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How to Work With Google Webmaster Tools

It’s amazing how people always want to know more about ranking higher and better in the SERPs, and yet ignore the very service that Google itself put together for webmasters, business owners, and SEO enthusiasts: Google Webmaster Tools.

Google-Webmaster-Tools

If I had to describe this free tool in 1 line, here is how I would do it:

“Google Webmaster Tools is a free service that allows you to see your website just like Google sees it”

For example, in the following video, Matt Cutts talks about the biggest SEO mistakes webmasters tend to make. The mistake most commonly made is “Not making your site crawlable”. Guess what? Google Webmaster Tools shows you which pages Google is unable to crawl!

For me, that would be a good reason enough to sign up right now. But I know many of you need more than that…so read on!

Signing Up

google-webmaster-tools-create-account

Some people are not willing to sign up because it looks like it might be complicated to somehow link a website to the account.

However, it’s really not!

After signing up to Webmaster Tools (or signing in if you already have a Google Account), you can verify ownership of your website within a few easy steps. You can do it through –

  • Your domain name provider
  • The use of an HTML file
  • A simple META tag
  • Google Analytics

google-webmaster-tools-verify-ownership

how-to-verify-your-site-for-google-webmaster-tools-step1

Thorough and detailed instructions can be found on this page: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=35179#35179

Links

If you go to the Traffic section, there are quite a few interesting stats that you’ll see.

traffic-google-webmaster-tools

Total number of links – This includes a breakdown of where the links come from, the anchor texts used, as well as the pages that have the most links.

It also shows what pages are visited most often.

Knowing about this information is useful in the sense that you get the idea of what topics perform well on your website; you can post more stuff about that topic for example, or if it’s a product page that’s popular, you can list it on your homepage as “Our Most Popular Product”.

Google Webmaster Tools allows you to export all those details as a CSV file or Google Docs file, so you can analyze these data at a later (offline) time.

Keywords Breakdown

Sometimes you rank for keywords you’ve never meant to rank for and obtain most of your traffic through them. Wouldn’t it be nice knowing which keywords these are? Well now you can, with the Search Queries section of the Traffic section. You’ll see keywords, number of clicks, click-through rate and more.

google-webmaster-tools-search-queries-report

Knowing the “money keywords” may help you better serve your visitors by providing more relevant content, products or services to them.

Optimization

Analytics is not the only thing that Google Webmaster Tools provides; you get to take advantage of a nice optimization tool as well. In the optimization section, you will see suggestions that you can make to improve the overall user experience of your visitors.

google-webmaster-tools-sitemap

If you are using schema.org markups, the optimization section will also help you see if Google is recognizing everything.

Author Stats

This has to do with the new (okay, not brand new, but relatively new) Google Authorship system. The report gives some intelligence on pages that are assigned to a specific author, like Impressions, CTR, Position in the SERPs etc.

Malware Scans

Whenever Google detects malware on your site, it warns it shows a Warning Page to its users informing them of the danger in visiting your site. This happens even if some people don’t use Google Search, but use the Chrome browser.

google-webmaster-tools-malware

If the malware issue is not resolved, Google eventually filters your site off its search results. However, when you use Google Webmaster Tools, you get notified by email whenever malware gets detected on your site. This way, you can take action ASAP and prevent penalization and minimize the loss of traffic.

Last Words…

Google Webmaster Tools is a great piece of software to use for your website. I’ve come across some posts on Internet marketing forums saying that associating your website with Google’s tools is some sort of conspiracy to let Google have an “insider’s view” on your website. Here is the thing; Google already sees all of that! By signing up, the only thing that happens is that you get to see what they already see! But if you are still paranoid skeptical, feel free to try Bing Webmaster Tools!



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