This is a comprehensive article on “Google Webmaster Tutorial” which will cover the following important subheading:
- Link to how to set up webmaster account
- Various Tools of webmaster
- Link to next lecture
Google Search Console: In-Depth Analysis
1. Dashboard and Messages: Google Webmaster
As we have learned in the last article of how to set up Google Webmaster or Search Console account, today let’s explore various Google Webmaster features:
- Once your account has been set up it will present you with your Google search dashboard and this is the place where you will get an overview of what is going on with your website and show you anything that needs your attention.
- At the top under the Dashboard, you have Messages section that will help you look into various issues and a warning sent by Google and take action on them to make sure that your sites should be error free.
- As you can see in the Dashboard section, we have two options: Crawl Status and Search Analytics. Basically, this is just an overview of the status of crawling (Web Pages crawled and indexed by Google) and the number of visitors that come to your website. They also give you an error message if they find any issue during crawling such that you can resolve any such issues for the next time crawl website is crawled so they can index more of your site.
- Sitemap options are also shown on the dashboard which gives you an overview of how many web pages of your website get indexed and how many are still pending because of any reason.
2. Setting Icon: Google Webmaster
The upper right-hand corner there’s a settings icon and when you click on that you’re presented with several different options, like below:
I will be explaining each option one by one in brief:
A. Search Console Preferences:
This option enables you to either enable or disable email notifications from Google. Always keep it enabled so that Google can send you an email if they find an error on your website.
B. Site Settings:
This is a very important section of the search console. It is where you can set your preferred domain to either ‘domainname.com’ or ‘www.domainname.com’, which will then be saved on google.
C. Change of Address:
This option is generally used when you are changing your domain name, always put redirection on the previous when doing the same to help the users get redirected to a new web address.
D. Google Analytics Property:
We use this option to access search console data in an analytics account.
E. User and Property Owners:
This option will help you if you want to share admin access of your website with some other user, you have the option either to give him full access of your website or to restrict the access.
F. Verification Details:
This we have already done via linking our Google Analytics account with Webmaster. If someone else tries to verify this property, you will get notified here.
This is if you would like to add any new associated user. So, I often use this if I want to have an app in association with my website. And let’s say you would like for Google, on certain occasions, to send users directly to the web app instead of your website, this will help you set that up here.
3. Message Section: Google Webmaster
At the left-hand side of the Webmaster screen, let’s start with the Messages Section. Now, Google can send you a variety of messages. But these are alerts for any problems that Google finds. It can also to give you tips on how you can go about improving your site so it will help improve your rankings.
General Errors depicted by Search Console:
1. Crawl Issue
High number of errors or page not found errors, then they will notify you of that. So you can look into what the problem is and resolve it.
2. Mobile Friendly
You may know how important it is to have a mobile-friendly website. And if Google detects any issues with displaying your website on mobile devices, they will also notify you of that in your account.
Now, as we have covered all the settings options available in the webmaster along with the messages section. Let’s start exploring the navigation bar consisting of the following options:
- Search Appearance
- Search Traffic
- Google Index
- Security Issues
- Web Tools
4. Search Appearance: Google Webmaster
As the name suggests, this option will mainly focus on the appearance of your website and it’s formatting. Also, this will show you any issues with how your title displays, it will help you look at the snippets. Also, your description and your site links will be available for the preview. So, the searchers can jump to anything that is displayed as extra pages in search results quickly without having to go to the main link presented. It also talks about your URL if you have rich snippets, to show off events or reviews.
We have discussed the various subcategories of Search Appearance below:
A. Structured Data:
This helps Google to understand your site better to apply a rich snippet on the search result page. Structured data helps Google figure out what your site is actually about and helps it to display Rich Snippets in the search results.
Let’s say you have posted some events. Instead of just having a user go directly to your events page, it may display the date and the names of the events directly in search results.
B. Rich Cards:
- Brief description of Rich Cards: This basically helps to present the results to the user in a more effective and informative manner. See the example below whereby using Rich Snippets we have given additional information to the user to get its attraction i.e. reviews, price, rating etc.
C. Data Highlighter:
This is a really cool feature of Google search console which enables you to highlight a specific set of information of your post which will appear as bold in the Google search result which will attract user attention even if your website is ranking low in the search result.
How to highlight data:
- Log in to Google Search Console
- Click on Data Highlighter under search appearance
- Click on Start Highlighting
- Enter the web page you want to highlight, select type of post, choose tag just this page
It will redirect you to the web page you have entered the last
- Select the portion of text you want to highlight and choose its type
- Click publish and Google will crawl the latest information and will bold it in its search results
- HTML Improvement: Google always tests your HTML code and Meta tags. It will display any errors it finds. So, if it finds duplicate titles or duplicate descriptions, or titles that are too long, any issues it sees, they will display those directly here. So that way, you know which one’s need to be fixed, you can change titles that are too long or the ones that are duplicates of one another, which will help you improve your rankings
These hold a high value for showing your internal links on Google search results. You’ll see the main title of the article or the website, you’ll see the URL, and you’ll see the description, and then you will see several other links below that research result.
