Google Webmaster Tools: Advanced Features to Improve a Site’s Ranking and Performance

Blogging and online commerce is nothing like it used to be, not with the stiff competition for traffic we see today.  Once you have your blog up, what will you do to monitor its progress, check the stats on what posts brings in more traffic, verify crawl errors, etc.?  The most feasible approach these days is to create a Webmaster’s Tools’ account in order to properly manage your SEO service if you are doing it for clients or optimizing your own site.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google search is currently the most dominant web search and website ranking tool.  All SEOs use Google Search as a basis of quantifying their online ranking.  Therefore, Google Webmaster Tools has grown to be the most and the most recommended toolkit for search engine optimization and website management.  The best thing is, Google Webmaster tools, despite its advanced capabilities, is available free of charge.

Google’s Webmaster tools is a powerful and essential combination of utilities that can be used to address any issues that Google may have with your website or blog.  This collection of tools and utilities also helps webmasters to monitor the indexing status of the website or blog, optimize how accessible and visible their site is for organic search engines and view detailed reports on the visibility of the page, crucial statistics and the diagnostics relating to the performance as well as the management of the website in Google’s index.

google webmaster tools

In essence, what does this mean?

Simply put, Google Webmaster Tools allow a webmaster to view their page the way Google sees it.  In overall, the tools make it simple to get information on how to optimize the website for search engines and identify and rectify any errors that may prevent the site from being indexed or from getting higher rankings.

Although Google Webmaster tools are important in many ways, in my opinion the most important use of this toolkit is that it allows the webmaster to check the XML map of the site, be in a position to scrutinize each page of the website and make it easier and faster for Google’s bots to crawl and index the pages.  These sites to be indexed include deep pages that could otherwise have been difficult to find or access.  The sitemap on Google Webmaster tools has a feature to specify which pages are most important on the website and how frequently the contents are changed for customized indexing by the bots.

sitemap details

Secondly, this toolkit exposes the webmaster to tons of tools and configuration options to improve a website performance.  Some of these advanced configurations include:

  • Data Highlighter – New feature
  • URL parameters: These parameters specify the purpose of the parameters used on the site for Google and how the bot should handle URLs that have the specified parameters.
  • New URLs: Moved your site or introduced new sub-domains?  The New URL option allows you tell Google where your site has moved to by specifying the new URL.
  • Preferred domain: Specify what domain name you prefer to make it easy for Google to index the website pages and rank the page appropriately in the search engine results.
  • Sitelinks: If you have sitelinks that you think are important, this option lets Google promote it.  It also allows you to demote those links that you think are incorrect or inappropriate. You are also able to download a .CSV file of your website’s latest links from the control panel. This allows you to keep track of the new sites that are linking to you in order to ensure relevance and link quality.
  • Google Bot crawl rate: Set the Google bot’s crawl rate depending on how often you update your site or how powerful your servers are.  You can reduce the rate if the bots take a toll on your servers.
  • Analytics: Analytics allow you to connect to Google Analytics web property.  Once this connection is established, you will be able to access the Google Analytics reports via links on your website, sitelink pages in the webmaster tools area or search queries.
  • 301 redirects: This enables you to ascertain that search engines and users are directed to the right page.  Sending traffic to the preferred URL enables you to provide users with the right content based on their searches.
  • Geotargeting: Sites that have generic top-level domains like .edu, .org and .com will find this tools crucial for targeting the relevant audience in a specific geographic location.
  • Search Queries: This section of Google Webmaster tools will provide you with the most searched for pages of your site along with the most commonly looked up search terms.
  • Disavow Links: A powerful and dangerous tool, the disavowing links function lets webmasters tell Google to ignore low-quality or spammy links that are pointed to their site. Most often only of use if you have received complaints from Google about your link quality. This function can harm quality sites by lowering their rank if it is not used properly.

Here is what Matt Cutts from Google says about disavow links:

Besides these crucial functionalities, Google Webmaster tools also allow a webmaster to view key diagnostic data on the website that helps correct common crawl errors such as 404 errors, timed out or unreachable URLs, excluded pages, and mobile crawl errors.  These tools also provides tips and solutions to the common errors and errors and issues found on the website or on specific pages for the webmaster to solve and make the page search engine friendly.

Google Webmaster Tools is one of the greatest SEO tools ever available to webmasters and site owners to use in an attempt to improve the pages’ or the website’s performance and give the webmaster control over the website.

James McDonnel

James McDonnel is an avid blogger and SEO consultant. He writes for SEO Positive and he is a contributor on various blogs and online publications including iblogZone.

13 thoughts on “Google Webmaster Tools: Advanced Features to Improve a Site’s Ranking and Performance

  • Nice points James,

    I generally use Google Webmaster Tools to check which keywords are sending more traffic, even I compare it with different time period. Really a handy tool with so many essential features.

    • instead of using google webmaster for keyword research, i love to use google keyword tool. Webmaster tool can help us how much we were successful in our research.

  • I love how Google webmaster tools allows me to adjust the crawl rate of my blog…I found this very useful when i started off my blog..Some weeks i post more and on some week the rate of posting was low..Custom crawl rate helped me get google crawl my site whenever i wanted.Every webmaster should make use of this great ‘free’ tool from Google.

  • Webmaster tools is kind of under rated. There is so much you can learn from your site. What I find is what the this does is allow me to look at any errors and correct them. Since it is google it is also what google is looking at. I had several HTML errors all simple to correct yet if google has noticed them then it will affect my ranking. Very useful tool to yet is not the end all be all to proper SEO of your website.
    Thanks for sharing

  • Hey James WMT helps me as the owner of multiple blogs, a lot. It is a great tool given that its free and it has so many features that are simply mind blowing. Your post has helped me to know of certain features of WMT that I didn’t know and haven’t tried yet! Thanks!

  • Hi, I have been using Google webmaster tool for long time but I didn’t ever come to advanced features of Google webmaster tool. I’m very thank full of you James for this article.

  • I use Google Webmasters tools extensively, since I own several websites and need to know how they perform, where the visitors come from, etc.

    I find specially useful the analytics part of this great free tool.

  • Hi there. This is an awesome tutorial to use GWMT. Thanks for sharing such useful videos and explanations. To maintain the website and SEO it is a very effective tool.

  • Webmaster Tools is a great tool, but Google as a customer service system is really terrible. 🙁

  • I think any webmaster who is serious about staying in the good books of Google, MUST have Google Webmaster Tools. I recently installed a new blog and by mistake I kept the option turned on to disallow indexing by search engines, and it was only when Google Webmaster Tools gave me a warning that the site is blocking access to Google, I came to know about it and quickly changed the setting. I’m a Fan of Google Webmaster Tools and I have not come across such tool for site analysis.

    Good Luck !

  • I can’t wait until they add more to the data highlighter. Will make rich data so much easier on various platforms!

  • What a great post is it! I love Google Webmaster tools to supercharge my blog.

    Thanks Again

  • I recently started Google Webmaster and Google Analytics like a pro, earlier i used to access them just to submit my sitemap and to see the stats.. but now everyday i access them to know about crawling error, internal links, outbound links etc…

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