Webmaster Tools added lots of new functionality over the past year, such as improvements to Sitemaps and Crawl errors, as well as the new User Administration feature. In recent weeks, we also updated the look & feel of our user interface to match Google’s new style. In order to keep bringing you improvements, we occasionally review each of our features to see if they’re still useful in comparison to the maintenance and support they require. As a result of our latest round of spring cleaning, we’ll be removing the Subscriber stats feature, the Create robots.txt tool, and the Site performance feature in the next two weeks.
Subscriber stats reports the number of subscribers to a site’s RSS or Atom feeds. This functionality is currently provided in Feedburner, another Google product which offers its own subscriber stats as well as other cool features specifically geared for feeds of all types. If you are looking for a replacement to Subscriber stats in Webmaster Tools, check out Feedburner.
The Create robots.txt tool provides a way to generate robots.txt files for the purpose of blocking specific parts of a site from being crawled by Googlebot. This feature has very low usage, so we’ve decided to remove it from Webmaster Tools. While many websites don’t even need a robots.txt file, if you feel that you do need one, it’s easy to make one yourself in a text editor or use one of the many other tools available on the web for generating robots.txt files.
Site performance is a Webmaster Tools Labs feature that provides information about the average load time of your site’s pages. This feature is also being removed due to low usage. Now you might have heard our announcement from a couple of years ago that the latency of a site’s pages is a factor in our search ranking algorithms. This is still true, and you can analyze your site’s performance using the Site Speed feature in Google Analytics or using Google’s PageSpeed online. There are also many other site performance analysis tools available like WebPageTest and the YSlow browser plugin.
If you have questions or comments about these changes please post them in our Help Forum.
Written by Jonathan Simon, Webmaster Trends Analyst