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Lessons : Google Webmaster Tools

Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) provides a number of free online instruments for website management. It is one of several applications accessed through Google Accounts .

License Agreement

It is important to businesses today for their prospective customers to be able to find them on the internet via the search engines. Google is the most popular search engine at the moment. Before doing anything you must sign in to GWT. If you don't already have an account you can create a free Account.

Since I already have an account with two sites in it I will log in to it. The first stop is the Home page. Here we find the two sites I am managing with GWT. Notice that both sites have been verified. A site can be verified either of two ways: by adding a Google meta tag to the home page, or by uploading a blank html file with a name Google provides

Installation Options

Click on the 'Add a Site' button to add the website you wish to start managing. A page comes up where you can enter the URL of the site and it also provides you with a selection of how you want to verify your site. Selecting the 'Meta tag' option provides you metadata that you copy and paste into the head section of your site's home page.

FileZilla Components

The other option is to upload an HTML file that Google provides. The steps on how to do this are provided.

FileZilla Destination folder

Back on the Home page I select an older site to analyze. The new site will have no information because it takes time to gather the information. The Dashboard comes up with access to the information about the site, crawl errors, links to the site, the sitemap that I have submitted, and top search queries, and more. Top search queries lists the search terms that most often returned pages from the site.

In the section it shows information about web crawl errors: HTTP errors, Not found, URLs not followed, URLs restricted by robots.txt, URLs timed out, and Unreachable URLs. If there are any errors, details are provided. For example, if the Googlebot could not locate some of the pages listed in the sitemap, there will be a link to a list of those urls. The errant url may have been listed incorrectly in the site map, or the page may have been down when the 'bot visited.

FileZilla in Start Menu

In the Sitemaps section you can see that a sitemap.xml file has been uploaded. Clicking on Sitemap brings up a window with information about the sitemap, when it was last updated, any errors or warnings, and the number of URLs in the site. Google accepts a variety of sitemaps: a simple text file listing site urls, an xml file, or a map compiled with the Google sitemap generator via a Python script. A great tool to use (for larger sites) is http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/

Complete FileZilla Installation

In the Sitemap section clicking on the 'More >>' button brings up a page where you can submit a sitemap. If you have not made one yet you can use this sitemap.xml as a guide to make yours.

Ubuntu FileZilla

Back on the Home page, in the Dashboard navigation section, there is a diagnostics region that has links to the crawl errors, stats, and HTML suggestions. The crawl errors are also accessible from the crawl error section on the main part of the page. This information is helpful for figuring out how to adjust your page or sitemap to fix them.

The crawl stats show recent Googlebot activity: min/ave/max number of pages crawled per day, number of kilobytes downloaded per day, time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds), and current crawl speed.

Complete FileZilla Installation

When Googlebot crawls your site, it will report issues with the content if they are found. These issues won't prevent your site from appearing in Google search results, but addressing them may help your site's user experience and performance. If there are any issues they will be shown as links that you can click on in HTML suggestions page.

Ubuntu FileZilla

On the bottom of each page are links to Terms of Service, the Privacy Policy, Webmaster Central which leads to tools, discussion forums **, FAQ links, etc.), and Google's blog for webmasters (which seems to be by Google staff, rather than the subscribing webmasters).

These are a few of the services that GWT provides. Using all of this information helps you to clean up your site so that it is optimally accessible to search engines. To get a more detailed analysis of your sites you would use Google Analytics which will be discussing in the next lesson.

Create your Google Webmaster Account

You are now ready to start your marketing efforts. Make sure you have your sitemap file built (XML sitemap lesson). You will set up a Google Webmaster account, upload your XML sitemap, and ensure that the site has been indexed.

1.Set up a Google Webmaster account. This will be similar to your other Google logins, but be careful in that you can only have two Google accounts open at a time. This is normally not an issue. Go to http://www.google.com/webmasters/ to access your six Webmaster tools (see the links below).

2.Go to the site index status tools at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/sitestatus Type in a site name, and find out if it has been indexed, and if all the pages in the site have been indexed. Submit an XML sitemap if it has not.

3.Upload your XML site map (sitemap.xml) Go to Google webmaster tools (including sitemaps) and follow the link to your account. There a number of links and steps to follow - make sure to follow the directions. When your sitemap has been visited, the Google search bot will have a deeper inventory to follow when it comes back.

4.Follow the link to submit content http://www.google.com/intl/en/submit_content.html. If you have not submitted content for a site before, try this tool. You can get a client's site indexed very quickly - without being a webmaster.

5.Try searching Google base http://base.google.com/base and consider how it work for a client

6.Check out the Google Blog Spot at http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/read about new robots.txt files and what you need to do to enhance, or block, indexing of your site. Tell me about an article that you have read.

7.Visit the Webmaster groups forum at Google_Webmaster_Central and read some of the articles in an area of interest to you. Read before posting, and use the FAQ search for faster searching.

8.Check out the Web Master Help Central http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/

9.Set up Google tracking code in the bottom of one of your pages. This can be done manually or through site wide edits http://groups.google.com/group/analytics-help-tracking/topics Try putting that code in a few pages.

10.Use the tracking codes above to create more detailed site visit reports. Visit your site from two different computers and then look at the analytics report. Can you see how visitors enter and navigate your website?