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For webmasters wanting to keep a tight handle on their site and its performance, the Google Search Console is an essential tool. Providing valuable insights into the quality of a website and how its ranking, all of the vital data is channelled through the Search Console by Google.
Recently, one of the functions on the Search Console was disabled: the Validate Fix button. This left webmasters unable to communicate directly with Google when errors and oversights had been amended.
Google admitted that the button had been temporarily disabled as one of a number of “minor updates” it was implementing, but it caused serious disruption within the online business community.
The good news is that the Validate Fix button has now returned and is available to webmasters with immediate effect.
Google uses the Search Console to let webmasters know about any issues with their site. These could be minor or serious issues, identified when their URL is discovered, crawled and indexed.
The impact of any issues may be trivial, or it can be catastrophic. In the worst-case scenario, a major error could stop a website from appearing in any organic search.
Webmasters are able to monitor the performance of their website and ensure their content continues to comply with the core Google rules by checking the Search Console. Google will display full details of any content that’s found to be breaching their rules, or which contains an error. This provides the webmaster the opportunity to correct their site as needed.
Once any corrections have taken place, Google will need to check the site again. This isn’t always a quick process, and for more serious problems, it can take a number of weeks. While these checks are ongoing, the site or pages affected won’t be ranking. This is why there’s a real urgency to get any problems quickly rectified and approved by Google.
The way to request that Google checks a website or webpage again is by using the Validate Fix button. While this was deactivated, webmasters had no mechanism to alert Google that they’d corrected their site and to request a review.
News that the Validate Fix button is now available will come as a welcome relief to all webmasters.
As the Validate Fix button is so important for webmasters, it may seem strange that Google voluntarily deactivated it temporarily.
However, this wasn’t due to a bug or a glitch, it was a planned outage that Google say was unavoidable.
Webmasters looking at their Search Console would have seen the following message displayed:
“Limited functionality: We are making some minor updates in the next few days. During this period you will not be able to issue new validation requests.”
The reason for the deactivation was the launch of the new Search Console reporting structure. Google announced in June that they would be streamlining the reports available, and making critical issues more obvious.
Feedback from users suggested that the old reporting layout was confusing, making it difficult to identify the fixes that were urgent.
Google responded by migrating everything to a new reporting layout, grouping warnings in a simpler way that it said would allow webmasters to prioritise more effectively.
The changes were purely for the purposes of reporting; nothing changed about how pages and sites were crawled or ranked.
The response to the announcement was predictable, with many webmasters concerned about the long layoff for the Validate Fix button. However, Google believes that whilst disruptive, the long-term effects of changing the reporting functions and the additions of new filters, will be greatly beneficial for all concerned.
Not all issues identified by Google during crawling need to be fixed, and not everything will be critical. If you have a lot of issues, the new reporting will allow you to prioritise the ones you want to work on first.
For example, content which has been blocked by robots.txt is probably intentional. These might be pages that you don’t want to be indexed for some reason e.g., a special offer which has since expired.
Webmasters have the choice of whether to fix all of the errors that Google identifies. You won’t be penalised for not fixing an error which is deliberate (such as robots.txt).
Once you have fixed a known error, you don’t have to ask Google to validate your fix. When it next crawls your page, it will automatically update the report even if you haven’t requested it.
However, you may get your instances updated more quickly if you request that they validate your fix. If the problem is significant and affecting the visibility in search results, a fast resolution may be important.
When you’ve fixed something, click on the issue in your list and then click on Validate Fix. You must be absolutely certain that you have fixed every single instance of the error on your site. If even one instance remains, validation will cease immediately, and you’ll have to go through the process again.
You can monitor the whole validation process to see what point Google has reached with its checks. Most validation requests take around two weeks to be checked and approved; do not click Validate Fix again for the same issue until the checks are complete.
You might see any of the following in the Validate Fix process:
If the check fails for any reason, Google will provide details of the URL so you can return to the page and implement the fix. You can then request for Google to validate your results again.
As some results can take longer than the average of two weeks, it’s useful to be able to track the progress through the Search Console.