When I first started with SEO, I was taught that you start with the on-site and on-page optimization long before you even consider doing anything off-page. A website that lacks solid on-site optimization, won’t respond well to any off-site work anyway. It makes sense to ensure that your website’s engine (on-page) is in a good condition, before pouring in the rocket fuel (off-page factors).
Every single time I start SEO on a new site for a new Cape Town SEO client, the first step I take is to configure Webmaster Tools (renamed Google Search Console recently). Search Console contains a wealth of information on the health of your website as it is seen by Google. Seeing that Google is the number 1 search engine, and that it is exactly where we want to appear well in the SERPs, this is an invaluable resource.
To power up Search Console even further, setup sharing with Google Analytics inside of the Analytics dashboard. This will ensure that the valuable search queries are displayed inside of Analytics, helping us to make informed decisions.
What does Google Webmaster Tools do?
WMT/Search Console assists webmasters in fixing issues that might be holding their sites back in the search engines. When logging in, you will see information like:
Site Health Information
- Messages or warnings about the health of your site
- Crawl Errors – this tells you if have pages on your site that can’t be crawled and which pages are the problem so you can fix them
- Crawl Stats – how many pages have been crawled on your site and when the search engines crawled them
- Fetch as Google or Bing is a neat little tool that allows you to submit a URL and see your site the way the search engines see it
- Index Status – the total number of URLs that have been added to the search engine index
- Malware – the webmaster tools will let you know if any malware has been detected on your site
Site Traffic Data
- Search Queries – the top keywords and pages for your site
- Links to your site – how many links you have, who’s linking to you, and what pages they are linking to
- Internal Links – how are your pages linked to each other
Site Optimization Information:
- HTML Improvements – this alerts you to issues with the code on your site that may be adversely affecting your SEO. It also helps you identify duplicate content issues with meta descriptions and page titles.
- Content Keywords – a list of the most significant keywords and variations Google found on your site. (note if you see words like “viagra” or “payday” it’s possible that your site has been hacked.)
Special thanks to Beth Browning for her original article here
Once you have setup WMT, you can also submit your sitemap. This helps the Google bots and spiders to crawl your website, improves your indexing and this leads to better search visibility.
If you do not currently have WMT setup for your website, you are missing out on a whole lot of useful information that Google provides free of charge.
Not sure how to setup WMT? Drop me an email here, and I would love to assist you.