Most webmasters consider Google Webmaster Tools a powerful part of their marketing arsenal. I consider it the single most important tool available to help a website perform better in search engines. If I could have only one tool to optimize a website, GWT is it! There are dozens of useful reports inside Google Webmaster Tools, but I want to tell you about my five favorite reports so you can pay attention to them too.
Before getting started, ask you webmaster for the login credentials for your Google Webmaster Tools. If your webmaster has not setup your GWT account, you may have a problem… certainly, someone is asleep at the wheel!
#1 Search Queries Report
This report will tell you what keyword phrases you rank for in Google as well as the exact ranking. It also tells you the number of times you came up in the search and the click-thru rate.
In this example, we see that 170 people saw our website when they searched for “all mountain technologies” and our website ranked in the #1 position in Google. AMT enjoyed 60 clicks or a 35% Click-Thru-Rate (CTR). However, only 110 people saw our website when they searched for “voip telephone”… probably because we ranked #39 and we got less than 10 clicks.
#2 HTML Improvements Report
This report will show you if you have pages on your website that need new or better titles and descriptions:
You can see from this report that the AMT website have several pages that need improved. Google points this out to you because they WANT you to fix this on your website. I urge you to examine this report and fix ALL the problems they point out.
#3 Crawl Errors
The Crawl Errors report will show you a list of pages that Google could not find on your website. These are “broken” pages, also called 404 pages.
In this case, that page no longer existed on the website but was linked to from an external website. We fixed the problem by setting up a “301 Redirect” that sends people to the actual “About Us” page on the website.
The Sitemaps Tool is where you submit your XML sitemaps to Google. Back in the days, webmasters used to submit each page to Google to be indexed. Now, you can create a sitemap (or maps) and submit those to Google. You can probably find your sitemap at www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml. Consult with your webmaster if you cannot find your sitemap… once again, if you don’t have an XML sitemap, someone is asleep at the switch.
For www.allmtntech.com we created 4 sitemaps to help Google find all of our pages. I like to divide up a website’s content into “silos” of matching content and then use Sitemaps to help Google discover the pages and understand the content.
#5 Links to Your Site
The quantity and quality of external websites that link to you is arguably the single most important factor in Google’s Algorithm. In other words, you should care deeply about getting other websites to link to you because it helps you get more traffic from Google! Google Webmaster Tools has a nice report to help you track those links and quantify who is linking to you.
You can see from the screenshot above, AMT has 5,542 links today. That is great!
Google Webmaster Tools is clearly a powerful and important part of your online marketing toolbox. While I shared my five favorite reports with you, don’t forget there are dozens more that can help you get the most out of your website!
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