Webmaster tools has been around for a very long time now, and I would not be surprised if it gets an overhaul soon. Webmaster tools, or better known now as ‘Search Console’ allows you to take a sneak peak behind the curtain to see how Google is reading, indexing and ranking your business website.
A sitemap is a simple xml version of your website structure. This means a data format of your website links in an easy to follow and understandable format that Google’s bots can read and navigate your website. Search Console allows you to upload your own sitemap so it can crawl your web pages and start to index them in it’s Google Search.
If you don’t know how to make a sitemap you can either use a WordPress plugin to do it or you can use https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/. This tool allows you to add your website url and it will pull all your website pages and provide you with a simple xml file. You will need to upload that file to your website. Ideally this is best for bespoke or custom built websites.
For those using WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin provides an xml feed for you which can be found 9 times out of 10 at www.yourdomainname.com/sitemap_index.xml so for example Digital Park’s xml sitemap is https://www.digitalpark.co.uk/sitemap_index.xml.
You can then add your sitemap in Google Search Console. Click the sitemap button, click add sitemap and add in the url path for your sitemap.
Since the introduction of Google forcing all search requests over https or better know as SSL (secure server layer) it has restricted most SEO and analytic tools access to find out which keywords your website was found for. This also includes it’s own Google Analytics! But fear not. Google Search Console has the ability to track those keywords for you.
It normally takes a week or so of traffic and data to update, so you cannot use this as a daily analytics reporting tool, but you can get a good understanding of what your website is being found for in Google searches. Here is an example for Digital Park’s keywords.
This is super helpful for when we need to readjust our SEO for our website. Using the filters you can see impressions, clicks and average position for certain keywords. You can tell that if your website is getting a lot of impression and no click through that you may need to adjust your Meta Title and Meta Description that appears in the Google Search.
You may also find keywords that you may not have thought of that users are finding you for. A variation on a product name or a service that is similar to your profession. Using this data is vital to helping your business growth. You can then adjust and change the page content to reflect more accurate keywords and descriptions that will help convert more users in to traffic to your website.
Google also reports on errors it may have found in your website, which can negatively effect your SEO for your website. It’s key to read messages and solve the issues that Google has found. An increase is 404 errors or 500 errors means you need to look at your server as it may not be working effectively to host your website. This can cause loss of traffic and even ranking in Google Search. Make sure you check regularly for any issues that Google may have found. As a small business you cannot afford to lose you traffic and ranking due to issues with your website.
Google Search Console provides a lot of insight in to tracking all kinds of features on your website and monitors for security issues, mobile usability issues to removing links that cause negative SEO. But with the two key features being Sitemap submission and the Search Traffic, it goes a long way to help get your website promoted in Google Search!