Changes to Google Webmaster Tools
Google’s quest for internet supremacy took one seemingly insignificant step forward over the weekend with some tweaks to its Webmaster tools facility.
Widely regarded as the beginners best friend in many circles, Webmaster tools’ main function seems to be to improve the quality of sites on the internet, presumably with the knock on advantage of improving the quality of Google indexed sites too.
In the past, many in the internet industry have witnessed a huge number of updates and changes for Google analytics, but a relatively low level of attention for Webmaster tools. Not so right now it seems.
Google have improved the product by more clearly highlighting which of your sites need the most attention, in terms of three main elements – malware detection, pages removed via the URL removal tool and robots blocked pages.
On the Webmaster tools homepage, your sites will now be ranked top to bottom in terms of severity of problems – so if one of your domains is infected with malware there’ll be no escaping the bad news.
In terms of missing pages, Google have stated that they want to alert Webmasters only when they think they’ve disallowed or removed pages by accident. This is to be achieved by alerting the webmaster if they block a page with pageviews over a certain figure, which Google says means that page is important to the site. Although the specifics of that figure remain uncertain, it’s safe to say it will likely be a predetermined percentage of the site’s views as a whole.
What this doesn’t do is inform webmaster when a page that they think is important goes down in error. A freshly optimised page at the beginning of a campaign for example – it probably doesn’t receive many pageviews but it’s still important to the webmaster/consultant. This demonstrates that, though positive, these changes aren’t to be relied upon instead of a thorough audit of your site from time to time.
For people like me in SEO, these changes do suggest that good things are to come. Perhaps in the future Webmaster tools might become the resource it has the potential to be – namely that those errors keeping you from page one can be identified and eliminated.
Of course, we should all take heed of advice that Google has to give whether it will lead us to page one or not, but still, the ominous side of an expansion of webmaster tools would definitely be that countless sites across the web would be, in effect, controlled by Google – albeit through helpful suggestions and tips.