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GWHG | JLH Design
4th December 2008

Webmaster Help Forum Googlers


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With the retirement of the original Google Webmaster Help Group my list of Helping Googlers now only points to archives of what Googler’s have said and will not have any new information. With the introduction of the new Google Webmaster Help Forum this list will include the active Googlers in the new forum.

These names were harvested from Reintroducing your English Webmaster Help Google Guides suggested by an astute webmaster if you are interested in what they haven’t found yet in Google follow that link.  The links I provide go to their Webmaster Help Forum Profile.

This list will be updated as new Googlers migrate to the new forum.

Note: With the new system the profiles only show “questions” asked by the individual and not any answers (which is most important to us for Googlers) but I am told that feature has been requested.

posted in GWHF, GWHG | 1 Comment

4th December 2008

New Google Webmaster Help Forum is now live


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The new help format by Google has now been enabled for Webmaster Issues.

Located at: Webmasters Help

It’s been pre-seeded with frequently asked questions by Susan Moskwa already and appears to be open for business. No announcements yet on the fate of the old Google Webmaster Help Group.

For a list of participating Googlers see my constantly updated page of Google Webmaster Help Forum Googlers.

posted in GWHG | 0 Comments

3rd November 2008

Fresh New Googlers on GWHG


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Update: 11/4/08 added Jayan

I’d like to introduce four Five new Googlers to the Google Webmaster Help Group.

Jayan Blue G

Hey Guys,

My name is Jayan, and I work with Google’s Search Quality Team. My
personal blog is still a work in progress so I will definitely be
asking around for some help on that. I am looking forward to helping
around the group as much as possible and learning from you guys in the
process.

On the personal front: When not glued on to the internet, I spend most
of my waking hours catching up on movies and football games (Go
Arsenal!!). I am a self confessed Music Junkie/Gaming addict. I still
play Counter-Strike till my eyes actually hurt. I love reading,
traveling and indulge myself with adventure sports whenever I get the
opportunity. This was a recent skydiving video of mine -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_mYgqhzrvyc . Oh, and did I mention I
work out of Google India’s Hyderabad office?

Cheers,
Jayan.

dLux Blue G

I am dLux, I work at Google Switzerland. I am a Googler in the Search
Quality Team.

My personal homepage is at www.dlux.hu, I like photography, especially
the beautiful mountains in Switzerland and sometimes I feel an urge to
sing, too. As you can see I originally came from Hungary, and I still
like that region very much.

I feel honoured to work in Google (it was my dream since I’ve finished
the university in 2002) and to help you guys who use our products!

Oliver Fisher Blue G

I’m Oliver Fisher, yet another Googler. I spend my time working on
Google’s anti-malware efforts (http://
googleonlinesecurity.blogspot.com/2008/10/malware-we-dont-need-no-
stinking.html).

I like long walks on the beach, romantic sunsets… Oh, wrong sort of
profile…

I work with Google’s Montreal engineering office but live in Ottawa.
Fortunately, many days I’m able to work from home - so No Pants Day
isn’t a special occasion for me. When not sitting in front of a
computer screen, I often sit in front of a blank wall practicing Zen.

For those already smitten, http://oliverfisher.blogspot.com is my
personal blog. Its PageRank is so low that I should be fired.

O.

Christopher W. Blue G

Hey gang,

I’m Chris from the Search Quality team, and I thought I’d stop by and
introduce myself before I start helping out in this group.

Most of my time online is in Google Reader, trying to keep up on new
music, politics, design, and, of course, webmasters. My site is mostly
a tumblelog-style collection of things I’m into, and hopefully a
showcase for some music and programming projects in the future.
Offline, I’m usually reading, seeing films, taking photos, playing
music, tinkering with something, or having adventures around San
Francisco.

Oh, and when I have a rare, spare moment from Search Quality, I work
on the Authors@Google team. You can check out our events on Youtube
( http://www.youtube.com/atgoogletalks ), if you’re curious.

