There are 2 opposite opinion regarding Google’s Webmaster Tools. One opinion is that webmaster tools help you to manage and rank your site, another one is that their impact is rather negative. That’s probably clear that if you use only white-hat methods Webmaster Tools will be helpful. And if you are using some black-hat methods – these tools can track your activity and punish your site.
Many people know positive side of Webmaster Tools so in this post I’ll focus on the negative side. I have particular example.
Recently there was Google’s update. I read many posts and thoughts of people talking about it. Interesting topic for me was discussing Sape and whether Google hit this network or no. The opinions are controversial, but most of the people agree last update has nothing to do with Sape, some sites’ positions fell a little bit, but for others improved.
In general I didn’t notice negative impact neither on my sites nor on the sites of my clients. But there is one interesting example. Usually I don’t use webmasters tools, for different reasons. Some of the sites I have even before these tools were launched. But there is 1 site for which I set up these tools. And here is the message I’ve got (I think it’s pretty standard but still I’m publishing it)
Dear Site Owner or Webmaster of **********,
We’ve detected that some of your site’s pages may be using techniques that are outside Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Specifically, look for possibly artificial or unnatural links on your site, pointing to other sites that could be intended to manipulate PageRank. Examples of unnatural linking could include selling links to pass PageRank or participating in link schemes.
We encourage you to make changes to your site, so that it meets our Quality Guidelines. Once you’ve made these changes, please submit your site for reconsideration in Google’s search results.
If you have additional questions about how to resolve this issue, please see our Webmaster Help Forum for support.
Google Search Quality Team
Yes, that site I used for selling links on Sape. It had PR3, now it has 0. But I was using 8 more sites (from the same account) to sell links and the amount of links sold was much higher. All the other saved their PR and there were not drop in rankings. I think the reason why is obvious – that’s because I’m not using webmaster tools for them! On one of these sites I sell links for years and there was a short term drop from PR4 to PR3 but it was for other reasons and later it became PR4 once again.
Of course the fall of my site lowers the links from it. There are still there but no wonder if the buyers will delete them. Then I think I’ll delete all the other links and won’t sell links from it. On the next update I expect PR3 will be restored.
That’s a small example but I think it demonstrates the way Google fight paid links. It fights them with webmaster tools and punishes webmasters. Those why buy links from such sites (detected by Webmaster tools) are punished too because these links are devalued. So in such way Google makes a double shot.
It’s up to you if you are going to use Webmasters tools or not. But if you use some “not allowed” techniques and buying links is not appreciated by Google – stay away from webmasters tools!