The following is a guest post by Cris Monde.
For any online marketer, Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) are indispensable, especially for search engine optimization (SEO). Any experienced pro who has been using these tools for years already knows the power they hold to make your SEO efforts better. However, there might be a few hidden gems in the platform that even they might not be utilizing.
Below are some of them, which will enhance your webmaster tools IQ while also helping with your optimization efforts.
1. Identifying cross-linked pages
Cross-linking (or simply internal linking) is a fundamental SEO concept. GWT has an ‘Internal Links’ feature wherein you can see the most frequently linked internal pages within the website. Through this, you can also determine the effectiveness of your internal linking integration and the strength of each linked page.
On GWT, click ‘Search Traffic.’ Then, click ‘Internal Links.’ It will display all the links including how many times a specific page is linked to.
If some of the most critical content is not listed on the Internal Links, you should add a few internal links pointing to these pages. Don’t overdo it though.
2. Changing sitelink order
Sitelinks are also important for improving click-through rate (CTR). Sitelinks are supplemental entries that Google lists beneath the main site whenever the main website appears on results pages. They typically appear when a searcher conducts a branded or directional search.
Sitelinks do not always appear in the SERPs, since they are generated through Google’s secret algorithms. Regardless, you can increase the chances of making them appear by having a clear site structure. Don’t forget your sitemap, too. Both can increase the likelihood of generating sitelinks.
Go to GWT, then click ‘Search Appearance.’ Afterwards, click on ‘Sitelinks.’ The pages appearing as your sitelinks will be displayed. You can choose to demote a specific page so that it will not appear as a sitelink whenever a user searches for your company name, so that your preferred pages show up instead.
3. Determining index status
Index status is considered one of the most significant indicators of your SEO’s health. Every search engine optimizer should be meticulous and check the status from time to time. Changes may mean algorithmic shifts or negative SEO that can affect rankings. This is especially true when indexation drops.
The total number of indexed pages should be rising if you are consistently writing and publishing material. There must be something wrong if this is not happening. somehow.
By checking the index status, you can immediately identify whether there are unfavorable URL activities on your site including the robots.txt file blocking important content.
To make sure, click ‘Google Index’ and then, click ‘Index Status.’ In here, you should see which of your pages were indexed and when.
5. Identifying HTML issues
HTML issues to check include the markup language itself plus the meta description and title tag. Both of these are still crucial to SEO. GWT will let you know if there are issues regarding these, as well as non-indexable content.
Click ‘Search Appearance.’ Then, click ‘HTML Improvements.’ The screen will show the last update and whether any issues are detected with the meta description on your website.
Further, it will include the number of pages with missing title tags, duplicate title tags, long title tags, short title tags or non-informative title tags. Google strongly believes that these items ruin an otherwise great user experience (UX).
To remedy duplicate title tags, for instance, click on the ‘Duplicate title tags’ entry and you will be directed to another page that lists the tags and the pages on which they occur.
Google recommends SE optimizers to review the list and update the tags wherever possible.
5. Changing crawl rate
Search engine crawling affects a website’s performance. A content-rich website may take a quite a few minutes to be crawled, potentially slowing things down during that time and using up bandwidth. Remember that even a second delay in site load speed may turn the visitors away in favor of your competitors. Not good for SEO.
GWT lets you control the rate at which Google should crawl your website. The recommended crawl rate is ‘Let Google optimize for my site.’ However, you can always change it to ‘Limit Google’s maximum crawl rate.’ You can then set the slider between Low and High (in seconds), depending depend on your site’s needs.
Click the gear icon at the upper right corner. Click ‘Site Settings.’ Next, click ‘Limit Google’s maximum crawl rate.’ Set the rate. Click the ‘Save’ button.
In the same way that SEO should be an integral part of your overall digital marketing, the use of GWT must be a fundamental piece in putting your SEO in a much better health. GWT has several features that we ought to be manipulating to our advantage. The better you understand what these features are and how they may contribute to your overall SEO strategy, the better optimized your website will be in Google.
About Author: Cris is a Filipino blogger and a business enthusiast. Currently working in a digital marketing agency in the Philippines that provide services including SEO, web design, social media marketing, mobile app development and many more.