I’m a huge advocate for measuring success and using geeky measurement tools to do it. As a compliment to Google Analytics, there is Webmaster Tools. While there is some overlap between the two, together, they give you a pretty good picture of how your site is doing. And while some think Google knows too much about our websites (yes, they see same data as you do), the trade off is that it’s free.
- Installation is easy. Choose to either plop a meta-tag into your code or upload an HTML file.
- Quickly check for web crawl errors. Have any 404 errors? Any nofollows or robots.txt you didn’t know about?
- Can your site be accessed via smart phone? No need to check manually…Webmaster Tools will tell you!
- Specific help for SEO. In the Diagnostics > Content Analysis section, check out any meta-description, title tag, or non-indexable content issues your site may have.
- Top Search Queries. More of a fun fact than anything. What top 20 keywords do you rank for? What percentage of people that search for that term click on your site? More importantly, ask yourself…are these the terms you optimized your site for?
- “What Googlebot sees.” Very powerful information. You can see exactly what anchor text people are using when linking to your site.
- Pages with external links. Which are your most linked-to (read:popular) pages? Webmaster Tools will show you most, if not all, of your incoming links. Plus, you can view your backlinks in graph form with Glync.
- Remove a URL. This tool can be incredibly useful if you have duplicate content or have removed a page for some reason. This tool goes hand-in-hand with the web crawl errors page: after you find an error, you can then remove the page from Google’s index (it usually takes only a few days to complete the process).
- Various other perks of having Webmaster Tools: crawl stats (how often Google crawls your site), subscriber stats (if you have a blog or email newsletter: how many subscribers do you have?), view your sitemap(s), generate and view your robots.txt file, enhance your 404 error pages (if you don’t already have a template matching your own design), and many more!