One summer I had the unpleasant experience of having the entire instrument display on my car go dead on me while I was driving. One minute I knew my speed, fuel level and oil pressure. The next, my car was driving fine but all the gauges on the instrument panel were pointing to zero and the digital display didn’t show a thing. You don’t realize just how much you rely on those instruments until you’re forced to drive without them.
Running a website without monitoring important information is like driving a car without a functional instrument panel. In both cases, you’re left trying to guess what’s going on.
Fortunately, Google and the other search engines have made it easy for website owners to monitor their website activity and vital information with a set of webmaster tools. These tools give you an easy way to look at your site performance and identify problems. And the amazing part is, they’re all free.
1. Webmaster Tools Identify Problems
It can be difficult to keep track of site changes and broken links. Your webmaster account will tell you if the Google spiders encountered any problems while indexing your site, such as links that go nowhere. You are also informed if your site has been penalized by Google for any reason. Typically this would happen if you’re suspected of using so-called “black hat” techniques to improve your search rankings. If you’re doing something wrong, you want to know about it as soon as possible so you can correct the situation and restore your search rankings.
In addition to knowing about any problems, having a webmaster account also gives you a more detailed view of who’s referring to your site and who’s coming to visit.
2. Webmaster Tools Provide Link Reports
Links referring to your website are a critical piece of the formula for high search engine rankings. Some referring links are visible on Google without a webmaster account, but some are hidden from the public eye to protect the website holder. To get a more detailed view of who’s linking to your site, you need to have a webmaster account. These reports will also tell you which referring sites are bringing you the most traffic.
And finally, having a webmaster account gives you a chance to tell Google what’s important.
3. Webmaster Tools Tell Google What’s Important
You can tell Google which pages on your site are most important and which ones change frequently. Both of these pieces of information can be included for each page on your site in a specially formatted file called a sitemap. You can submit this sitemap to Google to give it a guide for crawling your website.
Benefits like this are also available in the webmaster tools for the other major search engines: Yahoo and Bing. But first, get registered with Google because it gets roughly 70% of search users, while Yahoo only gets about 15% and Bing only gets 9%.
How Do I Sign Up for Webmaster Tools?
Signing up is free and only takes a few minutes. To sign up for your webmaster accounts, go to the following pages: