How to Use Google Webmaster Tools

This quick primer on Google’s Webmaster Tools will help you learn what they do and how they could help your website.

The internet is a crowded place. This is where search engines come handy, and why search engine optimization is essential to stand out.

However, there is more to SEO than just plugins and tweaks. You need to assess and analyze the health of your website: keywords that are returning good traffic, pages that are getting the most visits, the click-through rate of your website visitors.

You also need to keep track of errors that search engine bots might encounter while crawling your website, sitemaps that need to be submitted and incoming links.

Google helpfully provides an array of resources to make these tasks easier. Grouped together under Google Webmaster Tools they offer insights into the health and performance of your website that you can use as a lever for improvement.

What Can Google Webmaster Tools Do?

So, what can Google Webmaster Tools do for us? A lot, but mainly:

  • Detailed information about search queries; which keywords are performing, and which ones aren’t.
  • Updates about crawl errors, just so you can fix them timely and avoid losing traffic.
  • Links that are generating the maximum traffic as well as website pages that are getting most visitors.
  • Upload and update sitemaps.

For a quick overview of Webmaster Tools, check out this short video from Google:

Getting Started

In order to get started with and use Google Webmaster Tools, you need to verify your website’s domain. You can do this in many ways, such as by uploading a test file, or adding code to the <head> tag.

If you are a WordPress user, you can also verify your site by adding the <head> tag’s code via the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin, the Jetpack plugin from WordPress, or via the Google Publisher plugin.

Using Google Webmaster Tools For SEO

Google Webmaster Tools show you what is being indexed by Google, which sitemap works best for your site, where links are coming from or going to, and what is driving traffic to your websites.

This data then needs to be gathered and analyzed, to formulate a proper SEO plan for your websites.

Using Search Queries

You can find the search queries’ option under the Search Traffic tab for your website. As the name suggests, Search Queries can help you understand which queries and search terms are driving traffic to your website.

This section contains five main fields:

  • Query: The queries or search keywords that your website is ranked for.
  • Impressions: Number of people seeing your website in the search results for a given keyword.
  • Clicks: Number of people actually taking action and clicking on your website.
  • CTR: Click-Through-Rate, percentage of people clicking on your website in the search results.
  • Average Position: Your website’s typical rank for a given keyword or query.

You can use Search Queries to analyze and assess the keywords that are doing well for your website.

You can use Search Queries to analyze and assess the keywords that are doing well for your website

To see how keywords are performing over a given period of time, you can activate the ‘With Change’ button in the Search Queries section. This will show the current statistics in relation to change in performance over time. This is especially useful if you have made recent changes to your website, or implemented a new SEO strategy, and want to see how effective the new version really is.

see how your keywords are performing over a given period of time

If you need deeper insight into your content strategy and how it’s performing in search, you can also look at individual keywords using Google Webmaster. By using individual keywords and search queries, you can assess and analyze the performance of posts and pages on your website.

So Why Should I Use It?

Google Webmaster Tools is a very useful collection of resources that you can employ to improve your website’s performance and visibility in search engines. Google Analytics is also a popular option, especially when it comes to raw analytics about how your visitors come to your website and interact with its content.

But Google Webmaster Tools provides a comprehensive and holistic approach to data analysis and interpretation. Instead of showing just the breakdown of how your website earned its traffic, Google Webmaster Tools also lets you understand the impressions and rankings of your website in search results, and ensure that your sitemaps are being treated the way you’d prefer them to be.

Google Webmaster Tools provides a more comprehensive and holistic approach to data analysis and interpretation

They offer a bird’s eye-view image of the entire landscape and better understanding the performance potential of your webpages.

Google keeps changing its metrics every now and then. For example, HTTPS is a small factor in determining the merits of a website, as compared to normal HTTP.

By keeping track of your website’s search ratings and performance via Google Webmaster Tools, and by ensuring that there are no crawl errors or major issues, you can stay updated in terms of your SEO campaigns an on top of Google’s changes.


Featured image: Google’s Webmaster Tools/Youtube

About the Author Sufyan bin Uzayr

Sufyan writes about web design and development, Content Management Systems, open source, and everything else in between. He blogs at Code Carbon, and you can find him on Facebook and Google+.