One Year of Google Search Central

November 17, 2021

One year ago, Google Webmasters announced they were changing their name to Google Search Central and launching a new site. This year, they've been working on improving their content, writing new documentation, migrating blogs, and developing a new checklist.

They've been working with their internal SEO team to improve their content. They've written lots of new documentation and migrated 13 local language blogs. They've also developed a new checklist for their home page.

You can read more about their progress here:

Google Search Central recently reached out to professional SEOs for help in improving the site's content. The SEOs assisted with migrating thousands of URLs, identifying broken redirects, and ensuring that traffic was properly routed to the new site. They also worked with Google to improve title elements and descriptions across 200+ pages.

The project started with priority documents that were viewed most frequently by readers, or documents that were thought to have the potential to generate more traffic. In some cases, the goal was to actually_deoptimize_ traffic (for example, in instances where searchers were providing feedback that they wanted to remove pages where our page was only about site owner removals).

Doing SEO at Google is a real thing—even when it means doing it for Search Central of all sites. We approached this project like any other we do across many of Google's other marketing, content, and product websites. This approach is generally the same as everyone else working in the industry—backed by guidelines, best practices, and experience. However, we are limited in the tools, data, and information we can use to keep strict separation between Google Search and the people doing SEO at Google. This helps ensure that we don't have an unfair advantage.

Helping with the Search Central migration went just like any other migrations we've assisted with. We completed keyword research and metadata optimizations for key pages, assisted with redirect mapping and QA-ing redirects, and set up a Google Data Studio dashboard to help monitor progress and complete post-migration analysis. You know, the typical SEO migration checklist.

It was also really fun to see reactions from the SEO community after the migration. We're active on Twitter and subscribe to all the SEO publications (we are just regular SEOs after all), so it was awesome to see the feedback, all the articles, and getting a shoutout on the Search Off The Record podcast.

The Google Search Relations team recently published new documentation on indexing and crawling, which includes grouping topics by topic, publishing new documentation, and revamping guidance on the following topics:

Google has significantly expanded its redirects guide with the different kinds of redirects and their effects on Google Search. The company has also written new documentation about Google Search operators and published a new set of guides for ecommerce in Google Search. Lastly, it completed the migration and redirection of its 13 local language blogs, including content dating back to 2005.

Google Search Central has published a new widget on their homepage that recommends articles based on the role that users select. The widget is a more interactive way of exploring how users can improve their presence on Search.

Interactive checklist on the Google Search Central landing page

To build the learning paths, Google analyzed their audience and noticed that users who land on the homepage are looking to get a head start or to generally learn more (as opposed to users who land on deep URLs with specific questions). With this interactive learning path, Google hopes that new users—ranging from SEOs, digital marketers, business owners—can now explore content on Google Search Central in a more streamlined and structured way.

Google also hears many SEOs asking for resources for non-SEO audiences. Users can share a specific learning path or website owner's checklist with predefined ?card=owner parameters in the URL. The simplified graphics help introduce search features in a more visual way, making it easier to recognize the feature. Google is still iterating on the widget, so users may see more changes and improvements in the coming months.

According to Google, the company saw a 240% increase in clicks from Google Search to content that was migrated to Google Search Central when comparing the period between January 2021 and October 2021 to the previous year. The company attributes this increase to the migration and redesign of the Search Central blog, which resulted in improved clicks and impressions. This data only includes the English Webmaster Central blog, as the company just completed the migration of the 13 local language blogs. Google will continue monitoring the traffic to the Search Central blog to see how the local language blog migration affects site traffic.

Google recently updated its webmaster tools, now called Google Search Central. The update includes a new name, design, and some new features. The goal of the update was to make the tools more accessible and easier to use.

So far, the response has been positive. People have started using the new name, Google Search Central, within a month of the update. And interest in the new name has surpassed that of the old name, Google Webmaster Central.

translating blog posts used to take months, but on our new site, translated content can be available in just a few days."

The Google Webmaster Central blog recently underwent a rebranding and site move. As with any major launch, there were things that didn't work out as planned. For example, migrating the local language blogs took way more time than predicted, and there were other issues like broken Python scripts.

Despite the challenges, the team learned a lot from the experience. They realized that languages are hard, and that one site move for a single language is difficult enough. Adding 13 other localized sites with their own URL patterns and separate JavaScript redirects creates an even bigger headache.

The team also learned that they should really eat their own dogfood - turns out JavaScript redirects are just as good as meta redirects. In other words, they should practice what they preach! Overall, the rebranding and site move was an eye-opening experience for the team with some valuable lessons learned along the way.

RSS is still popular enough that the team had to add it to the new blog. De-SEOing, or removing search engine optimization from a website, is as weird as it sounds, but sometimes it's necessary to capture good traffic. Working with SEOs on a site about SEO can hurt your brain: you're optimizing the thing that talks about optimizing the thing.

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