On December 2,2010 Ian Lurie published an article: 9 Step SEO Checkup Using Google Webmaster Tools within www.Searchengineland.com website as a senior contributor. Matt McGee welcomed the idea of writing a summary. The article was one of the best articles written on the subject, and I wanted to summarize the article as well as highlight some extremely important key points.
Setup Is “Extremely” Easy
As you know I’m a website designer, as well as a trainer/coach and SEO Consultant. WordPress is the only website building platform I work with to design clean and professional websites. However, I use it more because of the SEO capability than its design flexibility. So, if you’re using WordPress, you can use one of many plug-ins to handle this part of the setup. Then you’ll have to Sign in to your Google account, and go to Google.com/webmasters/tools and follow the instructions. You’ll either need to upload a single file to your site, or add a simple META tag in the header.php file.
Once you have the initial setup up and running…its time to turn your attention to the actual Tool. You may ask yourself, why is it so critical to learn before your Google Webmaster tools account starts gathering data on your website? Mainly because you want to learn the key areas of this tool so that when your website starts gathering this data you’ll have a better understanding on how to fix the problems before they become huge problems. And believe me…the task will be daunting at that point. Most people won’t know where to start so I always suggest my business owners to start learning early.
Your Starting Point
1. Crawl Errors: I always start with this diagnostics for Crawl Errors. This report will show you all the broken links the crawler either couldn’t find or the path simply went nowhere.
Simple Fix: Recreate the page or use a 301 redirect. WordPress has a very simple plug-in that provides an admin panel to handle 301 redirects. Part of the simplicity is that you already know which links are broker, just look at this report.
2. Duplicate HTML: The very next diagnostics I work on is; HTML suggestions. This report will tell you if you have duplicate meta descriptions within your site. So if you made the mistake of creating meta descriptions with the same meta on two or three pages….believe me you will see it here. I’m a big SEO junkie and this is a HUGE No No!!
Simple Fix: Re-evaluate your meta descriptions on each of the HTML suggestions report and then re-create or edit the meta descriptions within your pages or posts in your website.
3. Crawl stats: The next diagnostics; Crawl Stats, which is a little different than the crawler errors. This report will tell you how many pages are crawled per day, kilobytes downloaded per day and the time the crawler spent downloading a page. This report will pinpoint exactly the “speed” in which the crawler is able to crawl your whole website.
Simple Fix: Although this seems very complicated…it doesn’t have to be. The best way I’ve learned how to keep this straight is by following the numbers…in other words, if I have 100 pages I want to see my “average” to never be lower than 100 pages. At the same time I want my Kilobytes and Time spent downloading to either follow the graph or be lower than the graph of my pages crawled per day. Anytime the two lower reports have a higher graph than the higher report..it means my website is performing badly…Images may not be compressed, bloated coding and possible server problems.
4. Are you relevant: This is my favorite report because it tells us what are the most common keywords Google found within the website. In turn the “significance” of these words should “reflect” the subject matter as a whole of the website. The key is how relevant is your subject matter in relation to the keywords?
Simple Fix: I’ve been using a rule of 10 for the past 10 years and its seems to help my clients. My rule of 10 is this: If the top 10 keywords in this report is NOT indicative or “related” to your subject matter, then you’ll either have to edit or rewrite your pages and posts and/or redo keyword research. Concentrate on the top 10 keywords..and then concentrate on the next 10 keywords and so forth…before you know it…your relevancy factor will come closer and closer to your subject matter.
5. Search Queries: Your website on the web; Search Queries. This report will list the queries people are typing and that will give you insight into which searches will get you clicks. In other words it will focus “exactly” on what search queries people are typing.
Simple Fix: I had a client who said “who cares what people are searching for”…Ahhh..poor boy….Understanding that this report essentially hands you not just queries but more importantly “keywords.” By finding the most clicks it will narrow your keywords versus content for pages and posts.
6. Link Strategy: Commonly called the “Links To Your Site.” This report not only provides who is linking back to your site but also the anchor text that they’re using to link back to your site.
Simple Fix: Look to the content on your site that most people are linking to….this will be your best content for back linking. Secondly, look at the anchor text people are using to link back to your site. If its not consistent with what you’d like…contact them. I contacted 10 sites who back linked to one of my sites and they had no problem changing the “anchor text.” If you don’t ask…you’ll never know!
I wouldn’t kid you……there’s a lot of data here about your website, however by studying what the “Diagnostics” are showing you…you’ll have a better handle on how to fix some of these problems before they become huge problems.