I’ve been surprised by how many websites have set up Google Analytics but haven’t set up webmaster tools with Google and Bing. It’s true that Google Analytics will provide you with all of the information you need to monitor the health of your site from a marketing perspective, but it doesn’t provide any insight to what’s going on behind the scenes of your website.
There are some common features between the two Webmaster tools and even if you don’t think Bing is important it’s still good to have a webmaster account set up and monitor it. If you’re not using Webmaster tools to manage and monitor your site you are missing some key tools.
When you login to your Webmaster Tools account you get a quick snapshot of some very important information:
Site Health Information
- Messages or warnings about the health of your site
- Crawl Errors – this tells you if have pages on your site that can’t be crawled and which pages are the problem so you can fix them
- Crawl Stats – how many pages have been crawled on your site and when the search engines crawled them
- Fetch as Google or Bing is a neat little tool that allows you to submit a URL and see your site the way the search engines see it
- Index Status – the total number of URLs that have been added to the search engine index
- Malware – the webmaster tools will let you know if any malware has been detected on your site
Site Traffic Data
- Search Queries – the top keywords and pages for your site
- Links to your site – how many links you have, who’s linking to you, and what pages they are linking to
- Internal Links – how are your pages linked to each other
Site Optimization Information:
- HTML Improvements – this alerts you to issues with the code on your site that may be adversely affecting your SEO. It also helps you identify duplicate content issues with meta descriptions and page titles.
- Content Keywords – a list of the most significant keywords and variations Google found on your site. (note if you see words like “viagra” or “payday” it’s possible that your site has been hacked.)
One of the most important reasons to set up Webmaster tools is so you can submit an XML sitemap to the search engines. An XML sitemap is basically the list of pages you want the search engines to find written in a language and format that works well for search engines to understand the structure of your website. If you don’t know what an XML site map is, don’t worry about the technical details, but do find someone who can help you set one up and submit it to Google and Bing.
There are many good resources on how to use Google and Bing webmaster tools and I encourage you to check them out. If you’re building and maintaining a website you need the right tools.