Blog Post

Google Seeks Feedback -- What We'd Like to See in Webmaster Tools


Google is seeking feedback for their webmaster tools! There was recently an announcement on G+ asking for feedback on how to improve Webmaster Central and they even set-up a moderator submissions page where you can leave your feedback. In this Daily Brown Bag, you’ll learn what Adam and Chad would like to see added to the Webmaster Tools and what some others have suggested thus far. We urge you to leave some feedback and make your voice heard!

Also available on YouTube.

TRANSCRIPTION:

Hello, and welcome to the Daily Brown Bag. Today we’re talking about our feature requests for Google Webmaster Tools. I’m Chad Hill, and I’m joined by Adam Stetzer.

Hey, good morning, Chad. Welcome to the Brown Bag. It’s kind of fun to be on the other side of this, with us being able to ask for features. Being in the SEO reseller software business, we get requests every day. We know it’s hard to keep up. But Google is actively seeking this feedback, Chad, and they have been asking webmasters how they can improve Webmaster Central and the Webmaster Tools interface. There was an announcement on Google+ recently. They set-up a moderator submissions page where you could leave your feedback. We urge you to go and leave feedback and make your voice heard. We know several people are covering this. There have been quite a few suggestions coming in.

Suggestions for Webmaster Tools Thus Far

People really want to see more data, Chad. Not just from the last three months. They want to see more history -- going back a year. Barry Schwartz and many others have been requesting better communication around actions Google has taken, both automated and the manual ones are covered pretty well, but to see if there was an impact of an algorithm update, like a Penguin or a Panda. So people could log into Webmaster Tools and not have to infer that from the data, but just know directly from the source that’s happening. So Chad, I think we’ve opened up the discussion today. What are some of the features you’d be looking for from Webmaster Tools?

What We’d Like to See Added to Webmaster Tools

Well, there are really two things that I often in Webmaster Tools am looking at:

  1. The first one is -- which is very similar to what was already talked about here -- which is more data over time. Because what will happen a lot of times is that someone will come in, they’ll notice something happening, and it takes two to three months for someone to see a trend. And by the time you’re in Webmaster Tools trying to diagnose “What did the impressions and clicks look like four and five months ago?” and “What changes have happened since then?”, you’ll find that a lot of the good trend data is already gone because you’re not able to get as much as a look back as you’d like. Certainly, I agree 100% with that.

  2. The other one is, this being Google, of course, recently rolled out and are testing the ability for them to sort through and look at my mailbox and know exactly everything about my life and organize it... It seems to me they could give us a little more advice on what to do with our websites. When you’re logged in there, they’ve got a lot of factors in their algorithm, but, if my site speed is holding me back, why not give me a warning there to say, “Your site speed is in the bottom third of our bell curve, and you need to speed up your website.” Or, same thing, “You have links that need to be looked at, and here are a couple of examples.”

I know there’s always this concern about how much data they give and they’re giving away the secret sauce, but, at the same time, a lot of us out here are just trying to make our websites better for our customers and for, of course, the audience in Google. So I think Google Webmaster Tools could do a better job giving us some advice and tips and recommended actions. Those are my two; what about you, Adam?

Keyword Data & API Access

Great theme, and I want to carry that forward. Google has told us for a long time, “Understand your audience. Write great content for your audience.” And there’s no better way to try to position content for your audience than understanding the keywords around which they found you on.

There was this huge outcry, Chad, years ago when keyword-level data was taken out of Google Analytics, and it was all changed to not provided. And the line at the time was, “Well, go to Webmaster Tools to get your keyword data.” Indeed, there is keyword-level, specific data in Webmaster Tools, but -- at the same time that they shifted from analytics to emphasizing Webmaster Tools -- they took away API access to that keyword data. Because you cannot pull keyword-level data from the Webmaster Tools’ API. So my big request is finish the job there.

If you don’t want to have keyword-level data in analytics -- which, I personally think should still be there, and I thought the reason for them removing it was fairly flimsy -- but, if you’re going to point to Webmaster Tools as the official source for that, then you need to make the API in Webmaster Tools as useful as it was in analytics. And include keyword-level, specific data there on your rankings. So that’s an issue that’s a sore spot for a lot of developers because, in addition to having an underdeveloped API, they then released (sort of unofficially, but it’s on the official Google blog) a python script you can actually use to scrape Google Webmaster Tools. Matt Cutts came out and said, “Go ahead, and use this,” which was very odd, after years and years of saying, “You can never scrape any Google property” and that being in the contracts of the API terms of services. I think the whole issue around the API access in Webmaster Tools is very muddled and poorly communicated, and it doesn’t include some key data that it really should. So that would be my big feature request.

That’s our Brown Bag today for what we think should be in Webmaster Tools. Again, we urge you to go and leave some feedback, and let Google know what you’re thinking. We hope you’ve enjoyed our coverage today. We ask you to subscribe, and we’ll see you back here tomorrow.