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Google Webmaster Blog Round Up – July

This July, it’s been all go in the tech team at Google Webmaster tools. There have been tweaks and a rename for the parameter handling tool. There was also news of speed improvements to the +1 button. Talking of speed improvements, possibly one of the most interesting Google developments for some time comes in the form of their new Page Speed Service. The publicised benefits certainly seem to be attractive; however Google will actually be rewriting webmaster’s pages to improve speed. Furthermore the content will be published from Google servers which might raise alarm bells for some. The service is currently free of charge to selected testers; however a charging model is set to be introduced shortly.

Speculative marketers might wager that Page Speed Service could also have implications for the indexing of web pages (and avoidance of the dreaded supplemental index). If so the service could become a must have for businesses, meaning Google will effectively control a high volume of websites worldwide. Nevertheless, any privacy/control concerns could be swept under the carpet by the lure of 60% page speed improvement. In final news last month, the Google team look at monitoring the validity of their code over time to minimise any potential issues arising from errors.

 

Preview the latest + 1 button changes

On July 29th Google introduced a new option for webmasters who want to be the first to know about changes to the +1 button. Enrol in the Google+ Platform Preview, available globally, to test updates on your site before they launch to all users.

+ 1 Button: Now Faster

In previous blog round ups we have talked a lot about Google’s interest in Speed. It seems that the +1 button is no exception. Since the button’s launch, Google have been working to improve its load time and on July 26th, it was announced that two updates will make both the +1 button and the page loading it, faster.

Page Speed Service: Web Performance Delivered

In 2009 Google released the Page Speed browser extension and earlier this year the Page Speed Online API to allow developers to monitor the speed of their web pages, whilst giving them suggestions for improvement. To further aid webmasters, on July 28th Google released Page Speed Service.

Page Speed Service is an online service that automatically speeds up loading of your web pages. To do this following sign up, Page Speed Service fetches content from your servers, rewrites your pages by applying web performance best practices, and serves them to end users via Google’s servers across the globe. 

Google insist that users will continue to access your site just as they did before, only with faster load times and saving webmasters time and effort in the process. In house testing has revealed speed improvements of 25% to 60% on several sites. However will webmasters be prepared to hand over the reins to Google to improve their sites? Also will those deciding to abstain for this service miss out on indexing opportunites? This service certainly raises a few questions, particularly those of control. Watch this space to see how it develops!

Validation: measuring and tracking code quality

In this post Google examines the importance of validation, something the Webmaster Team considers to be a baseline quality attribute. Whilst it may not guarantee accessibility or performance it does reduce the risk of issues arising. Google have developed a system to use validation as a quality metric. Put another way, they monitor how close they are to their goal of always delivering perfectly valid code and track their progress over time.

Improved handling of URLs with parameters

Webmasters with a keen eye may have noticed that the Parameter Handling feature disappeared from the Site configuration > Settings section of Webmaster Tools.  Google reassure us that the feature can now be found under its new name, URL Parameters. In addition to the rename, Google have updated and improved the feature to promote usability.