A Neat Little Guide to Using Google Webmaster Tools
EVERGREEN, COLORADO – SEO is not one-size-fits-all, nor is it a one-time event. In today’s ever-evolving era of search engine optimization, it’s important to keep a close watch on the statistics of your website on a consistent basis. If you are unaware about the health of your website or lose track of where it’s headed, it’s easier than you’d think to let your SEO die and send traffic (and money) to your competitors.
To prepare yourself for an in-depth analysis of your website, the first thing to do is choose the right kind of SEO tools.
Thankfully, Google itself is a treasure trove of such SEO tools that you can use without paying a penny. Google Analytics is an excellent example of these tools. It’s one of those tools that even a newbie can quickly learn to use and understand, and utilize the data to improve a website’s SEO.
Among other tools that Google offers, the most advanced of all is the Google Webmaster Tools (WMT). If you have a well-rounded knowledge of SEO, you can use this powerful tool for evaluating and planning the organic search strategy for your website or blog.
If you haven’t used WMT yet, here’s a little guide.
To access Google WMT, you must have a Google account. As you go to WMT, you’ll be required to either log in with your existing Google account or create a new one (if you don’t have one). Once you are in, you are ready to add a site to your WMT account.
Though you have added your site to the WMT dashboard, you won’t be able to use this tool unless you have completed verification.
So, follow these steps –
- Click the download file link
- Save it to your computer
- Log in to your site’s web hosting account
- Upload the downloaded file to ‘public_html’ folder
- Visit link to confirm upload
- Click the verify button
There are many other options to verify the ownership of a site. If you already have a Google Analytics (GA) account for the site you have added to WMT, you can also verify by connecting the GA account to the WMT account.
Checking Messages (Spam Warnings/ Notifications)
One of the biggest benefits of using WMT is that it’s where Google sends webmasters spam warnings or other notifications. The email notifications that you receive via WMT tools keep you aware of what may have gone wrong with your website.
Examples of such messages include “Increase in not found errors” and “Is still infected with malware.”
Likewise, Google will send you an email via WMT for any important issue that might harm the search rankings of your website.
Email notifications are just the tip of the iceberg. As you delve deeper and start to check out the many features that this awesome SEO tool offers, you’ll understand why it’s a favorite with webmasters.
The entire WMT data has been divided into five major sections, which are as follows.
- Search Appearance
- Search Traffic
- Google Index
Each of these sections provides invaluable data on keyword traffic, internal links, external links, indexing, crawling, URLs etc.
Depending on your specific requirements, you may use a few or all the features of WMT and improve the SEO of your website. However, it’s important to understand each feature before you use it.
Structured Data – As far as other features of the WMT are concerned, this one is relatively new. By using this feature, you’ll be able to identify structured data within your website like schema.org and microformats.org. If you are adding schema markup to your website, this feature is very useful.
HTML Improvements – If you want to improve the experience of users coming to your website and improve performance, this tab is a must-use. This tab allows you to detect HTML issues on your website including duplicate Meta descriptions, long Meta descriptions, short Meta descriptions, duplicate title tags, long title tags, short title tags and non-informative title tags among others.
Site links – The links that you see under your website’s main search results or the domain name. Though these links are generated by Google automatically, the site links feature allows you to demote any of the pages that you don’t want to appear under your domain name in SERPs.
Search Queries – This is an important data section for tracking the keyword performance of your website. If you want to find out what keywords your website is ranking for, the impressions for each of those keywords, the rate of click-through for your site search results and the average position for each of the keywords for which your website ranks, this section does it all.
Links to Your Site – Backlinks are still very much the backbone of a website’s SEO. This section of WMT provides you all the important data on how and who link to your website. Whether you want to know the sources from where your website is linked or the anchor text for those links, this is the section to check out. In fact, this feature does a good job to help you create a link report or do a link audit of your website.
Internal Links – The internal linking structure of a website also plays a key role in its overall SEO. The WMT provides you with a detailed look at how various pages on your website are linked internally.
Index Status -The index status report tells you how many of the total number of pages on a particular website have been indexed by Google. If your website is losing in search due to indexing issues, this data will help.
Content Keywords – Here, you’ll gather information about the keywords that have been frequently used on your website. Checking out this valuable data will help you identify whether your website is associated with a specific theme.
Crawl Errors – Site or URL crawling errors can do potential damage to the SEO of a website. Whether it’s a Domain Name System error, server connectivity error, soft 404 or Not Found errors, this report will tell you everything.
Crawl Stats – This report allows you to track the Googlebot activity on your website including pages crawled/ day, kilobytes downloaded/ day and time spend downloading a page.
The WMT offers you many more features like the ones mentioned above. If you aren’t using this advanced SEO tool yet, go, create an account, verify your website and start to explore.
If you’re using Google Webmaster Tools already, please feel free to share your thoughts, views and experiences.