Warning, webmasters: Google Sitemaps is changing its name, and something else.
Initially, the Google Sitemaps program was just a tool to help this search engine giant index every page on its website. By signing up for it through a Google Sitemaps account and submitting an XML map, you could at least guarantee that the spider will see all the steps you have taken for search engine optimization.
But now Google services are more than just keeping track of your pages, and the new name reflects that. Now called “Google Webmaster Tools,” it has several features to help you handle all aspects of website management.
The old features are still there. Sitemap submissions follow the steps above and the sitemap protocol (thank goodness) remains the same. You can still check the status of your shipment and review any error reports on the website. However, the blog has been redesigned and new programs have been added, all for the purpose of helping you improve your website’s visibility on Google.
It’s a great move, especially since studies have verified that Google is the favorite of Internet users. At least 80% of the total web population uses it, and the numbers are increasing. It has become synonymous with finding information on the web, and has even been adopted in the language: if you want data, the “Google”.
But the competition is tough, and users don’t have the patience to go through tens of thousands of search results. You have to be in the top 15 sites, so visibility and search engine ranking are crucial. Google’s webmaster tools help make that career a little easier.
For example, you have changed your web team and someone has been given the pink note. That means that person should no longer be able to access the site and make changes. The old Google would have allowed you to delete their verification file, but now, you don’t have to wait for regular updates (crucial if that person wasn’t too happy with the company restructuring and can use their account. Take revenge). You can now click “manage site verification”, remove it yourself, and then click “Reverify all site owners.”
Basically, Google Webmaster Tools (http://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/) helps you to have better control of your website administration. You no longer just submit your site passively, you can monitor and edit it accordingly.
Blogging in the Webmaster Center
The blog has been redesigned to focus primarily on webmaster topics: webmaster tools, sitemap protocol, and everything related to the science of crawling and indexing sites.
One of the most welcome changes is its easy-to-use filing system. Blog posts are grouped into categories, making it easy to find the information you’re looking for (it’s a search engine company after all). There are also links to other Google webmaster tools to facilitate navigation.
Find help in Google Groups
Google Webmaster Help Groups are an online forum where you can raise your technical concerns and be heard. Some of the FAQs already have existing threads, with suggestions from experts, Google employees, and other members (around 7,500 users already). You can also post your questions and follow links to other sources of information.
Managing your site
But the essence of the changes lies in the site management tools. We are going to want to check on their site, http://www.abc123.com. Visit “My Sites” and you will see your registered sites in a handy graphical form and whether or not they have been verified. You can also find other tools, such as reporting spam or reinstatement requests. .
You can also run diagnostics on the indexing summary page, which lists all the roadblocks the Google spider encountered when it passed through your site. This includes HTTP errors, robot txt restrictions, URLs that could not be reached or timed out. You can then check the specific pages where the errors occurred (for example, you will see that a link was disabled). Google also records the last time they tried to access that page, in case you’ve already made corrections since then.
Another welcome feature is being able to submit your preferred domain name (should I remove “www” or not?). This is a huge boost in link canonicalization and helps with duplicate content issues, which could affect sites that don’t use the “301 redirect” feature.
Query statistics reveal ranking and what types of queries bring you to the top (a tool for search engine optimization strategies!) Particular demographics. Google also offers tracking statistics so you know which of your pages get the most visits and have the highest individual rankings.
Another cool feature is page analysis. It allows you to compare your own anchor text and how other websites commonly describe it – peer reviews, so to speak. In terms of marketing strategy, understanding where your appeal lies and how the web world sees the importance of your content can help you figure out which pages to create. Who knows, there may be link opportunities here, and we all know the importance of links in Google search engine ranking.
The index statistics allow you to link the different searches, which can be useful for those who do not know how to use these functions (although some believe that precisely because this function is aimed at beginners, it would have been more useful for user friendly if a table could briefly explain what each one was about). However, search engine optimization experts may not find anything new here.
Overall, the Webmaster Tools are very useful, powerful and designed for both professional webmasters and the man on the street who runs a small business from home and wants to check if his website is working well or not. While the new name is quite complicated, both because of the old adage that business names should be short and sweet, changing it does justice to Google Sitemap’s attempts to be more than just an indexing tool.