What is Google Webmaster Tools?
Google Webmaster Tools is a handy application that the team here at Ducard use daily on behalf of our clients. A basic way to describe its functions is that it provides us with an overall health check of the performance of a site. It highlights to user’s areas of a website that need attention, as well as things that are currently working well. We use it alongside other SEO software, to gain a broad insight into the ‘behind the scenes’ functions of a site. It automatically collects data from the site (when the software and website have been synchronised and verified), which we carefully monitor to ensure we are on top of any developments and changes, both good and bad.
A useful dashboard gives us a breakdown of the fundamentals, the immediate need-to-know factors that any webmaster is usually searching for, alongside any recent updates or messages about the site or directly from Google. Here is a breakdown of the primary functions we use it for:
Identifying Duplicate Meta Descriptions and Title Tags
If we have a new client, a new website, an existing client that has added pages to their current site, or a ‘canonical’ rule has gone awry, then it’s likely some changes to meta descriptions and titles tags will be necessary. Google Webmaster Tools highlights to users any duplicates, multiples or pages without metas and title tags. This allows us to focus our efforts on the primary pages, the ones that are most important to you, so that your website doesn’t suffer, and your SEO campaign gets well underway.
Without a title tag, Google bots can often struggle to categorise a website, as this is one of the primary things it looks at. A website without a title tag or with duplicates will often have difficulty ranking, which is why it is so important for us as SEO specialists to be aware of these pages and amend them accordingly.
Missing meta descriptions, duplicates or multiples are also problematic. Without them, a browser doesn’t have any indication of what your website or that particular page is about, which could result in them not clicking through.
Both meta descriptions and title tags should be easily identifiable and optimised for the search terms and keywords you are wanting to rank for. It is a fundamental SEO practice, the foundations of your campaign and a task that we complete in the first month of your time with us here at Ducard.
Many of our new clients come to us without a sitemap, and it is a cause for concern! A simple analogy for a sitemap is the floor plan of a house. Google might not be able to physically walk around your house, checking out each room, cupboard and hidden space, but it can effectively view and gain an understanding of your house from a detailed floor plan. Likewise, the crawl budget may not allow Google to view every page of your site, but if it has a sitemap, it can gain a good insight. Within a sitemap, the pages of your site are detailed, along with the priority of each page. You can let Google know which pages you think are most important and show a pathway of how the Google bot can get there.
Google Webmaster Tools allows you to submit the sitemaps of your site, so that the Google bot can take a look at them. Once the sitemap has been submitted, data about how many pages have been crawled, when they were last crawled and whether or not they were indexed is shown. This allows us SEO experts to identify problematic pages within a sitemap (such as pages not submitting or being crawled), we can also alter the information within the sitemap to make sure Google is looking at the page that you want it to.
Discover How Users Have Historically Reached Your Site
We frequently do extensive keyword research to stay on top of industry trends and changes for all of our clients, using various pieces of software and tools. But, it is often intriguing and very useful to know exactly what search terms and keywords have historically generated traffic to the website. Google Webmaster Tools allows you to see historical data of which search terms and words have lead the users to the site. It provides an indication of how many clicks that particular term has gained over the past 7, 28, and 90 days.
Google Webmaster Tools is vital to us here at Ducard, and the functions mentioned above just touch the surface of our use of it. We aim to gain a broad picture of our client’s website, using a variety of insights that are available, which enable us to create high-quality content and optimise your site using the best practices. Want to know more? Get in touch with us today to find out how we can help you.