5 Ways to Maximize Google Webmaster Tools for Better SEO

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Google Webmaster Tools is a powerful resource for website owners, webmasters and SEOs alike. Once you’ve set up Google Webmaster Tools, you might be wondering what to do next. If you need basic tips, check out our Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools. If you’ve dug around Google Webmaster Tools and are longing for more in-depth tips and advice, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s dive into five of the advanced Google Webmaster Tools features you should be using to improve your site’s SEO:

1. Adjust Your Sitelinks
When someone does a specific and branded search (in our case below, VerticalResponse), Google displays groups of related results, typically popular pages, underneath the main search result. These groupings are called sitelinks and are considered shortcuts to enable users to navigate a site quickly. In the example below, the sitelinks include: Log in, Pricing, Marketing Blog, Features, Non-Profit and About.

SitelinksExample

As we mentioned, Google will usually select your most popular pages as sitelinks, and while you cannot choose which pages Google decides to display, you can specify which ones you don’t want displayed. This is a rare opportunity, so take advantage of it by only displaying your best pages! To remove any unwanted results or pages from your sitelinks in Google Webmaster Tools, click on Sitelinks on the left hand side fond under the category Search Appearances. Then, type in the URL of the page you’d like “demoted” or removed and click Demote.

2. Monitor Your Most Linked Content
The Links to Your Site section of Google Webmaster Tools (found under the category Search Traffic) is an awesome way to find out what content people love on your site. Odds are, your homepage is the top linked content, but you might discover that a blog post you wrote 2 years ago is still compelling. This information provides you with the number unique domains that link to your content – The more unique domains that link to a piece of content, the better. If some of your most popular content is a bit older, we recommend taking another look at it and making sure everything is up-to-date. Check to make sure your images are still working, all the links are correct and even try adding a call to action into the post if you don’t have one already, to help drive sales or sign ups. 

MostLinkedPagesWMT

3. Fetch as Google 
Your website might look fine and dandy on your iPhone, but to Google and their special Internet robot, GoogleBot, it can sometimes look very different. With the Fetch as Google tool (found under the Crawl category),you can see how any page on your website looks to the Googlebot. This is important because you can see which areas of a page aren’t rendering correctly for the Googlebot and fix them. If your pages look good to the Googlebot, they’re more likely to be shown in search results. 

FetchasGoogleWMT

4. Use the Data Highlighter
SCHEMA Markup, another functionality found in Google Webmaster Tools, allows webmasters to markup HTML pages so that they’re recognized by major search providers. This structured data tool is very easy to use; locate it under Search Appearance and Data Highlighter. Watch the introduction video, click Start Highlighting, then plug in your page and start clicking away. Pick your most popular product page and start marking up the page – it’s as easy as clicking a product and choosing it. You can markup the product image, add a price, availability, reviews and more! When you’re all done marking up, just click “publish” and you’re good to go.

SCHEMADataHightlighter

5. Search Your Keyword Ranking Data
Unless you’re manually checking, recording, and monitoring your keywords, you may not have any idea how your website’s keywords are ranking. You can pay for a tool like Moz, which will do the tracking for you, or you can check out the keyword ranking data section of Google Webmaster Tools. Find your keyword ranking data under Search Traffic, then Search Queries. On this page, you’ll see a 30-day rolling view of your traffic and keywords that bring visits to your site.

You can click each keyword for a deeper dive including the display page for that keyword, the position it was ranked in, as well as the number of clicks, and the click through rate for that keyword. This is some of the most valuable information that Google Webmaster Tools provides. If you know what pages are driving visits to your site, spend some time optimizing and testing to make them even more efficient, and optimize pages that aren’t performing well even better.

AdvancedSearchQueries

Now your Google Webmaster Tools skills are sharper than ever, so put them to good use! Know of any other useful functionality in Google Webmaster Tools? If so, share in the comments, and let us know if you have any other questions, too!

© 2014, VerticalResponse Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post 5 Ways to Maximize Google Webmaster Tools for Better SEO appeared first on VerticalResponse Blog.


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A Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools

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Your website is like a high-performance car. Similar to a Porsche, your website should grab attention, navigate easily and hit max speeds. To keep a A Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Toolsfancy sports car in tip-top shape, you use a specialized mechanic. To keep your website in tip-top shape, you should use Google Webmaster Tools (GWMT).

Think of this Google feature like a toolbox full of fine-tuning agents that can help you improve your website. GWMT isn’t just about performance either; you can learn how customers find your site and use this information to tweak certain pages and boost website traffic.

“Google Webmaster Tools is a free resource that gives you a ton of useful information,” says Chipper Nicodemus, our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Manager. “You don’t need to understand Google’s algorithms or have a vast Internet background to use it, either. It’s a user-friendly tool that business owners should dive into.”

At VerticalResponse, we want you to get the most out of your website. So, let’s follow Nicodemus’ advice and dive right in. We’ve created a guide to walk you through all that GWMT has to offer.

