SEO is increasingly becoming the most preferred online marketing strategy, with Google being the most preferred search engines for which the website or web pages get optimized. Google search, in particular has revolutionized the way advertising and marketing is being done online. Though most web hosting service providers do provide certain tools that help the webmasters with information relevant to the website and its traffic, nothing can match the Google Webmaster Tools when it comes to in depth analysis of all the critical as well as subsidiary elements of website traffic.
Google Webmaster Tools is a free service offered by Google to help webmasters. Though initially christened as Google Webmaster tools, this service is now called as Google Search Console. This is actually a set of webmaster tools that can be used to make the website more visible and help users find information about your website on the Internet. It has a score of features that will help both beginner as well as expert webmasters to analyze their websites and tweak them accordingly. In fact, it has been widely used by webmasters to diagnose and monitor the websites, and also optimize them for speed and traffic. While Google’s AdWords is a paid service to list your website on top of the search results in the form of Ads, the Webmaster tools help you to gain traffic using the tried and tested method SEO. 😛
You do not need to sign up for Google Search Console but doing that gives you an idea about how to optimize your website to be listed at top. Let me take you to a list of prominent features of the webmaster tools so that you will appreciate the benefits of these tools and put them to good use as required. This will explain how important the Google Webmaster tools are for SEO. If you are a new age SEO guy looking for information, please read the following carefully and try to put them to use in your day to day activities. I am sure you would reap positive results out of involving yourself with the Google Webmaster tools.
Table of Contents
- 1 Webmaster tools
- 2 Search Appearance
- 3 Search Traffic Tools
- 4 Google Index Report:
- 5 Crawl Status
- 6 Security Issues Report
- 7 Exhaustive source of knowledge
We all know quite well about the importance of signing up for Google Search Console. Now let us see the tools which help you in accomplishing this task. By the time this article is over you will understand why Google Webmaster tools are important for SEO. These can be mainly categorized into four.
Submitting your sitemap for search engine check
You have just created a great web site and have high expectation from it. However, unless your web site is assessed for its basic compliance and compatibility, getting traffic would remain an expectation. Google Webmaster tools enable you to submit your website for assessment. The success of your website or the business depending on the website is directly proportional to the traffic it generates. The website has to be submitted for a search engine check to look if it meets the requirements to be listed in the search engine’s results. The above screenshot will give you an idea about how the results will be displayed once you submit your site for check.
The sitemap is the collection of pages which are accessible for the web crawlers (The internet bots which crawls in the World Wide Web to index the pages). This Google Webmaster tool would check the following details:-
- Whether you are the owner of the site (The rightful owner of the mobile site, App and website).
- Can Google search engine access the contents of your website?
Based on this information we can make the following changes:
- Submit updated content for Web Crawler to access and remove any content that you wish to be hidden from the search results.
- By creating visually appealing content Google maintains your site to perform well in search results.
- Free your web site from threats (spams or malwares)
These tools (reports) tell you whether your site is visible in the search results and how it can be improved. This section also provides you information about the current status of all these variables. Some of the below variables are shown in the above picture for your reference.
- Structured data report: Structured data enable Google to study your website’s content and display snippets (structured data markup added to the HTML) in the search results. This shows if there are any errors that prevent any search features from being displayed.
- Rich cards: This allows you to add more details of the content and enhances the search on mobile devices. This is relatively new feature added by Google and you can see the report of the rich cards present in your website.
- Data highlighter: This is an alternative option to the structured data markup for you to inform Google about the structured data in your site. For example if you want the date and venue of an event be shown right at first in the search result (eliminating the need to open the website), you can use Data highlighter tool.
- HTML improvements: This is just an advice from Google to improve your content so that the search results are optimized for driving more traffic to your site. This is something you would have to work upon if required. Ideally, these are suggestion to get your website more hits.
- Sitelinks: This is the tool used to manage the Sitelinks that appear below the search result of your website. You can demote a link if you do not want that site to be displayed in the search result. Essentially, we are dealing with search engine exposure management here.
- AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages): This is especially for mobile optimization. This is an initiative to design (Open source) fast loading pages in turn works well with mobile devices. Today, a considerable number of users visit websites using their mobile devices, mostly the smartphones. Studies indicate that the mobile users of websites are increasing every dayand would outnumber their PC based counterparts in a couple of years.
Search Traffic Tools
In this section of Google Webmaster, the tool enables you to analyze the traffic to your website using advanced analytics. Armed with these advanced tools, you can get useful insights about the visitors to your website and strategize on the content and the links on your web page or website. The data available in this section are described below.
The important and useful report for your website to get to top on the search results list. This page gives you the information about the CTR (Click through rate), Clicks, position and Impressions (These are called filters). You can get the number group wise and can compare between the groups (Pages, devices, dates, countries, queries, etc.). The overall analytics helps you group data in different categories like Query, Page, Country, Device, Search Type, Search Appearance, date etc.; though not all groups will be available all the time.You can also add filters to customize the report to display only the details that you require.
