As a savvy business owner you know the importance of creating and maintaining a company website. But have you ever thought to measure whether or not your website is healthy and Google friendly? Many business owners have never heard of the program Google Webmaster Tools, or if they have, they may be intimidated. Like them, you may find yourself thinking, “I’m not tech savvy enough to analyze the status of my website.” I can completely relate, as I once felt the exact same way. After going through all of the functions with our CTO, I have created a quick how-to guide for those who aren’t technically inclined but want to know how to ensure their site is “Google-friendly.”
First, sign into your Google Webmaster tools under your Google account and enter in your company’s website. After the quick verification process, you’ll see a “dashboard” on the right side of the page with a list of tools. As a business owner the only tools you will need to focus on are the “Health”, “Traffic”, “Optimization” and “Labs” sections. The CTO or other technical employees can take care of the rest.
Next let’s go over how to interpret each section and know when you should notify your Webmaster of any issues. It’s simple and takes only 20 minutes out of your day, but can make a huge difference in your search rankings in Google.
1. Crawl errors– this page gives details about two types of errors:
– Site errors– lists errors that are not allowing Googlebot to access your site at all.
– URL errors– lists errors Googlebot came across when trying to access a specific URL on your site.
If you see “access denied” in either section, notify your CTO right away and make sure to give him/her the specific URL that has the error.
2. Crawl stats– this section is very easy to interpret…all you need to do is make sure that both the “pages crawled per day” and “kilobytes downloaded per day” graphs don’t dip far below the “200” mark. If so, let your CTO know and they can take it from there. NOTE: In this section it’s extremely important that the “kilobytes” graph does not have any spikes AT ALL.
3. Blocked URLs- If you don’t want specific URLs to appear in Google search results, this is where you would check to make sure they are not appearing. Leave this section alone. Your CTO should be the only one tweaking this.
4. Fetch as Google– Leave this one to your tech guys and gals.
5. Index Status– The index status provides statistics about how many of your URLs Google was able to crawl or index. You should always see a steady increase in the total indexed. A healthy website is always adding new content whether its blog posts, articles or new landing pages. If you see a drop, it’s because someone has deleted content/pages to be crawled.
6. Malware– This section is easy. The only necessary action to take is to make sure nothing ever shows up. If it does, notify your CTO immediately and they will figure out the issue.
1. Search Queries- In this section you can see which pages on your site were seen most often in search results. Simply click on the “Top pages” tab and you’ll see a list of all of the URLs of your website. This is a great way for you to see which pages people are clicking on the most and which are being clicked on the least. To take full advantage of this section, take the information you find about each page’s traffic and start promoting the pages that are not getting as many clicks.
2. Links to Your Site- Wouldn’t it be great to know which sites are linking back to your site the most, and which of your links is linked the most? Well you can do just that in this section. You’ll see one column that says “Who links the most” which gives you the websites that link back to your website the most, and another that says “Your most linked content” that displays your site’s URLs that are linked the most. It’s extremely important to make sure the sites linking back to your site are credible sites and the pages being linked look presentable.
1. Sitemaps- A “Sitemap” is a list of pages on your company’s website. Creating and submitting a Sitemap ensures that Google knows all of the pages on your website. The graph in this section should be updated very frequently. Also, you want to make sure that the number of sitemaps submitted are the same as the ones being indexed. If they’re not an exact match, this means you could have no follow links and you should notify your CTO to take a look.
2. HTML improvements- This section gives clues on whether or not your meta tags are set correctly and demonstrates what needs to be improved. The first choice under meta description, “Duplicate meta descriptions” should be low.
3. Structured data- The structured data page shows the structured information that Google was able to detect on your site. Basically, all you need to do is make sure the red and blue lines are growing and are run parallel with each other. If you see any spikes going opposite of each other, you have a problem and you need to notify your CTO.
The only section you need to look at is the “author stats” section. If you haven’t heard already, Google authorship can help increase your search rankings in Google dramatically. Once you activate Google authorship, you can use this tool to check and make sure it is working correctly. If it’s working properly you will see the URLs of all the blog posts you’ve published. If you don’t, you’ll want to go back through the steps of activating authorship and use the testing tool to verify it’s working.
Google webmaster tools is crucial for your company website’s success. I understand as a business owner it’s difficult to dedicate time out of your day to attend to new tasks. If that’s the case for you, I have some great news. Surefire Local’s professional package includes Webmaster tools maintenance in addition to the most comprehensive and effective Internet marketing program around.
By dedicating only 20 minutes a month to take a quick look at your website’s health, you can see a HUGE ROI!