Google Launches New Robot.txt Testing Tool, Drops Google+ Real Name Policy

In a bid to make its services friendlier to both businesses and ordinary users, Google has rolled out several changes to some of its platforms. First, let’s take a look at what the tech giant has in store for marketers, as well as website and online business owners.

Just recently, Google announced that it has launched a new robots.txt testing tool to help brands and businesses detect errors on their respective websites. For those who didn’t know exactly what a robots.txt file is, it is a key component of your website’s SEO. However, Matt Southern of Search Engine Journal said this type of file sometimes does more harm than good to your site. According to him, the robots.txt file could block search engine spiders from crawling important pages on your site or prevent your site from being indexed. So instead of making your website more visible, it prevents your prospects from finding your site online.

To address this issue, Google introduced an updated version of the robots.txt testing tool in the Webmaster Tools. The updated testing tool allows you to see your current robots.txt file and test specific URLs to determine if they can be crawled by search spiders or not. You can also make changes on the file using the new tool. If you decide to change the robots.txt file, just upload the new version to your server and the changes will take effect.

John Mueller, one of Google’s top webmaster trends analysts, encouraged all website owners to use the updated testing tool, even if there are no noticeable problems with their robots.txt files. “Some of these issues can be subtle and easy to miss. While you’re at it, also double-check how the important pages of your site render with Googlebot, and if you’re accidentally blocking any JS or CSS files from crawling.”

Aside from releasing the new robots.txt testing tool, Google has also made it much easier for everyone to create a Google+ account. The tech giant said it is dropping its real name policy, which, for the last three years, has required everyone to use their real names on their Google+ profiles. With the update, existing page owners can now also use any name they want.

While many Plus users welcomed the announcement, some expressed concern, saying that Google’s latest move encourages Internet trolls to do unpleasant things on Google+ pages without being held accountable for their actions, just like what happened with YouTube. However, the tech giant told everyone not to worry.

Yonatan Zunger, chief architect at Google+, said they have intensified their campaign against trolls and they have fixed some of the “broken behaviours” that allowed many YouTube users to leave irresponsible and highly negative comments on the pages of other users. He explained that although the name restrictions are no longer in effect, it doesn’t necessarily mean that those who leave extremely unpleasant comments under the cloak of anonymity would go unpunished.


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