The Web Doctor

Brian Platz
The Web Doctor
Salem, Oregon
(503) 373-4728
(503) 373-9848 (Fax)


ARTICLE: who Should Use Google Webmaster Tools


Who should use Google Webmaster Tools? (and Yahoo’s Site Explorer & MSN’s Webmaster)
*** EVERYONE!!!! - Its FREE!!!  ***

Webmaster Tools helps you see how your site is performing in Google’s search results, troubleshoot potential problems, and build Google-friendly sites. Webmaster Tools is for anybody with a website - bloggers, online stores big and small, government and education sites.  GMT shows you important info about your site to make your site compete for ranking in Google and includes the following:

  • Automatically inform Google when you update your pages
    Google Webmaster Tools provide you with detailed reports about your pages' visibility on Google. To get started, simply add and verify your site, and you'll start to see information right away
  • Discover your links and see how users are reaching your site
    View, classify, and download comprehensive data about internal and external links to your site with our new link reporting tools.
  • Enhance and increase traffic to your site
    Learn which queries drive traffic to your site, and see exactly how users arrive there.
  • Learn more at Webmaster Central
    Visit Google’s Webmaster Blog, Help Center and more. Get the latest news and info on webmaster issues and browse through hundreds of frequently asked questions.

What are Webmaster Tools?
Google's free webmaster tools provide you with an easy way to make your site more Google-friendly. They can show you Google's view of your site, help you diagnose problems, and let you share info with them to help improve your site's visibility in Google’s search results.

Help Google Crawl Your Site
The first step in increasing your site's visibility on Google is learning how Google crawls and indexes your site.

  • Crawl Info:  Learn how to make sure Google has access to your site, and see when Googlebot last visited. You can also view URLs that they've had trouble crawling and find out why they couldn't crawl them. That way, you can fix any problems preventing them from indexing all of your pages.
  • Indexing Stats: See how your site is indexed and which of your pages are currently included in the index. If Google finds violations in your site, they'll give you the opportunity to fix the problems and request reconsideration of your site.

Learn How to Increase Traffic

  • View links data: View up to thousands of links to pages on your site that we've found on the web. Data is separated into external and internal links to help you better understand your site's visitors.
  • Top Queries: Find the top queries that drive traffic to your site, and where your site is included in the top search results. This will let you learn how users are finding your site.
  • Page Analysis: View top content from your site and see the words that other sites use to link to it.

Share Info with Google About Your Site
Since no one knows more about your site than you do, you can also share this info with Google and improve your crawlability.

  • Submit a Sitemap: Tell Google all about your site's pages by submitting a Sitemap file; help them learn which pages are most important to you and how often those pages change. They'll try our best to crawl those pages more frequently.
  • Crawl Rate Control: Provide Google with information about how you want the Googlebot to crawl your site. If you'd like them to slow down or speed up the crawl of your site, just let them know

Take a Tour of Google Webmaster Tools

Creating up a Google Webmaster Tools Account:
To create a Webmaster Tools account, you'll need a Google Account. If you have a Gmail address, you already have a Google Account. If not, you can get one here. Once you have your Google Account:

  1. Go to Google Webmaster Tools.
  2. Click Get Started.
  3. Sign into Google Webmaster Tools with your Google Account.
  4. Under Sites, type the URL of your website, and then click Add Site. (See Below)
  5. Verify your site. Verifying your site confirms that you are the owner of the site, and allows Google to share information about that site with you.  (See Below. You place a small bit of code on your site.  This combined with your Google Account verifies that you are the true owner of the site.)

You can have multiple sites in your Google Webmaster Tools account.
To verify a site created in Google Sites:

  1. Make sure you've added your site to your Google Webmaster Tools account.
  2. Sign into Google Webmaster Tools with your Google Account.
  3. On the Dashboard, click Verify next to the site you want.
  4. In the Choose verification method list, select Add a meta tag.
  5. Copy the meta tag that appears on the page.
  6. In Google Sites, open the site you want to verify.
  7. In the top right corner, click Site Settings.
  8. Click Other Stuff.
  9. In the Google Webmaster Tools verification box, paste the meta tag you copied from Webmaster Tools, and click Save changes.

