As a webmaster, one of the most important things to consider is search engine optimization (SEO). Having an optimized website means getting valuable search engine traffic which is traffic that you don’t have to pay to get. Google offers a set of free tools in its Webmaster Tools to help you optimize your website for search engines and build a functional website for your visitors. These free tools help you find the broken links within your page and learn about valuable SEO stats like backlinks, Page Rank, and keywords that drive traffic to your website.
To use these tools, you will need a Google account. If you don’t have one, you can create one with any email address; you don’t have to use a Gmail address for a Google account. Once you’ve created your account, go to https://www.google.com/ webmasters / tools / and log in.
On the main webmaster tools page, you will see a button in the middle of the page to add a website. Click this button and enter the domain name of your website. This will take you to a verification page where you will need to verify that you are the owner. You can verify your website in one of four ways:
1. Link to an existing Google Analytics account
2. Add a meta tag to the HTML code of your home page
3. Add a DNS record to your website domain configuration
4. Upload a special file to your website
Most webmasters use Google Analytics to analyze traffic data, so this is the easiest option since Google has already verified that you own the website. If you are not currently using Analytics, you can add a special META tag to your home page and update the page so that Google can see the META tag. Adding an HTML file to your website requires uploading a file from Google and using an FTP client to upload that file to your website. After downloading the file, click the button to verify and Google will search for the file. These steps are necessary for Google to know that you actually own the website and should have access to the data.
It can take up to 24 hours for Google to collect data on your website. During this time, your Webmaster Tools control panel will be empty. After a day, you will start to see data and you will be able to use the powerful tools provided by Google.
Search engines, especially Google since the release of Panda, frown on duplicate content. Search engines will punish websites for duplicate content, even if the pages in question are on the same domain. You can tell Google to ignore duplicate content by using a 301 redirect or by telling a search engine not to index a particular page.
You can manually tell Google which domain to search, either the domain with the WWW or the one without. For example, http://www.yourdomain.com and http://yourdomain.com can both contain the same content, but Google will think that this is duplicate content and Page Rank will suffer.
To prioritize a website, you need to check both URLs as shown above. Once they are both verified, go to site setup in webmaster tools and choose a domain name as your preferred domain. Once done, only your primary URL page will be indexed and secondary domain pages will be ignored.
To exclude certain pages from search engines, use a robot.txt file or change your settings through webmaster tools. To do this, go to your site configuration and select Crawler Access. Then select Remove URL to enter the URLs of all the pages you want to exclude from search engines.
If you have a dynamic website, like an eCommerce website, you may have duplicate content on many pages of your website. The webmaster tools also allow you to override certain settings, so this information will not be considered duplicate content.
Go to Site Setup and select Settings, then Settings Management. You can set parameters here to exclude certain parts of each web page. Google will then realize that this is the same content and not duplicate content.
Find and repair 404 pages
Broken links are frustrating for visitors trying to find information on your page. They click on a link from your website or an outside website and are taken to a blank page. Not only does this result in less traffic, but broken links don’t make search engines happy either. Fortunately, Google Webmaster Tools makes it easy to find 404 pages so you can fix them.
In the Diagnostics section, select Crawl errors. This will give you all of the pages that Google had a crawling problem with, regardless of the problem. Look for Not Found errors, which is a 404 error. You will see a list of all the pages with a 404 error and the pages that are linked to them. You will have to manually edit each backlink to point to the correct page.
Add a sitemap
If you don’t have a sitemap yet, Google Webmaster Tools can add one to your website. A sitemap tells a search engine which pages are on the website so that bots can crawl them. This helps new pages get indexed faster and search engines find pages that don’t already have backlinks.
To add a sitemap, click Site Setup on the left side of the screen. Then select Site maps, then Submit site map.
Google Webmaster Tools are free and powerful tools for a webmaster. They help you find which search terms are driving traffic to your website and which backlinks are performing well. Find and fix broken pages to increase Page Rank and gain traffic. Prevent a possible penalty for duplicate content by telling Google which domain has priority and which pages or parameters should not be indexed.