It may seem like an obvious answer to some, but many people completely overlook this powerful (free) web-based tool. Getting started with Google Webmaster Tools is simple, fast, and free. You can have this setup in less than 5 minutes.
OK, so signing up is simple, but why should you actually use it?
Earlier this year I was working for a company that handled SEO for small businesses and there was a typical “SEO Checklist” similar to what most search engine optimization companies use when analyzing a site and when performing optimization tasks. Unfortunately, Webmaster Tools was not on their list and despite weeks (and dare I say months) of effort, they could not get a particular website to rank in the top 100 for their term. Mind you, they were competing on a national level for the term, but still with all the “standard” onsite and offsite SEO work that the company applied to this client’s website, their rank would not budge.
When I was asked to take a look at the site and see if I could find any errors, the first thing I did was setup Webmaster Tools and waited until Google fetched some valuable information (typically in 24 to 72hrs you’ll start to see a population of valuable information and statistics). After a few days, I noticed that the Sitemap for this client was completely wrong. They couldn’t rank, because every URL in the sitemap that Google had crawled was incorrect. Something as simple as this was causing their site to be pushed to the bottom of the rankings. So with a quick flick of the wrist, and a quick sitemap tuneup, the issue was resolved. How did it affect their rankings? Well they went from position 100+ to page 1 of Google (position 6 if I remember correctly). All I had to do was fix the issue that Google Webmaster Tools told me about. It’s really that simple sometimes.
You want to rank better with a search engine, then consider taking advantage of the tools they give you that do the hard work for you (analyzing a lot of onsite items such as sitemaps, meta data, and broken links). The work here I did wasn’t anything genius, but somehow this slipped past 2 or 3 experienced SEOs in the company, so the obvious to some, may not be obvious to all.
Got an similar/interesting story to share about success with Webmaster tools? I’d love to hear it!
Why Use Google Webmaster Tools? was written by Dan Bochichio, a freelance Internet Specialist with over a decade of experience in web design. Dan specializes in taking new businesses from a web-zero to a web-hero by creating attractive sites which meet today's standards on the Web.