Since the last intern blog on fresh content and internal links my main focus has been on onsite optimization, which is the initial SEO work for any new website. Consequently, I have familiarized myself with Google Webmaster Tools and how it can be used to monitor the health of one’s site and improve search engine optimization.
The first step in any initial optimization work for a website is to make sure that search engines’ can crawl your site and index every webpage and the information within them. Therefore it is necessary that we submit our full list of URLs or ‘sitemap’ to these search engines so that our site is fully recognizable, with any possible errors being detectable by the engine’s robots – there are a number of XML sitemap generators online that provide you with your entire sitemap which can then be added to Webmaster Tools.
With the sitemap submitted we can easily observe any maintenance issues that need repairing. These can often include crawl errors (e.g. from broken links), sitemap issues (e.g. pages blocked from search engine robots) and HTML issues (e.g. duplicated meta titles and descriptions). All of these issues will affect your search engine ranking if they are not identified and rectified.
As I have also learned, Webmaster Tools provides very useful ways to improve your ranking outside of regular problem fixing.
- The Content Keywords page under the Optimization category helps you analyse the most prominent keywords in your web pages and posts, therefore indicating which important terms are being ignored in your content.
- The Data Highlighter provides an extremely helpful tool for organizing any upcoming event listing related to your website within the organic search result listings (e.g. any music gigs taking place within a venue can be ‘highlighted’ and organized in the organic search results for that venue).
- By adding your premises to the Google Places service in Webmaster Tool you can help geo-target your business to the relevant geographical market. This means that your premises can be located using Google Maps and can help any search queries that include a location-specific keyword (e.g. ‘Furniture manufacturer in Blackrock, Ireland’)
Therefore, while Google Analytics is the go-to tool for examining activity on your website and its overall performance, Webmaster Tools helps you see which aspects of the site are hindering its performance and provides mechanisms to improve your search engine ranking.