A weird year in review

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

2020, what a year this was! We found new ways to work and collaborate, to learn and have fun, and also to stay safe.

Working from home

While we were exploring remote work from our homes and finding ways to stay productive, the Search Console team didn’t seem to have slowed down. The team launched new reports, features, and updates, all of which generated overwhelmingly positive reactions on Twitter:

We also announced new speed and UX metrics we think you should consider for your website, and how some of them will eventually contribute to the page experience ranking factor. Speed and resource management was also top of mind for the Googlebot team. In mid-November, they started crawling a handful of sites over HTTP2, which is the next generation of the transfer protocol that powers the web. This will save a considerable amount of resources for both sites and Googlebot.

And, of course, we moved. We wanted to have all Google Search-related information in one place for some time, but we haven’t had the courage to actually make it happen. Site moves are in fact hard, or so we heard. And we weren’t disappointed (it was difficult indeed), but we’ve made new friends in the process who proved to be very helpful.

Googlebot and its friend sitting on a couch.

Learning from home

Usually we spend most of our time on the road, going from one conference to another and helping people with their websites. This year was a bit different, to say the least.

We started podcasting before it was cool (we’re hipsters like that), and so far no one got fired for saying things off the record. With thousands of listeners, we’re moderately excited about recording more of them, and giving away more secrets like the meta-pagerank ranking signal. You should check them out over Libsyn; they’re quite fun.

Videos, our other medium, are significantly more complicated to record from home. Standing in front of the camera in a studio, with all the help from the studio staff, is a completely different experience. As it turns out, setting up lights, the camera, the recording system, the bitrates, and controlling the neighbors’ noise level, can be unexpectedly challenging. We did publish a number of videos nonetheless. Daniel’s been talking a LOT about Search Console, John’s been a newscaster and resident person to hang out with online, and Aurora introduced us to her co-hosts.

Webmaster Conference shifted to an online medium too. We launched the first Virtual Unconference, an event that’s not a conference, but it kinda still is. We’re going to try to organize more of them, making use of all the knowledge we gathered during the first event.

Helping from home

Since the beginning of our shift to working remotely, we’ve been brainstorming about how we can better help others find information online, keep their businesses afloat, and also support those who need to get critical information in front of people.

We launched special announcement search results, which helps health organizations get the right information in front of users. We published guidance on how to pause an online business and how to communicate changes in events to users.

Ready for 2021

This year wasn’t like any year before, but we learned a lot about how we can work together in new ways to make things work. We know that certain things can be learned online just fine, that we can record remotely to help site owners with new information, and that we can launch new features. We do miss human interactions though, and we hope to see you in person in 2021.

Googlebot and its friend cheering for the holiday season.

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