I helped a client add Google Webmaster Tools to their site last week, and it occurred to me that there are still probably plenty of companies out there which don’t have this incredibly useful free service running on their site. If you’ve got Google Analytics, it’s the ideal accompaniment, and should have been set up at the same time with the same account details. To see if you have it, sign into your Google Analytics account and head on over to Google Webmaster Tools – you’ll soon see if it’s running.
If you don’t have Google Webmaster Tools running, you really should, even if you’re at one of those unfortunate companies where there’s no modern website visitor analysis installed (because “the head office doesn’t believe in that sort of thing”, or whatever). Google Webmaster Tools is all about seeing how you’re doing in the Google results and how you could improve – straight from the search engine itself.
There are so many useful reports in Google Webmaster Tools that it’s hard to pick out the best. And they’re adding new ones all the time, so if you have it installed and haven’t taken a look recently, I’d recommend spending an hour or so there. Amongst the most useful are lists of issues Google encountered when crawling your website, such as pages not found, pages which are restricted and even duplicate content. You can see who links to your website and your most linked content. You can find out what keywords are being used to find your website, and much more.
If Google traffic is important to you, you need to have Google Webmaster Tools running.