This tool is still a mystery (seriously, what IS this thing), the one I am sharing today will no longer be as mysterious.
What if I told you that your small business can get detailed insights on how to rework your website directly from Google? What if I told you that it would take only a couple of minutes to get started and it is absolutely free? What if I told you that 80% of small businesses have had this opportunity for years and yet they have not taken advantage of it? What is this mysterious, wonderful and free tool for small businesses – Google Webmaster Tools.
Google Webmaster Tools is one of the only ways that Google communicates how things are going with your website unless you are spending buckets of money with them on Adwords. It allows Google to communicate to you if they have penalized your website for some reason and it also allows for them to communicate ways you can improve your search engine optimization.
When I speak to small businesses about utilizing Google Webmaster Tools, even fairly tech savvy business owners aren’t sure what functionality it offers that distinguishes itself from Google Analytics, and to be honest, it isn’t their fault. Over the years, Google has added functionality to Webmaster Tools that used to be part of Google Analytics and unless your day to day job was SEO/website work, those changes would have been easy to overlook. Google has also begun using it as a depot of information and communication for businesses. This too is relatively new and because of this, businesses don’t understand just how crucial it is to their search engine optimization efforts and their success online.
So what can this magic tool do? Besides some of the things I have already mentioned, it also gives you the opportunity to improve your online presence in Google. For example, have you searched for your business in Google and found that there are 4 to 6 links that allow people to directly access different portions of your website – like the image below?
Notice that one of the sitelinks is to ‘Yellowhammer Supply Com…’ which is on my portfolio and is one of my clients and not really a link I want to showcase people before they are interested in seeing my portfolio. While Google Webmaster Tools doesn’t allow me add the pages I want to directly, it does allow me to remove pages from being shown like this one. I have had many businesses come to me and want a way to remove pages from their branded search results – Webmaster Tools is the way to do it.
You can also submit a sitemap to Google via Webmaster Tools. While newer WordPress-based websites may not need to take this step because they are naturally easy for search engines to crawl, older websites should always do this. And even those new websites can often be indexed faster simply by submitting a sitemap directly to Google. How do you do this? Google gives you the answer. Besides sitemaps and sitelinks, there are many wonderful things you can do to spruce up your Google search result listing within Webmaster Tools.
One of the things that was taken away from Google Analytics over the last 2 years was the ability to see what keywords people used to search and find your website. This information is now partially stored in Google Webmaster Tools. But beyond that, you also have the ability to now see what keyword phrases people are searching for that you rank in and are shown as a search result in the form of impressions. This is critical if you are trying to see what keywords and key phrases people are interested in that will find you through organic search. This knowledge is crucial if you are creating any type of content for SEO purposes and have even basic interest in the success/failure of your digital marketing efforts.
I’ve seen businesses spend $10,000 on Adwords per month and not utilize Google Webmaster Tools. It simply must be done and it is one of the greatest tools that Google offers to people that are interested in improving their website and getting more traffic to their website. If you are struggling with how best to use Google Webmaster Tools or you want to learn how to integrate it with your Google Analytics data, stick with me because this will be part of an ongoing content series I will be writing about during January. You can also comment or reach out immediately with any questions.