The last couple years I’ve spent a lot of time in the Google Webmaster Help groups. Most of that time I’ve tried to help people with problems with their websites and Google. Together with the webmaster (every site is unique) and the other active members in the groups we’ve tried to work out where things are going wrong, what needs to be changed and often we’ve been able to fix things so that the website is back in the index, the content is getting found and hopefully, the webmaster has learned a thing or two. The best part for me is when a webmaster not only changes a few technicalities but is also able to take in and implement changes in strategy, changes that make the site even better for his visitors and in the end gets his unique content easily found. I love it when that works out!
I really enjoy these kinds of problems – finding a source of trouble in a giant heap of pages, using experience, guesses and estimations based on a “black box” that we know as Google. These puzzles keep your mind sharp and force you to think in a connected way. Sometimes you have to take a few steps back and look at the overall picture to find the real issues – and that’s something which is hard to do when you’re directly involved. Taking a look at the larger picture is something that takes a bit of practice, and thankfully it’s something that is done often in another place I love to be, cre8asite forums.
There’s a reason why I even got involved with all these puzzles in the first place: I know there is a lot of really important information out there that just can’t be found, and if it’s not findable, it will get lost. Perhaps forever. It might not be the solution to life, the universe and everything, but there is so much out there, online, on the web, that just can’t be found because of some technicality that the webmaster never thought about. On the one had, I want to help the webmaster to get found, on the other hand, I’d love to help the search engines to find his content, regardless of what technicalities he has forgotten.
Taking the next step
You can probably guess what’s coming up next :) .
Come September, I’m going to be working for Google in their Zürich (Switzerland) office. I’m joining the team around the Webmaster Tools as a Webmaster Trends Analyst. Looking at the diagram above, being able to do that just about hits the sweet spot in the center – something I’m good at, something I love doing and then: something they’d even pay me to do. It doesn’t get any better. I can’t wait.
What will that mean for the GSiteCrawler and my other websites?
Fortunately I’ve been able to pass off almost everything to my old company, where they have someone who will be able to take over where I left off. At the moment the main problem is the language barrier (English vs German) – but I’m confident that it will improve. Please be patient as they get up to speed :) – and of course remember that their main business has nothing to do with websites and search engines.
What will that mean for my forum presence?
It would be nice if I could be as present as ever – perhaps with some insights that can help even more. Realistically, however, I know it will take some time before everything settles down and I actually have enough time to do as much as I would like in the forums. Additionally, it will almost certainly mean less speculation on my part about things going on within the “black box” :D . My goal is to make sure that the communication between webmasters and the engineers at Google can continue to grow, in quantity and especially in quality. That might be through forum postings, through blog postings, at conferences or small meet-ups, with the help of tools and personalized notifications, perhaps even on Google-Talk.
What about this blog?
This blog will remain my personal blog. I won’t be speaking on behalf of Google here. The opinions expressed here are and will remain solely my own. Don’t ask me to make a comment on anything if you want an official answer :). And anyway: don’t trust anyone (even if he will soon work for Google), test it for yourself. Trust me on that. Errmm. Whatever.
Countdown to September
Please bear with me while I’m packing things up, tying up loose ends in the office and generally getting more and more nervous. I have a few blog posts that are prepared (in my head) which I hope to put online and a few more interviews to make. I can’t wait for September. Woohoo!
(The graphic is from Scott Hanselman’s blog, who’s doing the same move at about the same time, only to Microsoft instead. Congratulations, Scott!).