Billions of people use Google on a daily basis. Whether they are using it solely to search for products and services online, or trying to grow a business online through a variety of Google services, there is a lot of activity on Google each day. As a webmaster using those services to help create a website, generate advertisements, and monetize your online content, Google offers a lot of tools and support to help you achieve those goals.
One of the most powerful tools in your arsenal is a Google Webmaster Tools account. If you haven’t heard of this feature, then you no doubt feel a bit confused right now. That’s OK. We’re going to introduce you to Google Webmaster Tools and explain why you should considering establishing an account today.
What is Google Webmaster Tools (GWT)?
Webmaster Tools is the primary mechanism through which Google communicates with webmasters. Establishing an account with Google allows you to identify issues with your site and inform you in the event that malware, for example, infects your website. Signing up for a GWT account is completely free, making it silly not too have an account with Google.
How GWT is Set Up
In order to establish an account with GWT, you’ll need to verify that you are authorized to represent your site. The verification process with Google offers five options for webmasters to use to complete this step.
Your options include:
- HTML File Upload: Google will provide you with a blank, specific file that you drop in the root directory in your site. After that is done, you click on the verify button at the bottom of the page and you can access GWT data for the site in question.
- HTML Tag: Selecting this option provides you with a meta tag that can be inserted into the head of your home page. After inserting the tag, you click on the verify button to view the data from that page. Using this method, you do need to be aware that the tag can accidently be removed during updates to your home page. That would lead to revocation of your verification, but you can redo the process immediately.
- Domain Name Provider: Simply select your domain-name provider from the drop-down list on the page and Google will provide you with a step-by-step guide to complete the verification process.
- Google Analytics: If you already have a Google Analytics account, you can use that same account in the verification process for GWT.
- Google Tag manager: Visit the Google Tag Manager page and you will be guided through the verification process for your site.
With your page verified, you’ll now be able to view the data that is collected about activity on your website. This is achieved using the Dashboard feature of GWT. The main screen on your dashboard displays a quick overview of the activity on your site, such as current status, search queries impacting your site, and new messages from Google.
This features serves as the first contact point for Google. When the company wants to communicate with you as a webmaster, it will use site messages to send notes and emails about the status and health of your site. Messages range from bad information such as malware infestation on certain pages or the existence of duplicate pages on your site. However, messages can also have a positive tone, such as offering congratulations on an increase in site traffic.
Do You Really Need a Google Webmaster Tools Account?
There are a lot of webmasters already using Google Analytics to track relevant data related to their website. The question many have is whether or not they need a Webmaster Tools account in addition to their Google Analytics account. There are differences between the approach of each platform that offer differing benefits.
For starters, Google Analytics offers you the information needed to monitor the health of your site from a marketing perspective. While that is helpful for grading the impact of your marketing efforts, it does little to provide you with a peek at what is going on behind the scenes on your website.
The two services do share some common features, but it is still important to have a separate GWT account. When it comes to the value of your Webmaster Tools account, there are three benefits to keep in mind: site health, site traffic, and site optimization.
As mentioned earlier, immediately when you log in to your account you are provided with site health information. This includes, but is not limited to, the following data:
- Warnings: Google messages warning you about the health of your site.
- Crawl Errors: Lets you know if any of the pages on your site cannot be crawled by Google bots, and which pages, so you can address the problem.
- Crawl Stats: How many pages on your site have been crawled and when were they crawled last by Google bots?
- Fetch tool: Allows you to submit a URL to Google and see your site the way the search engine does.
- Index Status: Provides the total number of URLs that have been added to the search engine index.
- Malware: Informs you of the pages on your site that have malware infestations, allowing you to address the issue with specific pages.
Additionally, a Google Webmaster Tools account offers insight into relevant data on your site traffic. This includes information about search queries (top keywords and pages for your site), links to your site (how many links, who’s doing it, and which pages are linked to), and internal links (are your pages linked together?).
Site optimization information includes HTML improvement suggestions from Google and content keyword assistance. The HTML improvements include alerts about issues with codes on your site that adversely affect your SEO, such as duplicate content issues. When it comes to content keywords, you’ll receive a list of significant keywords and variations Google has found on your website. This allows you to maintain an SEO campaign that targets the proper keywords, and determine if your site has been hacked and your keywords altered.
A Google Webmaster Tools account isn’t a must-have for everyone. However, if you want to gather all the relevant data to help manage your website more effectively, a GWT account is an excellent option to further improve upon the knowledge you have gained from other Google services.