Google Webmaster Tools – A Quick Introduction to the GWT Dashboard

Back sometime in 2007, Google was continually rolling out new features into what is currently known as Google Webmaster Tools. Over the years Google Webmaster Tools ( GWT ) kept providing more insight into what Google knows about your website including search and link stats, found issues, and even site performance metrics.

This post is to serve as a quick introduction to the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard and help provide an understanding of what those dashboard metrics mean and how you can begin to take action and help contribute to your company’s SEO effort.

The Google Webmaster Tools dashboard is laid out in a comfortable and well-know Google format – highlighted website KPI’s occupy the right 2/3 of the  screen, and simple navigational aids anchor the left-hand side of the screen. The key pieces of information that Google shares with a webmaster tools user are the following reports; the Search Queries, Crawl Errors, Keywords, Links, and Sitemaps. Each report can help you identify weaknesses (and strengths) in your website, as well as help guide your ongoing SEO effort.

Search Queries Report
The Search Queries report provides a 30-day snapshot of impressions and clicks that occurred with your site when a Google search engine user typed in a search query in its search box. You can then drill down into more specific data about where your site ranked when it was visited. This is important for understanding how your site ranks on specific keyword searches, its visibility and how it is helping to drive visitors to your site.

Crawl Errors
If your site lacks visibility in the search results page, the Crawl Errors report can help you identify the pages within your website that Google is having trouble with. These reports can help your IT staff identify pages that are not found, unreachable or even restricted to be crawled and indexed by Google. Investigate the issues and work with your site administrator to resolve as many issues as possible.

The keyword significance report relays information about the most weighted keyword found within your site. The weighting of the keyword is derived from its use in content within the site and the inclusion of the keyword into the HTML elements found within your website. If your company’s “shortlist of desired keywords” are not appearing near the top, it is time to reevaluate your content and website structure.

Links to Your Site
Google is much more transparent once you are a verified user and site owner in GWT. The inbound link report or Links to Your Site is the current number of trusted links pointing to pages within your website. It is not uncommon for your homepage to have the most number of inbound links pointing to them, but this report can also help you identify the high value SEO pages that have a disproportionate low number of  links.

Google wants to know about your pages contained within your website. By submitting a sitemap in a GWT supported format, you can provide Google with a list of the pages that should be indexed and shown within the search results pages. Once your sitemap is submitted, the dashboard will highlight the number of pages indexed. This can help you find your submitted website pages to indexed pages ratio. Knowing this information can help map areas of your site that are being indexed as well as help encourage Google’s crawl bot to index new pages.

The Webmaster Tools Dashboard is essential for marketers and webmasters to begin to understand how Google views your website and the areas that need attention or focus to make improvement and strides into your website’s visibility and SEO effort.

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