Are you using any of the following: Google Analytics (GA), Google AdWords (AW), Google Search, Google Keyword Tool, Google Content Experiments (FKA GWO), Google Sites, Google Documents (Docs), Google Maps?
But have you thought about Google Webmaster Tools? This is an often overlooked free tool from Google that allows you to see what Google thinks of your site, allowing you to correct site errors and other functions that any Webmaster worth their salt should be responsible for. Google Webmaster Tools focus primarily on the operational aspects of your web site.
In this article, we cover the Top 5 Reasons to Use Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
1. It’s Easy To Set Up
GWT is dead easy to set up and does not require you to be running any other Google service. All it needs is an existing Google account to login. This will usually be your Gmail email address or an email address linked to a Google account.
Once you are logged in you will be presented with a screen displaying all of your domain names registered with GWT under your Google account.
On the top right hand side of the page will be a large, red button labeled ‘Add A Site’.
Once you click that you will be asked to enter your site URL.
Once you state the URL then you will be asked to verify site ownership in one of several ways: you can either verify by uploading a Google provided file to your web server via FTP,
or through alternate methods such as adding a meta tag to your site.
Once you verify your site ownership, that’s it, the set up is complete!
2. It’s Easy To Use
Unlike some other Google tools, GWT is amazingly easy to use.
Google AdWords has its own Learning Center – in fact many Google tools and services have a training portal and certification program for users to reference and qualify through.
Although GWT has it’s own support page, it is unlikely you would ever need to use it. The side navigation links in GWT are self explanatory and take you into key areas of the tool using sub menus. If you know how to navigate a website, then you’ll feel right at home within GWT.
3. It Makes Monitoring Your Site Easy
Remember, GWT provides you with Google’s opinion of your site. Let’s face it, since Google still generates a massive % of website traffic, it is important that Google is able to crawl and index your site with a minimum of fuss or errors being identified in the process.
Yes, GWT is an automated system and sometimes you might choose to overlook some of the alerts it presents, but at least you know what Google has found on your site and its opinion of those findings. GWT is like the canary in the coal mine – it can alert you to site errors and issues before they have a chance to negatively impact your site visitors.
Crawl errors are displayed prominently right on the dashboard screen.
All crawl errors presented to you are clickable links and following them will take you to a detailed page with more information about the errors in questions.
Some of the other items GWT can alert you to are:
— Malware located on your site
— Meta Tag Errors (such as duplicate title tags etc).
— An inaccessible or faulty site map.
— An incorrect robots.txt file
— Key SEO statistics (like backlinks, keywords used to find your site etc).
4. It Makes Advising Google Of Site Changes, Easy
Want to advise Google when your site content or site map has changed? Want to demote a page so that it is not eligible for listing as a supplementary site link under your search results? Want to set certain areas of your site as ‘off limits’ to the Googlebot?
To manage all of this and more, use GWT, it’s all there right at your fingertips – and did we mention, it’s free?
5. It Integrates with Google Analytics
To many users, especially agencies, number 5 on our list would have to rate as one of the most valued benefits of using GWT. Linking GWT to a Google Analytics (GA) Account is easy and can be done from within GWT or GA.
From GWT, on your account home page, linking to GA can be found on your account home page as an option under the ‘Manage site’ drop down menu.
Once you click ‘Google Analytics Property’ you will be presented with a screen full of domain names to select from. If you do not already have a GA account already, then this can be easily created.
If you want to link your site to GWT from GA, you will still need to create the account in GWT first and then link to it from within GA. Once the GWT account is created, simply click the gear icon on the top right of the GA page. That will take you to the profile settings page. From there, click on the ‘property settings’ tab and you will then have the opportunity to link to a GWT account.
Once your GWT and GA accounts have been linked, then some of the GWT data will be automatically pulled into GA for some of the standard reports. These reports are found under the Search Engine Optimization tab located under the Traffic Sources section.
This includes reports for the top 1,000 daily queries (impressions, clicks, position, and CTR info), a landing page summary, and a geographical summary.
As you will note, this integration brings some new organic search data into GA that was previously only available for AdWords PPC traffic. This brings some big benefits in terms of the ability to access key search data from within GA without having to log into GWT at all – saving you a ton of time.