Complete guide to using Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools is a valuable set of free web tools that can help you optimize your website. These tools can help you with analyzing your traffic, diagnosing any issues with your site, and optimizing your site so it is more visible to search engines.

Google Webmaster

Using Google Webmaster, you can:

  • Submit and check your sitemap
  • View statistics about how Google accesses your website
  • Check and adjust the crawl rate (how often your website is checked by Googlebots for updates)
  • View which external websites link to your site
  • View a list of internal links, from one page of your site to another
  • View a list of keywords that visitors have used to find your site, as well as the number of monthly searches and competition rate for each keyword
  • Check whether Google experienced any errors when accessing your site
  • Change the domain displayed in search results for your website
  • Access a range of tools that give you greater control over how your website is displayed in search results and how high it ranks

Google Webmaster is specifically designed to give you more information about and control over your website’s ranking. The service also provides helpful information about SEO best practices and how to improve your ranking with Google, making it an essential tool for anyone who runs a website!

How is Google Webmaster different to Google Analytics?

Google Analytics is a separate, popular web tool that provides information about traffic coming to your website, including referral links, the duration of each visit and your bounce rate. You might get some data about which keywords visitors were searching when they clicked on a link to your site, however these are more likely to be long-tail keywords, rather than specific terms.

The SEO information from Google Analytics is usually general, so isn’t as helpful for improving your website’s use of keywords, or gathering data on which keywords lead most visitors to your site.

Google Webmaster tools focus more on how your website performs according to each individual keyword. The tools are designed to improve your website’s SEO, and provide you with detailed information about your website’s ranking, its performance, and whether it contains any page errors that might damage its position in search engine results.

How to Set Up a Google Webmaster Account

You can access Google Webmaster tools using any Google account. If you haven’t already set one up, you just need to visit Google.com to register.

Once you have a Google account, you need to add your website and verify that you own the website.

Verify Google account

Google’s recommend method to do this is to upload a special HTML file to your website’s server. If you don’t want to do this, or aren’t sure how to, you can also verify your ownership of the site by adding a special HTML meta tag to your website’s home page, using an existing Google Analytics account, or by signing in to your domain name provider.

After completing one of these methods successfully, your website will be verified instantly, and you’ll be able to start using the Webmaster Tools.

Using Google Webmaster Tools

When you first log on to Google Webmaster, you can view basic data about your website’s current health, how many impressions search queries have generated, and your sitemap. You can also use a range of tools in the left-hand sidebar.

Google Webmaster Tools

  • Configuration

    The “Configuration” section deals with the way Google Webmaster Tools is set up.

    Here, you can choose whether you want to geotarget search results so that your website appears in search results targeted at people in a certain country. Alternatively, you can unlist your website if you don’t want it to be displayed in different ways according to geographic regions.

    You can also control the sitelinks that appear in Google search results.

    Google sitelinks

    Under “Configuration”, you can tell Google when you’ve moved your site to a new domain and set up 301 redirects, which automatically redirect visitors from your old domain to your new site.

  • Health

    The “Health” section tells you about any issues or errors related to you site. Within this section, you can view site errors from the last 90 days, and the specific pages they occurred on.

    Site errors

    You can also view crawl statistics, and add specific pages within your website that you don’t want indexed by Google. This is useful if you have private or member-only content that you don’t want to appear in Google search results.

    Other features available under “Health” include the ability to see whether Google has detected any malware on your site. If this happens, Google usually blocks visitors from accessing your site, which can seriously damage your credibility and earning potential. Being able to view identified malware enables you to deal with the problem quicker!

  • Traffic

    “Traffic” is one of the most useful tools, as this is where you can find out information regarding your website’s traffic and SEO!

    Traffic stats

    Here, you can view which search queries people have used when landing on your site, and useful information about those queries, including your average ranking position for each query. You can also view external links from other websites, and information about how your website performs on Google+.

  • Optimization

    HTML improvements

    Under “Optimization”, you can find tips on how to improve your website’s ranking, and view which keywords are most significant for your site. You can also access tools like Google Places, which puts your business on Google Maps, and make your online products visible in Google Product Search.

  • Labs

    Under labs, you can access various tools for your site, including creating a Google custom search box that visitors can use to search content on your website. Other available data includes information about your page loading speed, and tips on how to improve your site’s performance for users.

Why hosting is another important ingredient for SEO success

While Google Webmaster Tools provides some valuable insights and features that you can use to optimize your website, using this service alone won’t improve your website’s SEO ranking.

One of the most important ways to ensure that your website gains high ranking on websites like Google, Bing and Yahoo! is to find reliable hosting. With the right host, your website experiences less down time, is less likely to be affected by malware, and provides visitors with faster page loading times.

All these things contribute to your SEO ranking, which is why it’s important to select a web host that won’t let you down. Some hosts also provide their own SEO tools that you can use alongside services like Google Webmaster to make your site more visible. My favorites web host is BlueHost, and I also personally recommend HostGator.

Conclusion

Google Webmaster Tools are incredibly valuable to website owners who want to improve their website’s ranking in search engine results. In order to make this dream a reality, however, you also need to invest in a good, reliable hosting service to make sure your website has the support it needs.

Used together, Google Webmaster Tools and a reliable hosting service will give your website the chance to succeed that it deserves!