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by Michael Rolfe on 16th May 2012
Here’s five things you can do with Google Webmaster Tools. If you don’t use it, you are missing out on an excellent free tool. In this video, I’ll tell you five things, that you may not know, that you can do with this program.
Number one, click on Search Queries to see which keywords are driving visitors to your site, as well as what their average ranking position is on Google. It’s important to set the filter just above the results. Usually, I’ll set this to say “web results” as opposed to image results, and so on, and my target market, say the UK. If you’ve got a lot of data, you can filter it just to the data that has, say, over 10 clicks or impressions.
Also, be aware that the data you receive is not as granular as that you’ll find in Analytics. So I’ll use the Analytics data for a more in-depth understanding of the data that we’re looking at.
I use this tool to quickly identify which keywords to focus my upcoming SEO efforts on, depending on how much traffic and ranking I can see. It’s a good snapshot tool.
Number two, I find duplicate title and meta descriptions in the HTML Suggestions area. These basic elements and this tool easily help you identify any easy SEO wins.
Number three, site speed can be found under the Lab section, and this alerts you if Google thinks your site should be faster, along, importantly, with recommendations for further action to help remedy this.
The fourth point is you can exclude files and folders that you don’t want to be indexed. You can find this in the URL parameters section, from the menu on the left-hand side, and the site configuration. It’s not as scary as it looks and is especially useful on dynamically generated sites, where pages are still being found through links to those pages, even if you’ve disallowed them in your robots.txt file.
The final point that I’d like to come to is that I always have Google Webmaster Tools open as one of my tabs on my browsers, because it will message me and give me details of important updates, such as my site being down, an error in a robots.txt file, which is disallowing search engines from spidering it, or a security upgrade being available for a blog, say if there’s a WordPress update out. When you’re managing a whole range of websites, it’s great to have this help available as a snapshot.
Although there are other webmaster tool programs available from providers such Bing, I do use the Google interface, and it’s linked to my Analytics account. So I’ve got great data for all the sites that I manage in one place with a clean interface. So I would highly recommend it, and if you haven’t used it, do check it out.