This month, Dr Dave Chaffey highlights the top six features of Google Webmaster Tools that will help you quantify current performance, fix errors and give Google what it needs to be able to index your site.
SEO specialists will be aware of the features in Google Webmaster Tools and use them regularly, but site owners and non-specialists may not, so I thought I should flag them up to you in case your not making the most of them.
Here’s a quick review of the 6 main features that marketers need to be aware of in my view. Discuss these with your specialists and make sure you have access. You will have to verify yourself as owner of the site if your access is not setup.
1. Current keyphrase ranking – Shows natural search click-through rate your average position for top keyterms.
2. HTML Suggestions – Shows you missing or duplicate title & description tags forming duplicate content in Google’s eyes. If Google is unable to differentiate between different pages, your pages may be seen as similar and their ranking reduced.
3. Crawl errors – As sites develop and grow you tend to find broken links, pages that display errors. By identifying the links here you can correct broken links on your site (which you should be looking for in your analytics anyway since they are a poor user experience).
You can also see broken links from other sites pointing to pages that no longer exist. By correcting these links you can improve their anchor text, point them to an appropriate page and potentially boost your ranking.
Step 4. Sitemaps – Sitemaps are simple lists of web pages you submit to the engines to inform them about your pages. For a well-constructed site they are unecessary since Googlebot will crawl these pages anyway, but through submitting sitemaps you can inform Google of particular content types such as news, mobile or video pages and gain insight on which text pages Google isn’t indexing.
Step 5. Site performance – Google will notify you about the overall download speed of your site and particular problem pages. If your site is within the slowest 2% of sites you may even suffer a ranking penalty – so check out how you compare to other sites.
Step 6. Link Analysis – This section shows Google’s information on your internal and external links, so you can review who links to you and assess relevant anchor text.
There’s a lot more tools within Google Webmaster Tools, but these are the main ones that site owners need to be aware of in my opinion to improve SEO. Google is always updating these tools and I have summarised the most recent changes – although our team of search experts will be able to guide you through what matters.