Use Google Webmaster Tools To Improve Your Website

It’s free!  And whilst it may not improve your rankings on its own, Google does infer on its sign-up page that it can improve your site’s visibility in Google search results.

Google Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google.   

To use these tools you need to create a Google Account, and once you have verified your site you will see lots of useful information that Google has about your site.

For example, you can see how Google crawls and indexes your site and learn about specific problems the Googlebot is having accessing it. You can also see comprehensive data about internal and external links to your site, and  find out which Google search queries drive traffic to your site (although we prefer using Google Analytics for this).

We check Google Webmaster Tools for all the websites we run and optimise regularly; even though we have our own proprietary SEO tools, we find that some of the information here is really helpful.  

Here is what we use Google Webmaster Tools for:

Submitting XML sitemaps to Google (video sitemaps and html sitemaps)

Checking for content errors – duplicate meta tags

Checking for site errors – unreachable or missing pages, redirect errors and so forth

Checking rate of indexing (without checking server logs)

Identifying all internal pages that link to a missing page (this is so helpful!)

We figure that whilst it may not boost your rankings, it probably can’t hurt telling Google about all your pages and gives you a better chance of Googlebot spending its time on your site spidering productively!

It’s also worth mentioning that if you are looking to understand how many in-bound links you have to your website then this is not the best tool to use.  We recommend of course using the backlink tools on 192.168.50.52 but you can also use Yahoo Site Explorer.

Step-by-Step Guide to Setting Up Google Webmaster Tools

1. Go to Google Webmaster Tools and sign-in if you already have a Google account, or follow the link to create a new account.

2. In Webmaster Tools – click on the link that says “Add Site”. 

3. Click on the “Verify” link and follow the instructions on screen.  You can either choose to upload a specific HTML file to the root directory of your website or add a meta-tag to your home page.  Either example works well; but we tend to use the HTML file as you can use it again for any other website you manage through the same Google account.

4. Once you have uploaded the relevant file then you can click on “Verify” and Google will give you access to all the juicy data it has about your website.

By: Laurie OToole