January 8, 2010

Get Started and Use Google Webmaster Tools for your Personal Web Site

Snapshot of the Google Webmaster Tools page included in the article Get Started and Use Google Webmaster Tools for your Personal Web Site

Google Webmaster Tools can provide useful information that can help web site owners including personal web site developers. The information gained can bring up problems with the web sites that web site owners may not be aware of. The information provided can be of tremendous help in making the web site easily indexed by the Google search engine.

To get started and use Google Webmaster Tools, all you have to do is to sign up for the service using your Google email address. After you have signed up, you can add the web sites that you want to use Google Webmaster Tools on. Specify the URL of your web site and choose Meta Tag as the method of verification. You will be given a Meta Tag that you will have to add to the home page of your web site.

Once you have added the Meta Tag provided to you, you can go back to the Google Webmaster Tool dashboard and verify your web site. That is all that you need to do to get started on Google Webmaster Tools. Wait for a few days as Google gathers the information that would be useful to you in improving your site's relationship with the Google search engine.

If your site is actually a blog on Blogger, you can insert the Meta Tag for verification by editing the HTML template of your blog. On the Blogger dashboard, click on the Layout link under your blog and on the next window, click on Edit HTML. Paste the Meta Tag immediately after the opening HTML head tag of your blog's template then click on the Save Template button.

If your site is hosted on Google Sites, all you have to do is to sign in to your web site and click on the More actions button at the top rightmost portion of the Google Sites window. Click on Manage site from the drop-down menu and on the next window, click on the General link on the left side of the page. Enter the Meta Tag provided to you on the blank space beside Google Webmaster Tools verification then click on the Save changes button below.

One mistake that you should avoid when using Google Webmaster Tools is submitting an incorrect URL for your web site. The correct URL should not include any reference to a specific page on your web site more particularly the landing page. You will have a problem when submitting your sitemap later if the URL for your site that you submitted is incorrect.

To start using Google Webmaster Tools just click on the URL of the web site you want to apply the tools to. You will then be presented with the dashboard from where you can dig deeper for more information. The dashboard provides five data categories that you might want to explore: top searches, crawl errors, links to your site, keywords and sitemaps. You should always note the date on which the data was last updated so you will have an idea on how fresh the data presented are.

By looking at the keywords that Google Webmaster Tools has computed for your site, you would realize what topics or subject matter your web site is focusing on. If this is not the situation that you want your site to become, then it would give you an idea of what articles to plan on writing about.

If you expand the Diagnostics link on the left side of the dashboard and click on Crawl errors, you will see the types of crawl errors encountered while crawling your site. By clicking on the type of error, you will be shown what pages are affected so you can strategize on how you would solve the problem.

If you have been using both Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, you will notice some degree of overlap which cannot be avoided. However, Google Webmaster Tools are concerned more with how your web site plays with the Google Search Engine while Google Analytics focuses more on how your readers respond to your web pages. I have been using both the Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools and in my experience, Google Analytics data are updated more frequently than those of Google Webmaster Tools.

A sitemap is a great way to let the Google search engine know about the pages in your web site. I have web sites on both Blogger and Google sites and I have not experienced my Blogger web pages not being indexed by Google. However, I did experience my web pages on Google Sites not being indexed by Google. So I had to submit sitemaps for my web pages on Google Sites.

To submit a sitemap using Google webmaster Tools, just click on the Submit a Sitemap link on the dashboard for your web site. Click on the Submit a Sitemap button on the next page, then complete the URL for your sitemap and click on the button Submit Sitemap. To check on the status of the site map you have submitted, click on the filename of your sitemap on the Sitemaps portion of your web site's dashboard.

Google Webmaster Tools are a great way to discover things you don't know about your site from the point of view of the Google search engine. For example I did not know before how many pages in my web sites are actually indexed by the Google search engine. Only when I submitted a site map for my sites did I realize that a lot of my web pages are not being indexed by Google. This gives me a push to prepare an action plan on how I should go about solving this problem.

If you have already deleted some of your pages and they still appear on Google search results, you can use Google Webmaster Tools to ask Google to remove them from the Google index. From the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard, expand Site configuration and click on Crawler access. Click on Remove URL and follow the instructions from there.

It's easy to get started and use the Google Webmaster Tools so don't waste any more time and sign up for the service.

You can also read my article on how to get started and use Google Analytics on your personal web site at: http://laptopwriting.blogspot.com/2010/01/how-to-get-started-and-use-google.html.

Read my article on how to use the free Google tools to optimize your personal web site at: http://laptopwriting.blogspot.com/2010/02/how-to-use-free-google-tools-to.html.