As a provided, no-charge web service from the all-mighty Google, Webmaster Tools allows web users to diagnose, monitor and optimize their websites. The awareness users get from monitoring keywords, links, alerts and manual actions are priceless, but there are plenty of people still not taking advantage of this free feature. Many users have heard about Webmaster Tools, and might even have an account, but that’s usually where the priorities stop.
To use Google Webmaster Tools, you must verify your website first. Verification lets Google know that you’re the authorized owner of your site. There are a few different ways to verify your website – you can download an HTML file and upload it into the root directory of your website or add the HTML tag into the head of the site’s home page. If you’re using the same account for Google Analytics, you can verify that way instead. Once verification is complete, you’re directed to the Webmaster’s dashboard, where you can access major sections such as search queries, crawl errors, links, keywords and sitemaps to your site. Let’s break down these categories:
Search Queries: Shows keywords users searched that brought them to your website. You might notice a number of the keywords listed are what you’re already looking to rank for, but Webmaster Tools often shows very good keywords you might not have thought of. This section also lets you see the number of clicks and impressions keywords have gained. It’s a great way to determine how well these keywords are performing and if certain ones should continue to be used or dropped from your site.
Crawl Errors: Shows errors that “Google Bots” come across when crawling your site. Errors include missing pages, server errors, unreachable pages (404 errors), spam/malware; anything that could prevent Google from efficiently crawling. Crawl errors also give the total amount of pages Google crawls per day.
Links: Includes where internal and external links are coming from and what pages they’re linking to. Google doesn’t provide every single link to your website, but it’s a useful list to check periodically.
Keywords: Compares the keywords users are searching to find your website to what keywords are actually being seen on your pages. Sometimes this comparison can be very different, so it’s a helpful way to determine if your content is optimized correctly for what users are searching for.
Sitemaps: My favorite section. This is where you submit your website’s sitemap and find out the number of URL’s Google finds when accessing it. Regularly resubmitting your sitemap guarantees that Google is crawling the most updated version of your website at all times. If you’re a business that consistently publishes new blogs, landing pages or products, then you’re going to want Google to crawl and index these new pages as soon as possible.
User Experience is Everything
The absolute best reason for using Google Webmasters Tools, in my opinion, is the fact that Google will alert you about warnings and errors you may not have discovered on your own. Because user experience is everything, it’s important to continue improving and fixing your site to meet users’ needs. If you’re unaware of broken links within your website, user experience goes down and eventually, so does your SEO rank. But with Webmaster Tools, Google keeps you notified so you can quickly fix the problem and avoid disappointing visitors. You also can set up Google Webmaster to send email notifications the moment it finds any issues with your website, whether it’s a broken page or potential malware. Trust me, you’ll want to get these notifications!
Building and nurturing a healthy website is no easy task, but Google Webmaster Tools is an outstanding option that aids in your site’s growth and performance. It makes paying attention to details considerably easier, which is what our digital world craves in this fast-paced environment. Hopefully you understand Google Webmaster Tools a little better now, and understand the value it can bring to your website. If time management is an issue, however, Sage Island is ready to help. Our team of SEO specialists work with Webmaster Tools on a daily basis and know what it takes to keep your website on track.
Mike Duncan co-founded Sage Island in 1997, and since then has evolved the agency’s scope to include marketing strategy, creative design, technical development and a wide range of digital marketing services. With an integrated approach that leverages the power and measurability of the internet, the savvy Sage Island team develops strategies, builds brands, writes killer copy and delivers to clients all over the world. And they have an awesome time doing it. Sage’s collaborative working environment keeps creativity and innovation at the heart of the concept. With a 17-year history in Wilmington and beyond, Sage Island shows no signs of slowing down. To learn how Sage Island can grow your business, check us out at www.sageisland.com. To stay updated on the latest in digital marketing, follow Sage Island on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SageIsland, and on Twitter at twitter.com/SageIsland.
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