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16 August 2006
The rebranded Google Webmaster Central (formerly Google Sitemaps) is set to finally resolve Googleís canonical issues. For some time Google has had problems with the www.domain.com/.. and domain.com/.. versions of site URLs (detecting if they are one and the same site, distributing linking popularity properly). Many websites have incoming links pointing to both the www.domain.com and domain.com URL versions. The problem was exacerbated when the internal linking structure uses relative URLs (links like /article.htm opposed to links like www.domain.com/article.htm).

Recently Google added a new feature in their Webmaster Tools section (former Google Sitemaps), where every webmaster could set a preference for www. or non-www. URLs on every validated domain. Instead of guessing, you simply tell Google to use the www. or non-www. URL versions for every site of yours. This helps properly aggregating PageRank and showing the proper URLs within the SERPs.

In addition, Google offers a variety of other goodies like giving you crawling stats, problems, penalization info, reinclusion requests for penalized sites etc. Iíve been using these features for some time and they are getting better and better and are a must for every webmaster.

It is interesting to know what kind of stats does Google keep for every site in its index. Judging from their Webmaster Tools section, Google keeps ranking information (for which keywords does your site rank and at what positions). As I have written numerous times, ranking for as many keywords as possible (even non-competitive) gives you a ranking boost for more competitive ones (content is king).

Another great stat that Google shows is the most common words used within content on your sites and in the anchor text of links pointing to your site. I have noticed that Google has associated the anchor text keywords of some of my sites with words that do NOT appear in the anchor text, but words close to the links. So, yes, Google looks at text around links and probably uses it for scoring purposes.

The keywords associated with your content and links do not appear for all sites. Iíve noticed that when I added my sites using the www.domain.com version as the URL name of the site, I didnít get these stats. When I set a domain preference for the www.domain.com versions, Google added the domain.com versions to the list of my sites and now shows these keyword associations when I click on the non-www. versions. I think thatís a glitch, but anyway, Google shows these vital stats when you have your sites added as non-www. domains.

I highly recommend the Googleís Webmaster Central Tools to all webmasters, especially the domain preference feature.

Posted under tags: google, seo
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