages? Share your feedback in the comments below or on our Google Webmasters Google+ page. Or as usual, if you have any questions or need help, feel free to post in our Webmasters Help Forum.

How can Google Search Console help you AMPlify your site?

If you have recently implemented Accelerated Mobile Pages on your site, it’s a great time to check which of your AMP pages Google has found and indexed by using Search Console.

Search Console is a free service that helps you monitor and maintain your site’s presence in Google Search, including any Accelerated Mobile Pages. You don’t have to sign up for Search Console for your AMP pages to be included in Google Search results, but doing so can help you understand which of your AMP pages are eligible to show in search results.

To get started with Search Console, create a free account or sign in here and validate the ownership of your sites.

Once you have your site set up on Search Console, open the Accelerated Mobile Pages report under Search Appearance > Accelerated Mobile Pages to see which AMP pages Google has found and indexed on your site, as shown here:

The report lists AMP-related issues for AMP pages that are not indexed, so that you can identify and address them.

Search Console also lets you monitor the performance of your AMP pages on Google Search in the Search Analytics report. This report tells you which queries show your AMP pages in Search results, lets you compare how their metrics stack against your other results and see how the visibility of your AMP pages has changed over time.

To view your AMP page metrics, such as clicks or impressions, select Search Appearance > Search Analytics > Filter by AMP.

(Note: if you’ve only just created your Search Console account or set up your AMP pages and they have not been detected yet, remember that Google crawls pages only periodically. You can wait for the scheduled regular recrawl, or you can request a recrawl.)

Have you been using Search Console to monitor your AMP pages? Give us feedback in the comments below or on our Google Webmasters Google+ page. Or as usual, if you have any questions or need help, feel free to post in our Webmasters Help Forum.

UPDATE: To help ensure that your AMP implementation is working as expected, Search Console now has an enhanced AMP testing tool.