Using a search engine seems like an easy thing to do. Just type what you’re looking for and then the magic of the internet brings you what you need. It all happens so fast we barely have to wonder how all this is possible. What do search engines use to bring you the information you need at your fingertips?
Better yet, how can you use search engines and its tools to bring in more business?
Almost everyone that has a website uses search engine webmaster tools and the one most commonly used is the Google Webmaster Tool. A webmaster tool is like the brain or the nerve center of the website. It defines what a website can do and processes the information it gathers in order to respond.
Is it complicated to use if you don’t have a technical background? Yes. But it’s important to know what it can do. Then, you’ll understand how these tools are used for your business.
These are some businesses that still see their websites as online placeholders. They can’t imagine it doing more than just sharing information online. But with Google Webmaster Tools, you can turn your website into a powerful marketing and promotional machine. With the right tweaks and parameters, you can work with search engines to help you:
– reach the biggest number of people relevant to your market
– make your website and your business visible to potential customers
– keep your business top of mind to your target audience
– provide value to customers which would keep them coming back for more
– optimize your business website to reach your online market goals
Basically, if your business is a travelling salesman, search engine optimization is the car that makes it easier to get to your customers. Webmaster tools on the other hand, are the different parts of that car. As a driver, you don’t have to know how each car part works, but you do need to understand how they work to get you where you want to go. Knowing how each component works also helps you figure out what the problem is and what you need to replace or fixin order to solve the problem.
Webmaster Tools – The SEO Command Center
So let’s start talking about search engine tools. It’s not necessary for you to know how to use them if you have your own webmaster or SEO expert. But understanding how they work will make it easier for you to understand how to make the most of your website.
There are other consoles for search engine tools, but we will focus on the Google Webmaster Tool (GWT). It looks at your website the way Google sees it and gives you an idea what pages are indexed, the links that go with it, as well as its corresponding keywords.
Dashboard (The Background)
The first tool that you need to go through is the Dashboard. Once you have logged in and verified with GWT, you can now see data related to your website. The dashboard gives you the overall activity of your site, from your ranking to how much traffic your site is getting. Understanding the data will help you define the goals you should achieve and determine strategies for your website and online marketing to achieve these goals.
Site configuration includes sitemaps, crawler access, site links, and change of address. Configuring your site is one way of improving your website ranking which is important because your ranking would determine how visible and accessible you would be to customers.
● Sitemaps determines pages on your website to be indexed. If they’re not indexed or they’re not indexed properly, you won’t get any traffic at all. And generating traffic is the first step to reaching out to potential clients.
● Crawler access is used when there are pages in your website that you don’t want Google to index. You can use crawler access when you want to store data that you don’t want people to have access to.
● Sitelinks. Although not all website have sitelinks, they are still essential since they are links to a site’s inner pages. Sitelinks enable you to control the links when someone is doing a search on your website. This allows you to direct your clients to where you want them to go and the actions you want them to take.
● Change of Address. This section in Site Configuration is used in case you want to get a new domain or if your site has been moved.
The Google Webmaster Tool also allows you or your webmaster to define or set parameters for your website. These parameters are important to help you effectively target your market audience, improve the performance of your website, and protect your website from malicious attacks.
● Preferred Domain – Your preferred domain is the domain you want indexed, the website you own and want to be identified with your business. Once your webmaster chooses a preferred domain, Google will then find a formatted site for it. For example, your business’s domain name is http://www.domain.com, Google will also recognize http://domain.com and direct people to use this web address to your site. How is this helpful? It makes sure that your customers don’t get lost when they’re looking for you online.
● Geographic Target – If you want to focus on a specific country or area in the globe, geographic targeting is most helpful. Even if you have a business that caters to customers all over the world, geographic targeting helps you work with your website developer to create websites or web pages that are tailored to a certain market. On the side of search engines, geographic targeting influences how your site appears on country specific or localized searches.
● URL Parameters – This enables you to check and edit the URL (web pages) of your webpages to see if they’re structured well, done right, and provides suggestions on how to do it better. It’s too technical to explain this further but the point is having good URL parameters will make your website easier to locate online.
● Crawl Errors – It creates a report every time an error is encountered while crawling through your website, like when a webpage is down our couldn’t be reached. This helps ensure that your website is always online and always available to potential customers.
● Crawl Rate – Crawl rate shows the speed of how your website responds to search engine requests. It’s basically an indicator of how fast your website responds.Crawl rate enables you to deal with the demands of your business on time and on target.
● HTML Suggestions – When search engine spiders crawl through your site, it doesn’t just index the content. It also detects errors that can affect how a website is indexed. HTML suggestions provide, well, suggestions on what you or your webmaster can do to improve your website and make it easier or more visible to search for your keywords. It’ll point out if there are problems with your title,description or tags used on your website and make suggestions on how to make it better.
● Malware Alert – Malware, or malicious software, is a general term for any type of software (including computer viruses) that was intentionally created to damage websites, programs, and computer systems. It can hurt your ranking on the site. It’s essential to protect your website from malware and your potential customers from online attacks.
Even though you probably won’t need to know how to use these tools, it’s helpful to understand them and how they’re used. Because to get your website out there and make it more visible, it pays to understand how the tools that make that happen. This knowledge will help you and your virtual team create a website that will help meet your business goals.