Set up and verification
First, you need to sign in to GWMT. If you have a Gmail account, you’ll need your Gmail password. From there, you’ll enter the URL of your website. You’ll also need to verify that you’re the owner of the site. There are a couple of ways to do this, and it varies depending on things like where you created your site. To figure out which process is right for your site, check out this link to the GWMT verification methods.

Familiarize yourself with the dashboard
Once you’ve set up and verified your account, you’ll be able to access the GWMT from one dashboard. Our guide will go through each one of the tabs on the left. We’ll explain what each feature does and tell you what you can learn from it.

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Site messages
If Google wants to communicate with you, this is where they do it. For instance, Google will send you a message if there have been any attempts to hack your site, or if a new version of software is needed. It’s just like an inbox; you want to keep an eye on incoming messages.

Search appearance

Structured data

  • When you do a search, you’re presented with a list of relative links. Each link has a brief description under it, which helps users decide which link is best suited for their needs. For example, when you Google “Best Italian restaurant in Miami,” you get these results with snippets under each link.

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  • Wouldn’t it be nice if you could control what those snippets say about your business? You can do that by creating structured data, which is what Google uses to create your snippet.
  • To create this data requires some HTML knowledge. It does get a little technical, so if you’re a beginner, we suggest you check out the next option on the list, data highlighter, which is an easier tool to use that achieves similar results. However, if you’re up for a little challenge, GWMT has a step-by-step process on its website to help you create the snippet that appears in a web search.

Data highlighter

  • Think of the data highlighter as a tool to teach Google what’s important on your site. You don’t need any HTML experience, just go into your site, highlight certain types of data and categorize it. For instance, if a local hotel highlights text about its upcoming concert series and categorizes it under “event,” Google will showcase it in a search like this:

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  • There are several kinds of data that you can highlight including: articles, events, local businesses, restaurants, products, software applications, movies, TV episodes and books.
  • Like the structured data tool, you’re telling Google what information should show up when your site is searched.

 HTML improvements

  • If there is something you can do to make your user’s experience better, Google will let you know in the HTML improvement section. Here’s a look at what might appear:

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  • You might see suggestions like “duplicate meta descriptions.” You’d fill out this field to describe a particular entry. For example, when you write a blog post, you’d put a brief description of the post in the Meta description field. You don’t want duplicates, so Google will warn you about something like that in the HTML improvement section.
  • You’ll also see title tag suggestions. These titles are what show up as links in the search. For example, when you search “VerticalResponse,” the purple text is the title tag and clickable link. These suggestions will help you fine tune your titles so searchers know what your site is all about.

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Site links

  • You know those additional links that show up under the search results? They’re called site links. For instance, when you search “VerticalResponse” you not only get the link to the main page, you also get a series of other links, like the “Log In” and “Pricing” links that you see below. These are site links.

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  • Right now, Google selects these links for you, but through this tab on GWMT, you can demote a link if you don’t want it to appear in your search results. Just put in the URL of that particular page and click “demote.”

Search Traffic

Search queries

  • This is probably the most beneficial tab on the GWMT. Here you’ll find out how people get to your website.

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  • You’ll see a list of search terms that led people to your site, which is a valuable tool, says Nicodemus. “As a business owner you assume you know which words people are using to find your site, but this list can reveal terms that you weren’t even thinking of,” he says.
  • Learning these search terms might persuade you to make some product adjustments, Nicodemus says. For instance, if you’re selling coffee mugs online and a lot of people find your site by searching “brown coffee mugs” and you’re only selling black mugs, you might consider adding brown mugs to your product line. “It’s a great way to find missed opportunities,” Nicodemus says. “Business owners can use this information to add products, remove under-performing products, and create relevant blog content that uses these keywords.”
  • The search queries page will also show you a graph of impressions and clicks. Impressions are the number of times that your site showed up in search results. Clicks are the number of times people actually selected your website from the results, and the click through rate is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click to your site.
  • How do you keep these stats high? One of the best ways is to keep your site updated regularly with high quality content.

Links to your site

  • This section tells you who links to your site and how. It’s organized in basic categories like “Who links the most” and “Your most linked content.” Why does this matter? The more quality sites that link to yours, the better your Google ranking. If you’re providing quality content, other sites will link to your content naturally.

Internal links

  • To improve navigation on your site, you’ll want to provide internal links. For instance, on this VerticalResponse page “Check it out” and “Apply now” are two internal links that take customers to another spot within the website.

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  • Internal links make it easier for people to surf your site and tell Google the importance of a page. The more internal links that point to a page, the more Google assumes its significance.

Manual Actions

Google Index

Index status

  • This tab shows you the total number of URLs that Google has recognized and will appear in search results. Google finds these URLs with a ton of computers that “crawl” through the Internet to look for new and updated pages online. Once a new page or an update is found, the Googlebot scans it for important information and indexes it so it can be found during a search.
  • The index tab shows you the number of URLs the bot found. Why is this important information? You want to make sure that Google can find and index your site. A steady increase in the number of URLs is proof that Google can find your site and catalog the content on it. Here’s a good example.