I’m really looking forward to getting to know more of you, and helping
out with any issues you might be having.

See you around,
Chris

Adi Goradia Blue G

Hellooo Everyone,

I’m Adi a recent addition to the U2U as well as a member of the Search
Quality team here at Google.

Like my buddy Chris, I keep a close eye on new music and try to get
out to all the shows going on in San Francisco. Most recently I saw
the Notwist; if you have a chance, check out their song Gloomy Planets
(the song is much more lighthearted and uplifting than the title
suggests - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2qKfzIpoQg ). Before this,
I studied computer arts and new media production, which ended up in a
lot of web projects — and that’s how I found myself here, working
with webmasters.

I’m excited to help out and I’m looking forward to learning some new
things from all of you.

- Adi

The timeless classic list of GWHG Googlers has been updated. This on the heals of the best month ever with over 10,000 posts.

posted in GWHG | 0 Comments

24th September 2008

Hide those links


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Reid Blue G from Google Webmaster Help Group fame, search quality fortune, and Google glory offered some more answers to more webmaster questions. You can watch the video for his answers.

Even More Webmaster Questions

He answered an interesting question that’s been tested several times by several people but this is the first official mention I can recall.

….wanted to know if Google will follow links on a page using the “noindex” attribute in the “robots” meta tag. To answer this question, Googlebot will follow links on a page which uses the meta “noindex” tag, but that page will not appear in our search results…

What does that mean for you? Well if you’ve got nosy competitors wandering around your link profile as some like to do you can still feed links to a site but keep that page out of the index and away from prying eyes (besides of course through navigation and other lesser search engines). It’s an old trick now but a good one to keep in the arsenal, specially for initial feeder links.

I originally hinted at this in my Don’t Use Robots.txt to Control Indexing post.

A follow up question I’d have is whether or not pages that are not indexed and blocked from being so have to conform to webmaster guidelines or does the site pay a price for having non-conforming pages that are not indexed?  I’ll leave it to the reader to think of the loopholes that exist for either possible answer to that question.

posted in GWHG, SEO | 5 Comments

11th July 2008

GWHG Looses a valuable Googler


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In case you missed it “Bergy” Berghausen announced that he is leaving Google and moving on to pursue a career path in the legal profession.

His goodbye is here:

Hi folks!

I am extremely grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend
monitoring this group–responding to questions, watching threads,
reading all the new “Introduce yourself” posts, and being consistently
amazed at the speed with which some of our users can type.  This has
become my home online and holds a very special place in my heart,
though with great regret I must announce that my time monitoring this
group in an official capacity has come to an end.

I have made a very tough decision to leave my position at Google to
follow my calling to join the legal profession, and today is my last
day on the job.  It’s been a wonderful time, and I would like to thank
all of you, especially beussery for his great attitude and Flash
expertise, webado for her untiring dedication and mod_rewrite
expertise, and Autocrat for his sense of humor and for his rocket-
speed ascent from being an occasional poster to the second most
frequent in a matter of a few weeks.

It’s been a lot of fun spending time with you here.  Also, this isn’t
exactly goodbye either, since I will definitely be stopping by without
my big blug [G] and contributing in my personal capacity when I’m not
reading about contracts or rules of evidence.  :-)

So, thanks for helping each other–keep on posting!
-Bergy

Good luck Bergy and thank you very much for your all of your help in webmastering issues!

posted in GWHG | 7 Comments

20th May 2008

New Googler Spotted


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I’ve spotted a new Googler (new to me) helping out in GWHG. Everyone welcome blue G Chark to the fray. The list of Google Help(ers) has been updated as well.

From Chark’s introduction:

I’m Char, another Googler from Search Quality here to help out in the
Webmaster Help Group.

