Google Webmaster Tools has been a tried and true friend to all webmasters and SEOs alike. The tool is Google’s way to give webmasters an inside view of how Google sees their website. Like many Google tools, GWT has changed over the years with new features and new interface design.
While these changes have been wholly incremental, there has yet to be a comprehensive dissection of everything that GWT has to offer. Until now. We took a deep walk through the new and improved GWT and have provided a detailed analysis of the bells and whistles that make Google Webmaster Tools a much-used tool.
New and Important: This area is for important alerts about your site. This is the first place most webmasters should look to make sure there are no red flags or issues affecting your website
The dashboard also gives you the current status of important elements of your site’s performance including Crawl Errors, Search Queries and Sitemap. We’ll get into each of those elements in a bit. Most alerts are notified with a yellow, red alert triangle. View all messages click the “View All” or “Site Messages”.
All information is easily accessible from the left-hand rail and site settings are available in the gear dropdown in the top right corner.
Site Messages is like GWT’s own little inbox. It tracks all alerts and site changes. It keeps a log of your site’s errors and anything you’ve deemed important by starring. Also if your site is linked to other Google products it will be noted here.
Search Appearance covers off on how your site’s listing appears in the Google search engine results page. Is your site using rich data snippets? Check under >> Structured Data to see what markup your site is employing.
Google displays information on structured data: how many items on your site employ structured markup. Also you can access the Data Highlighter tool which allows you to tag the different types of data on your site.
This is also where you can discover HTML improvements such as duplicate Title Tags, duplicate Meta descriptions and too short or too long titles. You can also view your site’s site links and demote site links you don’t want visible.
With the implementation of secure search, The Search Traffic tab is where the meat and potatoes of GWT is. It’s where you can find information on search queries your site ranks for, how many impressions, average position and
. This is great information for Content Strategist looking for viable keywords and looking to prove out click-through by position.
Additionally, this is where you can see all of the links (Google crawled) that point back to your site. GWT breaks it down by who is linking to you the most, what is the most linked piece of content on your site and what is the most used anchor text.
Also if you’re experiencing an indexation problem you can see your internal linking structure by finding out how each page on your site in linked internally.
See how Google is indexing your site over time with the Index Status under Google Index.
Also get a view of how Google sees your site from a content perspective.
The Content Keywords view tells you what the significance of each keyword is to your site. It comes from the use and variations of that keyword on your site and in its content.
And if there is a page or URL that you want out of the SERPs, GWT has the awesome Remove URLs tool. Since this is such a powerful permission only site owners and users with full permission can remove URLs from Google’s indices.
Crawl is the diagnostics of your site. It’s Google’s view of your pages from a technical perspective. It displays any URL errors and crawl stats of Google bot. You can fetch a page disguised as Google Bot to see if the fetch is successful or if there are any errors.
This is also where you can check the health of your site’s sitemap and you can configure URL parameters.
Probably one of the most dangerous events to any webmaster is having malware. Malware can shut your site down, have it taken out of the indices and block by Google. This report will tell you if Google has found malware on your site and once you’ve fixed the issues, if your site is back in good health.
Additional Tools is an extra parking lot of cool tools from GWT. You can find the Structured Data Testing Tool which allows you to check your markup. Or the Google Places portal to get your brick and mortar location listed in Google Places.
Google is always coming up with new ideas and new ways to display information. Labs has cool tools like Author Stats and Custom Search Engines for your internal search.
Like most Google tools, there’s lots of data and information to pull once you know the lay of the land. Google Webmaster Tools can be a stealth ally in finding keywords, link building opportunities and crawl issues before they become a bigger nuisance.
How do you use Google Webmaster Tools? What insights do you glean?