What would you like to see from Webmaster Tools in 2014?

A few years ago, I asked on my blog what people would like from Google’s free webmaster tools. It’s pretty cool to re-read that post now, because we’ve delivered on a lot of peoples’ requests.

At this point, our webmaster console will alert you to manual webspam actions that will directly affect your site. We’ve recently rolled out better visibility on website security issues, including radically improved resources for hacked site help. We’ve also improved the backlinks that we show to publishers and site owners. Along the way, we’ve also created a website that explains how search works, and Google has done dozens of “office hours” hangouts for websites. And we’re just about to hit 15 million views on ~500 different webmaster videos.

So here’s my question: what would you like to see from Webmaster Tools (or the larger team) in 2014? I’ll throw out a few ideas below, but please leave suggestions in the comments. Bear in mind that I’m not promising we’ll do any of these–this is just to get your mental juices going.

Some things that I could imagine people wanting:

  • Make it easier/faster to claim authorship or do authorship markup.
  • Improved reporting of spam, bugs, errors, or issues. Maybe people who do very good spam reports could be “deputized” so their future spam reports would be fast-tracked. Or perhaps a karma, cred, or peer-based system could bubble up the most important issues, bad search results, etc.
  • Option to download the web pages that Google has seen from your site, in case a catastrophe like a hard drive failure or a virus takes down your entire website.
  • Checklists or help for new businesses that are just starting out.
  • Periodic reports with advice on improving areas like mobile or page speed.
  • Send Google “fat pings” of content before publishing it on the web, to make it easier for Google to tell where content appeared first on the web.
  • Better tools for detecting or reporting duplicate content or scrapers.
  • Show pages that don’t validate.
  • Show the source pages that link to your 404 pages, so you can contact other sites and ask if they want to fix their broken links.
  • Or almost as nice: tell the pages on your website that lead to 404s or broken links, so that site owners can fix their own broken links.
  • Better or faster bulk url removal (maybe pages that match a specific phrase?).
  • Refreshing the existing data in Webmaster Tools faster or better.
  • Improve robots.txt checker to handle even longer files.
  • Ways for site owners to tell us more about their site: anything from country-level data to language to authorship to what content management system (CMS) you use on different parts of the site. That might help Google improve how it crawls different parts of a domain.

To be clear, this is just some personal brainstorming–I’m not saying that the Webmaster Tools team will work on any of these. What I’d really like to hear is what you would like to see in 2014, either in Webmaster Tools or from the larger team that works with webmasters and site owners.

Christian Laettner unloved in Kentucky

Speaking of Kentucky, if you’re a Wildcat basketball fan, you’ll get a kick out of this. Remember Christian Laettner? He’s the guy that played basketball for Duke and stepped on a Kentucky player during the 1992 NCAA regional finals. That game broke the hearts of a lot of Kentuckians.

It sounds like Laettner took out a $375,000 loan from a company based in Lexington, KY. Big mistake. Laettner missed the first payment, and now the company is taking Laettner to court to get its money back. Something tells me that Laettner isn’t going to get a lot of leeway in repaying his debts. :)

Hurricane Katrina

Tonight was the first time I sat down to watch the TV about Hurricane Katrina. Man, New Orleans and the surrounding areas look awful right now. News on the web is so much more muted–watching it on TV hits you in the gut. It just makes you feel helpless.

Google got a link up on the main page to donate money, which is good. They’re also matching employee donations like they did with the tsunami, so my wife and I will do that. Does anyone know of other solid charities or service organizations in addition to the Red Cross? If you have suggestions, leave them in the comments. I’d also want to hear any ways that Google could help with disasters like this in the future.

By the way, props to Amazon for providing an easy, rock-solid donate link at http://www.amazon.com/gp/philanthropy/red-cross.html.

Update: Jensense tells how to run Red Cross donation ads as your AdSense alternate ad.

Update: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=new+orleans&t=e has Katrina images in Google Maps. The data is available in the API too for anyone that’s making a relief site. There’s a new entry on the Google Blog with more details. Also, Google Earth allows regular people to add data to Google Earth. Several NASA/CMU/Google people have been placing NOAA data into Google Earth via KML (Keyhole Markup Language) files. More info here: http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/showflat.php/Cat/0/Number/95816/an/currentEvents/page/0#95816. Thank you to all the people who worked hard to get this data live.

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