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How to Use Google Webmaster Tools to Improve Your Website

Optimising and refining a website to obtain more traffic and better monetisation is a process that requires in-depth analysis, research, and a consistent approach. The most popular web-based software solution for this purpose is Google Webmaster Tools, a comprehensive suite of resources designed to help website operators gain detailed insight into every aspect of site performance and progress.

The vast majority of marketers and site owners use this resource in one manner or another, so becoming familiar with how it works is an essential step towards staying competitive and developing a well-rounded SEO skill set. Fortunately, you can go from being a complete novice to addressing advanced areas of SEO using Google Webmaster Tools by following this guide.

1. Use Search Appearance Module to Improve Metadata

The Search Appearance module provides an overview of the basic elements that affect your site’s appearance within search listings, which include the title, snippet, sitelinks, URL, in-site search box, event-rich snippets, and product-rich snippets. These components make up the overall appearance of your search listings. You can click on each one within the Search Appearance tool to learn more about how you can optimise them to improve page rankings.

2. Use the Data Highlighter to Enhance Search Listings

You can use the Data Highlighter feature to streamline the process of adding bolded words to your search listings for added emphasis. You’ll have to add tags to each page individually, so you’ll have full control over which words are highlighted in your listings. However, after you’ve highlighted a few pages, Data Highlighter can then apply such tags to all similar pages on your site. Highlighting the right words can convince searchers to click on your listing. This is a nifty tool that can save you time and improve search traffic by making your most valuable keywords stand out in the search results.

3. Follow the Guidance of the HTML Improvements Tool

The HTML Improvements tool can help you identify and correct mistakes in your HTML that might otherwise go overlooked. This module analyses your site and identifies pages that contain errors related to the following:

  • Meta descriptions – detects duplicate meta descriptions, excessively long meta descriptions, and excessively short meta descriptions
  • Title tags – detects missing, duplicate, long, short, ad non-informative title tags
  • Non-indexable content – detects content that isn’t able to be indexed in the Google Index

Addressing the above issues within your site’s HTML might seem like a minor improvement but applying these changes to your entire site can have a measurable impact on traffic and rankings.

4. Use the Search Queries Module to Increase Traffic

The Search Queries tool shows you information related to the queries that have displayed your listings in the search results. Here you can see how many impressions each page received, the click-through rate (CTR) – how many of those impressions converted into clicks, and your average ranking position. All of this data can be sorted and charted to provide insight into visitor behaviour that can help you make useful changes to your content strategy and site design. For example, you can sort by impressions to see which pages received the most impressions and then analyse the CTR for those impressions to see which listings were most effective at generating clicks.

5. Use the Google Index Module to Assess Content Keywords

The Google Index module shows you the Index status of your site, which is essentially an overview of all the pages that have been added to Google’s Index, as well as those that have been blocked or de-indexed. Here you should try to maintain a steady increase on the graph, as this indicates that your site is being indexed on an increasingly frequent basis. Look for sudden drops in the line graph, as these indicate that your server might have been down or overburdened at the time of that particular indexing. Also, if you have an unusually high number of indexed pages then you could have issues with duplicate content, auto-generated pages, canonicalization, or site security.

6. Identify Crawl Errors and Fix Broken Links

The Crawl module helps you address a variety of hosting and bot related errors, such as 404 errors, page not found errors, and other server errors. It provides a link to the page where the error occurred, the full response code, and the date that the error occurred. This can help you identify pages that are being improperly linked to by other webmasters due to typos or JavaScript and configuration errors. You can also check the crawl stats section of the Crawl module to view all Googlebot activity on your site in the past 90 days.

7. Spend Time Getting to Know the Dashboard

All of the above modules are accessible via the Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard, so spending a while exploring this main menu can make you a more proficient user. This is the first screen you’ll see every time you log into your account. From the Dashboard you can view your site’s current status, and also receive messages from Google containing recommendations you can use to improve your site’s rankings. The ‘New and Important’ section helps you keep track of recent changes that you made and provides notifications about important news and updates.

Google Webmaster Tools Combined with Solid Hosting Is a Winning Formula

At the base of every good website is a powerful hosting plan that can accommodate high volumes of traffic seamlessly. Therefore, it’s important to conduct a thorough comparison and only use the most reliable hosting in order to avoid downtime, errors, and poor performance.

The ability to analyse your site’s strengths and shortcomings and respond appropriately is a skill that every site owner or marketer should possess. Almost every site that is managed with the use of Google Webmaster Tools can achieve a measurable level of improvement in terms of site traffic, conversion rates, CTR, page visit times, and a variety of other critical metrics. To remain competitive in your niche, be sure to continue your research by staying up-to-date using the top SEO blogs and social media feeds.

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