All of us as website owners and search engine marketers have always wanted to know “How exactly Google sees our website”. This information can be found in Google support tries to help webmasters diagnose errors and enhance their website’s search engine visibility.
Google webmaster tools list the preferences on how website listings are handled.
Before you can start with any of these you will to sign up for your Google account. After signing up log into the following page https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps
Verification of Ownership
You will have to verify your ownership of your website that you would like to control using Google webmaster tools. You will have to enter the URL of your website and follow the instructions provided to verify the ownership of your website. This can be done in two ways, one is by uploading a blank HTML file with a specified name and the second method is by pasting a Meta tag provided by Google webmaster tools in the Header part of your homepage. Once you upload your blank HTML page or add the Meta tag, click verify.
This will allow Google to verify quickly that you are the authentic owner of the website that you are trying to control using Google webmaster tools.
Once verified, you will be able to see your website’s profile in the Google webmaster tools control panel. You just need to click on the URL of your website whose profile you would like to view under the Manage section. This will take you to the overview page. You will find highly crucial information on your website that will give you great insights into the nature of your website’s traffic. You will also find links to specific webmaster tools in this section.
The function of these tools is to tell you whether there are any errors in your website as seen by Google when it crawled your website. You will normally find errors such as 404 errors, pages not indexed by Google robots.txt and other indexing issues.
Some of the common types of errors can be listed under the headings such as HTTP errors, URLs not followed, URLs disallowed by robots.txt, not found, URLs timed out, and Unreachable URLs. To ensure that your website is without any error, you must regularly check your diagnostics reports.
Google has amazing statistical tools that you can use to improve your marketing efforts. Google webmaster statistical tools include the following:
Top Search Queries
Every webmaster would like to know the top search query through which visitors get in to their website using Google Search. You will be able to see list of keywords for which the highest number of visitors came to your website. One of the most important pieces of information that you will find here is that your position in the SERPs for a particular keyword. There may be minor variation in the indicated number and actual position however, this will get better with time.
What Googlebot Sees
This is one of the best ways of learning how other websites link to your website . You can find three sections here.
- Phrases used in external links to your website,
- Keywords in your site’s content
- The actual content on your website in terms of keyword density
- Crawl Stats
Here you will be able to learn about your website’s pagerank strength. You can see your pages categorized in terms of low, medium, high and not yet assigned. Most often you will find your pages categorized under low but do not get discouraged. Another useful piece of information here is pagerank information of specific pages, which is updated on monthly basis. This is one of the best ways of measuring the effectiveness of your specific link building efforts.
Here you can find advanced Google queries on your website that used some search operators. This includes the following operators site:, link:, cache:, info:, related:, etc.
This particular tool will help you find the status on your RSS feed subscribers. This is one of the new additions to the toolbox and is certainly useful when you are using feed management systems.
This is where you can learn about your website’s internal and external link popularity status. Though this tool is a very limited in terms of the information provided, it will certainly be helpful information when you are trying to work on your website’s online exposure.
This is one of the basic and oldest Google webmaster tools. In fact all the Google webmaster tools were built around Google sitemaps tool. This will help you to manage your sitemap files that are Google specific. You will be able to upload XML files, which will help Google to crawl your website completely.
The tools area in Google Webmaster Tools is the most resourceful sections. You can find the following tools under this section:
Robots.txt is a protocol meant for googlebot, which will tell Google how they should go about crawling your website. You can give instructions to googlebot in this file. You can control the crawling of Googlebot to the desired parts of your website as well as block the search engines from crawling certain parts of your website.
Analyze robots.txt tool will help you check the validity of your robots.txt file. Even a small mistake in this file can cost your website’s ranking dearly. So better take advantage of this tool to ensure that everything is in place.
Site Verification Management
This section will help you change the options on your site verification. You will also be able to secure your website. This is highly helpful when you are using a SEO company to handle your webmaster tools. Once you terminate their services with them, your information will still be available to them. Using this site verification area, you can block unauthorized entries to your website.
Here you will be able to get Google’s activity on your website and their indexing frequency. If you really want to benefit from this section, you will have to select adjust crawling speed feature.Here are few useful tips on how you can benefit from the activity graphs.
You will have to remember here that will be limited toa 90 day span. You can see variations in the graph based on your website update frequency. Check the graphs closely and compare it with your website activity. You will also be able to measure the effectiveness of your link building efforts. You can see spikes in the graph if your link building efforts have really been effective. The aim here is to make sure that Google is visiting your website frequently and interacting with your website actively. This is important to get new content in your website indexed fast.
Set Preferred Domain
If you do not want your page rank and the effectiveness of your link building efforts diluted between www.yourdomain.com and yourdomain.com, you need to tell Google which will be your canonical URL or which will be your preferred URL. This will have definitive impact on your website’s ranking. Google will display the right URLs based on what you have instructed it in this section. Never ignore this section; not many people realize the importance of this section.
Enhanced Image Search
One of the ways of enhancing your website’s online presence is by getting yourself included in the image search. When you select enhanced image search you will be able to gain control on labeling images in your website. You can also make use of Google image labeler to help improve image relevancy. You can find Google image labeler at http://images.google.com/imagelabeler.
If there are pages removed in your website in your latest update, you should remove those pages from Google indexing. You will be able to do this easily using the remove URLs tool.
When you invest enough time understanding each of the tools available in Google webmaster tools, you will certainly be able to benefit a great deal. All these tools after all are F.R.E.E. for use. Google even allows users to download important information regarding their website. You can set automatic download schedules to have your statistics downloaded. The best download schedule suggested is once in 60 days as Google provides information once in 90 days. When you set 60 days download, you will have overlapping data to interpret the information better.
The data gathered here can be used in multiple ways to gain valuable insights regarding your website’s online performance.