SEO Tip #83: Which Types of Webmasters Tools Errors Should I Report to Google?

Matt Cutts: You’ve essentially asked the engineering equivalent of: did you fart? Because if you ask at Google do you monitor for errors, that’s a little bit kind of impolite. It’s almost like, well of course I monitor for errors. So just to be safe I pinged the Webmaster Tools team and I said, “Hey we track these errors and keep an eye on them right” and got back just a couple very, very polite but slightly indignant responses.

You know along the lines of we have extensive monitoring for our front end. We make sure our pipe runs regularly. We monitor this and that so the short answer is when crazy errors fly out, whether they be system errors or whenever things are not running correctly, we have a wide variety of things to monitor that and try to track that so that we can fix it ourselves, because we don’t want to rely on users to have to report that to us.

Now the one thing you might want to think about is if there’s data quality issues. So for example, you used to see this number of backlinks and suddenly you’re seeing half as many backlinks or something like that. We would do a pretty good job of monitoring, ‘well the entire pipe line is broken or people are getting system errors when they are trying to access this page.

But it’s harder to write safeguard checks to sort of say, yes how good is the quality of data? So if you see problems like that definitely let us know. The Webmaster forum is a great place to do that, but yeah I pinged a couple people and got back very quick replies that said yes of course we monitor all these sorts of errors.

And in fact I think within any engineering team at Google you’d usually get back that sort of response. They’d say, “well of course we keep our eye out for these sort of errors and try to fix them immediately.”

It’s a perfectly reasonable, completely normal question to ask, but you might be aware that you know that’s a little like poking at an engineer and saying, “Hey are you a good engineer or not?” And I think they take it very seriously here.

So always if you see problems feel free to let us know on the webmaster forum, but I think we’re in pretty good shape on that point.

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About the Author

Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson has been on the Internet since the its dawn(ie his first computer program was recorded on cassette tape) and his first hard drive cost about as much his current MacBook. His first byline was in 1993 for a local newspaper rag he eventually helmed, and his last “real job” was at a computer start up which ended when it ended. Throughout it all he’s freelanced and blogged. Now he is mesmerized by Search Engine Optimization forever trying to “rise to the top” for the right reasons. He’s been married to his wife Julia for as long as he can remember and has two lovely, wonderful children. He looks forward to sharing the latest in the technical best for all the online entrepreneurs.