Google Webmaster tools is a web service by the search engine to aid webmasters to check indexing status and optimize their sites. The tools lets you view which of your pages are included in Google's index You can check and set the crawl rate, and view statistics about how robots see your site.
You can also submit and check a sitemap, generate and check a robots.txt file (find the pages that have been blocked in robots.txt). See the pages linking internally and externally to your site. Get to know the keyword searches that led to your site being placed in search results. View statistics about how Google indexes the site, and if it found any errors while doing it. You get to know your site like its being x-rayed. The tool can be highly helpful in deciding what strategy to determine for your site’s optimization.
So here are a few tips on initial start up with the Google Webmaster Tools:
Register- You need to register with Google Webmaster Tools
With your Google account. Then sign in.
Adding A Site - On the dashboard, you will see an ‘ Add A Site’ button. Click on it and type the URL of the site you want to add. Make sure you type the entire URL, such as http://www.example.com/ . At this step it is recommendable that you add folders to target a specific area of the site. In case your site is split into various regions, then you can add folders and target different regions.
Verifying A Site- On entering the site name, click on the ‘Continue’ button. Then you will land on the site verification page. Type the name of your site in the ‘Name’ box and choose one of the methods listed for verification-
- Verify the ownership by adding meta tag to your home page- To do this you must be able to edit the HTML code of your site's pages. Google Webmaster Tools will give you a meta tag that you need to add to the <head> tag as an alternative method to adding the HTML file to the website. You simply copy the tag from Webmaster Tools and add to the homepage of the your website.
- Verifying the ownership by uploading an HTML file with the name you specify to your server. You must be able to upload blank HTML file to your server that the Google Webmaster Tools has provided you with. The file has a code specific to your site.
- Verifying the ownership by adding a DNS TXT record. You can use this method if you are able to sign in to your domain registrar or hosting provider and add a new DNS record. Follow the instructions displayed by the Webmaster Tools in the drop down menu.
- Verify ownership using Google Analytics code. The code you use to track your site. You can do so by being an administrator on the Google Analytics account, and the tracking code must use the new asynchronous snippet. This is the easiest way of verifying the account.
You can come back to the verification level again, if you were unable to do so at the time of registering.
Managing The Dashboard:
Once your site is verified, you can now access the site's profile. You will have to click on the link- 'Manage: http://www.yoursite.com'. This will take you to the over view section. Here you will see data on your website- a rough overview of -your ranking is pushed by which keywords, to how much traffic you are getting. Also, the overview will let you know if Google bot is experiencing any crawl errors while indexing your website and how many pages Google has indexed. This page also has the links to specific Webmaster Tools.
Using The Diagnostic Tool:
This section helps you find out what is wrong with your site, and what can you do about it. Google encounters these errors while crawling your site, they are lined up for your information. Usually, these are the errors, that were excluded in robots.txt, or other faults. The errors that will be listed include-
- URLs not followed
- URLs restricted by robots.txt
- URLs timed out
- Unreachable URLs
- HTTP errors
- Not found
Make sure that you read this error report carefully, so that your site is error free for both bots to index your page and for users to surf your site.
The Statistical Tools:
The statistical tools provide you access to a number of reports and details of your site. These reports include:
This search queries page gives you an insight as to how people are arriving at your site from Google Search. On the page, you will be presented with a list of keywords that showed up your site's pages most often. You can also know where your site was positioned in search results for each keyword. Now that you know what works for your site, you can work on improving your click through rate. You can do this by making your title tag and meta description more appealing to your audience, as that is what people read in the search engine results page, and then click on a site they think suits what they are looking for.
How Google Sees Your Website:
This tool lets you see how Google sees you site- how the links to your site are considered alongside your on page content. There are several subsections on this report:
Keep a track of external links to your site:
It is a known fact that if you have quality and relevant sites linking to your site, it will be a huge plus in Google's view, and consequently, will lead to an increase in your rankings. So, monitor your link growth by closely studying this section in the Google Webmaster Tools. It is necessary to monitor the pages people are linking to. In case you links are not viral, that means you need to provide better and relevant information for your site. Also, you need to submit to the right sites for getting better links.
Keep a track of keywords in your site’s content:
This is a very important tool for internet marketers, you get to see what keywords your website is the most related to. A closer look tells you the variations of each keyword that are also relevant to your site. For example, if people use short forms or wrong spellings while searching, those terms too are available for you to see. The data will let you determine, if you are going in the right direction with your keywords, and if you want to further adjust the content on your website.
Keep a track of internal links in your site:
If you link your pages internally, you will get a thumbs up from Google, and also a better PageRank. The data from this tool will let you work out the pages of your site, that are the most important in Google's understanding.
The Crawl Stats Report:
This report is a detailed information of PageRank values ranging from Low, Medium, High and Not yet assigned. Google shows you how your site’s PageRank is distributed on these ranges. You can find out which page of your site has the highest PageRank. This report is updated monthly, so you can come back to it and see if your campaign/activities made any difference.
This tool tells you the stats related to your content subscriptions. Google makes stats on your feed subscriptions easy to find. Under the subscriber stats section you can see which of your blog posts/other content are the most subscribed to by Google’s feed reader. Then you can work on whether you want to write more on what people like, or maybe write less, if you are giving them an overdose.
When you submit a sitemap, you help Google determine what pages you have on your website for it to index. Google Sitemaps are often referred to as the basic thought behind the creation of the Webmaster Tools. You can go to XML Sitemaps to create a sitemap. All you have to do is enter the URL of your homepage and click “start”.XML based sitemap files can be used to catalog all of the pages on your site. They can’t contain more than 50,000 URLs or be larger than 10 megs. If you exceed any of those limits, you need to split up your sitemap in multiple files and then submit them.
After the sitemaps have been uploaded, Google will let you know how many of your URLs are being indexed. If the results are poor, you can work on the tags and the content.
The Tools Section Of the Dashboard has these following Links that will help you in configuring your site for Google:
Robots.txt lets the Googlebot and other spiders know what they can and cannot have access to on your site. So, if you have restricted access to certain sections of your website, use this tool to check if your robots.txt file is up to date, and also valid in terms of how it is written. With a wrong tweak in the robots.txt file may stop access to Google and other engines from multiple pages at a time.
Manage site verification
This link allows you to go back and alter how your site is verified – and even protect your site. Google also lets you know if someone else apart from you is accessing your data. Now , if you want to make certain other members of your team as managers of the account, then you can do that by clicking on the ‘Manage’ tab. On the Verification Details page, you can add users-edit or delete them. This stage is pretty simple as all you have to do is give in their Google mail addresses, while adding users.
Set Crawl Rates
In case you feel that the Google bot needs to be crawling your site more often and faster then you can tell the same to Google bots. Or you can just let them pick the crawl setting for your website
This section also shows you the details of the the Googlebot’s activity on your site. You can then judge, by comparing the graphs, as to how your optimization efforts are being picked up by Google. The same holds true if you’re making any efforts at all to improve link popularity of any kind. The analysis is a way to make sure that Google indexed you more often and that your new content is also indexed quickly.
Set preferred domain
This setting will let you set the domain you want to see in your search results (you can choose between- www.example.com and example.com). You can instruct Google to display URLs according to your preference. If your target audience is in a specific country/region, then you can select this option in Webmaster Tools.
To Conclude- It is recommended that you associate Google Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics for more detailed data. Since Google is providing information on 90 days at a time, you’ll want to have historical reports to overlap and analyze. Following these simple steps will help you utilize the services of Webmaster Tools to understand and work on your site better.How To Set Up Google Webmaster Tools,