August 27th, 2007 | Published in Google Webmaster Central
I'm happy to announce that Webmaster Tools is expanding support for webmasters outside of the English-speaking world, by supporting Internationalizing Domain Names in Applications (IDNA). IDNA provides a way for site owners to have domains that go beyond the domain name system's limitations of English letters and numbers. Prior to IDNA, Internet host names could only be in the 26 letters of the English alphabet, the numbers 0-9, and the hyphen character. With IDNA support, you'll now be able to add your sites that use other character sets, and organize them easily on your Webmaster Tools Dashboard.
Let's say you wanted to add http://北京大学.cn/ (Peking University) to your Webmaster Tools account before we launched IDNA support. If you typed that in to the "Add Site" box, you'd get back an error message that looks like this:
Some webmasters discovered a workaround. Internally, IDNA converts nicely encoded http://北京大学.cn/ to a format called Punycode, which looks like http://xn--1lq90ic7fzpc.cn/. This allowed them to diagnose and view information about their site, but it looked pretty ugly. Also, if they had more than one IDNA site, you can imagine it would be pretty hard to tell them apart.
Since we now support IDNA throughout Webmaster Tools, all you need to do is type in the name of your site, and we will add it correctly. Here is what it looks like if you attempt to add http://北京大学.cn/ to your account:
If you are one of the webmasters who discovered the workaround previously (i.e., you have had sites listed in your account that look like http://xn--1lq90ic7fzpc.cn/), those sites will now automatically display correctly.
We'd love to hear your questions and feedback on this new feature; you can write a comment below or post in the Google Webmaster Tools section of our Webmaster Help Group. We'd also appreciate suggestions for other ways we can improve our international support.