Hosting Tutorial & Guide

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools to Increase Website Traffic and Improve SEO

updated on Feb 13, 2015
How to Use Google Webmaster Tools to Increase Website Traffic and Improve SEO As a rare combination of Internet services and products, Google empowers you to craft a smart SEO campaign by proving a wide array of online marketing tools. Among those options, "Google Webmasters Tools" can be the apple of the eye for both absolute newbies and SEO experts.

It is no exaggeration to say that you will definitely miss out plethora of features that help to enhance search engine ranking with the absence of this "Google Webmasters Tools." In the following, we would like to showcase how to use this helpful Google SEO tool to attract a new audience. In the meantime, there is a meaty collection of tips for your reference.

About Google Webmaster Tools

As above, "Google Webmaster Tools" is a part of Google SEO tools, and it contributes to providing configuration control and website data in Google. At this point, this "Google Webmaster Tools" is very similar to another marketing tool named as Google Analytics. However, the latter one only shows who is visiting your website and what they are doing on your webpage; while the former one tells you how Google will see your website and discovers potential problems with keywords, crawl rate and external/internal links.

In another word, Google Analytics works to accumulate data about your current and potential audiences; while "Google Webmaster Tools" enables you to directly interact with Google so as to adjust your marketing strategy to from a competitive campaign. To be frank, you can benefit a lot from the integration of Google Analytics (GA) and Google Webmaster Tools (GWT), and you will be able to access GWT data easily from the platform of GA.

Note that both of the tools require full access to your website's stats, and it is common that you will be worried about your data privacy. While as a brand-winning and trustworthy company, Google attaches great importance to users' privacy and confidentiality by a series of secure measures like the following mentioned ownership verification.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - What Is Google Webmaster Tools

How to Get Your GWT Started?

To get your "Google Webmaster Tools" started, you should go to this page to join in Google. Note that, if you haven't used Google previously, you will need to register an account firstly and then login to the dashboard of your GWT. Once logged in, you will be prompted to verify your ownership so as to make Google believe that you are the only legal owner of the website associated with this GWT.

As is showed, you will be asked to select and verify your website on the GWT homepage. Note that if your website doesn't show up on this page, you will need to click on "Add a site" to search it.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - Get Your GWT Started

When it comes to go through this owner verification process, you have multiple available options as is listed in below:
  1. You can choose to download and upload a HTML file to the specific root folder of your website. (This method shows that you have the ability to upload new HTML files to the web server.)
  2. You can choose to embed a HTML/meta tag to the head of your website's homepage. (This method indicates that you can access those source files, and in the meantime, edit a website's built-in HTML code.)
  3. You can choose to contact your current domain name provider/hosting provider and create a new DNS record. (This method has been much easier through an "approved" hosting provider like BlueHost.)
  4. You can choose to make use of Google Analytics tracking code to detect your website. (This method requires a Google Analytics account, and the input tracking code shall use new asynchronous snippets.)

Note that most websites can be added and verified automatically, while those older websites can only be verified through the mentioned HTML/meta tag method. And once verified, you will receive a success message and all you need to do is to click the "Continue" button to go on. Note that, it will take around 1-2 days to populate all site's data.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - Success Message

How to Use Google Master Tools Properly?

As is displayed in the following user interface, you will notice that Google has broken down your site's data into different sections, including "Site Messages", "Search Appearance", "Search Traffic", "Google Index", "Crawl", "Security Issues" and "Other Resources." Now, we would like to showcase which features of "Google Webmaster Tools" will means a lot for SEO purposes.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - GWT Dashboard

Check Search Queries

Let's start with the core functionality of GWT – "Search Queries." Generally speaking, this "Search Queries" displays the search keywords that bring people to your site. More than that, it comes with various selectable options, including "Query", "Impressions", "Clicks", "CTR" and "Average Position." Now, scroll down and learn more details.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - Search Queries

Query – It allows you to get to know what your site's keywords are ranked for. That is, you can be aware of how your keywords are ranked in the search engine results pages (SERPs). By identifying those high-ranked keywords, you will be able to optimize web content and links for better performance.
Avg. Position – It allows you to be aware of where your website ranks in the search engine results pages for a given term. As people tend to click the websites in the first two results pages of Google, you'd better try your best to create your SEO-friendly keywords as possible.
CTR – It allows you to acquaint with the click-through rate that infers the percentage of visitors who have clicked on your website in the SERPs. If the calculated click-through rate is very low, you may consider embedding call to actions into the meta description or tag title.
Impressions – It allows you to know the number of readers who come to your website based on certain keyword search. At the same time, this section also enables you to look at which parts of the content are frequently searched and viewed.
Clicks – It allows you to be conscious of the number of visitors' clicks on your web content. Make sure that your web contents are tightly relevant to search queries so as to boost SEO rankings and website traffic.