My foray into webmastering began with a personal photo gallery site I
created years ago, which looks like it is perpetually stuck in the
nineties. To redeem myself, I helped my last company bring its website
out of the nineties. Currently, I co-author a personal blog and am
working on setting up a personal website to host my own music fluff
(domain name TBD).

In addition to creating music fluff, I also like listening to all
sorts of music, trying different kinds of food, wandering around in
general, and learning about people.

I look forward to getting to know many of you and being involved in
this already very active and supportive community=). Thank you for
having me.

posted in GWHG | 0 Comments

2nd April 2008

Audio and Transcripts of Google Webmaster Chat


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I promise no more RickRolling, and apologize to the 100+ people yesterday that were redirected…this is real.

The Google Webmaster Chat was a huge success as reported in many prominent places such as Search Engine Roundtable.

The online chat involved several multi-media avenues in which to communicate between the many Googlers who participated in the meeting and the 200+ webmasters.

  1. A free-for-all chat room type interface, the transcript of which can be read here. [PDF]
  2. A question and answer section where webmasters posted questions and Googlers answered, the transcript is located here. [PDF]
  3. Webmasters called in, or were called, to listen into the presentation by a dozen or so Googlers in conference call with Googlers in Mountain View, Kirkland, and Zurich. The audio recording of that section was saved in this Brasil SEO site.

My Portuguese skills are little rusty don’t exist, but according to the Google Translation it appears as the author is recommending you download the files, which I did. To help save his bandwidth I’ve mirrored the files here, be sure to link to the original source in your own discussion.

Audio Chat Part 1 (mp3)

Audio Chat Part 2 (mp3)

Audio Chat Part 3 (mp3)

Note: The much debated PageRank sculpting discussion starts right at the beginning of part 3.

A transcribed version of the audio portion can be found here.

posted in GWHG, Google | 3 Comments

3rd March 2008

Why Spam Google Groups?


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The Google Webmaster Help Group which I participate in has been inundated with spam lately from a certain spammer looking to push the 2008 Peking Olympic Games Souvenirs.

As seen below”

Olympics Spam

You will notice that the group’s CMS nofollows all links in a post which would make you wonder, “why would someone go to so much effort to bother spamming the groups?”

The answer is: Because it works. Well. Very well.

More and more people have been complaining lately that after discussing their site in GWHG that the thread will outrank their own site. Of course some of the sites discussed in the group are indeed penalized and just about anything will outrank it, but it has been noted the groups are getting more visible in the SERPS lately. The fact is that Groups material is indexed quickly and ranks quite well, irregardless regardless of content or value. Another aspect working for the Google Groups Spammer is the fact that Google has the groups in many languages all on their own TLD, in essence replicating their spam on many more URLs than just the one they planted it on.

The spammer may not be getting any link love from the Google Groups spam pointing to 200836.com but for his keyword phrase, “Peking 2008 Olympic Games”, he’s doing remarkably well in Google.

In the first 100 results Google Groups spam occupies 23 positions (screenshot). To be fair to Google, they aren’t the only target of this spammer as some Yahoo! groups and other forums are also spammed, for a total of 40 of the top results (screenshot). By any standard 40% of a search result being spam drops is not good.

With this Minty Fresh Spamdexing the spammers no longer have to worry about the links they generate but rather use the forums themselves as doorways to their spam site, which by the way is indexed.

posted in GWHG, Google | 8 Comments

13th February 2008

Penalized in Google: Official notification methods


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There are million of various theories out there about how to find out if your site is penalized by Google. I thought I’d recap what Google officially says, and by officially I mean on their domain and bearing their brand. Their help system is a bit scattered so I may have missed some.

1. Verify that your site ranks for your domain name (reference)

Do a Google search for www.[yourdomain].com. If your site doesn’t appear in the results, or if it ranks poorly in the results, this is a sign that your site may be penalized for violations of the webmaster guidelines.

