Nit-picking over SEO is a waste of time. What does this mean in practice?
One of my recent habits was checking Google Webmaster Tools. Tools there help site owners fix problems which affect how Google’s search engine views a website.
Can I ignore this now I no longer care about search engine optimisation? If you have an opinion, feel free to add it to the comments below.
Geek brain food?
Regularly checking Webmaster Tools has a whiff of obsessive-compulsive disorder. It doesn’t help that the tools often point out things to fix on your site, such as misdirected URLs, missing title tags and so on.
While SEO geeks spend a lot of time hanging out at Google Webmaster Tools, the information on offer isn’t just about optimising search. Misdirected links are a problem in their own right and the site performance information is a quick way of checking there aren’t major problems – even if it is inaccurate. My measured speed graph leaps about even when I’ve done nothing to slow or streamline the site. (The site speed feature has now be removed from Webmaster Tools).
Crawl errors or cruel errors
The crawl error information seems equally ridiculous. At the time of writing I’m told there are 180 not found URLs. Many of them are working perfectly well – I can click on them to check this. Others are weird things like missing tag pages where I’ve removed the tag or comment pages. There are also URLs like:
htt p:/ /bi llb enn ett .co .nz /20 08/ 11/ 29/ rec har ge- tho se- bat ter ies /?r efe rer =sp her e_s ear ch
htt p:/ /bi llb enn ett .co .nz /pa ge/ 19/ fun cti on. cal l-u ser -fu nc- arr ay
Whatever they mean.
I can’t get excited about readers not being about to find pages I don’t expect or want them to find.
The fetch as Googlebot feature is clearly no longer of any interest to me in my post-SEO era. Likewise I don’t care about the keywords. And anyway, some of the listed keywords are just plain weird.
Information, but pointless?
Webmaster Tools’ search queries tab displays more information I can’t use.
I like the page showing the links to my site. seeing who is taking an interest in my work is interesting. At the same time, I feel if they take an interest in me, I owe it to them to see what their sites are all about. But is this useful? I don’t think so.