As part of my ongoing blog series about useful aspects of Google Webmaster Tools for SEO, I will discuss its benefits for one of the most important aspects of SEO; link building:
1. From your dashboard page, go to “Your Site on the Web>>Links to your site” to get a quick “snapshot” of your inbound link data and the total amount of inbound links to your site:
This is beneficial because simply using the “link:” command in Google only yields a small sampling of a site’s inbound links (Google does this for privacy reasons).
2. The “Who links the most” section will give you a clear idea of which websites link to you the most and which pages they are linking to. You can use this to see if there are too many coming from dubious or irrelevant sources. Ongoing monitoring of the types of websites that are linking to your content is imperative as Google consistently monitors this and will use this information while assigning relevancy to a page for specific search terms.
3. Use the “Your most linked content” section to assess your inbound link distribution. Are there too many links going to one page over another? Is it time to refocus link building efforts to a certain area of the site?
4. “How your data is linked” tells you what the anchor text the linking site is using. Is the anchor text too generic and not keyword rich enough? While this section only tells you the anchor text and not the actual site that is linking to you, it is still useful if you are looking to refocus linking efforts.
Of course, the best way to garner links to your site is to get them naturally by creating great content. However, for those proactive SEO folks who wish to build links in an intelligent way, Webmaster Tools is a perfect place to start.
In my last blog post, I discussed “Five Things to Know About Google Webmaster Tools” and certain aspects of it that I find useful for my search engine optimization efforts. In today’s blog post, I will discuss its usefulness for performing one of the most important aspects of SEO; keyword research.
In Google Webmaster Tools you are able to find keywords that you are actually ranking for right now. For example, once signed in to Webmaster Tools, go to “Your site on the web>>Search Queries>>Top Pages” to see your best performing pages and their associated keyphrases. With this new section, you will be able to determine which phrases currently get you the most impressions, CTR (click through rate) and what their average positions are within Google.
Another useful section, “Your site on the web>> Links to your site >> How your data is linked>> Anchor text” lets you see what anchor text the external links are utilizing to point to your website. Put simply, anchor text is the word(s) that you click on to open the hyperlink. Anchor text is weighted (ranked) highly in search engine algorithms, because the linked text is usually relevant to the landing page.
The general idea behind using these tools is to identify which words get you the most ROI (return on investment) so that when performing new keyword research you won’t actually hurt your current rankings. Sometimes, overzealous “SEOers” will completely alter the keyword targeting of their site and will unwittingly substitute the great words they already have for lesser ones. Just because all of your keyword research tools are telling you these words have a good KEI (keyword effectiveness index) number, it doesn’t actually mean they will perform for your specific demographic.
For website owners, webmasters and “SEOers”, Google Webmaster Tools is an invaluable source of information about how Google views certain aspects of your website. Here are some areas of note that I find particularly useful:
1. Google will sometimes send you little messages within Webmaster Tools associated with your site, like “The preferred domain for your site has changed” or “New verified owner for http://www.example.com/” or “We love you!” (Kidding with the last one).
2. The newly implemented “Top Pages” under “Search Queries” lets you see your top pages associated with their best performing keywords:
Figure 1: New Option in Google Webmaster Tools to Identify Top Pages and Their Respective Keywords
3. Identify “crawl errors” to see areas of your site the Googlebot couldn’t access.
4. Look at your submitted XML Sitemaps and identify which pages from them Google has managed to index. You can also tell if Google had trouble accessing the Sitemap, too.
5. Inbound Links: Get a good (although not fully comprehensive) look at your backlinks and where they are coming from.
Have you used Google’s Webmaster Tools lately? You may not have even verified your site with Google:
Figure 2: Verifying Your Website’s Ownership in Webmaster Tools
To verify your site in Webmaster Tools, you need a Google Account. Do you even have a Google account?