Google Webmaster Tools is one of the very first services that every blogger and webmaster should sign up for, as soon as the blog is launched! However, most people do not give enough importance to the webmaster tools once the sitemap is submitted and robot.txt verified.
Let me explain here a couple of important pages in the Google Webmaster Tools that provide insights into the popularity and visibility of your content (blog posts, pages, other services etc). Then we will quickly cover a few tips to improve the situation. Please note that I will not be talking too much about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or where to find hot keywords etc.
1. Your pages in Google in terms of ranks
One of the first places where you need to look into is the ‘Statistics => Crawl Stats’ page of your Google Webmaster Tools account. There you will see a table as shown below:
This table shows the strength of your content in the eyes of Google search engine. If you have longer bars in the ‘High to Medium’ area, it essentially means that your content is highly visible in Google search. If you have ‘Medium to Low’ then you have some visibility and if your pages are mostly in the ‘Not yet assigned’ category, then your posts and pages are not at all visible in any search. Please note that younger sites (2-3 months old) will usually have ‘Not yet assigned’ status initially. Those who have most of their pages in ‘High’ will get as high as 70% or even 80% of their traffic from search engines!
2. Backlink and internal link strength of top posts, pages
A site’s homepage PR (Page Rank) is no way linked to the overall popularity of the site and its content. I know, people are a bit crazy about getting a high PR for the homepage mainly to attract advertisers. But to attract good quality (and in good volume) search traffic, you need to have good PR on many of your individual posts. If you move over to ‘Links => Pages with external links’ option, you will see the popularity of your indexed pages and posts. If you have a good percentage of your overall number of posts listed there, your blog is pretty well indexed. In addition, if individual pages have good number of back links, then they are bound to have good PRs and search rankings as well.
If you move over to ‘ Links => Pages with internal links ’ you would want to see a good percentage of internally lined posts there as well. For whatever reasons, Google considers a site or blog as well-accessible when the various services (posts, pages, tools, images) within the site are well-connected.
3. Sitemap Summary
If you open the page ‘Sitemap => Sitemap details’ you will see your sitemap summary section as given below:
A couple of things to look for in this section are:
- Sitemap last downloaded date should not be too old – If so, it shows that you are not updating your blog frequently or your sitemap generation mechanism (plugin may be) has some issues
- Total URLs in the sitemap: For a blog the sum of all published posts, pages and categories should match this number unless you have manually modified the sitemap or XML sitemap generation settings. (Usually archive, tag pages etc should not be generated for sitemaps)
4. URL not found errors in Overview page
If you have changed the permalinks of your posts, chances are high that you have a number of entries listed here in ‘URL not found’ category. You will have to take some corrective actions (listed below) if the problem is still reported after a few more days.
Corrective actions for the above problems
- To address the low page rank distribution of the individual pages, you need to first make sure that your posts and pages have the right meta tags (keywords and description) and title. The All-in-one-SEO plugin does this job for you for each and every post and page that is created via WordPress. All that you need to worry about is to pick a good post title, a number of good tags per post and the post beginning with a couple of good sentences
- If some of your good posts have very low external links pointing to them, make a list of such posts, an use them as your URL to comment on other blogs. You could also add them, in turns, as your forum signatures. In no time, you will see that your posts are getting more backlinks
- Do not forget to internal link posts via newer posts as well as popular articles list etc
- Make sure that your Google XML sitemap plugin is properly configured. If some of your links are missing be sure to manually add them to the sitemap configuration
- If sitemap settings look good, but if ‘URL not found’ errors are still reported, you may have to manually edit those posts/pages once again and ‘publish’ (not ‘save’) again. This will generate the right permalinks and modified timestamps that will tell the crawlers to index them again
- Maintain your post frequency so that the search engine bots are trained to learn and arrive a reasonable crawl frequency.
- Less visible older posts may be opened up for editing, as mentioned in one of my recent posts, to improve visibility via better tagging etc
The points mentioned above are what I am monitoring on a regular basis and I hope this information is useful to you as well. Please provide your comments and feedback on this post.