A free tool created by Google, Webmaster Tools allows you to understand what’s happening within your website – and beyond, to searches. This allows you to make informed decisions about your site based on data, such as keywords that are ranking, or how much traffic you are getting at your site. It also enables you to know when there are errors on your site and Google can’t index a page.
Webmaster Tools and Benefits
Webmaster Tools allows you to submit a sitemap to help Google know what’s on each page. This will help when Google is deciding what search results to serve up for a given keyword. Google may miss some of your pages when they crawl your site, so this helps them to know all of your pages in case they missed some. Once you’ve uploaded your sitemap, you can see how many pages have actually been indexed. It’s common that every single page doesn’t get indexed, but you should shoot for as many pages getting indexed as possible. Remember, search engines frown upon duplicate content. You will see that if you have duplicate pages, one or both could be left out from the indexing.
You can target specific countries within the tool. If you know where your target audience lives, you can choose which country you want your website viewers to come from. This will affect the way Google shows your search engine results to people in other countries.
Did you know that you could improve your rankings just by clarifying what your domain name looks like? There are usually two versions of a domain name: http://mydomain.com and http://www.mydomain.com. By selecting the version you prefer to show, you help Google know that these two versions are actually the same domain, and they will combine the “link juice” that is associated with each, which could increase your domain authority.
The first step in raising your domain authority is getting other sites to link to your content. The higher your domain authority, the more keywords you can be found for. The Webmaster Tool enables you to see what sites are linking to you, and which pages they are linking to. By reviewing these, you can see which pages are valuable and do outreach to see if other similar sites would want to link to these pages as well.
Speaking of keywords, you can monitor which keywords you are being ranked for, and what position you hold. This can help you refine your content to gain higher rankings. You can also see the click through rate for each keyword, and can monitor search queries. If you notice that you show up on a lot of search queries but don’t get much click-through, you can figure out why they are not finding your website relevant. Maybe you are targeting the wrong keyword or maybe your title tags and meta data aren’t relevant enough (this is what people will see on the search engine result page before they click to your website). This part of the tool will also help you see if you are ranking for keywords that you don’t want to be ranking for. You can then adjust your copy to eliminate them.
Would you like to see which blogs are the most subscribed to in Google’s feed reader? This view within the tool can help you see which posts are topics that are appealing to readers. You can then refine your editorial strategy to better reflect what the readers want to see. You can figure out which posts resonate better, and that can also help you figure out which posts to keyword optimize if you don’t optimize each one.
Google Webmaster Tool also has a view into site errors. This allows you to see if there are pages that have a ‘crawl’ error, or when Google can’t find a page and shows a 404 error. This happens when a link to your site from another site is incorrect or that page no longer exists. You can then email the site with the bad link and ask them to update it. Alternatively you can 301 redirect from the old page to the new page.
A less common problem is malware on your server. Google doesn’t want to show results from an infected site so as to prevent infecting other people’s computers. If you find that your website has malware, you need to clean it up immediately to be ranked by Google.
In conclusion, if you’ve made it this far down the article, you know how vital this free tool can be to your website. It’s worth investing the time to learn the tool and use it regularly as it gives you insight to your search rankings and your site. By optimizing your site and monitoring it closely, you can increase your visitors and ultimately leads.
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