Brian White of Google notes that inside Google the nomenclature with the brackets used above indicates what is actually typed in the search box. So when they say to search for www.[yourdomain].com, they actually mean that you would search for yourdomain and not include the www, com, or the surrounding dots.

2. Message Center (reference 1, reference 2)

If we find certain problems with your site - for example, malware - we’ll let you know via the Message Center

we launched Message Center in our webmaster console, which allows us to send messages to verified site owners.

3. PageRank of Zero (reference 1, reference 2)

Google believes the site violates our Webmaster Quality Guidelines.

4. Removed from the index (reference 1 , reference 2 , there are more but you get the point)

If a site has been penalized, it may no longer show up in results on Google.com or on any of Google’s partner sites.

and

if our review indicated that you engaged in deceptive practices and your site has been removed from our search results

5. Noted on your Summary Page (reference)

Your page has been blocked from our index because it does not meet the quality standards necessary to assign accurate PageRank. We cannot comment on the individual reasons your page was removed. However, certain actions such as cloaking, writing text in such a way that it can be seen by search engines but not by users, or setting up pages/links with the sole purpose of fooling search engines may result in permanent removal from our index.

Note: Emails from Google were stopped in August 2007 due to spoofers and scammers.

posted in GWHG, Google | 2 Comments

8th February 2008

Verifying a googlepages site for Webmaster Tools


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I’ve seen quite a few people in Google’s webmaster help group ask how to verify their site for webmaster tools when using a Googlepages website. I took a cursory look and couldn’t find any online documentation so I tried it myself. The procedure I used is outlined below with screen shots. There may be a better way out there, but I know this one works.

468x60

1. First sign into Webmaster Tools and go to the dashboard where you will see a box to add your site. Type in your googlepages sites name here, just mysite.googlepages.com, with no ‘/home’ or any other subfolders or file names.

Add your site

2. You’ll then be prompted with a link as the next step to verify your site, click that.

Verify

3. They will then ask you for a method to verify with a pull down that says, “choose verification method…” You’ll want to select the “Upload HTML File” Method.

Choose method

4. After you’ve chosen your method, the next screen will show you a file name. This is the file you will need to create to upload to your Googlepages site. I just highlighted the file name, opened up my text editor application (in my case its notepad), then picked ’save as’, when prompted for the name I pasted the file name that Google gave me, and hit save. The file can be blank like that, as Google is only going to look for its existence, not what’s in it.

copy_html_name.jpg

5. In another tab or another browser session open up your Googlepages account, and under your site manager, to the right you’ll see a box appropriately name “uploaded stuff.” Select the link [upload] (if you have files there already) or select the ‘browse’ button. You’ll then need to browse to the location of the file you saved in the previous step.

upload_file.jpg

6. The final step is to go back to your Webmaster Tools account and click the ‘verify’ button. The response should be almost instant where you will see the verified screen. Now go and enjoy all the benefits that being a verified owner of a site offers you.

verified.jpg

posted in GWHG, Google | 60 Comments

22nd January 2008

Getting help in GWHG


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I’ve been touting the virtues of Google’s Webmaster Help Group for some time now, real people with real sites get valuable help daily. Google has put forth some guidelines for using the group but I thought I’d amend them with some of my personal opinions. If you want to get as much out of the help group as possible the following ideas gripes (in no particular order) will help you to help us help you.

Read the FAQ - google-webmaster-help-google-groups.pngGoogle likes to hide the FAQ and group charter by only linking to it ten times [yes 10!] on the home page so they are sometimes tough to notice, but it’s really helpful if you read the frequently asked questions as since they are frequently asked that means that frequently you will find your answer right there. I’ve highlighted the links in the thumbnail as they are pretty well hidden on the page.

Apparently 10 links isn’t always enough so here’s ELEVEN.

