One of the more valuable tools available to webmasters today is Google Webmaster Tools. This free set of tools offered by Google, provides webmasters with all the tools they need to optimize their website for search engines, report errors encountered on your site, and help in marketing their website.
How to Get Started
The first thing you will need to get started is an account with Google. If you have a Gmail account then you already have an account. Otherwise, you justmyfitness can just sign up for a Google Account on their website. With your new account in place, you can log in to the Webmaster Tools site and start to configure a website to track.
Before Google can show you tracking information, you need to verify ownership of the site. There is a wizard on the Webmaster Tools site that walks you through the process of verifying ownership. Among several different verification methods, one simple way is to download a simple HTML file and then upload this to the root directory for your website. This will have a unique file name that looks something like google07ed25be517f5f23.html. Use an FTP client such as FileZilla to upload this small file to your server and your verification is complete. It may take as long as 24 hours before you see tracking information show up in Webmaster Tools.
This page contains a list of actual search queries run on the Google search engine where your site appeared in the results. This important report will tell you how many times your result was displayed for the query (impressions) as well as how many times users clicked on your result (click throughs).
This is really the holy grail of organic search engine marketing. Having unique and good quality content on your site will attract lots of visitors and backlinks. The more backlinks you get to your page, the higher your page will rank. And when your page ranks higher, it appears nearer the top of the search results for the relevant terms contained on your web page.
Links to Your Site Page
This report shows you all of the backlinks to your website. These are the backlinks to your site according to Google. Every search engine uses a different algorithm to determine how many backlinks to your site exist. Google is famous for rejecting a large amount of backlinks if they feel that the links were paid for or traded just for the purpose of improving page rank.
The keywords report really gives a webmaster keen insight into the way that Google views your website. It will tell you which keywords predominate all of the content pages on your website. Additionally, you can view a detailed report which tells you which content pages have the strongest ranking for each keyword. For each page, you will see how many times the keyword occurs on each page.
The Internal Links gives you a summary of how pages are linked internally. Internal links are links from one page to another within the same website. Google uses these types of links to determine the relative importance of pages within a site. These type of links cannot be used to improve the page rank of a webpage, just to indicate how important the webmaster values them relative to other pages.
Occasionally, a website gets hacked by nefarious individuals. It is your responsibility as a webmaster to make sure that hackers are stopped, or at the very least, any malware placed on your site is removed quickly. The Malware report will display a list of pages with possible malware. You should check this report regularly to make sure your site is clean.
The Crawl Errors report displays errors that the Google spider encountered while attempting to read web pages on your site. This page is important for identifying errors on your site. Sometimes, the errors on this page will be as simple as a timeout issue meaning the page took too long to load. If you see any Server Errors
The Crawl Statistics report gives you some useful graphs showing you how often the Google spider visited your site. For popular sites, the spider will visit every day. Google has a very powerful search spider that doesn’t have problems visiting hundreds of millions of sites each day. You can incorporate a sitemap into your site to indicate to the Google spider how content on your site should be indexed.
The HTML Suggestions report contains a list of issues that could affect your search engine rankings. Webmasters should heed this report well, because all of the information here is specifically tailored to help your site rank better. This will not only help your search engine ranking with Google, but with all other search engines as well.
It provides information such as “Duplicate meta description” and “Short Meta Description”. Webmasters should also make use of the W3C Validation Service which will check your HTML and CSS for any non-standard markup or errors which may cause problems with search engines. Search spiders like clean and standardized markup which is well-formed.
Sitemaps are XML files that contain the URLs of all content on a website that should be crawled and indexed by a search engine. Not only do they list all of the possible URLs, but they also include information such as when the file was last modified, how often you expect the web page to be changed and a priority that indicates the importance of the page within the entire site.
Webmaster Tools will tell you how many of the URLs from the Sitemap have been submitted and also how many have been included in the index (Google search engine). If there are any errors with the site map, these will be displayed as well.
Using the crawler access function, you can view and test your robots.txt file (which excludes certain content from search engines). There is also a tool to generate a new robots.txt file using user-defined exclusion rules. Another important tool is the Remove URL feature which allows a webmaster to request that a page be forcibly removed from the Google search engine.
If your site is deemed worthy enough, Google will generate site links underneath the normal search result. These are links to sub-areas within your site that are very popular with users. Because these links are automatically generated, you cannot define your own site links, but you can request that site links be removed if the algorithm Google uses erroneously chooses sub-areas you don’t wish to be displayed to users in the search results.
When using Google Webmaster Tools, make sure to read the help documentation carefully. It will provide you with a lot more detailed information on how to optimize your website for both the search engines and your visitors. There is a wealth of information that is crucial to your understanding of running a website and more importantly, promoting your business.