Knowing more about your website will in turn make it better. Often times we as designers get too close to a project that we’re working on that we overlook some glaring issues that may be staring us directly in the face. By using Google Webmaster Tools you cannot only see where your web site traffic is being generated, but also see how often your site is being crawled and find problems in your HTML that may be affecting your organic search placement.
If you don’t already have a Google Webmaster account you should sign up for one right now. It’s completely free and will help enormously if you’re looking for a way to help point out possible issues with your site. Signing up for an account is very simple and takes no time to do. Sign into Google account and visit www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. From here you can “Add a Site.”
Once this is done you’ll need to verify that you are indeed the site owner by either by signing in and verifying a prior Google Analytics account, adding an HTML tag or verify by choosing a domain name provider. Once your account is verified it generally takes 24 hours for Google to start tracking your domain.
Evaluate your Search Appearance with Webmaster Tools
One of the more useful free web development tools you’ll find in GWT is the search appearance tab. From here you can easily locate possible issues with your code. This tool will provide you a list of Html improvements including:
- Missing Title Tags – If you have missing title tags not only are you missing out on a possibility to optimize for search but your missing one of the most important tags the bots look for when crawling and indexing your page. Every page on your website should have a unique title tag.
- Duplicate Title Tags – You want to avoid duplicate title tags whenever possible. If Google thinks you have duplicate content you can be blacklisted and get back into their good graces is not easy. So avoid duplicates titles at all costs.
- Long Title Tags – Long title tags get cut off after 67 characters in Google. It’s a good idea to not exceed this limit as it won’t be fully listed in the SERPS.
- Short Title Tags – Knowing that you have up to 67 characters that will show up it’s a good idea to make your titles as long as you can and include the keyword or key phrase you’re going after.
- Non-informative title tags – It’s a good idea to include the keyword or phrase you’re targeting in your title tags as the bots place more importance on these tags.
View Your Search Traffic with Google Webmaster Tools
Understanding what viewers are using to find your website is crucial for better results in the SERPS. By paying attention to what people are searching for you can write content in a way that will place more relevance on your site. For instance, if people are finding your site by searching for “google analytics guide 2014“, it is probably a good idea to write an article about it. Give your visitors what they’re searching for and you’ll attract even more people.
It’s important to know that your pages are being indexed. If they aren’t something is wrong with your code and your site isn’t getting crawled by Google. If this is the case your marketing efforts are not being picked up. Under the Google Index tab you’ll find the following information:
- Index Status – Is your site being indexed? Find out how many pages here.
- Content Keywords – Here you will see how Google sees your site overall. You can also see how significant your content keywords are here.
- Remove URLS – If you choose not to use robots.txt to redirect or remove URLs you can use this tool to tell Google not to index this page anymore. In the event that a page is removed this can be a handy tool for letting the bots know.
About the Google Webmaster Tools Crawl Tab
Under the Google Webmaster Tools Crawl tab, you’ll find a lot of important information about how Google is indexing your website and where you may have some crawl errors. Under the Crawl tab you’ll find metrics for the following:
- Crawl Errors – Here you can find out where Google is having issues crawling your website. This tab will tell you pages that just can’t be found.
- Crawl Stats – This tab gives you Googlebot’s activity for the past 90 days.
- Fetch as Google – If you’re curious how your site or page is picked up by Google you can find out here. There are options to have your page rendered as it will look on the desktop , mobile phone or tablet. You also have the option to submit content directly to Google through this tool.
- Blocked URLs – Tell Google URLs that you don’t want to be indexed. Again if you’re not using robots.txt this is a good tool to take advantage of.
- Site maps – Sitemaps give Googlebot a listing of your site content. If you don’t currently have a site map you can generate a free XML sitemap here. An XML sitemap will stay current with the content on your website as new content is added.
- URL Parameters – The parameters tab will notify you if Google had any issues crawling your site.
Use GWT For Web Site Success
Google Webmaster Tools will help make your website better by pointing out issues you may not have even thought of. This tool will help Google see your site as more of an authority in your niche by eliminating possible issues. This is a must have for any webmaster who is serious about making Google happy and in turn boosting website traffic.
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