It’s been a long time coming, but Google has finally found a channel to communicate with webmasters â€” Google Sitemaps.
One of the biggest frustrations for webmasters is when your website drops or disappears from Google’s index. The only way to find out if your website has been penalized is to go through the process of contacting them via this form. You send them an email, they send you an automated reply, you reply and then wait for them to tell you whether or not your website is penalized or not. It’s a process that can take days and you’re not guaranteed to get a useful answer from them.
Google has now eliminated the need for that arduous process by providing the Notification of violations of the webmaster guidelines in Google Sitemaps. The Summary page of the Diagnostics section will now notify you if your site has been penalized, and will also supply a link to the Reinclusion Request Form after you’ve cleaned up your website. Although they still don’t tell you what the violation is, it’s a start.
In addition to the new features, all of which are highlighted on the official Google Sitemaps Blog, they’ve introduced a new look-and-feel. Since I’m a minimalist at heart striving to keep thing simple and functional â€” I think the updated layout looks and works great. The navigation is intuitive and it’s easy to find and access the content you’re looking for.
Update 2006-06-23: Sugarrae has an informative interview with Vanessa Fox of Google Sitemaps. In the interview, Vanessa confirms that they’re using Sitemaps as a main channel of communication with webmasters.