Google Webmaster Tools (WMT) is an incredibly important insight for SEOs. The data is a direct link to Google itself, so if you don’t have a Google Webmaster tools account for your business, you should get one! It is easy to set up, understand, and use, and Google’s extensive database provides guides and how-tos to help webmastesr all over the globe.
This is a run-through of just some of the facilities Google Webmaster Tools provides and how to use them for your site’s SEO.
Understanding Google Webmaster Tools
To be able to use the many features of Google Webmaster Tools, you first need to understand what each one offers. See the list below for a brief explanation of each one.
This is where You will land when you choose your website via webmaster tools. It is several important information put together in a nice dashboard which has your sites most important messages, Crawl Errors, Search Queries & the Sitemap(s) of your website.
Any Site Messages will be displayed here. You should regularly visit this to see if you have been affected by any errors or any messages that Googlebot may discover while crawling your site.
As the title of this tab suggests this is how your site is displayed in Google search engine, this tab also lets you manipulate your site’s sitelinks & view your structured data if any. (I would not recommend playing around with these settings unless you feel comfortable you wont cause any harm to your site.
This tab will be where you will spend a lot of your time. Here you can see your search queries (the keywords people use to find your site), Links to your site (the people who are linking to your site from their blog or website), Internal Links (the content you link from within your site pointing to other pages of your site), Manual Actions (any web-spam actions that are currently affecting your site) & International Targeting (The language your site is being served to users based on your domain or language tags)
Some important notes for this tab:
- Keep an eye on your Search Queries so that you can better understand how your content is being found.
- Keep track of the outside links pointing to your site. These are not always helpful and if that is the case they should be removed as soon as possible.
- If you think you have been affected by a Google Update or Penalty then you should check out the Manual Actions sub tab.
This tab shows you the index status of your site. From here you can view the most significant keywords that Google has linked to your site (due to your content and own keywords on the site as well as user search queries) you can also remove URL’s from Google’s index via this tab.
Warning: Do not attempt to remove any URL’s using this tool unless absolutely necessary, and only if you know what your doing. If you do wish to remove certain URL’s from Google’s index I recommend using your Robots txt file to specify which ones you want Google to drop from its index.
Another great tool that will help you and that you will spend most of your time on is the Crawl tab in Webmaster Tools. From here you can view the Crawl Errors if any of your site, the Crawl stats (how often Google crawls your site). You can also Fetch as Google (an amazingly useful tool that shows you what the search engine sees when crawling your site), Robots.txt tester ( you can allow or disallow URL’s to see how they will impact on Google’s spiders) & view the sitemaps you have submitted to Google or even submit a sitemap.
These are just some of the features you can use when you set-up a Google Webmaster Account. I highly recommend using this to keep up to date with your sites health and indexing status in the Google search engine. An important note here is that Google Webmaster Tools does not effect any errors, issues or crawling done on your site from other search engines such as Yahoo or Bing. You should always have an SEO strategy that is friendly to all search engines and not just one.
If you are having problems with formulating your strategy, feel free to contact us for free advice on how you should proceed.