Adding a Sitemap (Capital S):  In general, there are two types of sitemaps:

  1. The first type of sitemap is a HTML page listing the pages of your site - often by section - and is meant to help users find the information they need.
  2. XML Sitemaps - usually called Sitemaps (with a capital S) - are a way for you to give Google information about your site. This is the type of Sitemap we'll be discussing in this article.

In its simplest terms, a Sitemap is a list of the pages on your website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap helps make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site, including URLs that may not be discoverable by Google's normal crawling process.

The good news is that Google, Yahoo and MSN have agreed on Sitemap protocol so you can submit the same Sitemap to each.

Sitemaps can be generated by several free methods for most sites.  One you have generated a sitemap, you will add the page to your root directory and give Google Webmaster Tools the URL to it.  They will then crawl your site over a few days.  Here is a list of sites and tools to generate a Sitemap:
http://code.google.com/p/sitemap-generators/wiki/SitemapGenerators

Additional Webmaster Tools Reports and Elements
Below is a breakdown of some of the different elements of your site that Google can help you with:

Make sure Google can find all the pages on your site:
Webmaster Tools helps you see your site the way Google sees it. If we have a problem accessing any of the pages on your site, we'll let you know. And it goes both ways: You can tell us about pages on your site by submitting a Sitemap.

Drive traffic to your site:
We'll show you who's linking to you and how. Want to see which pages on your site get the most links? Which keyword searches drive the most traffic? We've got that too.

Build a Google-friendly site:
Use our Content Analysis to identify potential issues with the content on your site. The robots.txt analyzer tool will help make sure you're not accidentally blocking Googlebot from crawling your site. And our Help Center is your first stop for official Google guidelines on creating the very best sites possible.

Remove pages from Google's search results:
Things change. Pages get removed. Tell us about pages you don't want in our index, and we'll remove them from our search results.

Overview

  • Find out if Google has successfully accessed your Home Page
  • Index status: Are pages included in Google’s index? Are pages in your Sitemap included in Google’s index?  Includes sample searches for links, indexed pages, cache, similar pages and info Google has on your site.
  • Find web crawl issues such as: Sitemap errors, URL Errors, HTTP errors, URL’s not followed, URL’s restricted by Robots,txt, URL’s timed out, and unreachable URL’s

Settings

  • Set up a geographic target
  • ID your preferred domain:  www.BoatEscape.com  vs boatescape.com
  • Set a custom crawl rate

Diagnostics:

  • Web Crawl - See errors and problems encountered by Google's crawlers while accessing pages on your site.
  • Mobile Crawl – See errors and problems encountered by Google's crawlers while accessing pages on your site created specifically for viewing on mobile cell phones.
  • Content Analysis –  See potential problems with site metadata, such as title and meta description information.  Meta description Issues:  Duplicate descriptions, Long descriptions, short descriptions.  Title tage Issues.  Non-indexable content issues.

Statistics:

  • Top Search Queries: See which search queries most often returned pages from your site, and which of them were clicked.
  • What Googlebot Sees: See details about how the Googlebot sees your site.
  • Crawl Stats: See your distribution info for your site, including the current PageRank for pages on your site
  • Index Stats: Learn how your site is indexed by Google, including which pages are indexed, and which other sites point to your site.
  • Links: See which pages on your site have links pointing to them from other sites.
  • Pages with Internal Links: See which pages on your site have links pointing to them internally from elsewhere on your site
  • Sitelinks:  See which links on your site have been identified as candidates for appearing directly in Google search results.
  • Sitemaps: Submit a Sitemap to tell Google about pages on your site we might not otherwise discover. More information about creating and submitting Sitemaps.

Tools:

  • Analyze robots.txt:  See whether your robots.txt file blocks specific URLs as is, or with modifications you make. Test against various Google user-agents, too.
  • Generate robots.txt:  Interactively create a robots.txt file to indicate which robots you don't want crawling your site, and which files or directories you don't want crawled.
  • Enhance 404 Pages:  Help users who receive a Page Not Found error find the information they need.
  • Manage Site Verification:  See all verified owners of this site, and optionally reverify them.
  • Remove URLs:  Remove content from the Google index, including expediting that removal.
  • Gadgets:  Use Google Webmaster Tools from your own homepage. Get errors, statistics, details about your site, and more on iGoogle.

   
       
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