Google Webmaster Help Forum – Koti Ivaturi – Google India SearchMasters ’09

Google Webmaster Help Forum – Koti Ivaturi – Google India SearchMasters ’09


>>IVATURI: All Right, good morning everyone.
At the expense of sounding repetitive, I’d like to extend a warm welcome to all of you,
to our Bangalore office. It’s both a privilege and pleasure to be part of this first India
SearchMasters conference and I hope that this is the first of many more to come. All right,
thanks, Paul for the, you know, small introduction as well. As he said, my name is Koti, I’m
part of the search quality team. I’ve been with the team for a little over three years
now. And over the bunch of exciting things that I do at Google, one of my most favorite
part is being part of this forum and helping our webmasters, answering the questions and
basically building a solid community around it, and that’s exactly what I’m going to talk
about today. So moving on. At Google, we love webmasters, and I think Adam has put that
point well across in his engaging talk earlier. Among the gamut of resources that we provide
to our users, these are some of my favorites. The master tools, right. It allows you to
look at your website exactly as Google sees it, and that’s tremendous information because
it gives you access to some crawling issues that your site might be having with Googlebot
and allows you to rectify it among the other tools that it also provides along with it.
We also have site maps–again, Adam talked about how important Sitemaps are, so we have
a Sitemaps generate on code.google.com, it’s a python script and you can customize it.
I’m sure most of you might be using it already. But what we also have are links to some third
party tools that we think are really good at generating Sitemaps as well. Again, those
are links available on our code.google.com link as well, so you would want to check that
out as well. The next one is brand new, in fact we launched it a couple of weeks ago.
We have our own channel, where Googler guides around the world, have put together some really
informative videos about webmaster and tips and tricks. In fact, we have two videos by
Mac that’s about the recent canon–the link, canonicalization issue as well, so, you would
want to check that out. Also, I would request you to keep coming back to that because we
would be adding more videos in the future as well. And we also have a 30-minute interactive
tutorial. Again, this is the essential webmaster 101, you could say because it has everything
what a webmaster would need to know before starting a website and how he wants to interact
with Google. So, you would want to check that out as well. And finally, we have our webmaster
help forum as well, which is what I’m going to talk about today. Before I talk about it,
I’d like to take you guys back a couple of years on the timeline just to set the context
about how we’ve evolved as a group over the years. June 2005 is when we officially launched
Google Sitemaps group. This was also the time when, you know, Sitemaps was a brand new protocol,
not many people knew about it, so we wanted to get support for that, it was not industry
standard as yet. We had supported two–excuse me–two languages and we had few hundred users,
again, primarily for the reason that not many of them really understood what the significance
of a Sitemap file is, so the discussions were fairly technical. There were very, very few
Googlers giving support as well. But more importantly the scope was limited, as in as
the name suggest, it was primarily regarding Sitemaps, and it was not really addressing
the broad issues of indexing and crawling, and that’s something that we had realized
and in June–in 2006, is when Google officially expanded it’s support charter and we’ve come
to be known as the master central, so a lot of things changed with that as well. Sitemaps
groups became the master help group over there, and we know the Sitemaps blog became the master
central blog, and a lot of good things actually transitioned in that phase. What also operationally
happened is from two languages, we suddenly started supporting 15 languages and our user
base group obviously because we broadened our scope. We–as I said, the scope was limited
earlier and now we started–you know, keeping an eye out for the general trends, but also
in general addressing the issues of indexing and crawling as well, so our user base grew
as well. And of course we had dozens of Googler guides so we have enough Googler guides working
in each language of help group as well, so user activity increased and obviously we needed
more Googlers to monitor and build the community around it as well, so we have more Googler
guides as well. Remember this was also a time when the web dynamics generally were changing
so fast, the technologies were becoming easy to use and people with almost little to amateur
experience were charting their own online experience. And hence, they basically became
imperative to our scope, kind of broadened our scope as well. And very recently, in fact
a quarter and a half ago, we’ve launched a new platform for our help group. So, in fact,
