What is webmaster tools? Essentially, (without looking at the proper definition) Webmaster tools is a data set offered by Google which points out many key elements regarding a website. These elements include structural issues such as duplicate content, pages not found (also called a 404 error code), preferences for www. or non-www and so on. Recently Google announced a site speed widget on the tool-set that tracks page speed/download time per day comparing the site speed to other websites. Google WM tools also offers a SERP (search engine results page) tracker and a tool for checking back-links.
So why an article about webmaster tools? Why should you care?
Recently, when looking at WM tools I have become shocked at the errors that are showing up that vendors are not paying attention to. For example, 10 pages per link of duplicate meta data, or a broken site map… Not to mention the site-map that was generated but never submitted to Webmaster Tools. Listen, web dev is a time suck for sure. The code to make a page look how you want it is enough to make your brain spin and start dreaming about off topics, like the movie The Graduate which I haven’t really watched the whole way through, but as I’m writing this Mrs.Robinson is playing in the ceiling speaker above me (I guess blogs make you do that as well).
So….back on track. The Webmasters tool is a great way to detect and correct issues that Google is having crawling your website. Essentially your looking for something like this:
Granted, not every site will look like this. There will be pages indexed that shouldn’t be and so forth. Also, for a very large sites duplicate content issues are almost inevitable. However, with any site you have to control the controllables.
Here are a few things I know are controllable that can be corrected:
- Page not found can be redirected via a 301 to new page or archive page.
- Duplicate meta titles can either be corrected or canonical tags can be placed on the non-primary URL’s
- Sitemap not submitted. Easy fix. Create a site map>copy the URL (typically sitemap.xml)>then submit via WM tools.
- Sitelinks. These are the sublinks under search result. If one is out of place you can remove it here.
So that’s just the basics. There is a lot more so if you have any questions (or want to tell me more about The graduate) give me a shout!