Google Webmaster Tools
Howdy ho! To me, the most important information you need to know about your site is in Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). We'll explore what GWT is, and why I think it's so darned important.
Let's begin by asking and answering the question, what exactly is Google Webmaster Tools? Let's take it directly from the horse's mouth (Google):
Webmaster Tools is a free service offered by Google that helps you monitor and maintain your site's presence in Google Search results. ...help you understand how Google views your site and optimize its performance in search results.
OK, in simpler English this means that you can go into GWT and see if Google has any issues crawling your site to index and rank your content, see if you've been assessed a manual penalty and if your site has been hacked, among other things.
More Google Webmaster Tools Functions
But there's more than just negative information to find in your GWT dashboard. You can also see:
- Queries - keyword phrases where your pages showed up, and the relative ranking of that page
- Links to your site - this is a great place to start analyzing the links pointing to your pages from other web sites
- Index status - a critical piece of data to check regularly to make sure the Google bots can crawl all of your web pages
- 404 errors - get a complete list here and resolve them
- Site messages - when you change ownership or if Google has an issue with your site, you'll get a message telling you what's happening with your site
How Often Should You Check Your Google Webmaster Tools?
As often as you want, but I usually advise my students and clients to eyeball it about once a week. That way, if there's an issue, you can jump on it fast.
And, if you ever wake up one day and discover that your site traffic is down, go directly to GWT first and eliminate any sources of trouble here. You'd be surprised at how fast you can and solve a problem simply by logging into the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard and reviewing each section.
The other free Google service you can use for your website is Google Analytics. Learn more about it here.
If you want to learn more about webmaster tools, keyword research, optimizing web pages, blog posts and social media, register for a SEO training class with Invenio, and get started on improving your web site's performance.
If you're not local to us here in the Washington DC area, learn more about taking SEO training online from Invenio.
Until next time, stay safely between the ditches!
All the very best to you,