This tool – a freebie given by the 600 lb Giant, Google – should be renamed a Webmaster’s best friend. Sadly, most webmasters don’t even know about it, which means that very few non-corporate web teams actually use it. Most seo guys and gals who are worth the weight of their last lunch, know about the tool and unfortunately very few of them give it the weight in their decision making that it deserves.
I have discussed the amazing new information that this tool gives to only a verified website owner about his/her site in other discussions in this blog but since the Google team working on this continues to innovate with a passion, it deserves another peek.
In a nutshell, this is how Google lets mom and pops and large corporations see how Google views them on the web. Since google search traffic may comprise from 67 to 75% of the searched traffic in your area, this should be very, very important to you. Exceptions to these high percentages may be chinese and russian sites but for nearly everyone else, these numbers and their importance to your site or business holds true.
For many sites that are NOT brand names ( uhmmm, about 99.9999% of you out there ), traffic from google represents more than 90% of your search traffic. Some might argue that Yahoo and Bing represent larger traffic percentages than just merely 10%, but if your site is fairly unknown, odds are that google bots find and index you long before the other two, so what Google thinks about how your site is set up and linked to the rest of the world matters even more for smaller non-branded sites. The google webmaster tool is the window from google into your site.
You will need to register your site with an email address which is best if its your gmail address since access to google services centralizes on your address. This means that once you are logged into your email, you can access the google webmaster tools without logging in again.
This specific tool is here https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
We have already answered the why you should care question but the Why you should use it question remains at large, lol.
If you care about your traffic, then you will want to know a few things about it, such as :
This information while extremely useful doesn’t even start to scratch the surface of the available information that google will give you about your own site(s)
How your site ranks in speed compared to other sites. Look in the tab labeled “lab”, this functionality may or may not be available in the future. Remember that the longer a user waits is the less satisfactory their user experience will be. Google does not want to put you at the top of the search listings if your site has a number of factors that historically cause users to immediately hit their back button.
Sometimes the google webmaster tool will give suggestions such as
What we don’t like: Change it back google developers. You know the one I am talking about it. Inside the google webmaster tool, you were previously giving us not only the keywords and CTR’s etc., but you were giving us extremely valuable information about which sets of pages on our sites were being shown for those keywords in the serps. It is very important for mom and pop organizations to realize that unique title tags are necessary for differentiation of internal pages on their site.
With this latest change in which we now pretend that its the main page that is always getting all the traffic, the implication is that inner pages are not as important and that the web continuum is flat.
What we like : There is now even more information on backlinks and the sites that link to us. Quite surprised, were we to see today that one site has linked back to us over 9,000 times. Hint: since no site should have that many backlinks to anyone, likely as not, the site is actually “stealing, copying and borrowing material” wholesale.
Thanks guys, we like having that information, though we have no idea how other people make use of it.
What is just plain wrong : The number of backlinks is embarrassingly wrong. Yeah, guys go back and check the code in this area again, we know its wrong, the chipmunks know its wrong, global warming knows its wrong, you have to know that it’s sometimes making no sense.
How can anyone have 47,000+ backlinks from 49 domains wherein the largest number of links within that group is 9 links from one domain? You gave us enough information to see that the math just doesn’t hold up.
Please, please, don’t take away the amount of information given, just correct the numbers please.
We had a client with a diet site who was making $3,500 in CPA sales monthly. She, however had no real idea which keywords were important to her site. We looked at the pages where the CPA offers were and backtracked into the google webmaster tool to see what those pages were being found for.
Yes, it was some manual slogging because there was no search that would quickly identify the particular pages, but it only took 20 minutes to pinpoint the pages ( which showed up on a few top search queries ).
We then saved the existing titles/urls to notepad and tried to improve the clickthru rate by doing split testing on the title contents. Cheap and effective. CPA went up another 20% but we had to ping the pages a few times to ensure that google saw that a change had been made.
In another case, we were able to show a semi-quasi government organization that despite their millions of backlinks and massive advertising budget they were only being found on their trademark and one other word. Prior to looking into the webstats, we were firmly told quite differently. This information alone may impact their bottom line by several millions annually.
Our recommendation: A few little glitches in this last release, but with the enormous wealth of information available to enable a webmaster to fine-tune and wring even more money from their website, we have to say, “the google webmaster tool rocks” and we like most of the new changes.
Trevor Weir writing about the google webmaster tool.