Just for the simple reason that this is not only a Google Webmaster Tools Tutorial but your first step towards Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and believe me, you will be a good SEO expert, when you are finished with this Tutorial, so make sure you read till the end.
Before you read this blog, the first thing that you need to do is to Sign Up for Google Webmaster Tools and then Add your WordPress blog to Google Webmaster Tools. You simply need a Gmail account and it should not take more than 5 minutes .I suggest you do it right now.
I understand you have a self-hosted blog ready and you are in a hurry to take it to next level.That’s a good approach but I warn you to make sure you are not making the common blogging mistakes which most of the bloggers make.
It’s good to dream about making millions from the comfort of your couch but that can happen only if you have high traffic on your blog. You need to have the right strategy to increase traffic to your blog.
Now,all this can only happen if you have right tools. Google Search Console ( also called as Google Webmaster Tools) is one such FREE Tool from Google.
Why Use This Google Webmaster Tools Tutorial?
Because this is the only Google Webmaster Tutorial you will ever need.
Whenever we hear something is FREE, we don’t value that. But believe me, this is a kind of Tool every blogger must use and is a great starting point towards building your site.
Webmaster Tools provides excellent SEO statistics of your site which you can use to monitor reader experience and increase traffic by analyzing your site’s presence in search results.This tool gives you a window to experience how your site is viewed by Google and how it appears in search results. So, Let’s get started now.
Understanding Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard and Navigation
Before we discuss features of search console, it is important to get familiar with search console. One you Add and Verify your Property (site) in search console, you will be ready to use this Tool. After login & selection of added property, you will see the search console dashboard.
On the left side, you will see all the services provided by Search Console like Search Traffic,Google Index,Crawl,Security Issues etc. On the Dashboard, you will be able to see
- Crawl Errors: – If there are any crawl errors? This means if there is any URL of your site which Google can’t find. This is as good as finding primary broken links of your site. May be you have removed those blogs or one of your site links does not exist anymore.
- Search Analytics – This shows how your site is performing in terms of clicks, positions,impressions etc , which we will talk later in the article.
- Sitemaps – This will display a number of pages of your site vs pages or URL’s indexed by Google.
I suggest you browse through search console for 5-10 minutes and there are certain things which are self-explanatory. Here we will talk about features and information which are otherwise difficult to find.
You spend hours creating the right content for your readers,but can Google access your content? Is your content being indexed by Google? You can make use of “Fetch as Google” Tool in search console to find this information.
Go to Search Console->Crawl Errors->Fetch as Google to launch this functionality.
You can use the “Fetch and Render” option to submit your page to Google. If your page passes the Google Index test, then the Status is updated to “Complete”.When Google find errors while indexing your page, then the status is updated to “Partial”.
Generally, a Partial status implies, Google view for your page is different from what readers view and there were resources on your page which Google couldn’t find.
Most of the time resources are being blocked by robots.txt file. This file lets you restrict pages which you don’t want Google to crawl.Hence, it is very important that you test your robots.txt file.
Google Webmaster Tools provides an excellent robots.txt Testing Tool.
Note: You can only test your robots.txt from this Tool. You still need to copy your robots.txt file in your home path for changes to take effect.
Also, its equally important that you inform Google whenever you add a new content to your site. Sitemap.XML makes this task relatively simpler. Googlebot crawls your sitemap.xml to see if any fresh content has been added. Thus, sitemaps help improve the visibility of your site.
Search console provides a tool to add your sitemap information in Google Search Console. First, Add your sitemap.xml in search console, then Test if your sitemap.xml contains any errors.
This is also a good way to check your web pages Crawl statistics. Your sitemap indicates total pages of your site and (snapshot) below shows submitted vs Indexed pages.
Remove Pages which are no longer required
One of the common problems which many bloggers face is the broken links (our own site URL’s). When you start blogging, you have not much idea about SEO and you don’t care about your post URL’s.
But soon you learn some of the common On-Page SEO techniques and understand that you no longer need those clumsy URL’s. So what do you do now? Most of the bloggers generally change the URL and forget that old URL was already crawled and indexed by Google. (This is what I call as a blogging mistake)
Use this URL to remove URL’s. Dashboard->Google Index->Remove URL
Keywords in URL’s play a very important role in SEO and find a preference in rankings. So make sure, you choose your URL’s wisely.
For which Keywords your site is appearing in Search Results
Keyword Research or in fact any subject related to Keyword is my favorite topic. Well, this point is not about keyword research but more about how well you performed the Keyword research before you wrote the blog.
So,Go to search analytics URL of search console to understand for which keywords or queries your website is appearing is search results. (Select the “Queries” radio button along with “Position” keyword to see your site’s average ranking for a specific Keyword.
Note: Queries+Position only displays your average page ranking for the selected time period and this may differ from your current actual ranking.
But gives an excellent idea, about how your website is performing for a particular Keyword.(You can use the Keyword filter feature).
Clicks and Impressions are something that you should not be worried about at this stage and I would suggest to just ignore them at this point.
Also, if you find any problem in Keyword research, then use this Tutorial to understand “How to do Keyword research“.
Analyze Internal Links in your Webpages
A number of Internal Links which point to your web page is a good sign and is also an important factor in search engine rankings.You can analyze this statistics for your site using the search consoles internal links feature.
You can access this from Dashboard->Search Traffic->Internal Links
In this screenshot, you can see that there are 4 pages containing links to page “best blog post ideas”
Analyze Backlinks (sites linking to your sites)
We all know how important backlinks are, when it comes to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Many SEO experts feel that you must integrate Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools with your site. Its helps Google find accurate data for your site like internal links,bounce rate,backlinks,traffic etc.
Access this tool from URL Dashboard->Search Traffic->Links to Your Site
The snapshot shows how Search Console captures backlinks data.
Is your site Mobile Friendly?
Google has very clear guidelines for Mobile Responsive sites, read Googles Official announcement.Also, with more and more business shifting to mobile applications, it is imperative that focus will be on responsive sites. Hence, responsive sites get preference in search results.
Google has declared to demote sites which are not mobile friendly. See snapshot below.You can check if your site is responsive and fits smartphones from this URL (Dashboard->Search Traffic->Mobile Usability)
These are some of the basic features of Google Webmaster Tools which you must be aware of. These also form an important part of your On-Page SEO strategy.
There is quite a few advanced usage of Google Webmaster tools like
I keep updating this page with new features time to time. Hence, it’s good if you subscribe to my newsletter.
Hope you enjoyed the article.