Last week we had great fun with part 5 and discovering the art of social bookmarking. However I am sure you will agree that to run a good quality SEO campaign you need tools and this is where this week’s blog post comes in. As we are looking at the Google Webmaster Tools and how they can help you.
We have being using these for a few months now and you forget that you can get tools on the internet that is this good quality for free!
We were late developers when it comes to Google tools. After all we never felt like we really needed them before now. We get good SEO traffic from white hat search engine optimisation so it has always been on the back burner.
So a few months ago Dominic cleared his schedule and decided to explore Google’s tools. And so I pass you over to Dominic as he explains what he did and why you need them as part of your SEO campaign.
Firstly I read the basic PDF from Google about how to help your site rank in the Google search results. You can find it by Clicking Here. We were already doing about 80% of it so we decided to work on the other 20%.
I read the document all the way through and at only 32 pages it is not too taxing. Then when you have finished having a good read log into your Google account and go to your webmaster tools.
Then you will be presented with something similar to this:
Obviously if you have not used the webmaster tools before you will not have any sites showing up, so you will need to add a site, so go ahead and then press the “add a site button” and you will be then faced with a screen like this and follow the instructions.
Add the URL you want to add to the webmaster tools and press continue and then you will have a list of different ways about how to verify your website with Google.
I chose the recommended method because if you have access to your hosting ftp files you just upload it in under 2 minutes.
After you have uploaded your file press verify and if you have done it correctly it will be almost instant verification and you will be brought to the start screen with your site on there.
Now if you used www. Before your domain you need to go through the process again but without the www. As Google does encourage you to do this.
That is why you see two of my domains on the front page one with www. And one without. After you have clicked on your domain you will come to your dashboard but you will not have any information on here as Google will need a week or two to really scan your site and give you accurate information.
So let me run through you with what you need on the Google Webmaster Tools and how they can help you improve your search engine optimisation.
#1 Site Dashboard
It tells you how many urls you have added via sitemaps on your site, how many impressions your site has received in a given period and how many clicks. It also shows your DNS, server connectivity and robots.txt files. If they have a tick they are ok.
You can also see URL errors and every other error just at the bottom. With us deleting a few urls and we are in the middle of re organising our site we will get a few errors as the urls do not exist. Keep an eye out on the right hand side as that is where Goolg will place errors that need fixing.
Google does say these do not adversely affect your search results but its always better to get rid of any of these problems.
#2 Site Messages
Google will put a message here if they find something wrong with your site that is affecting people’s use of it. For example we had a virus on one of our sites and Google flagged it and told us where it was so we could deal with it.
And imagine if you have a virus on your site but at the same time you have no clue where exactly it is. Wouldn’t it be great to just go in and fix a particular file in a couple of minutes and have your site back to normal?
#3 Search Appearance
In the search appearance section there are a few tabs that you need to use.
Firstly there is structured data.
This is about how your site looks in the search engines when someone searches for it or a keyword you have being targeting.
We use a plugin this is what it is called item prop WP for SERP (and SEO) Rich snippets.
This plugin does a great job and took a good few days to sort through our website but now it is working great. We do not use the data highlighter yet and the html improvements will give you list if any of your html on your site could be improved.
Lastly there is the site links tab is for you to demote any links from your site but we do not need to use this yet but in the future we will do. It just depends on what you have setup on your site for what you need.
#4 Search Traffic
The next section down the list is the search traffic which is arguably the most important tab for webmaster professionals.
It will show you your impressions and clicks for specific months. It will give you a list of keywords which you are being found for, their average position and click through rate. This kind of information is very important so you can monitor what is happening with your keywords and positions.
You can spend a lot of time as we have 825 pages to go through and our site is less than three years old. Our keyword research has paid off as we are found for so many keywords.
And this is exactly what Google wants to achieve. They want sites to have a lot of content structure and that the more pages and posts of quality unique content the better your SEO will become.
Just think about the sites that have already been hit by Google….
The article directories with lots of re-used content, the 5 page small websites that are there just for specific keywords and large keyword density that don’t make sense!
The next tab down shows which sites are linking to you the most and you can go through and see how your content is being linked, where to and also you will be able to see any dodgy link practices that have being carried out on your site.
The next tab down in the section is manual actions. This is for any messages from Google regarding web spam. They will let you know here if you have been penalised or going to be so make sure you keep your site as clean as possible.
#5 Google Index
The next main tab is Google index. This will show all the urls that Google deem to be of good quality and will index your content from the sitemaps you have added to the webmaster tools.
As you can see our content is getting indexed and continually gets indexed every time we put a new post on or add a new sitemap. The next tab is content keywords. What relevance your content has to the keywords you are targeting.
At the top you would hope to see your top keywords if you don’t then you cannot be targeting them in the correct way.
The next tab down is about URL removal, using the robots file. This will remove any URL from Google’s search that you do not want indexing.
The next section is crawl. Here it will give you any crawl errors and if Google bot crawled your site whilst your server was down it will tell you and you can then go and mark your urls as fixed so then the bot will crawl your site again.
Our site gets crawled on average 366 pages a day and with us adding new posts every other day (on average) it will keep Google bot coming back to keep crawling our content, which can only be a good thing
The next tab down is crawl stats which shows you how many pages are being crawled, how many kilobytes a day are downloaded and also the bottom one how long it takes to download a page and if you follow our blog on a regular basis you will know we have just updated our server and added a cdn to our arsenal to help with sites speed.
You then have blocked urls. This is just what urls you do not want Google to crawl. You can fetch your site by using Google bot and see what it fetches. Then you have sitemaps. These are the urls from your site that get added to Google through here.
From 730 urls 726 have being indexed so will show up in search, the 4 urls are ones we have deleted so even though they will show in the search it will actually not go anywhere. So I hope you have found this basic review of Google webmaster tools enjoyable.
There of course are other features on the Google Webmaster Tools but those are the important ones.
I hope you have as much fun as me as going through all this information and it changes every few days so make sure to keep up to date and check on your sites regularly to make sure you are doing everything you can to get found high up in the search rankings.
Each morning when I turn on my laptop at the same time my wife is next to me answering her emails, I will be checking on all the important stats. I will log into Google tools, check overnight affiliate income levels, check my traffic and overnight subscribers.
My point is that this is now part of daily life and once you have put a day aside to get to grips with it you will then just need 10 minutes a day (maybe less) to work on this and making sure you are the top of the search engines.
If you are doing your own SEO then forget all those expensive SEO software tools – this is all you actually need!
You can also get started on the next post where we talk about Bing and why the number #2 search engine can still make an impact on your SEO.