The Google Webmaster Central service has gained a new “Message Center” area that will initially be use to notify site owners of official spam penalty problems and eventually used to communicate about other issues related to site inclusion at Google.
You’ll find the message center when you log into Google Webmaster Central, from the Dashboard screen. I’ve shown an example below and marked it up a bit, to help guide you to the message center (it’s arrow number two in the screenshot):
At first, messages will be all about penalties that have been applied to your site. These will include things that violate Google’s webmaster guidelines, such as:
- Hidden Text
- Sneaky Redirects
- Keyword Stuffing
Later, Google tells me more general messages about your site might be sent to you, perhaps about crawling errors (these were recently updated but are still reported outside the message center right now) or malware messages that have gone out in the past.
Here’s an example of what one of the current messages looks like:
Google has already been messaging site owners about penalties for some time. It started experimenting with doing this back in September 2005, then it stepped up notifications in April 2006. However, in May of this year, fake notifications started going out to some site owners in Germany. That caused Google to halt notifications until it could find a way to help people know if they received an official communication.
The new message center is that form of confirmation, partially. Google says that email notification of penalties will resume and should continue in the near term. If you get an email — and if you already have a Google Webmaster Central account — then you’ll also see a penalty notification in the message center. However, if you do NOT already have an account, then you won’t see a message. Google said it hopes to fix this in the near future, so that messages would show for those newly registering.
Also, EVERYONE with a Google Webmaster Central account will have a message center. It’s just that for most people, you won’t have messages there, since only penalty messages are currently being issued.
Finally, I asked about the possibility that Google would provide a feed of any messages from the message center as well as from some of the reports from within Webmaster Central. They’re thinking about it, but no news to report yet.