Link to your site:
This lets you know the sites or pages that have links to your website, in a way contributing to the traffic to your website. The simplest way to do this is to search in Google as link:”website name”. It would list out all the sources that have links to your website.
These are clicks that are coming through the links within your website. In technical terms these are traffic generated by the pages in the website’s sitemap. These are pages on a website that have links coming from other pages in the same website.The number of internal links to a web page is of considerable significance to a search engine as it indicates that the page is relatively important.
These include instances wherein an individual has reported your website or any pages in it of not being in accordance with the Google Webmasters compliance guidelines. If your site has all the making to be a top contender in search results, but fails to live to the expectation in spite of all the factors being favorable, you might want to check this aspect. The usual reasons why a site gets reported include it getting hacked, user generated spam, unnatural links to your website, Hidden text, pure spam, cloaked redirects, content will no value etc.
The Google Webmaster tools also help you to target your website to the international audience. You can set your website to be displayed for the right audience that you choose based on language or country. This can be achieved via URL level targeting as well as site wide targeting.
The tools in the Google webmaster help you optimize your website for mobile phones i.e. smartphones. The features offered includes a “Mobile friendly test” that would assess if your website meets the mobile friendly criteria laid down by Google. It also offers you quick start tutorials and mobile SEO tips, as well as a 5 step mobile checklist that would be quite handy in optimizing your website. The test would usually throw up any or all of the errors – Flash Usage (most mobile browsers do not use Flash), Viewport not configured / Fixed width viewport / Content not sized to viewport (to adjust the page dimensions according to the screen size of the device in which the page is viewed). Small font size (visitors will have to pinch to zoom), Touch element too close (Users may click on the wrong link or button quite often), Interstitial usage (Ads of apps that can obscure viewing).
Google Index Report:
In this report Google shows the URLs which are indexed and are available for search results. Obviously the number shown in the crawl status will be more than the Google Index status report because this report does not count the duplicates. In the normal view, only the total indexed number will be shown, but in the detailed report you can see the pages blocked by robots.txt and removed URLs. This report will contain all the pages (both internal and external). You can make the needed changes to increase the visibility of your website using this report.
There are some areas you have to be careful while analyzing this report. Check for unusually high index and sudden changes. Unusually high index may indicate that pages are getting automatically generated or your site has been hacked.
In the above Dashboard you can see the number of errors the crawler got while travelling through your site and internal links. You can get useful information about the Crawl status of your website. This report helps you to optimize your website according to the search engine results. If you have accidently blocked any page you can unblock that so that the crawler can access it. The crawl status gives you information like:
- How many pages (URLs) the crawler could go through successfully
- How many URLs the bot could not crawl because of some error or empty files
- The time when Googlebot accessed the URLs.
- How many computers are covered and how many pages were excluded from this procedure.
Security Issues Report
One of the major concerns for webmasters is the security of their website(s). With the number of threats on the Internet always looming at large, the website administrator has a serious task in his hands. He has to keep the website secure so that it does not get hacked, something that can become more than just a security concern. We’ve all come across instances wherein a website’s home page has been defaced, customer data stolen and even website(s) getting redirected to other unwanted sites or pages. Search engines usually have a policy wherein websites that are affected by spam are excluded from their search results and do not show up in the search results of their partner sites as well. Google Webmaster tools have a solution for this too.
The above picture gives you an example for how a site’s Security Issue Report will look like. Google Search Console gives you the report about any unwanted action in your website. It also checks for any executable that may disrupt the customer experience. This report shows the list of any such files and you can take action for that. Google Webmaster tools monitor your website for present and potential security issues and threats. It also resolves malware and spam issues pertaining to your website and helps to keep your website free from harmful content.
Exhaustive source of knowledge
Google Webmaster tools set also contains an exhaustive list of articles and self-help options that would serve as a real blessing for newbies in the field of website management. The knowledge base consists of both text articles as well as video that would be of great value to both beginners as well as experienced hands. Almost, all the features of the tools are explained in details in simple words that make using them quite a pleasure. Some of the most used tutorials on the Google Webmaster tools include:-
Webmaster academy Course
This course includes all the contents required to help you know how to create great websites. It also gives you knowledge on having valuable content on them so that they can be found easily on the Google search. It help you with even the minutest detail required to build an effective website.
How Google search works
This is something search engine expert is keeping his eyes on. Understanding the algorithm used by Google in displaying the search results would play a vital role in designing the content of your website. It also should help you stay away from the compliance radar so that you only do what is legitimate to generate traffic to your website.
This includes both the general guidelines as well as the quality guidelines that gives you information about the practices that have to be followed and the ones that should not be to rank well in the Google search engine results.
Unfortunately, knowledge on web technologies needs to be updated quite often. Hence, this calls for a dynamic and complete learning solution. With the Google Webmaster tools you can be assured of staying abreast with the latest happenings by being connected to the latest news, events and communities in the social media space. You have the Google Webmasters Google+, Google Webmaster’s Twitter and of course the Webmaster’s help forum that would help you stay connected with experts and other experienced webmasters.Having gone through this list of the prominent webmaster tools you would surely appreciate the benefits of these tools and put them to good use as required.
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