Google is revamping their Webmaster tools. Again. I will give you some sound tips on how to use webmaster tools for SEO as well as describe some of the changes that Google is introducing…
Webmaster Tools Upgrades – SEO Sitemaps, No more Robots.txt Tool, Etc.
What Google says: “Webmaster Tools added lots of new functionality over the past year, such as improvements to Sitemaps and Crawl errors, as well as the new User Administration feature. In recent weeks, we also updated the look & feel of our user interface to match Google’s new style. In order to keep bringing you improvements, we occasionally review each of our features to see if they’re still useful in comparison to the maintenance and support they require. As a result of our latest round of spring cleaning, we’ll be removing the Subscriber stats feature, the Create robots.txt tool, and the Site performance feature in the next two weeks.”
Summary of what this means: 1. No more subscriber stats. 2. No more Robots.txt creation tool. 3. No Site Performance Tool.
How To Use Webmaster Tools for your SEO:
1. Watch Impression Up’s and Down’s and act accordingly.
Google Webmaster Tools provides access to statistics that provide valuable insight into what your site is primarily known for. To view these statistics, access the Dashboard for your site, click Your site on the web, and then click the desired option:
Search queries: Keywords and phrases users enter most frequently to reach your site.
Links to your site: Other sites that link to yours.
Keywords: Most common keywords on your site.
Internal links: Number of links pointing to each page on your site.
Do you watch your impressions graph? You should! This way you can investigate ups and down in your traffic. Investigation boils down to this one thing: Keep asking yourself “What Don’t I Understand”. Once you answer the first question, you will find something else you don’t understand and you just “pull the string” all the way down until it all makes sense. And Its that simple. My friends and I at The Search Agency used the phrase: “Aha Moment”. At the bottom of the questions will usually be a large situation that makes the whole thing make sense. Like someone blocked all robots in the “robots.txt” file or an issue that makes all other issues clear.
Why?: Taiichi Ohno, considered to be the father of Toyota’s Production System, encouraged everyone in the company to always ask WHY about everything they did – especially when problems showed up. He believed that “having no problems is the biggest problem of all.” His famous statement was, “Ask ‘Why’ five times,” to get at the root cause of the problem.
2. Check for Possible Problems & tweak SEO
Google Webmaster Tools monitors your site and alerts you of crawl errors – like duplicate Titles, Duplicate Descriptions, and malware (if your site has been infected by a virus or worm, for example). It also provides crawl statistics and HTML suggestions to help attract traffic to your site.
3. Submit a Sitemap
You can increase the speed of adding your pages tremendously by submitting sitemaps to Google. A sitemap tells search bots which pages to index and each page’s relative importance. If you use CMS like WordPress to manage your site, you can install a plugin, such as Google XML Sitemaps that creates and updates the sitemap for you.
4. Submit a robots.txt File
A robots.txt file does the opposite of a sitemap—it tells search bots what not to index. This is especially useful if you’re using a CMS, because you don’t want search bots to waste time crawling CMS files that have nothing to do with the content of your site.
5. Submit specific page you want indexed right away by using “Fetch as Googlebot”
You can actually get pages indexed much faster if you submit them using the Webmaster Tools “Fetch As Googlebot” feature. Try it out.
6. Resubmit you site to Google.
This can be one of the most valuable points if your site has been hit by an Algorithm change or has had a significant drop in rank in Google as some of my clients have before hiring me. Once you have fixed the problems with their site this is a good thing to do to ensure Google removes a penalty.
7. Check Messages. from Google.
This area provides access to any messages about your site that Google deems important enough to notify you about, including any sudden and significant rise in error messages. Check for any incoming Messages regularly so you have early notification of any problems on your site.
8. Explore Additional Google Webmaster Tools
Near the bottom of the navigation bar on the left is a link called “Labs”. Click Labs to access additional Google Webmaster Tools that are currently in development and that Google considers not quite ready for primetime.
Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics are essentially a means for website owners to ensure that Google can easily find, crawl, index, and categorize their website appropriately. GWT provides website owners with detailed reports about their website’s search engine visibility, which can be leveraged to improve outcomes. After creating an account and verifying their site, site owners can log in to access these reports at any time and use these to see drops in impressions on any given keyword.
Thanks to Idiots Guide for breaking down some of these points.