A Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools: The Basics

Feb 2, 2016 | Search Engine Optimization

Google Webmaster Tools is a web service that allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites. In this blog we will cover the basics of Webmaster Tools to help the beginners get started!

This Beginner's Guide to Webmaster Tools introduces you to the basics and breaks down features of the search console.

As a site owner, it is your responsibility to monitor your website performance and ensure that everything is working properly (or hire a third party to assist). Fortunately, Google Webmaster Tools makes this easy. Google Webmaster Tools (or Google Search Console) is a web service that allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites (Wikipedia). In this blog, we will cover the basics of Webmaster Tools to help the beginners get started!

How to Add Your Website

If you do not already have a Webmaster Tools account sent up, it is time to do so. The service is free so once you sign up log in and add your website. After adding your website, you will need to verify that you actually own it. Kissmetircs outlines four ways to do this in their Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools:

  1. Add a DNS Record to Your Domain’s Configuration
  2. Add a Meta Tag to Your Site’s Homepage
  3. Upload an HTML File to Your Server
  4. Link Your Google Analytics Account to Webmaster Tools

Search Console Breakdown

Once logged in, you will see a handful of options in your Search Console. To help you understand which feature does what, we have broken it down for you.

Dashboard

The Dashboard is the main landing page of your Google Webmaster Tools. It shows any important messages and critical issues, such as the detection of Malware, as well as your current status.

Search Appearance

Structured Data: Structured data helps Google understand the content on your site, which can be used to display rich snippets in search results. This section reveals where you have structured data (or if it is missing).

Data Highlighter: The data highlighter shows off your site’s data in search, such as event listings or review ratings. With the data highlighter you can simply ‘tag’ each data field and Google will present that data more attractively in their search results.

HTML Improvements: In this section of Google Webmaster Tools you will find suggestions for improving your content, Metadata and more.

Sitelinks: The automatically generated links that appear under your site’s search results are called site links. If you wish to remove a page as a site link, you can demote it in this section.

Accelerated Mobile Pages: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is defined in Webmaster Tools as “an open-source initiative to provide web pages that load fast and look good on mobile devices. This section identifies Accelerated Mobile Pages on your website and helps you fix any errors.

Search Traffic

Search Analytics: In the search analytics section you are able to analyze your performance on search, comparing results for clicks, impressions, searches by device and more.

Links to Your Site: To view which websites are linking to your website, navigate to this section of Webmaster Tools.

Internal Links: Internal links show which pages on your site are linked to most often from other pages on your website.

Manual Actions: Here you will find information about manual webspam actions taken against your website and steps you can take to address the problem. You can learn more in this video from Matt Cutts.

International Targeting: If you would like to target your audience based on location and language settings, you will do so in this section.

Mobile Usability: The mobile usability section shows you mobile issues affecting your site and how you can fix them.

Google Index

Index Status: Your index status reveals the number of pages which have been indexed for your site over time.

Content Keywords: In this section, you can view your top keywords in the search.

Blocked Resources: The Blocked resources section shows the parts of your pages which are blocked by robots.txt directives. Rendering without certain resources can impair the indexing of your web pages.

Remove URLs: If you are experiencing issues with any of the pages on your website or you would like to temporarily hide a page from search results for any reason, you can do so in this section.

Crawl

Crawl Errors: Just as it sounds, this section shows the errors found when Google’s bots crawled your website. This includes site errors (e.g. DNS and Server Connectivity) and URL errors.

Crawl Stats: The crawl stats section breaks down the number of pages on your website crawled per day, kilobytes downloaded per day and time spent downloading a page.

Fetch as Google: To see how Google renders pages from your website and re-submit them to index, you will want to use the Fetch as Google tool.

Robots.txt Tester: Want to edit your robots.txt and/or check for errors? This is the place to do it.

Sitemaps: You can submit a sitemap for your website in this section. Submitting a sitemap will help Google determine what pages you have on your website so they can index those (Kissmetrics).

URL Parameters: The URL Parameters section monitors incorrectly configured parameters and allows you to configure them correctly.

Security Issues

This is a very important piece of your Webmaster Tools accounts. The Security Issues section keeps track of any security issues with your site content, such as malware detection and other evidence of a hack.

Other Resources

Others resources available to you in Webmaster Tools include PageSpeed Insights, Google My Business, Webmaster Academy and more.