Matt Cutts posted “Notifying webmasters of penalties” on his blog today which covers an experimental Sitemaps integration that will alert webmasters if their website has violated Google’s webmaster guidelines.
Matt claims that this has been in the works for a couple of months. Interestingly enough, at WebmasterWorld, Matt fielded a question about this exact type of feature being available and said that he will definitely pass along the recommendation. I don’t know if the Sitemaps team has had this in the works or if it is a direct result from WMW, but it is great to see that Google is continuing to expand on these types of accomodations for webmasters.
HOWEVER, Matt mentions that not everybody will be notified. Of course you need to have a Sitemaps account, but he writes:
“We are not confirming every site that is penalized for now, and I don’t expect us to in the future.”
The reason he gives is that they do not want to help the spammers who are blatenly attempting to cheat the system. What I am wondering is where will they draw the line? How will they determine who is cheating and who is trying to optimize their site using whatever information they think is legitimate?
Nonetheless, I definitely think this is a step in the right direction and commend Google for it. If you are interested, there is a post on the Sitemaps blog that goes into further detail on the new look and features. Google has also launched a new help center for webmasters.