Google Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google. Such as when you are getting 404 errors (pages not being found), and who is linking to your site (which is good for some of the link building exercises we’ll get to later on). It’s also a good place to verify that your XML sitemap has been submitted correctly and that your pages are being indexed (so people can find them).
Follow these steps to get up and running:
- Step 1: Set up an account (you’ll need a Google account)
- Step 2: Add your site
- Step 3: Verify your site. To do this you will be asked to upload an HTML file to your site or to add a short code snippet to your homepage. Once you’ve done this you’ll get a happy green checkmark when Google sees what you did.
- Step 4: Create an XML sitemap. This tells Google what pages are on your site, so that it can go index them (it won’t index them all – it’s just picky that way). There are a couple of ways to do this depending on the type of site or blog you’re running. If you’re using WordPress, you should install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin which will generate it automatically for you. Alternatively you can use a different generator to produce one (after you enter your site URL).
- Step 5: Add your sitemap. Once your sitemap exists, you need to tell Webmaster Tools where it lives on your site. This is typically something like http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml.
- Step 6: Get in the habit of checking in once per month to look at stats and spot any errors. It’s also a good QA task to do after you make any changes to your site, in case you broke something in the process.