Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz Interviews Vanessa Fox of Google Webmaster Central

Apr 16, 2007 - 11:19 am 1 by
Filed Under SEO Interviews

We had a tremendous amount of coverage during the Search Engine Strategies conference, and every time we were in the Press Room, we saw another WebProNews video being filmed. Members at Cre8asite Forums and DigitalPoint forums discovered this particularly interesting interview between Rand Fishkin of SEOmoz interviewing Vanessa Fox of Google's Webmaster Central.

The interview covered many different topics which are summarized below.

Is Google Base worth it? Vanessa says yes for sites with structured data, such as real estate listings or recipes. It is a separate searching system and you can refine your results. Google Base is a great product for results that can be refined.

Getting on Google News: If you're accepted to the program, you can submit a news sitemap through Google's Webmaster Tools.

Google Sitemaps Initiative Offering Sitemaps in 18 New Languages: This has always been available, but now the content is available in 18 languages so people can learn more about it without having to learn English.

Sitemaps Support through robots.txt: The syntax of this is:

Sitemap: http://yoursite.com/sitemapfile.xml

Vanessa says that it is still recommended that you initially submit your sitemap through Google Webmaster Tools so that webmasters can determine whether their sitemap file has any errors.

What does Vanessa think about other search engine "Webmaster Central" portals? It's great. Yahoo SiteExplorer just went out of beta, and it works well. All engines should have such tools.

Can we get support for the following in Google Webmaster Central?

  • Delete URL: We've had a URL removal tool for about 6 years. It's certainly a possibility to port to Webmaster Central.
  • Live PR Score: I'm not sure about that one.
  • Will Google ever compete with Alexa? Not likely due to privacy concerns.
  • Link sorting: Vanessa says that she will pass the request on.
  • Seeing supplemental results and why they are supplemental: Vanessa can see the expansion into determining where pages have problems but not getting too specific.
  • Will we see penalties for people who buy links in Google Webmaster Central? We'll start paying more attention to paid links. (Days after this interview, Matt Cutts addressed the issue of paid links.)
  • Information on who is linking to 404 pages: It's possible, but the best way to deal with this is with a redirect, because you may not be able to get that broken link fixed.

Is it possible that submitting a sitemap can get an orphaned page -- that has no pages linked to it -- indexed in Google? Possibly, but it probably won't rank well. It might rank for non-competitive terms.

What about results that are not wanted by a user? Will sitemaps affect that? The most important thing is about user experience. Is this page what they wanted, or is it a hop to get to pages that they want?

What happens if I want to move to another site through a 301 redirect? If I verify both of the sites in Webmaster Central, is there a way to keep the rankings? It is possible if we are able to verify ownership for both sites. Other things you can do now is that you take the pages from the old site and put them on the new site as-is and redirect one-to-one. A lot of people who do this move restructure the content, so it gets harder to pinpoint the issue. While it is a natural time to redo your site, just do everything a step at a time.

With regards to parasite hosting and I host my content on an .edu site, do you think that there may be too much trust that Google is putting in this domains, and do you think that that might slide in the future? We're always looking at our algorithms. We always look at improving user experience and spamming the search engines is not the best user experience. We have a team that works on this, and we have an authenticated spam reporting tool in Webmaster Central. Hopefully, you will see these results improve.

You can watch the video here:

Discussion continues at Cre8aSite Forums and DigitalPoint Forums.


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