from the old school group style, we basically transitioned to the new forum style, so basic–what
we call it today is the Google webmaster help forum. So operationally not much has changed,
but the tech, on and from a technology’s standpoint, it’s a huge change because, as I said, we
move from our email list–listings, old school email listing types, groups from a–to a new
platform that we call the webmaster help forum. And a lot of issues that were hanging around
the groups were basically solved by this transition issues like, you know, it would not really
efficient in drilling down to your question, you know, of finding answers to your questions
easily. And also, as I said, it’s extremely important for us to recognize our–you know,
super users, as we call the top contributors who are building our community, reminding
you that they are building, they are basically helping out webmasters around the world in
their free time and at free cost as well, so we wanted a system that we could recognize
our top contributors as well, so, that issue was also solved and we’ll have a look at that
as well. Currently, the status is that, you know, it’s in transition for the other 15
languages as well, but we’ve launched it in English and Polish, and you would see how
it has actually hit the popularity charts. I have a slide that you’ll like to see later
in the presentation. So, let’s have a look at a new forum. Most of you guys know Cybernews,
it’s a popular technology portal. It actually quoted saying that from a shared technology
and functionality standpoint, Google webmaster help has taken a huge leap forward and we’re
really happy that, you know, this was one of our goal and it’s actually played out really
well. Some of the features, I could say of our new forum is a question and answer based
forum. And as I said that most of you must have used groups before. It’s really difficult
for you guys to–or not even say really difficult but it was difficult for you guys to actually
drill down, to search and come down to a question where you really wanted your answers in. So,
this actually changed because in the current forum, you can navigate and come down to–the
search is better and also you can actually navigate to the questions that have been answered
before as well. So, it basically becomes searching for your questions much more easier. And you
have gmail-like features and functionality as well, which means that, you know, for archived
questions, or your favorite questions, you can actually start it and already–maybe sometimes
you can help out other users who has similar questions to point out–to questions that
have already been answered before. So basically, it’s a much more efficient way when compared
to before. And most importantly, as I was mentioning, user reputations are prominently
displayed, and this is one of our top contributors. His reputation is clearly displayed in terms
of his status, saying top contributor–oops, okay, I just need to go to the slide. [PAUSE]
A user reputation, as you can see, his reputation
is top contributor, so, we basically recognize people so, the platform allows people to answer
questions and users can actually work same, whether their answer was best answer or not.
And depending upon that, you can actually accrue some points and the more answers you
question–more questions you answer, the more points you would get, your status or reputation
basically builds up. So, this is one of our top contributors. You could see the questions
he’s asked against the answers– questions he’s actually answered as well. All right,
so let’s have a look at, you know, the forum itself. And the reason I’m going to talk about
the anatomy of the forum is to let you guys know, what is the best way to make use of
this forum, and we’ll have a look at that. So, this is how the new platform looks like.
As I’ve said, it’s basically a question and answer format forum. You have a search box
there. So, you–if you want to search for questions, you have this high possibility
that somebody already answered it, so, you just want to search for it and get your answers
much more quickly. If you don’t find it there, to the left you have, again navigational quick
links. If your question basically falls in this certain domain, you can click through
that link and you can get to your answers much more quickly as well. You can also get
your answers based on what recent activity [INDISTINCT]. We have Google gadgets so, previously,
there wasn’t any bug we used to make a sticky poster and used to be, you know, add at the
start of the forum and if there were any escalations, there was not an efficient way in which we
use to respond and tell people that this issue has been resolved and this bug has been taken
care of. So, we have a gadget, Google gadgets for basically announcing well-known bugs that’s
saying that “Hey, we know of this bug and we had identified it and rectified it or basically
an issue which has been resolved as well. So this is something again, from a technology
standpoint, something has changed from the old model as well. So, after all this, if
you still have questions, the easiest way to do is just basically post your question.
