This is a guest post by Salman Farooqui.
Google Webmaster Tools is a free service from Google that helps website owners to improve and keep track of the visibility of their site on Google. It shows webmasters how Google bot accesses their website.
What Google Webmaster Tool tells about your site?
Shows how many of your webpages have been indexed by Google by date. In Advanced section it shows more information on the indexation of your content.
- Total Indexed - Total number of urls that are currently in Google search index. Total number of indexed pages will always be less that total number of crawled pages because they do not include duplicate pages and pages with no-index meta tag. A consistent increase in these numbers indicate that Google is successfully crawling and indexing your new web pages.
- Ever Crawled Pages - Total number of pages that has ever been crawled by Google.
- Blocked By Robot - Shows the number of pages that are being blocked by robots.txt file that you can now access from Blogger Setting > Search preferences. For Blogger users, there will be a continuous increase in number of pages blocked by robots.txt. This increase is due to the increase in number of label pages that are blocked by the Blogger default robots.txt file.
- Removed - Number of posts you have removed or deleted.
Index Status is accessible via Home > Health > Index status
Links to your site (backlinks) and Internal Links
Another great feature of Google Webmaster Tools is showing all the links that points to your website from other websites. It also show internal links i.e. links from one of your pages to another. You can dig it to find from what page the links are coming. Google has recently added a link disavow tool to remove bad and spammy links that are damaging your site.
Accessible via Home > Traffic > Links to your site
Crawl Errors And Stats
This page gives webmasters information about which webpages on your website Google could not successfully crawl. Errors list include the type of problem Google is facing in crawling the page. There could be a site wide problem such as problem fetching your robots.txt file, server connectivity problems or problem only with some pages like 404 (not found) error, 301 redirect errors.
Google Webmaster Tools also shows Crawl stats of your site. Pages that are not found due to being deleted or redirected.
Accessible via Home > Health > Crawl Errors / Crawl Stats
Shows numbers of impressions, clicks and CTR (ratio of impression that a keyword phrase received on google.com to number of times your site was clicked). It also shows your average position on Google search for top queries related to your site.
Accessible via Home > Traffic > Search Queries
Google Webmaster Tools makes you aware of any possible malware attack on your website. If you get a malware notice. First clean your site and then ask google to review your site.
Accessible via Home > Health > Malware
What you can do with Google Webmaster Tools?
A Sitemap is a list of all the pages of your website. Google could crawl your website by following links from other sites but it's recommended to submit your sitemap to Google Webmaster. By submitting the sitemap you can make sure that Google knows about all the pages on your site. You can read these guidelines for creating sitemaps.
Tip: If you have a Blogger blog and you use rss/atom feed as your sitemap, it only submits the last 25 posts. Follow this tutorial to submit the sitemap with all your posts.
Accessible via Home > Optimization > Sitemaps > Add/Test Sitemap
When a page is deleted it will automatically fall out of Google search index. However, if you want to urgently remove the URL - like a page that is accidently posted with wrong and misleading information. This is where this link removal tool comes into play. Before applying the request for removal in webmaster, you must first deleted the page or no index the page through meta no-index.
Remove URL tool is accessible via Home > Optimization > Remove URLs
Test robots.txt Files
Before search engine spiders go to your webpages they check the robots.txt file that can command the search engine robots to crawl or not to crawl your site. This tool is intended to check how exactly Google interprets the commands of your robots.txt file.
robots.txt test is accessible via Home > Health > Blocked URLs > Test
Fetch as Google
Used to check the crawlability of a site. Fetch as google feature in Google Webmaster Tools helps webmasters to see the web page like google web crawler sees it. Fetch to see everything is fine, then you can submit it to be indexed by Google. This tool will tell webmasters which part of your page or which rich media files Google is not able to successfully crawl. This tool is also helpful in identifying the pages that were targeted to hack your website.
Accessible via Home > Health > Fetch as Google
Google automatically generates sitelinks for your site. Suppose, you don't want one of your content to appear as sitelink because it's not useful for your visitors. You can prevent this link from appearing as sitelink by demoting it in Google Webmaster Tools.
Here we are demoting the "Interactive and Monetizable" from sitelinks.
Accessible via Home > Configuration > Sitelinks
If you have two versions of your site i.e. www and without www, you can set which is your preferred domain in Google Webmaster Tools. If you set www as the preferred version then all links and backlinks will be treated as www. That means links coming from other websites without www in your URL, will be accounted by Google as www.
Accessible via Home > Configuration > Settings > Preferred Domains