Okay, it’s time for another #SEOLunch! …and since no one provided me recommendations on topics to discuss, I’m choosing my own.
SPOILER ALERT… I’m upset with something Google is up to. Such a shock, right? Cue the sensationalist headline…
Today I’m going to rant a bit about Google’s Webmaster Tools. Why? Because they’re making changes again – and typically – that means that the abilities of webmasters and online marketers are compromised or altered.
That’s precisely what has happened.
Disclaimer: I’ve been on a couple of Vanessa’s SMX conference panels in the past discussing various components within Google’s Webmaster Tools. She’s awesome, accomplished and incredibly insightful. While her decision to include me on panels was always a surprise, I feel a little confident in being critical of Google Webmaster Tools here.
All that said, I’m assuming (or now asking) that you’ve read Vanessa’s post on SEL, “Google Webmaster Tools Revamps Crawl Errors, But Is It For The Better?”
I want to discuss the some of the changes and recent options that have been removed from the Webmaster Tools interface. Specifically, the following:
- Download Crawl Errors
- Caps at 10K Erroneous URLs
- Redirect Errors
- URLs Blocked by robots.txt Files
- Site Level Errors
Now, I won’t get into each one of these issues specifically, but I’ll pose the following points and questions:
- If SEOs are actively developing tools that rely on exported information (or information available via APIs) – what benefit would these changes have? Is it an intentional case of limiting an SEOs ability to make actionable, productive changes to a site?
- If you have a track record for telling webmasters to enhance user experience and preach efficient, operative sites… what added benefit would there be to hiding critical site issues from those empowered to correct them?
- The robots.txt thing annoys me more than anything. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m baffled by the number of people who do not know how to work with these files despite being in a position to modify or make recommendations for them. Those same people (and others, with good intentions) often slip up and insert bad code that can render entire site sections (or worse) unavailable and unindexable. Again… Why would you pull a feature this useful?
I’m open for some ongoing discussion on this because it seems incredibly counter-productive to me.
Does Google genuinely care? Or, are they taking the easy way out by spinning the removal of these essential tools as a bonus for their users? Weigh in with the comments area below!