How to use Google Webmaster Tools like a pro

Google Webmaster Tools (Now called Google Search Console) is free and, when used correctly, it can be a powerful asset that can help you achieve unbelievable results. If you have used Google Webmaster Tools before, you might have missed a few things or just not been aware of them. There are some tweaks you can implement even before you begin researching a certain site.

1. Adjusting your screen

When you are pulling searches on a large group of websites, the best use of Google Webmaster Tools can be realised if you change over to the Compact View on your homepage. Instructions:
  • Go to the Sort options and click on the list icon.
  • Click Compact View.
When you change the way you view to Compact View you will be able to see many more profiles on your home screen. Just this little change can cut down on the number of searches and let you view so many more all at one time.

2. Setting up your notifications

You can use your homepage to get emails automatically sent to you. All you have to do is to go to the Settings section on the right side at the top and find the place that says Webmaster Tools Preferences. Here is where you can adjust the way you receive your emails as well as adjust the number and type of them. Then change the Type of notification to “All issues” to receive more emails on a regular basis about the health of your website. This is especially helpful if you have a lot of sites to keep track of so that you can stay on top of them all and not miss anything.  

3. Google authorship

Update: Google no longer uses authorship markups. The Labs section is where they test any new features to see whether they should be included in the main section of the Webmaster Tools. This is where you can find a page that is listed as “Author Stats”. When you set up your Google Authorship you can see all the statistics for every page that you have linked to with your Google profile. It will also let you see information on your sites that have been indexed or crawled by Google. When you click on the button that reads “Filters” it will break down the data you are looking for into more specific categories. For example, you can pull up your information by the type of search, the traffic and location. For example this will let you zone in on the sites that are performing the best in the UK through mobile devices. If you want to know how well setting up Google Authorship is working for you it will show the clickthroughs, impressions, average ranking and CTR. For more information about authorship markups:

Matt Cutts and Othar Hansson discuss how to connect authors with their content using authorship markup.

4. Other resources

You may have seen this if you are familiar with Google Webmaster and just skipped over it. There is a page that is titled Additional Tools and it consists of a set of links to services that can help improve the presence of your website. There are links to go to if you want to set up a Google Places page or if you want to send a sampling of your products to Google Product Search.

5. Profiles of sites

When you go to each individual site there are even more options that are available to you. In addition, some of the suggestions listed above may have changes so do make sure to check them again. There are more extensive preferences to work with on the Settings page. Now you will be able to link these tools with the site profile that you select on Google Analytics as well as confirm the verification of your site and other things. Make sure you also check the Labs list. There are more options on this now than on the homepage. Check through to see if any of them are helpful for you.

6. Google Analytics

When you link your account for Google Analytics you may experience some hyperlinks from Webmaster Tools. This could occur at the bottom of the Search Queries page. You could easily miss it but when you do find it you will be able to compare the way the data is collected by each one. The figures that will come up may be different only because of the way they are determined by each platform. Keep this in mind when making any comparisons between the two or deciding whether one is a success or one is a failure.

7. Webmaster Tools and Google Penguin

After Google implemented Operation Penguin and cleaned up all of the low quality links and keywords, your site may have been affected. Webmaster Tools can help you locate the guilty content and help you rebuild your site so you can begin to generate higher rankings again.

8. Improvements to HTML

While finding the same meta tag information for your site, which is listed on the Search Appearance section of the dashboard for the site, is not going to have any effect on your rankings its still always a good idea to keep your information clean and of high quality. Try to go for a variety of meta tags and unique copy on each one.

9. URLs that have been removed

If Google went through and flagged any content that was keyword stuffed or had too many duplicates you should remove them from the search index so they don’t reduce your ranking. First make sure that your page is in accordance with the requirements for removal by Google. You may have to delete the page entirely first so that it has a 404 or 410 code. Upon completion, you can then go to the index for Google and hit on “Remove URLs.” After you are done you can go to the Index Status in the same area of the Webmaster Tools to confirm your corrected status. You can click on the Advanced section and check Removed. Click on the Update button to see which pages have been deleted from your site. You can also see when they were removed from the index by Google.

10. URL Parameters

One thing you may want to do is to check the parameters of your URL listings. If they appear to have the same content they may be recognized as duplicates by Google. Look under “Crawl” and you can check the URL Parameters. This is what lets Google know the parameters of your URLs so they can determine if they are the same content or just appear to be duplication. Just be careful, as by using this option you run the risk of deleting too much information.

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