In case you missed it, Google recently re branded Sitemaps and added a few things to what is now Google Webmaster Central. There have been a few mentions of the change, but with many seo bloggers at S.E.S. San Jose the change has fallen somewhere below the radar. I signed up with an account for this post and can report the revamped Webmaster Central looks pretty good after a quick look.
Last Friday MC (I promised I wouldn’t mention his name for awhile) put out another video, Google Webmaster Tools in which he talks about the change from to Webmaster Tools. I’ll let you watch his video for the MC perspective and give you mine below.
If you have a Google account you can simply login to Webmaster Tools and add your site. If you don’t already have an account you must not be using any Google product, but a new account is easy to get. You don’t need to add a sitemap, just tell Google the domain and verify you own it, by either making a change to one of your pages or adding a meta tag to your home page. Once verified Google immediately gives you some data about the site.
There are three tabs to choose from. Diagnostics, Statistics, Sitemaps. The Diagnostics tab will give you some information about what happened when Google crawled the site, including when they last successfully accessed your home page. I’m showing no http errors, no URLs not followed, no urls timing out, and no unreachable URLs. Google is aware of three URLs I’ve asked them not to crawl in my robots.txt file, though I know I’ve listed more than three and apparently four times GoogleBot encountered a 404 error on my site. One was a test blog post which is no longer there and the other three were typos in URLs to other sites all of which I just fixed. Bet you didn’t even notice I was gone.
The statistics tab is listing 20 Google searches where one of my pages ranks including the position of my page. You can choose either ‘all searches’ or ‘only web searches’ and also choose from a number of Google locations like Google Australia or Google UK. I left it at the default ‘all locations.’ The table of results can be downloaded if I wish and there’s another table which lists the ‘top search query clicks.’ No data is available for my site at this time, hopefully because I only signed up at the start of this post and not because no one ever clicks to my site. I know some people have found their way to me through Google. At least that’s what some of my other stats programs tell me.
You can also access crawl stats which are telling me that some of my pages have medium page rank while the majority have a low page rank and only a few pages haven’t yet been assigned any page rank at all. The last are probably my most recent posts here. This looks like real page rank too. I can even tell you the main page for this blog is showing the highest page rank for the entire site.
Page analysis stats are showing me words in my site’s content such as hosting, design, and css. I certainly knew those words were there, but it’s interesting to see what Google decides to list. They are also showing me some of the words in external links to my site. Apparently someone’s using the word ‘gif’ in anchor text to the site. Index stats list a few advanced search operators like site: and link: telling you what each is for and also conveniently providing a link to that search. All pretty useful stuff that I could get on my own, but still nice to have in one place.
Google Webmaster Central also includes links to the new Google blog for Webmasters and the Google discussion group for webmasters. Both of which seem to be part of Google’s effort to become more transparent to webmasters and the seo community. Hopefully both will prove to be useful resources. There’s even a help section called Webmaster help Center.
I’ll be honest in that I never previously used Google Sitemaps so I can’t really offer a comparison to what was, but the new Webmaster Central looks pretty good. Signing up was very easy and I already fixed three link errors on my site as well as found some good details about how Google sees my site. I haven’t read through what’s in the blog and discussion group yet, but certainly will. Overall the tools look useful if only to understand how Google sees my site a little better and I can only imagine more tools being added in the future.
The change from Sitemaps to Webmaster Central may still be under the radar for many, but I think before long a lot of webmasters will be adding their site and taking advantage of the new things Google has to offer.