Google Webmaster Feature Improvements

Google implemented some nice features this month for those of us who run websites to help get a better handle on who and how many people are following along with our sites.

In early February, in greatly expanded the ability to track external links to a web site you control. It is possible in Google already to get a list of pages that link to a particular page, but for some reason Google is actually only presenting a small subset of that information to the public.

Once you have verified your site with Google (which involves adding a meta tag), Google will now let you view and download a more comprehensive list of external links to any site you control. From my cursory look at the external links reported by Google to this site, there are still a lot of external links that Google either doesn’t know about or aren’t being included in this more comprehensive report, but it is still much better than what you get from using the link operator in the search engine.

The other thing Google did was add a notation when Google Reader hits an RSS feed that indicates how many people are subscribed to that feed. Open up a server log and search for the Google Reader bot and you can quickly see how many people are subscribed to the feed via Google Reader. Bloglines and other web-based RSS readers have had this feature for a long time, so it’s nice to see Google Reader finally implement this as well.

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