As a matter of course, you are also allowed to take a look at your site performs in the sight of Google over time. To do so, you should head over to the marked "With Charge" tab. Note that, you can choose to check "Links to Your Site", "Internal Links", "Manual Actions", "International Targeting" and "Mobile Usability" in the drop-down "Search Traffic" menu.

Check Crawl Information

One spotlight of "Google Webmaster Tools" is that this tool enables you to check crawl related information, such as "Crawl Errors" and "Crawl Stats." More importantly, you can also get to know how Google will see your own website, and in the meantime, specify crawl rate to suit your needs. Now, we would like to explain those significant features as follows.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - Crawl Errors

Crawl Errors – It helps you check broken links and any other links pointing to non-existent webpages. Besides that, you will be able to check server errors, missing pages and many other potential problems that stop Google from crawling the site correctly. To fix those errors, you can choose to repair broken links or make use of 301 redirections.
Fetch as Google – It empowers you to know how Google "treats" your web content and links. More than that, you can also get to know what resources that block Google from having a whole look at your website. By the way, this function supports both mobile and desktop versions.
Crawl Stats – It makes you be aware of how many pages are crawled per day. Also, it can display your average page loading time, which is extremely useful for websites heavily depending on pictures or dynamic URLs.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - Crawl Stats

Apart from those mentioned elements, there are many other useful features in the following list.

Robots.txt Tester – It shows which pages that you don't want to be indexed by Google and many other search engines. Pay attention that this feature won't affect your site traffic, and instead it only protects your sensitive data from being exposed to the public. Of course, you are allowed to upload a robots.txt file without strict limits.
Sitemaps – It presents what pages you want to be indexed and crawled by search engines like Google. As always, a XML sitemap consists of a series of URLs, and it is indispensable especially for websites that update content frequently. It is recommendable to "Add/Test Sitemap" to see the number of pages indexed by Google.
URL Parameters – It displays you a report of the URL parameters that can only be changed provided that you are pretty sure how those parameters work. To be frank, this feature helps you identify and remove non-canonical URLs and duplicate content.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - URL Parameters

Important to Note: By the way, you will be able to limit the crawl rate of Google if you don't want your own website to be crawled too frequently. If it is, you can go to the "Site Settings" section in the top right corner of your GWT dashboard. As is showed in the following image, you can choose to optimize your site by Google or to limit the maximum crawl rate of this search engine.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - Crawl Rate

Check Advanced GWT Reports

You can also check more advanced "Google Webmaster Tools" reports under the "Search Appearance" tab. In the following, we will have a brief look at each feature for better understanding.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - Structure Data

Structure Data – It is commonly-used to showcase rich snippets in the search results pages of Google. Note that you are allowed to create structure data via embedding HTML markup to the pages of your website.
Data Highlighter – It is an alternative to the mentioned webmaster markup which enables Google to understand your data better. By using this tool, you will be able to tag each of your data fields via mouse.
HTML Improvements – It attributes to improving your SEO-ranking by filtering irrelevant keywords and duplicate content. In the meantime, this feature will automatically mark those un-informative and irrelevant pages.
SiteLinks – It is applied to generate links that are attached to the main search results automatically. For your SiteLinks' quality, you'd better make your alt and anchor texts as informative as possible. Of course, you can demote those SiteLinks based on personal needs.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - SiteLinks

Note: Apart from all those introduced features above, you can also choose to change your site's address in the top right area of "Settings." Do not click on "Change of Address" unless you will transfer a domain name. If you have any troubles or questions, you can also find helpful articles, send user feedbacks and enter help center in the drop-down "Help" menu.

How to Use Google Webmaster Tools - Seek for Help