You cannot directly influence these site links, and you can’t tell Google which ones you want to have appeared. But what you can do here is in your site link section is you can tell them which ones you do not want them to have appeared. So, if there was a particular page you didn’t like, and you don’t really want to send users to that since there’s more relevant information on this page, you can grab that URL, and throw it in here to demote this specific site link. This way you can let Google know that’s not the best result to be shared with the viewers.
E. Accelerated Mobile Pages:
Mobile compatibility of your website is a must. This option checks for mobile compatibility of your website. The best way to make your website mobile compatible is to remove extra graphics and flash content from your website
5. Search Traffic:
Now this section will talk about the incoming traffic to your website. It will highlight the portion where mistakes are being committed and how we can improve the same to achieve a better ranking.
A. Search Analytics:
So, if you have just set up an account, Google has not processed your traffic. So, it cannot display any information. But as soon as Google is able to display your information, you’ll be given a chart of all your different search analytics. You’ll be able to customize it. You can really drill into specific pages and can compare different pages. This will tell you how you can improve the content that’s on your site. So, let’s look at an example: we want to look at specific queries. For this, we can insert specific keywords here. And then we can look at:
- How many clicks we are getting for those specific keywords
- We can look at the number of impressions. This is the number of times that your site has actually been shown in search results, but may not have necessarily been actually clicked on, then you have your click-through rate.
This is comparing your clicks versus your impressions to give you the percentage of time that your link when displayed is actually clicked on. It will then tell you the average position your average ranking in search results based on the time frame.
B. Links to your site:
This basically focuses on the number of backlinks your website has.
C. Internal Links:
These are the links which help the users navigate within your site. They help in reducing the exit rate of the website.
D. Manual Actions:
These are the actions usually taken by Google against your website when it reports the following:
- Bad Links
- Black Hat SEO
- Thin Content
- Website Hacked
You must take suggested actions immediately to fix the issue
E. International Targeting:
This is increasingly important if you are targeting users who speak a specific language, or who are in a specific country. So, this is your way of telling Google that you really want to target visitors of a specific country.
F. Mobile Usability:
Once Google has crawled your site and if any issue is found the mobile version of your site, it will be listed here.
6. Google Index:
This section will tell you how many links to your site have been indexed or recorded by Google (Learn How Google Works).
A. Index Status:
In this, you will find how many pages Google has indexed on your site. If you submit a sitemap, you can see how many pages it has indexed at the next crawl. And it will also show you when you’ve had additional pages indexed. Also, if you’ve had a decrease in pages that are being indexed, so you can identify if there are any issues that are going on. Now, don’t be concerned, if you don’t see 100% of your pages being indexed, that’s normal, that happens. But you want to get your number close to the total number of pages, typically, that you have on your website. And ideally, as you’re adding additional content, see this number continue to rise.
Potential reasons for your site not getting indexed:
- Sitemap needs to be updated and re-submitted
- Blocked by robots.txt
- Google has not yet crawled your site
Content Keywords: This is where Google analyzes your site, searches the site for the keywords that appear the most frequently. And then they give you a full list of all the keywords they find. Starting with the one that is the most prevalent
The benefit you can take out from it:
- You can check for keywords that are getting highly ranked
- Check for keywords not getting ranked such that you can work on it to get better rank
- Any suspicious keywords getting included because of malware attack
B. Blocked Resources:
This will give you the list of websites that have been blocked and not list up by Google. This may include any confidential information that you might have blocked google to index i.e. Admin info and sometimes may be due to Black Hat SEO on your site your resources have been blocked.
C. Removed URLs:
Hopefully, this is something that you will never be using. Because this is really only to be used in an emergency situation. So, Google really does want you to use this unless it’s absolutely crucial. So if let’s say you have confidential information that has got now in search results, and you want to make sure that you can temporarily hide that page, this is where you can go to do that to make sure that that page does not display.
This is the section where Google, after crawling your website, indexes your pages, and to notify you if there are any issues that they come across during this crawl. So, the first section here that we want to pay attention to is the crawl errors.
A. Crawl Errors: Ideally you must not have any crawl error for your website. A crawl error specifically means that Google was not able to fetch your web page URL in its index. You have to check for error messages and take the required action.
B. Crawl Stats:
It will help you get the following important information:
- Page Crawled per day
- Kilobytes download per day
- Time spent downloading a page (should be less)
C. Fetch as Google:
This will show you a screenshot of how Google sees your website and how the user sees your website.
D. Robots.txt Tester:
This will tell you the robots.txt file for your website. If they might find any error in your robot file, they will let you know.
More information on Robots.txt file: Click Me
This is the map for your website and helps Google easily navigate through various internal links of your site and index them. You can create a sitemap using sitemap generator and can leave its link in this page to know Google about what you have just updated your site, and it needs to be crawled.
More information about sitemap: Click Me
F. URL Parameters:
This is really to show Google when you have the same content on your website, but actually tag it differently at the end of the page name, this can help Google know what content to display. Only use this feature if you have a good hold Google Webmaster otherwise leave this option.
8. Security Issue:
Let’s end google webmaster tutorial by explaining the setting section where Google usually send a warning message if your site might affect a Malware attack, hacked or something like this. You must give proper attention to these error messages and fix them on high priority.
Learn how to set up Webmaster Account: Building Webmaster Account
Next Lecture: Image Optimization