Google Webmaster Tools Has Announced a New “Index Status” Feature

Google Webmaster Tools has advertised another “Index Status” offer now tracks a site’s listed Urls for every convention (HTTP and HTTPS), and in addition for checked subdirectories.

“This makes it easy for you to monitor different sections of your site,” Google’s announcement said. “For example, the following URLs each show their own data in Webmaster Tools Index Status report, provided they are verified separately:”

Google Webmaster Tool Indexing Data

The announcement highlighted the change in the reports if you have a website on HTTPS, or if some content is indexed under different subdomains. The reports will have an annotation, and look something like this: Continue reading

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Google Starts Penalizing Sites for Rich Snippet Spam

Google PenaltyIf you use rich snippets on your websites, you should be aware that Google is now penalizing websites for spamming structured data markup.

The new warning was first mentioned in a forum post on the Google Webmaster Central forums from a user who is asking for clarification about the warning and what the issue could be. It is a manual action penalty based on incorrect usage of markups, regardless of whether it was deliberate spam or simply a mistake.

The warning that would appear in a user’s accounts if they have manual action taken is:

Markup on some pages on this site appears to use techniques such as marking up content that is invisible to users, marking up irrelevant or misleading content, and/or other manipulative behavior that violates Google’s Rich Snippet Quality guidelines.

The writing on the wall for penalties related to rich snippets was back in October at Pubcon when Google’s Matt Cutts talked about changes Google was planning in regards to rich snippets and dealing with related snippet spam.

Rich snippets could get a revamp and they will dial back on the number of websites that will be able to display rich snippets. “More reputable websites will get rich snippets while less reputable ones will see theirs removed,” says Matt.

The new penalty seems to affect websites that are misusing rich snippets, such as including authorship on homepages and reviews on pages where there are no reviews. But there was evidence that Google was attempting to educate webmasters on how to use it correctly when they made changes in December to add debugging support for structured data.

If you’re unclear if you’re using rich snippets correctly, you should first check your Webmaster Tools account and see if there’s any issues that show up, either as issues or in the structured data debugging area. Google also has the pretty significant help area for rich snippets, including with videos, to help webmasters implement structured data correctly.

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Matt Cutts: Don’t Stitch Copied Content from Multiple Sites

While many marketers and site owners understand the importance of quality, original content in their marketing plans, there are still those who are testing the boundaries of what that actually means. In a recent Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts talked about the line between spam content and original content, once again.

The question was: Can you copy small portions of content from multiple websites and combine it to create one new web page, and compete in Google with that?

Matt Cutts - Stiching Content

“I fear you may be heading for heartbreak,” Cutts replied in the video. He added that if this is something you’re considering, you should really be asking yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. For example, are you trying to automate?

Cutts began explaining the practice in question by talking about Yahoo’s distaste for it in days past. Yahoo referred to this tactic as “stitching” and “they really considered that spam,” said Cutts. Continue reading

Google Webmaster Tools Give Users More Link Data

Google Webmaster ToolsGoogle’s Distinguished Engineer Matt Cutts kicked off SES San Francisco this morning by announcing a change to the way Google Webmaster Tools serves backlinks to users. Now, instead of getting a huge list of backlinks in alphabetical order, they are giving a better representation of all the backlinks.

“If I download my backlinks in Webmaster Tools, my list ends at H. If you are Amazon or eBay, you get 000000a.com to 000000c.com,” Cutts said.

When Google is serving 100,000 backlinks in Webmaster Tools, it wasn’t that useful to users when they could get so many results from a single domain, and there was no way to sort them. Continue reading