Out of the many SEO tools, Google Webmaster Tools is one of the most useful. It doesn’t have all the perks of commercial SEO suites and it is not a tool for any SEO need but it comes from Google itself and it offers lots of vital SEO insights. All these are good reasons to start using Google Webmaster Tools (if you are not already doing it, of course).
What Is Google Webmaster?
Google Webmaster Tools is a set of tools for webmasters. However, what you don’t know right away is that this is a very useful tool set that allows you to communicate with Google and adjust many aspects of how Google sees your website, such as list the external and internal links to your website, adjust the crawl rate at which Google bot indexes your website, check the keywords users typed to land on your website, as well as the click through rate for each keyword, see your website’s statistics, and many more.
One issue that needs mentioning is privacy concerns. Since you are giving Google a full access to your site’s stats, you might be worried about how they handle this data. While Google is a reputable company and it is not very likely they will abuse the data you are giving them access to, if confidentiality is a top concern for you, think twice before letting Google (or any other statistics solution, for that matter) to your website’s secrets.
If you use Google Webmaster Tools together with Google Analytics, the results will be even better. You can access your Google Webmaster Tools data directly from Google Analytics, so if you are already using Google Analytics, with just some more effort you could easily integrate it with Google Webmaster Tools, too.
How Do I Get Started?
In order to use Google Webmaster Tools, you need to join it first. After you join, you need to go through the verification process, so that Google knows you are the legit owner of the site you want to use Google Webmaster Tools on.
Google Webmaster Tools to Use Daily
Once you have verified your ownership and have Google code in place on your site, you can now start enjoying the advantages of Google Webmaster Tools. When you log into your Google Webmaster Tools account, the first thing you see is the Dashboard.
From here you can access all the major sections – Search Queries, Links to Your Site, Crawl Errors, Keywords, and Sitemaps. Clicking on any of these will open the respective section.
The Search Queries section shows the keywords that led users to your website.
This long list shows which keywords users searched for when they came to your website. It is best if this list matches the keywords you are optimizing for but very frequently this list contains good keywords you were unaware of. In this case, pick these good keywords and start optimizing for them, too.
The second very useful section of Google Webmaster Tools is the Links to Your Site section.
Here you can see where your backlinks (internal and external) come from, as well as the pages they are linking to. As with other link checking tools, don’t expect that every single link to your website is displayed but nevertheless this list of backlinks is useful to check from time to time.
One of the advanced uses of the Links section is to disavow links to your site you deem harmful. Links from bad websites can hurt your rankings, so it is imperative to get rid of them.
The Crawl Errors section shows the errors Google bot encountered on your website. The data you get is similar to what you get when you use the Spider Simulator and it shows inaccessible pages, missing pages, server errors, and all sorts of problems that prevented Google from correctly crawling your site. You also get some other crawl stats (such as the number of pages crawled a day) that are useful to know.
Similar to the Search Queries section that also deals with keywords (but it is the ones users type to get to your site), the Keywords section also shows keywords. However, the difference is that here you see what keywords (and their significance) Google has found on your swebite. The two lists (of keywords users type and the keywords Google finds on your site) could be very different, which means you are not optimizing for what users are searching for.
Google Webmaster Tools is a really valuable instrument for SEO. It gives you at a glance data about all important SEO aspects of a site, such as keywords, links, crawl errors, etc. If you don’t use it already, take the time and get familiar with it ‐ it will help you get better rankings for sure.