Webmaster Tools Site Versions: It Just Works.
Google recently announced that they added more precise data in webmaster tools. The announcement highlighted the ability to track secure (https) versions of a site and also cast a light on a webmaster’s ability to track subdomains and subdirectories.
In their documentation Google provided examples of the types of URLs you can add.
Webmaster tools provides a lot of options for verifying a website. But for most webmasters, there is no need to verify each additional URLs you want to track. Google will recognize that you have already verified the root domain and apply that verification when you add an https, subdomain or subdirectory.
I tested this with several sites by creating webmaster profiles for https, subdomains, and subdirectories of a root domain. Some information was available automatically, but it seems it will take time to see indexation, query, and error data.
It’s important to note that breaking down your site like this does not change how Google crawls or indexes your site, only how they report data in webmaster tools. The root domain will still report aggregate data. Adding other versions of the site will only report on the activity within that version. Because Google made it very clear that verified versions of your site will not be indexed or crawled differently, I don’t see a need to submit sitemaps to each of the versions you create. If you have a need to create multiple versions in webmaster tools, then you also have a need for multiple sitemaps. The best way for you to implement that is via a Sitemap index.
The best example of why you would segment your site like this relates to international versions of a website. Segmenting like this allows you to gain a better understanding of the site’s health in different countries, differences in landing pages, and geo-specific keywords data.
I would love to hear from some SEOs working with international and https clients about their use of multiple versions in webmaster tools. Tweet or comment.
For more information about the topics referenced in this article, please see the links below.
Webmaster Tools Original Press Release
How to Choose a Verification Method
How to Change Your Verification Method
Sitemap Formats and Guidelines
SSL Sites Don’t Get a Rankings Boost
About Sean McQuaide
Sean McQuaide is a Search Analyst in the SEO department of LunaMetrics. His passion for business and all things digital fuels his need to ask the simplest of questions, why. Along with his education in marketing and economics he brings to LunaMetrics a background in web design, SEO and sales. He is a movie addict and avid drinker of craft beer, but would take on a mountain bike trail over those two any day.