  1. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  2. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  3. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  4. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  5. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  6. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  7. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  8. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  9. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  10. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read
  11. Group info, FAQs, and posting tips - please read

Post Site Name - this is stated in the in the group charter:

Please include all relevant details in your post, including your site URL, any error messages you see, etc.
Also, make sure to use descriptive subject lines for your posts. All of this will enable other group members to help you more quickly and it will also enable us to troubleshoot issues internally.

I cannot emphasize this enough. This is a practical place where real sites are looked at if you’d like to practice theoretical webmastering or SEO then I’d head over to Webmaster World where you can talk about “totally-white-hat-hand-written-red-widgets-authority-sites” all day and night. The regulars in the webmaster help group have looked at thousands of sites and are aware of most trends in sites’ performance problems in Google. Most can be deciphered in a few minutes but others take a lot of digging, which requires the site be physically examined.

If you are worried about the site being found in the search results on Groups there are a couple things you can do. The easiest is to post the URL in your profile, those don’t get indexed. The 2nd method is to obfuscate it a bit by breaking the link (don’t use http:// or www before it). The regulars in the group are quite willing to work with you as well, so stating that you don’t want links to the site placed within the thread will usually keep everyone in line.

Be patient - The help group is manned mostly by volunteers. Paid employees of Google do lurk the group and occasionally post but not nearly as much as the volunteers. If you’ve come expecting an answer in 10 minutes, well, it’s not that kind of party. Bumping threads is frowned upon and most likely will get the post ignored more than moved up. Also remember that this is an international forum with people from all corners of the earth posting, so while it may be 2:00 pm in your neck of the woods the foremost expert on subject may be in bed. Giving it at least a 24 hour cycle.

Spare us the Tales of Woe - We’ve seen it all, lost homes, laying off employees, starving babies, turning off the heat, etc. Granted your site is important to you, just like our sites are important to us. Trying to rally the troops by telling a sob story about how Google has ruined your marriage is not going to win the hearts and minds of the people who have devoted thousands of hours working to support Googles search quality.

Be prepared to back it up with facts - “I’ve been penalized”  or I’ve got the “-30/-950/-50/+6/Duplicate Content Penalty” may fly in some forums but as I said earlier GWHG is a practical place, we need real life examples. Explain how you came to the conclusion, what evidence you have, and what trends you see. “I’ve lost all my rankings” doesn’t help anyone help you as we don’t know what you used to rank for.

Be specific - Asking, “How can I improve my site in Google” isn’t going to get much response, it’s not the free SEO forum, but rather the Google Webmaster Help Group. Ask specific questions with regards to Google and you are likely receive some very specific answers.

Don’t start multiple threads - The regulars will be quick to point out that you are asking the same question over and over, thus souring other regulars from even bothering with your question.

Engage in discussion - Please come back and let us all know if you headed the advice, if it worked, didn’t work, or you just ignored it. Asking follow up questions to the follow ups is likely to get you more information, and threads with larger numbers of responses definitely get more attention.

Include History - So much of what happens in Google is not what you did yesterday but what you did three months ago, so if you recently bought the domain and 301 redirected it 7 times, changed hosts,  got rid of the malware downloads in hidden links, and removed the 17,000 hidden words before asking for assistance it would be good to bring that up.

There isn’t a way to contact Google - Again covered in the FAQ that nobody reads, but this is the simple truth.  There is not an email address for you to discuss why your site doesn’t rank for your keyword.

More than likely we are all you are going to get - Ranting and raving and demanding a 100% accurate answer from Larry PageBlue G is likely not to get you anywhere and even less likely to get an answer from 2nd or 3rd in command like SusanBlue G or JohnMuBlue G.

Be Honest - Nothing makes people angry quite as much as finding out we were deceived.  If you own a few hundred spam sites all interlinked and pointing to the cash cow that just took a tumble in the rankings you may want to mention that this isn’t your first rodeo, as someone will likely figure that out and the response will be a lot more brutal than if you pointed it out in the beginning.

Look for the Magic Phrase - Find the Easter Egg in the FAQs, more likely to attract Googlers.

