Google Webmaster Tools

Google WebMaster Tools LogoGoogle Webmaster Tools provide you with detailed reports about how visible pages on your site are to Google.

Using Google Webmaster Tools you can:

  • See how Google crawls and indexes your site and see specific errors generated such as “page not found.”
  • Learn about internal and external links and which key word search queries bring traffic to your site.
  • Upload a Site Map file which tells Google which pages are most important and which URLs (pages) you want Google to index.

Google WebMaster Tools Health CheckOne of the most helpful aspects of Google Webmaster Tools is the “Site Health” area.  Here Google tells you about Crawl errors.  Google is extremely efficient and subsequently many sites have their generic sample posts indexed at Google.  You delete them but Google still thinks they exist.  The Crawl Error report will tell you the exact page location and the date the error was detected giving you the opportunity to investigate further.

Google has no way of knowing, without a little human intervention, if a “Page Not Found” is a technical problem, a page that is now behind a secure login, or has been removed.  Once Google indexes a page or is told to index a page at a certain URL, it will keep trying until told otherwise.  It is through the Google Webmaster Tools that you can mark these errors as “fixed” or permanently remove a URL from Google’s index.

Similar to Google Analytics, (Read my post on “Google Analytics for WordPress“) Google Webmaster Tools provides specialized traffic analysis focusing on and listing the search terms that caused your site to be displayed somewhere in the results listing of the query and its’ average position.  And there are extensive reports on which sites link back to your site as well as how your site links to itself between categories and pages.  Of course, Google+ activity reports are included showing search impact, activity, and audience.

Google OptimizationThe most important feature of Google Webmaster Tools is the Optimization Section.  It is here that you can upload a SiteMap.xml file that tells Google about pages that it might not otherwise find during the Index Crawl and it gives you an opportunity to definitively tell Google about the content of your site.  In a similar manner to the Search Engine Optimization discussed in my Post, “All in One SEO Pack for WordPress”, the SiteMap file can also provide metadata about the types of content on your site such as video, images or news.  A SiteMap entry for a video might include the run time, category, and format information.  For an image, the subject matter, type, and any license information.  A SiteMap file can also alert Google to the last time of a site update and the frequency of change of or addition of new content to the site. (A future post will discuss how to create SiteMap.xml file.)

Google WebMaster Tools SummaryIn short, using the Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard allows me to keep my site as “Google Friendly” as possible by alerting me immediately to any Indexing Crawl Errors,  the status of my SiteMap.xml file updates, and it helps me determine which keyword searches are drawing traffic to my JasonPalmer.com WordPresss web site.

Useful Google Webmaster Links:

Google Webmaster Tools:
http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools

Google Webmaster Academy – Everything you ever wanted to know about Google
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=checklist.cs&tab=1095542

Google Webmaster Tools Help:
http://support.google.com/webmasters/?hl=en

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