At a time like today when search engines play such an important role in the cyberworld, apart from content management and website maintenance, webmasters regard how to promote their own websites through search engine as another important responsibility. As the world’s largest search engine, Google has always emphasized communication with webmasters. On August 2006, Google launched Webmaster Tools on Webmaster Central (English), followed by a Chinese version.
You’ve never heard of Google Webmaster Tools? You are not alone.
On May 2007, I attended the SES conference in Xiamen, Fujian. To my surprise, a majority of Chinese webmasters, including SEOs, have no idea about this great tool that Google created for them. In other words, most Chinese webmasters and SEOs are far left behind in the knowledge of tools that Google provides for information about their web site.
Before Google Webmaster Tools was launched, the way for a regular website to promote itself was to manage the content with the hope that Google can index their website and rank high on search result pages. However, the webmaster would have no idea as to whether or not Google has indexed all pages of the website correctly, for which queries/keywords, which pages have backlinks, etc. That is to say, webmasters were pretty passive when it came to search engines. Some websites hired SEO companies to help promote their sites. Since the Webmaster Tools were created, webmasters have a place to find out their website's performance on Google. It’s simple and clear. Most webmasters can easily use Google Webmaster Tools to optimize their websites.
Now, let’s take a look at how powerful these Google Webmaster Tools are. The major functions are:
- Access your website information gathered by Webmaster Tools from any computer that is linked to the internet.
- Check and set the frequency for Google to crawl your site. You can also get the information on crawling, the success rate, and the reason for a crawling failure.
- Check whether your website has been indexed correctly. This is a very important function. If Google has not indexed it correctly, other search engines could likely do the same.
- See sample incoming links to your site.
- Receive information on the queries with which your website ranks high in search results.
- Get information on the queries that bring you traffic.
- Create your own sitemaps to tell the pages you want Google to crawl and index, especially for those pages that Google has not crawled and dynamic pages.
- An information center with answers to many questions you might have in mind. For example, what is a Doorway Page?
- You can also inquire whether your website has been penalized for violating Google Webmaster Guidelines. We don't alert every site that has a penalty, but we can for many sites.
- You can also submit spam pages that you encountered using these tools.
Among all the functions mentioned above, the fifth one is probably the most important. You can find out whether your website has ranked highly with certain queries. If your website is ranked highly with queries you do not like, for example the keyword “Inferior products”, you will need to find out the reason why.
Another great feature about the tools is that they actually become the bridge between you and Google. Sometimes, if Google wants to send out some friendly reminders, say, your website is good, but for some reason (for example, the website was hacked) it violates Google Webmaster Guidelines. If you don’t use Webmaster Tools and there is no valid contact information on your website, we have no way to reach you. It opens up a direct and efficient channel for communication once you start using the tools.
Now, you might ask how to use Google Webmaster Tools? First of all, you need a Google account, that is, gmail.com account. If you haven’t got one, please visit http://www.gmail.com, click on “create an Account”, then just follow the instruction and you will get an account. After the account is created, go to Webmaster Central, click on Webmaster Tools to start using the tools. The first thing you have to do is to add your site to the tools. Google will need a verification process to make sure the site you added really belongs to you. Then you (and only you) can access all of this internal information on Google about your website.
Try out Webmaster Tools, and enjoy!