Okay, so I realize that the application/tool is not actually new, but I just found out about it the other day. The tool I’m talking about is the Google Webmaster toolkit. I had never heard of this before the other day.
When I heard about it, I decided to see what they had in there. It’s not anything extremely fancy, but it is a nice little diagnostic tool. The tools help you make sure that your site is being indexed on Google, they rate your search engine ranking, they allow you to test robots.txt files and they allow you to add a sitemap for better indexing.
The Webmaster tools also give you a report of any errors that the Google bot came across while last crawling your site. These errors include “403 forbidden” errors, “404 not found”, timeouts, etc. This can be a really helpful tool for Webmasters that are working on renovating a Web site (which I am in the process of doing for three different sites at the moment, including the one for which I was hired full-time).
There’s nothing fancy about the Google Webmaster tools. It’s not a Web 2.0 application like Google Analytics is, but it’s still a handy diagnostic tool.
As a bonus, I also found a nice little Web site that will automatically generate a Google-compliant sitemap for you for free. XML-Sitemaps actually generates a sitemap in 4 different formats, so you can use the sitemaps in a variety of ways. They generate the sitemap in XML format, ROR format (which is a different type of XML sitemap, apparently), a text version and an HTML version. They also offer a g-zipped version of the XML sitemap.
Are there other handy dandy Google tools that I may be missing out on? Are there other free tools similar to Google’s Webmaster toolkit (or better) that can help someone improve on their search engine presence? What are your thoughts on the matter?