Google Webmaster Tools are Strange
So part of the goal of this blog is to get a chance to not only view all the tools sites use to gauge their site’s performance, but to actually be able to do things to mess with it and watch how things unfold from the very beginning. I’ve been spending a fair amount of time playing around with google analytics as well as their webmaster tools to try and understand how things work. And I still don’t know, the best I can think of is that there are various degrees of being “sandboxed” – I’m sure this is wrong, but it’s how I think of this site.
For the first couple weeks after I launched, webmaster tools would show that it was faithfully picking up my sitemap very regularly. But on the diagnostics page “homepage crawl” and “index status” both showed that google’s spider was sadly not venturing to my site. In addition, even though I knew that there were at least a few sites that linked to mine, google search “link:comments.deasil.com” did not return any hits. “Strange,” I thought to myself, but I guess google hasn’t indexed me and so doesn’t know enough about me to show people linking to me. (technorati, by the way, has been indexing and showing me stuff pretty much since day 1).
A little after that things started filling in on the webmaster tools. First Google started telling me the last time it accessed my homepage. This date has been updating with increasing frequency, initially something like 10 days, then a week, last time was just about 4 days ago. It also then began showing me crawl information, which was promising, but for awhile it still told me that pages in my site where *not* included in Google’s index.
At long last a bit ago, webmaster tools finally started saying that I was included in the index and I thought surely now, I would start seeing page rank and inbound links and the like. But stubbornly google refuses this. On the tools page for internal and external links it continued to show no links (these pages should show links to my site from outside sites as well as a little about the link structure of my own internal pages). Finally, just today, those pages are now filled with lots of information, showing me all the pages that have at least 1 link coming in from another page (either mine for internal or someone else’s for external). You can click on the number (which tells you how many links to that particular page) and it should bring you to another list of all those other pages that are linking to mine. However whenever I click one of those links, the subsequent page shows me no links.
It’s frustrating on several hands that Google is so mysterious about how it works. If I knew what was happening it wouldn’t be a problem, but that I have no idea what is happening is very frustrating. Is there a problem with my site? Am I being blocked for doing something wrong according to Google? Or is this just a standard process that every site goes through? I wish google was a bit more transparent on this front. But I wait anyway because what else is there to do?