In a recent blog, we talked about using Google Analytics to get more insight and data about how your website is performing and how visitors are navigating through it – but what if you want to analyze the technical aspects of your website? That’s where Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) comes into play!
GWT offers insights and tools about your page errors, meta data, what keywords Google pairs with your site, and more. Being familiar with these tools and reports can improve your site as well as your SEO strategy.
We’ve outlined 8 ways to use GWT to assess the health of your website and improve your website’s optimization:
1. Stay up to date with quality guidelines
Google offers specific quality guidelines webmasters should follow or face penalties or a drop in rankings. The quality guidelines are pretty straight forward and any reputable webmaster or SEO marketer should have no problem following them when they work on your site. Some of the guidelines include:
- Make pages for humans, not search engines.
- Do not deceive your users or use unrelated titles or keywords in your content
- Do not cheat the system to gain a higher ranking
- Do not use plagiarized or scraped content or thin content
- Removing user-generated spam and protecting it from hacking
2. Structured data or HTML improvements
Is your site missing critical components like title tags or meta descriptions? Find out with the HTML improvements tab or using the Structured Data Testing Tool to see what information Google can pull about your website and its content to make sure it matches with what you’re optimizing for.
Not sure where to start when it comes to structured data? Try the Structured Data Markup Helper as an introductory tutorial.
Google Analytics will offer a few insights into what keywords and keyword phrases people are using to find your site. In recent years, Google has made the switch in Analytics to showing (not provided) so using the keyword tool in GWT can help fill in some of the gaps and make sure you’re optimizing your pages correctly.
4. Crawling info
There are actually two reports on Google’s crawling: Crawl Errors and Crawl Stats. Crawl Errors will identify any site or URL errors that might be present and Stats is a general overview of the Googlebot activity or how many pages it’s been crawling and indexing in the last 90 days.
Sitemaps help Google understand how to crawl your website and how many pages your site has. In this report, you’ll see how many pages you’ve told Google you have and how many pages it’s indexed to show up in search results. Now, you may see some discrepancies between pages submitted and indexed, especially if you offer seasonal packages or specials and do not want those pages indexed.
6. Mobile usability
Mobile usability shouldn’t be as important if you have a responsive site as all of your content should be mobile-friendly, but it’s worth checking out just to make sure everything’s working the way it should be.
7. Links to your site
Internal links and external links are ways Google learns more about your site and can give you boosts in the rankings if it thinks your links are of quality. This tool shows you what sites are linking to yours, so you can make sure non-spammy sites are linking to you, and what pages they’re linking most likely linking to.
Want more info on links? Check out our infographic on link building strategies for 2017!
8. See how fast your site is