theEword developer Nick Price gives a brief introduction to Webmaster Tools and talks through how it can be used to help your site.
Google Webmaster Tools is a great way of collecting and viewing information about how your site is performing. It provides a number of methods for troubleshooting your site and increasing its position on search engine results pages.
Here is a brief introduction to some of the sections in Webmaster Tools and what they can help you achieve.
Configuring Webmaster Tools
The Site Configuration section of Webmaster Tools provides you with a number of options that allow you to set exactly how you want Google to treat your site and ultimately make the process of being crawled and indexed faster and easier. The Settings page gives you access to a few basic options, namely the ability to set your geographic target and preferred domain. Geographic target allows you to inform Google where your site's target audience is based, increasing traffic from that location. Preferred domains inform Google how you’d like your indexed pages to appear (with the leading 'www' or without), which can prevent duplicated pages appearing in Google's index.
Getting the information
Once your site is configured and indexed, you’ll start to see information appearing under the ‘Your site on the web’ section of Webmaster Tools. From here you can view any links into your site, the most commonly used keywords on your site and the top search queries your site appears in. The latter is one of the most useful tools available and will display any search terms that your site is listed for, along with the position it appears at and which queries generated click-through from the user.
Troubleshooting your website
The Diagnostic section of Webmaster Tools is a great place to find out what is preventing your site from indexing as well as it could be. One of the most useful tools here is the Crawl Errors page which will display any pages and links that Google attempted to view but wasn’t able to access. This is a good method of tracking down broken links, old pages and performance issues that might be affecting your site's SEO.