It’s highly likely that you have something really specific and we would like you to actually
go ahead and post it because that might be a burning–that might translate into a burning
issue and you basically are helping out other webmasters, you know, know about this issue
as well and help them resolve it as well. So, after you basically make sure that you’ve
searched for it, I’ll recommend you if you don’t find your answers to definitely go ahead
and post on the forum as well. All right, this was the graph I was saying. So, if you
have to look at this graph, this basically tells you the number of posts made on the
Y-axis against the, you know, the timeline which is basically the set of data with the
last 24 months. The lower red dot, you know, is basically the point where we launched our
new platform, which is the master help forum. And you see the, you know, the user activity
actually hitting the roof there. And it’s, you know, again, something that we really
are proud of and that’s exactly what we wanted to improve user base and get more users, and
also build a community around and recognize our top users as well. All right, so time
for some real examples, some success stories, people who had questions–they didn’t know
what to do, they rang the doorbell of webmaster help forum and in fact, they found their answers
quite quickly. So, this was a webmaster who accidentally, actually left sensitive client
data, it was basically credit card information of his client and he let Googlebot crawl it,
so he obviously was mad because he didn’t know what was happening, he didn’t know whose
fault is it. So, he basically was–came to forum, asking, “You know, I need a way to
get this off the forum immediately.” There are a couple of ways of removing your content
from Google, but there were, you know, there are actually two issues, you know, removing
content from Google which already has been indexed or in fact letting Googlebot not crawl
in the first place at all. This was a case where he already got his content, you know,
indexed and he wanted to remove and the way we–and what happened eventually is that he
got to know that there’s something called help webmaster tools that he could sign-up
for. And there’s a tool within which he can, you know, immediately expedite the process
of removing that sensitive information. And you know, he did it and he basically got that
sensitive information down within a few hours. So, this is again, you know, not maybe a savvy
webmaster but we have thousands of them out there and this is a platform which is giving
a lot of value add to those people out there. Yeah, so, let’s move on to the next one, this
is again another interesting one; this is a site of a church. What happened is that,
people were searching for it and, you know, we had snippets were turning out. He didn’t
know what to do, really controversial snippets coming out and so what he did is he came to
the forum and he asked, you know, “what’s going on?” So, obviously as you guys might
have already guessed, the site has been hacked and he wanted to know what are the best practices
of, you know, preventing this in the future, how to remove this content obviously immediately
and how to basically build a more efficient and a full proof site as well. And he got
his answers and, you know, he was again a happy customer. So there are various, you
know, success stories like this. As I said, the user base is not only–unlike the sitemaps
group time when there were experience webmasters talking about sitemap protocol syntax and
the generation of sitemaps. This–the broad–the scope has actually broadened to a point that,
you know, people with almost no experience–it might be a webmaster who’s asking questions
or even might be the client, you know, the owner of the website who’s asking questions
as well. So, he might not have any idea what the basics of webmastering. So, we are trying
to help out and cater to all this, you know, audience out there. All right, moving on,
again I wanted to give a special shout out to our top contributors, we call them “the
bionic posters.” Again, all of these are experienced webmasters and extremely pro-Google but nothing
to take away from the fact that they know what they talk. These are people who–out
of only their free time have helped out thousands and thousands of webmasters around the world.
We have people from, you know, these are some of them, we have, you know, even more than
our target was basically increased more than most of our top contributors or what we call
them as the bionic posters in the future because essentially, it is not possible that they
know every question is answered. So, what we want to do is basically build a community
where people are answering questions to other people on the forum rather than every time
Google answering a single question. And that is basically our whole idea of recognizing
these top contributors and, you know, improving the dynamics of the community that we built
as well. So, special shout out to all of them out there. All right, so I thought I’ll actually
take up a few minutes to talk about some of the frequently asked questions but again,
you know, couple of them have already been have answered comprehensively by Adam earlier.
I think the only one that I’ll take right now is the second question. So, this is a
frequent question about people buying domains, resell domains or pack domains and they don’t
really have an idea about what that site look like in the past. And the question was whether,
you know, it will affect my site at all and basically the cracks of the question is, what
is the best practices while you are, you know, buying already owned domains. So, the answer
is simple, you know, basically verify it through webmaster tools, look at the back links of
your site if there are any, if you feel there are some unnecessary or irrelevant links you
would want to clean them off immediately. And most importantly than everything, if you
still feel that there is some–this is someway affecting your position in Google search it’s
always, you know, good to actually file a reconsideration request, which is basically
an option for you who thinks that, “I’ve done everything fine but I still think that, you
know, I don’t deserve the position that I have.” And, you know, you could file a reconsideration
request, especially in cases of buying already owned domains, because it’s not possible for
you to know the activity of the domain in the past. There are very little resources
out there. So, it’s always good to basically file a reconsideration request, we have a
look at the site, we have a billion identifying in the user activity on that site before.
And we would take action accordingly. But otherwise, the other questions were basically
already answered–Geo targeting was answered pretty well. Duplicate content was answered
comprehensively as well, in fact the highlight, I would say of today session is basically
the Q and A because it kind of covered most of the frequently asked questions that we
usually spot in the webmaster help forum as well. That, I think I have come to the last
slide, thanks again for all of you in inviting our, I mean, accepting our invitations. Again,
a shout out to our webmastering community on [INDISTINCT] this is a specific to Indian
webmasters. I recommend you to go ahead and sign-up so that the turn-around time, you
know, might be a little faster as well because of we are on, on lookout for questions more
and more questions on this community as well…

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