Google launched on Friday a new site called Webmaster Central, which the company says will help foster better communication with site owners.
Google also announced that Google Sitemaps has been renamed Google Webmaster Tools. Users can add Web sites to their Google Tools accounts and edit how those sites are indexed.
Personally, I think this is a positive move for Google, which has oft been chastised for not communicating effectively with its customers. When I spoke with Matt Cutts at SES in San Jose this year, I reiterated why I thought Google needs a formal ombudsman to interact with Webmasters. Matt said there had been internal talks at Google about the ombudsman idea, and they were looking to recreate that role in spirit if not in name. I can only assume Webmaster Central is the happy result.
"Lately, we've been trying to make sure that we've got a little more transparency so that people don't just see a black box," Matt said to me. "They're like, 'Why don't I rank well' or 'How can I get more information about this issue I care about?' We've been a little more secret at times, but now the trend is toward being more transparent."
On a slightly related note, I contacted Google because I wanted to do an article about what the company learned at SES. (Matt said the company was making a renewed effort to get more Googlers to conferences to interact with SEOs and the like.) But Matt is apparently preparing some comments about that same subject, which I was told would be published soon.