AdWords Policies Updates, Come into Effect on Oct 15; Google Posts FAQ for Government Webmasters; Verifying a Google+ page & Author Tag

Update: Google rolled out an algorithm update this week that's having an impact on rankings and bringing in more domains in to the Google search results page.Confirming the improvements of the diversity of search results in terms of different domains returned -- Google Matt Cutts tweeted:Just fyi, we rolled out a small algo change this […]

Update: Google rolled out an algorithm update this week that's having an impact on rankings and bringing in more domains in to the Google search results page.

Confirming the improvements of the diversity of search results in terms of different domains returned -- Google Matt Cutts tweeted:

Google earlier this year, rolled out more than 30 updates to AdWords policies, and today the company announced of updating AdWords policies which come into effect on October 15 -on "Software Principles, Arbitrage, Advertiser Claims, and Relevance, Clarity and Accuracy."

Here's a quick overview of the update:

  • "We've added several specific examples of the kinds of advertiser behavior typically associated with arbitrage (sites that are designed solely or predominantly to show ads).
  • We've made it even clearer how advertisers must be fully transparent in their ads when describing the experiences on their landing pages.
  • We've beefed up our rules about the use of keyword insertion in ads.
  • We've reworked our AdWords policy governing Software Principles to ensure that users are given important information before downloading software on their computers and that the software is not harmful or hard-to-uninstall," Google explains.

For more details of these updates, as well as more information for advertisers about how they can come into compliance with policies, visit this Help Center.

In another blog post, Google posted a FAQ from government webmasters -- per Google Webmaster post:

How do I fix an incorrect phone number or address in search results or Google Maps?

Incorrect or missing phone numbers, addresses, and other information can be fixed by claiming Google+ Local listing.

Google suggests, to use a shared Google Account with an email address at .gov domain if possible. "Usually, ownership of the page is confirmed via a phone call or post card."

I've claimed the listing for our office, but I have 43 different city parks to claim in Google Maps, and none of them have phones or mailboxes. How do I claim them?

Use the bulk uploader! If you have 10 or more listings / addresses to claim at the same time, you can upload a specially-formatted spreadsheet. Go to www.google.com/places/, click the "Get started now" button, and then look for the "bulk upload" link. If you run into any issues, use the Verification Troubleshooter.

We're moving from a .gov domain to a new .com domain. How should we move the site?

Check this Help Center article for more details, with the basic process outlined below:

  • Make sure you have both the old and new domain verified in the same Webmaster Tools account.
  • Use a 301 redirect on all pages to tell search engines your site has moved permanently.
    • Don't do a single redirect from all pages to your new home page -- this gives a bad user experience.
    • If there's no 1:1 match between pages on your old site and your new site (recommended), try to redirect to a new page with similar content.
    • If you can't do redirects, consider cross-domain canonical links.
  • Make sure to check if the new location is crawlable by Googlebot using the Fetch as Google feature in Webmaster Tools.
  • Use the Change of Address tool in Webmaster Tools to notify Google of your site's move.
  • Have a look at the Links to Your Site in Webmaster Tools and inform the important sites that link to your content about your new location.
  • We recommend not implementing other major changes at the same time, like large-scale content, URL structure, or navigational updates.
  • To help Google pick up new URLs faster, use the Fetch as Google tool to ask Google to crawl your new site, and submit a Sitemap listing the URLs on your new site.
  • To prevent confusion, it's best to retain control of your old site's domain and keep redirects in place for as long as possible -- at least 180 days, Google explained.

What if you're moving just part of the site? In that case, many of the above steps apply: "verify both sites in Webmaster Tools, use 301 redirects, clean up old links, etc." "In this case you don't need to use the Change of Address form in Webmaster Tools since only part of your site is moving," Google said. If you'll have some of the same content on both sites, you may include a cross-domain canonical link pointing to the preferred domain.

We've done a ton of work to create unique titles and descriptions for pages. How do we get Google to pick them up?

First off, that's great! Better titles and descriptions help users decide to click through to get the information they need on your page. The government webmasters I've spoken with care a lot about the content and organization of their sites, and work hard to provide informative text for users.

Changes are picked up as Google recrawl your site, as the generation of page titles and descriptions (or "snippets") is completely automated and "takes into account both the content of a page as well as references to it that appear on the web," Google said.

But, you can do following two things to let Google know about URLs change:

  • Submit an updated XML Sitemap.
  • In Webmaster Tools, use the Fetch as Google feature on a URL you've updated. Then you can choose to submit it to the index. (Note, you can choose to submit all of the linked pages as well -- if you've updated an entire section of your site, you might want to submit the main page or an index page for that section to let us know about a broad collection of URLs.)

How do I get into the YouTube government partner program?

The government partner program has been discontinued, but most of the features are now available to regular YouTube account. For example, you can now upload videos longer than 10 minutes.

Finally, Google also explained the process of verifying a Google+ page.

What does it mean to verify a +page?

For those new, "Verifying a +page confirms that the +page actually belongs to you. Once your +page is verified, it'll appear with a checkmark designed to help our users find what they're looking for."

verifying a google+ page

To verify a +page, follow these simple steps:

  1. Link your +page to your website: Fill out the 'About' section of your Google+ page, being sure to enter your site's top-level URL.
  2. Link your website to your +page: Add a Google+ badge or code snippet to your site, which lets us know that the site is associated with your +page. Google suggests using the Google+ badge, as it can help you attract additional followers -- "for top publishers, adding the Google+ badge helped drive a 38% increase in followers," Goole said.
  3. Complete the verification request form.
  4. That's it!
  5. In addition, you can also place an author tag on your website (blog) contents, which means your authorized photo and name appear next to search results for content you've created.
  6. "You can link content you publish on a specific domain (such as www.example.com) to your Google+ profile."

    1. Sign up for Google+ and create a Google+ profile.
    2. Make sure you have a profile photo with a recognisable headshot.
    3. Make sure that a byline containing your name appears on each page of your content (for example, "By Steven Levy").
    4. Make sure that your byline name matches the name on your Google+ profile.
    5. Verify that you have an email address (such as example@example.com) on the same domain as your content. (Don't have an email address on the same domain? Use this method to link your content to your Google+ profile)
    6. Return to this page and enter your email address.

Verified Google+ page in search results