Digital Marketing News Round Up: Google Webmaster Tools Improvements, Disavow Aids Penguin Recovery Says Cutts, Keywords Tool Adwords Exclusive

Welcome to this week’s digital marketing news, featuring a trio of Google-related items. Let’s go!

Google Webmaster Tools Navigation Improvements

Monday July 1 saw Google announce a ‘clean up’ of the left hand navigation menu in Webmaster Tools, in addition to some other minor tweaks for the platform. The navigation menu has been streamlined to improve user experience, with the order of items (listed under four main headings – see below) in the menu now syncing with the stages employed in Google’s Flow reports.

Here’s a brief rundown of the function of each section of the revised menu:

    • Search Appearance: This section helps webmasters mark up the pages of a site, to enable Google to better understand the content included on each, influencing how said pages appear in search results (potentially aiding clickthrough rates). The ‘Structured Data’ dashboard, ‘Sitelinks’, ‘Data Highlighter’ and HTML Improvements’ features are now found within this section. Clicking on the question mark next to this section meanwhile, sees a pop up appear, explaining in layman’s terms how Google search results pages work

    •  Search Traffic: In this section you’ll find insight regarding how site pages perform in search results, including search queries (i.e. how users find your site’s pages) and the ‘Links to Your Site’ feature

    •  Google Index: This section tracks how many site pages are indexed by Google. Here you’ll find the ‘Index Status’ and ‘Content Keywords’ features, and you can also choose URLs you’d like omitted from search results

    •  Crawl: This section contains details of site crawl stats, crawl errors, crawler-blocked URLs, URL parameters and sitemaps, as well as the ‘Fetch as Google’ feature

Webmaster tools July2013

The administrative gears box can also be accessed more simply – it is now available in the top right of all Webmaster Tools pages. These changes – while largely aesthetic – are likely to be useful for both Webmaster Tools novices and experts alike. Finding certain functions should be much easier!

Matt Cutts confirms disavow can help with Penguin penalties

Friday 28 June saw Canadian SEO engineer Josh Bachynski, pose a question via Twitter to Matt Cutts, Google’s head of webspam:

Matt Cutts Disavow Twitter conversation

While most SEO engineers already suspected this was the case, it is somewhat comforting to have confirmation from the industry figurehead.

It is also suspected that Google will imminently launch a ‘bad link reporting’ feature in Webmaster Tools, thanks to the following Webmaster Central video, featuring John Mueller, Webmaster trends analyst for Google Switzerland. Mueller asserted that bad link reporting is “definitely” coming to the platform soon:

Webmasters worldwide would no doubt find the addition of this highly rumoured feature very helpful for determining the quality of backlink profiles for their site/s (aiding the avoidance of search visibility penalisations).

Google keywords tool to become exclusive to AdWords account holders

Currently, anyone can make use of Google’s AdWords Keyword Tool, to determine the number of local or global searches performed for certain key terms or queries each month. However, this won’t be the case much longer – the tool is set to become exclusive for those with AdWords accounts only.

This is the warning currently showing in the Google AdWords Keyword Tool:

Warning message keyword tool

This isn’t overly problematic since AdWords accounts can be created free of charge, though webmasters will have to ensure they are logged in each time they want to make use of the tool. It is thought this change might be an attempt by Google to encourage more webmasters to pay out for PPC advertisements, or an indication the tool will eventually be deleted in order to hinder keyword research (making SEO practices more difficult). Time will tell…

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