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Unless you’ve been living like its 2005, you should be aware that the first role of doing SEO is to make sure your website complies with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. If it is not in line with these guidelines then you can expect to see some issues with its indexation and visibility in the Google search results.
Part of checking your website and keeping it compliant is to use Google’s Webmaster Tools. I am a big fan of Google Webmaster Tools and use it every day. There is so much you can learn about your website. The information comes direct from Google. If you have not yet set up Google Webmaster Tools for your website then do so soon using the guides below.
I’ve put together a big list of resources to help beginner and SEOs experts alike to help make sure their website is compliant and to get more from the free Webmaster Tools service.
Your first stop as an SEO is to make sure you read and understand Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It is important you fully read and absorb the information within these guidelines.
A good tip is to return to this page regularly to check if it has been updated. You can see this by checking the date at the bottom right of the page:
One of the biggest reasons webmasters re-visit Google’s Webmaster Guidelines is because they might have been hit by an Algorithm change or even a manual rankings filter, in some cases this could be a complete removal of your site from the search results.
If your site has been affected by Google’s ongoing updates then the likely cause is some form of webspam which is strictly against the Quality Guidelines. There are many forms of Webspam that could cause your site to not perform as best it could in the search results.
There is a great article on Google’s How Search Works website that describes how Google have and are combating the different types of Webspam.
There are many different causes for a site not complying with the Webmaster Guidelines. Google has highlighted some of the Webspam content issues in this video.
The process of ‘fixing’ a website to be compliant with Google’s Webmaster Guidelines is worthy of a blog post in itself however I have included some external blog post links for additional reading.
Now that you’ve read about Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, identified if there are any problems with your website and how you could recover from an issue, you should take the time to learn all about Google Webmaster Tools and how it can benefit your website.
This video from Google introduces webmasters to the benefits of using of Google Webmaster Tools.
Setting up Google Webmaster Tools is a short process which requires some verification. The following resources show you all you need to know to get up and running with Google Webmaster Tools.
First visit the Official Webmaster Tools website. Here you can create a Google account and sign into Google Webmaster Tools.
The following Google video provides information on adding and verifying your website:
It’s not always easy for a non-technical webmaster to verify their websites. Google has provided the following help files describing each process in a little more detail:
So you’ve completed the setup of adding Webmaster Tools to your website. That was the hard part. Here are some great resources to introduce you to some essential features to start analysing your website.
The first thing you will see after clicking through to your profile is the Dashboard for your website. This contains a few default reports: new messages, crawl errors, search query performance, sitemap performance.
The main sections of Google Webmaster Tools are split out into Message Center, Configuration, Health, Traffic, Optimisation and Labs. The links below explain each section and their use.
That covers all of the standard features and tools currently with Google Webmaster Tools. Tools and features are moved or even removed with or without notice. Keep an eye on new tools being tested in the Labs section. There are also further helpful tools currently listed in the Other Resources page under the Optimization section.
The Google Webmaster Guidelines are constantly being tweaked and updated so always keep an eye on that page. The Official Webmaster Central Blog is where you will find announcements on new tools and handy guides on all webmaster topics. Google has a separate YouTube channel for Webmasters where all webmaster related videos are posted.
If you’ve got a webmaster related question, you best bet is to post it in the Official Webmaster Help Forum. Google employees regularly check out these forums and may post answers directly.
If you’ve found a great Google Webmasters resource or simply have a comment then share it in the comments section below.
Image credit: Checklist from Bigstock Photo
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