Google has added a feature to its Webmaster Tools search engine optimisation (SEO) service that will alert publishers about sudden changes in their site's Google results and click-throughs.
In this way, publishers will be notified whenever their top web pages experience a marked dip or surge in the number of times they appear on Google search results and people click over to the site.
"For most sites, these numbers follow regular patterns, so when sudden spikes or drops occur, it can make sense to look into what caused them," said Javier Tordable, Tech Lead at Google Webmaster Tools.
In particular, publishers should be interested whenever the numbers dip, in case this is due to broken links that are appearing on Google results, he said.
These alerts will also likely be useful for publishers who see the frequency and ranking of their sites' pages in Google search results affected by changes in Google's search algorithm, which is modified and tweaked regularly.
Google makes search algorithm changes in the background and without providing many specifics, which often leads to complaints from webmasters affected negatively and sends them running to their SEO workbenches to try to improve their sites' visibility in Google search results.
The alerts will appear on publishers' Webmaster Tools accounts, but they can also be configured to be sent via email.
This is the most recent alert Google has added to the Webmaster Tools service. In June, it introduced alerts for errors that its web crawler encounters when indexing a site's content.
Google is still determining the parameters for triggering the new search alerts and is encouraging publishers to chime in with feedback on the Webmaster Tools user forum.