Google Webmaster Tools

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Google Webmaster Tools is an essential tool for webmasters. It helps you understand how Google search works and how you can optimize your website for Google search algorithm. Available for both desktop users and mobile devices, and free to use, this tool is your ultimate guide for search engine optimization. You will learn how you can fix potential problems that might be harming your ranking. Having in mind that Google is the largest search engine, this kind of optimization is necessary for improving your website’s performance.

 

Theory

Google Webmaster Tools is a free service for webmasters allowing them to get information about the index status and visibility of the website. A useful set of tools available as a part of this Google’s service helps webmasters to get information about different features of the website which all combined improve the chances of a website being indexed and ranked higher in the search engine results. Both Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics provide information about keyword. While Google Anltyics shows total traffic and keywords, Google Webmaster Tools shows the keywords separately. This tools collects data from Google search engines, while other search engine results are not taken into consideration.

 

Guidelines

* You have to have a Google Account in order to access Google Webmaster Tools.

* You have to add your website to Webmaster Tools and verify the ownership in order to get access to the data.

* Webmaster Guidelines


-Design and content guidelines

Make sure all the sites that should know about your pages are aware your site is online.

Design and content guidelines

Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.

Offer a site map to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the site map has an extremely large number of links, you may want to break the site map into multiple pages.

Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.

Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.

Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.

Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the “ALT” attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.

Make sure that your <title> elements and ALT attributes are descriptive and accurate.

Check for broken links and correct HTML.

If you decide to use dynamic pages (i.e., the URL contains a “?” character), be aware that not every search engine spider crawls dynamic pages as well as static pages. It helps to keep the parameters short and the number of them few.

Review our recommended best practices for images, video and rich snippets.

– Quality guidelines – basic principles

Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

Don’t deceive your users.

Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”

Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

Quality guidelines – specific guidelines

Avoid the following techniques:

Automatically generated content

Participating in link schemes

Creating pages with little or no original content

Cloaking

Sneaky redirects

Hidden text or links

Doorway pages

Scraped content

Participating in affiliate programs without adding sufficient value

Loading pages with irrelevant keywords

Creating pages with malicious behavior, such as phishing or installing viruses, trojans, or other badware

Abusing rich snippets markup

Sending automated queries to Google

 

Instructions

1. Setup

Login to your Google account and go to: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/

webmaster_tools_008When you access your Google Webmaster Tools account, you will see the homepage, where you have to add your website (or you can even add several websites).

webmaster_tools_aUse “Add a Site” button and then provide the URL of the website. You will immediately see the website in your account, but in order to access any data, you have to verify the website.

webmaster_tools_001There are two types of verification:

Recommended method – You verify a website by signing in to your domain name provider.

Alternative method – Alternatively, you can use four other ways to verify the ownership:

– HTML file upload

– HTML tag

– Google Analytics

– Google Tag Manager

webmaster_tools_004aSimply click on the method you wish to use and follow the instructions in order to complete verification process.

In order to finish configuration process correctly, you should add the domain again but without the www., and then indicate to Google that your preferred domain starts with www. This point is important for those domains to work with or without www.

Go to the Google Webmaster Tools initial panel and add the website (mysite.com). Follow the steps for the verification mentioned before.

“Once you tell us your preferred domain name, we use that information for all future crawls of your site and indexing refreshes. For instance, if you specify your preferred domain as http://www.example.com and we find a link to your site that is formatted as http://example.com, we follow that link as http://www.example.com instead. In addition, we’ll take your preference into account when displaying the URLs. If you don’t specify a preferred domain, we may treat the www and non-www versions of the domain as separate references to separate pages.”

webmaster_tools_005a

2. Main Sections

Google Webmaster Tools account has several sections, each of which can help you explore a certain aspect of your website.

webmaster_tools_010Site Dashboard

Site Dashboard sums up the most important information about your account. It includes new and important messages, crawl errors, search queries and sitemap status.

Site Messages

Here is where you can find site messages and alerts related to your website.

