Over the course of the last week, July 13th – July 19th Google has announced some awesome new features they have introduced to Google’s Webmaster Tools. The first is the introduction of a new reporting feature designed to help marketers troubleshoot rel-alternate-hreflang annotations (an attribute that communicates with Google if there are requirements for alternate languages on a web page).
If you utilize hreflang, Google will be able to display the correct language right in the search results. In order to ensure that the proper content is displayed you will need to add the proper tags into the code for each page. Often times webmasters may put the proper tags on some pages and yet forget to include them on other pages. This creates a problem known as “missing return links”. Google simply explains this by saying “If page A links to page B, page B must link back to page A, otherwise the annotations may not be interpreted correctly.“
The new reporting features are designed to detect when these pages aren’t linked properly:
Another issue that some users were experiencing was “incorrect hreflang values”. In order for a hreflang attribute to function properly it must be in one of the following formats:
Fortunately the new reporting will also identify improper language codes so that they can be fixed.
Moving along Google has also announced that they’ve updated the Robots.txt tester tool within Google Webmaster Tools adding three brand new features:
- The Robots.txt tester tool now highlights which line in your robots.txt file is blocking a specific page.
- You can utilize the new Robots.txt tool to test changes to your robots.txt file and test it before you make the file live.
- Google will now show you older archived versions of your robots.txt file to see past issues.