Google Webmaster Tools Introduction

Google provides a number of tools for your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The most obvious is Google Analytics, which offers an in-depth analytics suite to help even the most basic user understand and improve traffic to their website. But Google Webmaster Tools gives the advanced search expert another perspective on planning and evaluating his or her seo efforts.

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This tutorial introduces us to Google Webmaster Tools and the basic uses into which it can be put.

Google Webmaster Tools: The Background

Google's Webmaster Tools are essential for any strong SEO effort. To understand their full potential, it's helpful to think about what Google Webmaster Tools' role is for webmasters: it helps you see your website as Google sees it. The toolset gives you insights into what pages have been indexed on your site, what links are pointing to it, your most popular keywords, and much more.

A site that's active in Webmaster Tools has a better shot at being fully indexed and ranking well. There are also a number of deeper insights from Google Webmaster Tools that can be turned into SEO tactical advantages.

If you haven't set your site up on Google Webmaster Tools yet, getting started is simple. Once you've signed up for an account, login to the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard. From there, you're able to add your site.

You'll have to first verify that you own the domain. Depending on your host, Google may provide verification through an easy pop-up process that allows you to login and verify in just very few steps.

Other options include entering a Google-provided meta tag to your homepage, uploading an HTML file to your site's root folder, or confirming ownership via Google Analytics if it's already installed on your site. After you've verified your website, it'll usually start populating data within 24 – 48 hours.

You wull also want to read:

Adding a sitemap to your website

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Designing a Website Like a Search Engine Crawler 

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Improve Your SEO in Four Simple Ways 

SEO Ranking and Website Speed


Google Webmaster Tools Features to Use Daily

Google Webmaster Tools helps you see your website the way Google sees it. Being an advanced analytic tool, it helps webmasters detect problems with their sites and take steps to address them.

Here are key features of Google Webmaster Tools which should be used daily.

Search Queries

The Search Queries section shows the keywords that led users to your site.

This long list shows which keywords users searched for when they came to your site. It is best if this list matches the keywords you are optimizing for but very frequently this list contains good keywords you were unaware of. In this case, pick these good keywords and start optimizing for them, too.

In the Search Queries section, you can also see the number of impressions and the number of clicks, which gives you an idea about the CTR for this keyword. All equal, a higher CTR means the keyword is relevant, so you might want to invest some more efforts into this keyword. However, if you notice that as a result of your efforts, the CTR goes down, it is best if you don't touch this keyword anymore.

Links

The second very useful section of Google Webmaster Tools is the Links to Your Site section.

Here you can see where your backlinks (internal and external) come from, as well as the pages they are linking to. As with other link checking tools, don't expect that every single link to your site is displayed but nevertheless this list of backlinks is useful to check from time to time.

One of the advanced uses of the Links section is to disavow links to your site you deem harmful. Links from bad sites can hurt your rankings, so if you want to get rid of them, follow the instructions in this article.

Crawl Errors

The Crawl Errors section shows the errors Google bot encountered on your site. The data you get is similar to what you get when you use the Spider Simulator and it shows inaccessible pages, missing pages, server errors, and all sorts of problems that prevented Google from correctly crawling your site. You also get some other crawl stats (such as the number of pages crawled a day) that are useful to know.

You wull also want to read:

Adding a sitemap to your website

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Designing a Website Like a Search Engine Crawler 

Essential Tips For Good Website Designing 


Improve Your SEO in Four Simple Ways 

SEO Ranking and Website Speed


Keywords

Similarly to the Search Queries section that also deals with keywords (but it is the ones users type to get to your site), the Keywords section also shows keywords. However, the difference is that here you see what keywords (and their significance) Google has found on your site. The two lists (of keywords users type and the keywords Google finds on your site) could be very different, which means you are not optimizing for what users are searching for.

The Keywords section also allows to see the theme of your site, which post Panda has become even more important.

Sitemaps

The last section you can access from the Dashboard is the Sitemaps section. Here you see the sitemaps of your site Google has found and the number of URLs in them. If the sitemap found by Google is different from what you expected it to be, you can submit a new sitemap for Google to use.
Robots.txt and Other Advanced Stuff

The sections described so far are the basic Google Webmaster Tools sections. There is also a lot of advanced stuff in each of them but we won't describe it into details. For instance, you can use your Google Webmaster Tools to submit a robots.txt file, or to set the preferred domain syntax (i.e. with or without www) to be displayed in search results. Google Webmaster Tools also allows to know if your site is infected with malware. If it is, you need to clean it first and then resubmit it for review.

Google Webmaster Tools is a really valuable instrument for SEO. It gives you at a glance data about all important SEO aspects of a site, such as keywords, links, crawl errors, etc. If you don't use it already, take the time and get familiar with it – it will help you get better rankings for sure.

Google Webmaster Tools Website Verification Guide

Adding your website in Googlewebmastertools and accessing the data available for your site requires webmaster verification. The verification process withh prove that you are the rightful owner or manager for the website.

There are basically five methods of verification currently in place for Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). There's no real preference as to which method you use, although the first two tend to be the most commonly used as they've been around for longer.


    The HTML file upload Method
Google provides you with a blank, specially named file that you just have to upload to the root directory of your site. Once you've done that, you just click on the verify button in GWT and you'll have access to your GWT data for the site.

    HTML tag Method
Clicking on this option will provide you with a metatag that you can insert into the head of your home page. Once it's there, click on the verify button to view your GWT data. One item to note about using this method of verification is that it's possible for the tag to be accidentally removed during an update to the home page, which would lead to a revocation of the verification, but reinserting the tag and clicking verify again will fix that.
   
Domain Name Provider Method
Select your Domain Name provider from the drop-down list and Google will give you a step-by-step guide for verification along with a unique security token for you to use.

You wull also want to read:

Adding a sitemap to your website

Common Mistakes That Affect Website Performance and Search Engine Ranking 

Designing a Website Like a Search Engine Crawler 

Essential Tips For Good Website Designing 


Improve Your SEO in Four Simple Ways 

SEO Ranking and Website Speed

   
Google Analytics Method
If the Google account you're using for GWT is the same account as for Google Analytics (GA) - assuming you're using GA as your analytics solution, as an admin on the GA account, and you're using the asynchronous tracking code (with the code being in the head of your home page), then you can verify the site this way.
   
Google Tag Manager Method
This option allows you to use the Google Tag Manager to verify your site.

How to use Google Webmaster Tools to Identify Problems With Site Titles and Description Tags

Understanding issues with title and description tags on your website in very impportant for SEO perfomance. Google webmaster tools provides a guide to that.

The tool used for this purpose is found under search appearance > html improveents

Here is where Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) will inform you of issues with your title and description tags. As titles and descriptions should be unique for each page and should be within certain character length ranges, this section points out where you have issues that can and should be corrected.

For example, if all of your tag pages have the same description, then you aren't telling the search engines much about what is on those pages.

Clicking through on any of these errors will give you a more descriptive overview of the error and will also give you a list of pages where the error were detected.

You can then take steps to address the issues.
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