Whenever Google makes changes to Webmaster Tools the search engine optimization community freaks out. Why? Well SEO professionals are particular and very detail oriented. While that is the case, I think these new changes will be fairly well accepted. Google has basically rearranged a few things and added a couple enhanced visualizations. Let’s take a look.
Changed to Webmaster Tools Navigation
According to Google, these are the changes they have made to the navigation.
We’ve organized the Webmaster Tools features in groups that match the stages of search:
Crawl: see information about how we discover and crawl your content. Here you will find crawl stats, crawl errors, any URLs you’ve blocked from crawling, Sitemaps, URL parameters, and the Fetch as Google feature.
Google Index: keep track of how many of your pages are in Google’s index and how we understand their content: you can monitor the overall indexed counts for your site (Index Status), see what keywords we’ve found on your pages (Content Keywords), or request to remove URLs from the search results.
Search Traffic: check how your pages are doing in the search results — how people find your site (Search Queries), who’s recommended your site (Links to Your Site), and see a sample of pages from your site that have incoming links from other internal pages.
Search Appearance: mark up your pages to help Google understand your content better during indexing and potentially influence how your pages appear in our search results. This includes the Structured Data dashboard, Data Highlighter, Sitelinks, and HTML Improvements.
For those of you who don’t know much about Webmaster Tools I encourage you to read a post on it here. Overall, these changes are fairly small. They make sense as they will help users find reports in better sequence.
There have also been some changes to the settings area of Webmaster Tools. Specifically, you can set user permissions, site settings and change an address from the gear icon. This is a great change because previously you had to do this from a few different locations, which was confusing.
Search Appearance Overview
Google has been making a valiant effort to assist webmasters who don’t really know what they are doing. The new search appearance pop-up allows webmasters too see how changes they are making will alter their Google listings. It allows you to filter the search appearance render tool by almost any element you can see in search results.
Google says, “To access the pop-up window, click on the question mark icon next to the Search Appearance menu in the side navigation.
It includes the essential search result elements like title, snippet and URL, as well as optional elements such as sitelinks, breadcrumbs, search within a site, event and product rich snippets, and authorship information.”
Summing up New Webmaster Tools Changes
Overall, these changes to Webmaster Tools will help website owners and simplify usability. While they might take a little getting used to, these are good changes for the long run.