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  • If you see dramatic increases or decreases in the graph you might have a problem with your server, or something is blocking Google from crawling your site and you’ll want to investigate further. Again, a steady increase is all you really need to look for here.

Content Keywords

  • This is a list of the most significant keywords that are used throughout your site.

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  • The keywords are listed in order of usage, with the most used keywords at the top. You can click on each word and see where it appears on your site. This information, along with the search queries information, can tell you how Google interprets your business site.
  • If you feel like the keywords that are listed aren’t accurately reflecting your site, it’s time to rethink your content strategy. You might consider making a list of keywords you want associated with your site, and add the keywords that people are using to find your site (found under the search queries tab) and create a master list of keywords. Use those keywords in your website content and blog topics.

Remove URLs

  • If Google has indexed a part of your website that contains confidential information, you can send a request to have that URL removed. This should only be used for emergency cases, like exposed confidential data.

Crawl

Crawl errors

  • As the Googlebot crawls through your site, it will list any errors it finds with your site. Here’s a look at a typical list of crawl errors.

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  • The most common error is a 404, which means the page can’t be found. If you’ve redesigned your site, you might see this a lot if you didn’t redirect people to the right page. You’ll also see these error messages if you take down old content. If another website linked to that old content, you’ll get the 404 error message too. If that’s the case, send an email to the site manager and ask to have the link updated.

Crawl stats

  • This shows you how often Google is crawling your site. You’ll want to check this graph from time to time to make sure that Google is scanning through your content. If you think Google should be checking in more often, make sure you’re updating content regularly and you’ll keep the bot coming back for more.

Fetch as Google

  • This handy tool lets you see a webpage the way Google does. Just enter a URL and hit “Fetch.”

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  • This option is particularly helpful if you’re trying to troubleshoot issues with your page. For instance, if you have crawl errors or HTML suggestions and you’re making attempts to fix those issues, you’ll be able to fetch the page and see if the problem is fixed in the eyes of Google.

       Blocked URLs

  • If you have content on your site that you’ve blocked from Google on purpose, you’ll see a list of those links here. Remember when we talked about confidential pages that you didn’t want Google to include in searches? You can keep track of them here.

       Sitemaps

  • A Sitemap is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a map that helps Google recognize all of the pages on your site. This isn’t something the Googlebot handles, you actually have to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google. How do you do that? We suggest using XML-sitemaps.com. This site will walk you through the process and get the information to Google. It might sound techy, but it’s beneficial. If you can get Google to recognize all of the pages on your site, your searchability will increase.

       URL parameters

  • This section allows you dictate which URLs Google crawls, but unless you’re an Internet aficionado, you’ll probably want to stay away from this. If you enter the wrong URLs you can negatively affect your site. It’s best to leave this one to the pros.

        Malware

  • If your site has fallen victim to hackers, Google will let you know. You can also request a malware review from Google to make sure all infected areas are clear.

       Security issues

  • This tab is another way for Google to get in touch with you should there be any security concerns. It’s just another inbox-like feature that you should monitor.

Additional tools

  • You’ll find some helpful resources in this section. We’ll go over the most important and easy-to-use tools.

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Google Places

  • You want customers to be able to find your business, its location and contact information in a snap, right? Then you should check out Google Places. In a few simple steps you’ll get your business on the map – literally. A map with a pin showing your location will appear in search results. Other important information will also pop up in searches.

Google Merchant Center

  • When you Google “new shoes,” a list of relevant links come up along with several pictures of products.

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Page Speed Insights

  • If a customer has to wait for your page to load, they might get impatient and go to a competitor’s site. To avoid this, use the Page Speed Insights tab to see just how fast your page loads on both a desktop computer and a mobile device. Check out the report below.

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  • You’ll get a rating. In this case, the desktop rating is 81/100. To improve the speed, it gives you a list of things you can change to make your page load faster.

Labs

Author stats

  • If you’re writing content for your site or for others, you can see a list of your top ranked articles. Of course, you’ll need to associate your articles with your Google profile for the posts to show up. You can learn more about that through the Google Authorship site. It’s worth your time. It shows you what articles are getting read so you can adjust your topics accordingly.

Instant preview

  • This option is a lot like Fetch as Google, it shows you a page as Google would see it. It also tells you if there are any errors as the bot works to preview the page. Again, it’s another way to learn about bugs in your system.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you learn your way around GWMT. It’s a powerful tool for business owners who want to improve their website performance and traffic without spending a dime.

Are you using GWMT? Which features do you find the most valuable?

Get started with VerticalResponse with a free account today!

© 2014, VR Marketing Blog. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools appeared first on VR Marketing Blog.


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