WMT: Google Gets Personal With SEOs?

Christmas morning, I got something I never expected: a personal email from Google. And it truly felt like a gift!wmt

Right out of bed, I had my 3 cans of Red Bull and checked my messages, as usual. Initially, I wasn’t surprised to see that I had an email from Google. I figured it was an automated message about profile linking or something like that. But I was wrong.

The email was actually from one of Google’s Webmaster Trends analysts. He was contacting me about a rankings situation — in smartphone rankings — for one of my brand’s domains! But don’t confuse this with Google’s recent announcement about the addition of smartphone specific crawl errors in Google Webmaster Tools. That has an automated approach and is something else entirely.

What I’m talking about is a personal email I received from Google telling me I had a redirect issue that was hurting my mobile rankings. Take a look at the actual email below.

Google Webmaster Tools Analyst's Email

Google Webmaster Tools Analyst’s Email (click for larger image)

Have you received an email similar to this from Google? Perhaps it is part of a new initiative or process, but I haven’t heard anything about it.

In general, the email seems to be more manual than automated, or at least semi-manual. How so? First off, the email contains a personal signature. What’s more, notice that the message includes an actual “reply-to” email address rather than the usual wmt-noreply@google.com. These factors lead me to believe that this email was the result of someone at Google having an alert triggered and then personally reaching out.

With that said, I think it is important to note that the domain mentioned in the original email gets a considerable amount of traffic (~25K unique visitors a day). In other words, that kind of volume may have helped to trigger the email.

If this is part of a bigger initiative, I doubt that smaller players will get the same level of service. That’s a shame, because when I got Google’s note, I immediately thought of my good friend, Todd.

Last year, Todd had a problem with the indexing of his product details pages after a redesign. It caused his sales to nosedive, and he almost had to shut down his e-retail business as it relies heavily on organic traffic. If Google had informed him about the issue, it could have saved him a lot of trouble.

A Gift That Keeps On Giving

While I’m both happy and thankful for Google’s personal outreach to me, I’m hoping that it is part of a larger initiative, as I think it could greatly benefit the SEO community. After all, one of the biggest challenges SEO professionals grapple with is the implementation of our recommendations!

When we tell brands and their development agency that they need to change their coding and the way they handle mobile redirects to avoid a rankings loss, they rarely say, “Sure thing!” Instead, they usually come back with some quote that counteracts or challenges our recommendations.

But if Google sends out personal emails alerting webmasters to problem areas/situations, SEOs will have actual documentation from Google that will back up their recommendations. How awesome would that be?!

Getting clear and direct guidance from Google in the form of these Webmaster Trends emails will be even more important as technology continues to evolve, because the complexity of organic recommendations will only increase. This additional complexity has led to a lot of guesswork by SEOs, especially in regard to the impact of one variable on another.

But the guidance Google sent in the above email eliminated the need for guessing and spelled out the problem: a broken redirect will hurt your mobile rankings. As tech continues to evolve, SEOs and brands would greatly benefit from such direct and clear guidance from Google.

Overall, I hope the email I received from Google wasn’t an isolated event. I’d love to see Google’s Webmaster Trends analysts reach out to SEOs more and provide clarity into the complex technical issues that have large-scale impact like the one above. In the end, such outreach efforts could truly be the gift for SEOs that keeps on giving.

Have you received similar personal emails from Google’s Webmaster Trends analysts? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.