Search Appearance

Improving appearance of your website can help you with search engine optimization, as well as with creating more user-friendly website.

– Structured Data – Enhance the search results by including rich snippets, which will also help Google understand your content and its structure.

– Data Highlighter – Improve the look of your website in the search results using tagging options available in this section.

– HTML Improvements – This section includes the suggestions related to the HTML improvements which can help you improve the position of your website in the search engine results. For example, you might be suggested to avoid duplicate meta description or short title tag, etc.

– Sitelinks – Since sitelinks are automatically generated in the search results, you might want to prevent a certain page from appearing in the search results. In this case, you would use demoting option in this section. All you have to do is to provide the URL of the page and click on “Demote”.

webmaster_tools_011Search Traffic

Select a specific time period and get the data related to search queries and specific pages of your website. You can get information about:

– The number of queries / impressions / click

– Keywords used in the queries sorted by impressions / clicks / CTR / average position

– The same data about particular page of the website

– Possibility to download the data

webmaster_tools_012Google Index

This segment enables you to get information about Google Index Status, Content Keywords, as well as the possibility to remove certain URLs, and thus prevent Google from indexing.

Crawl

Search engines get the information about your website using crawlers, which enable them to sort and rank the results displayed in the search engine results. Using this segment of the Google Webmaster Tools account you can detect the errors and stats related to the crawling. Obviously, fixing those errors will have a positive effect on your website’s performance, and it will also improve user experience.

Crawl Errors – Explore the site errors (DNS, server connectivity and robots.txt fetch) and URL errors (server error, soft 404 and not found).

Crawl Stats – This part shows the number of pages crawled per day.

Fetch as Google – Find out how Google sees your pages using this option. You can see the page as it is seen from desktop or mobile phone.

robots.txt. Tester – Check the robots.txt file and fix the errors

Sitemaps – Submit and test the sitemap of your website

URL Parameters – This tool helps you handle URLs containing specific parameters.

webmaster_tools_014Labs

This section displays the statistics related to pages for which you have been verified as an author. For each of the pages you can see the number of impressions, click, CTR as well as the average position.

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3. Add Sitemap

Submitting a sitemap enables Google to provide the information about your website, as well as status of certain pages. In addition, search engine crawlers will be more successful at indexing the pages of your website, if you submit a sitemap, since the sitemap is in the format that is search engine friendly.

Go to the “Crawler” section and find the option “Sitemap”. Use the “Add/Test Sitemap” button to add the sitemap.

webmaster_tools_007aIn order to follow Google’s guidelines when submitting a sitemap, read Sitemap Guidelines.

Sitemap can be created manually or using third-party tools, which will allow integration of the sitemap to your website, after which you will provide the URL of the sitemap in the Webmaster account.

4. Benefits

Here are some of the major benefits of using Google Webmaster Tools:

– Get your website indexed by Google

After you create a Google Webmaster Account, use the option to add your website, and it will be submitted for indexing. Setting up a new website can be difficult, so this tool can be a good starting point for you to begin the process of optimization.

– Detect and fix the errors on your website

Finding and fixing the errors on your website is another way to improve the position of your website in the search engine results. You will get the data about the possible errors that have to be fixed.

– Explore the links to your website

This tool also provides details about the links to your website, as well as the internal links. Since link building is one of the SEO processes, the information will be helpful in order to optimize your website.

– Get suggestions on HTML improvements

This feature is particularly useful as it helps you assess the meta data and title tags of your website. In addition, you can also fetch certain pages of your website in order to see how Google sees your website. These improvements can help your website’s performance, as well as user experience.

– Analyze keyword data

Use the Search Queries feature to analyze the keyword that lead the visitors to your website. Even though some keywords can also be found in Google Analytics, there will be a lot of queries labeled “not provided”. Webmaster Tools provide the full list of keywords sorted by impressions, clicks, etc.

 

Additional Resources

Webmaster Tools Help Center:  https://support.google.com/webmasters/

Webmaster Guidelines: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/35769?hl=en

 

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