Be polite, respectful, and keep it clean - While the group is pretty good at brutal honesty, brutality is not tolerated at any level.  Google’s response is swift and decisive and the regulars will swoop in and quickly surround abusive posters.

posted in GWHG | 6 Comments

11th January 2008

Frequently Asked Questions


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The Googlers were kind enough to give us some Frequently Asked Questions documentation in the Google Webmaster Help Group. Unfortunately you could not also call them the Frequently Read Questions as every new poster seems to miss the 7 or so links pointing to them when they write their first question. Annoying in the least and distracting from the real conversation that is trying to take place. We can all respond with the canned, “Read the FAQ”, response but even then people tend to not see the right stuff.

Using Google Notebook I’ve compiled a list of the FAQs with the question, answer, and the link. If you use the Google Notebook Firefox Extension all of the notes are sitting right down in the right side of your browser ready to cut-n-paste. [If only they could work drag-n-drop in! hint. hint.]

The contents of the notes are viewable here. However to receive the true value of the system I will need to add you as a collaborator so that you can have the notes available in your own Google Notebook application. Leave a comment here with your gmail address as the email address or send me a note in my contact form and I’ll add you. Once added you can add notes of your own so the whole community can benefit.

posted in GWHG | 1 Comment

8th January 2008

Yet another Googler joins The Group


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Today we were graced with another Googler joining in and contributing to the webmaster help group. I’ve updated my mostly accurate page listing all of the Google Employees posting on GWHG. Since it’s inception literally a dozen or so people have looked at it (t.i.c).

From Mariya’s initial post we learn:

yet another Googler from the Search Quality Team happy to join the discussion on webmastering here. My own web experience goes back to the late 90s when frames and animated gifs were all the rage and I cut my teeth making fan sites for my favourite bands on GeoCities. Since then, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a number of more serious and complex projects for large corporate sites.

I am originally from Bulgaria - a land famous for roses, yoghurt, football (misnamed stateside as soccer (-: ), and recently, sumo wrestlers. Outside of Google, I enjoy sports, such as Wikipedia surfing and football watching, and on the more active side, mountain hiking and volleyball. I have a linguistics background, and grammar books are right at the top of my reading list with novels and blogs. I love learning new languages and I speak a few, so you may see me chatting with webmasters in the German or Russian groups, for instance.

I am really excited to be part of the group and look forward to learning a lot and hopefully adding to the helpful voices in an already lively discussion.

posted in GWHG | 0 Comments

28th December 2007

The Google Webmaster Help(ing) Googlers


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Today I’ve been inundated with “Best of 2007SEO, SEM, and Search blogs and sites lists. Amazingly the only mention Google got was for their Webmaster Central Blog, a quality one at that, but there is so much more information out there that Google offers us lowly webmasters. One of the best kept secrets in the webmastering and SEO community is the Google Webmaster Help Group which is part of Google’s thriving and growing Google Webmaster Center. Unlike some much lesser but more popular forums site specific help is available and almost required to get the most information. The discussion on the group is not a matter of theoretical discussion but actual practical application. Almost daily (sometimes more, sometimes less) you will see input from actual Google employees and not mere speculation on all aspects of webmasters’ concerns and Google. Google employees can be easily spotted in the discussion by the little blue Blue G by their name.

With that being said, most people don’t have enough time to religiously follow the discussion group for the most important nuggets of knowledge and I could not find a central location that catalogued their contributions. The following is a list of the Googlers that regularly post on the help group, a link to their profile so you can find their latest posts. I’m sorry if I missed anyone, If I did please let me know.

posted in GWHG, Google | 12 Comments

25th December 2007

Webado’s race to 10,000 posts


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Adam Lasnik started a contest to predict when Webado would go over 10,000 posts in the Google Webmaster Help Group. The following is the calendar tracking her progress and contestant’s entries.

posted in GWHG | 3 Comments

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