Hey guys! Today I would like to show you how to set up Google Webmaster Tools, a way to get your website more easily discovered by Google. Although the process is quite straight-forward, it can be a little confusing at times so let me help step you through the process.
It is quite important for a website to use Google Webmaster Tools, which is now also known as Google Search Console, because it serves as a way to tell Google you are online and an easy way to periodically check the health of your website. Webmaster Tools is a free service provided by Google and contains a few powerful features that I will go through in this post.
What are the Benefits of Google Webmaster Tools?
Some main benefits of the tool include:
- Ability to register your website address and sitemap with Google, allowing it to be more easily discovered and indexed into the search engine.
- Ability to check the health status of your website in terms of crawl errors (missing or not found pages), security issues or HTML issues.
- Ability to analyze organic search traffic to your website with information such as Clicks, Impressions, Click-Through-Rate and Average Page Rank Position.
- Ability to analyze search queries that your website is ranked for and what people are searching to arrive at your website. You can get a deeper understanding of your target audience from this.
- Ability to check mobile usability of your website, which is very important in today’s world.
Step 1: Getting a Google Account
The tool is free to use and access, all you need is a Google Account. If you have an existing account for your business, please use that. However, if you only have a personal account (good practice to keep it separate) or none at all, you can follow the steps below to easily set one up! If you already have an account, please move on to Step 2.
In case you were not aware, Google provides many great services useful to online entrepreneurs. These include, but are not limited to:
- Gmail – Free email account service. I have a single personal account and multiple accounts for each of my businesses. They are easy to integrate and manage.
- YouTube – Online videos. This is an excellent way to show ‘how to’ videos, create a following and show stuff important to you and your business.
- Adwords – Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. An excellent way to pay for ads that show up at the top of Google search results, in order to direct more traffic to your website.
- Adsense – You can monetize your content by displaying ads on your site showing products and services relevant to the visitor at the time (though it is not always relevant to your content).
- Google+ – Google’s Social Media platform. In here you can create ‘Circles’ which is a defined group of people, post content and follow who or what is important to you.
First up is for you to, create a Google account.
Step 2: Sign In to Google Search Console
You can access the tool by signing in to Search Console with your Google login.
Step 3: Creating a Website Property
The next step is to add a new property, which is effectively registering your website with Google.
Click the Add Property button.
Enter your Website URL Address and click Add.
You will then be asked to verify your ownership. The two simplest methods for this are in the Alternate Methods section.
The first method is via HTML Tag. Here you will need to select the unique code in between the “quotation” marks shown below, and paste it into your Webmaster Verification section of your SEO (search engine optimization) plugin. I utilize the All in One SEO Plugin for entering my Google Verification Code. Please see this separate post on how to install and use the plugin.
Once the verification code is on your website, simply click Verify.
Alternatively you can verify your website using Google Analytics, which is another essential (and free) tool from Google for tracking traffic to your website. You can learn how to get a Google Analytics account and how to set it up in WordPress in these separate posts. Please ensure your use the same Google Account between Webmaster Tools and Analytics.
Once you have your Analytics ID on your website, simply click the “use your analytics account to verify” option and click Verify.
You should received a success notification like the below.
You should now repeat the process for all other versions of your website’s address. By the end of it you will have 2 or 4 properties added, which look like the below.
(1) and (2) are if your website has a SSL certificate installed (which serves your website over a secured 256-bit encrypted connection, giving it the https://). This sort of encryption is favored by search engines as it builds trust and keeps visitor data secured. I host my websites via SiteRubix on the Wealthy Affiliate platform which includes this functionality hassle free. Check it out if you are interested to learn more.
(3) and (4) are for typical websites on an unsecured connection (giving it only http://). You should still add these even if you are on a secured website.
(2) and (4) adds the www variant of your website’s URL, which is largely redundant nowadays for accessing a website but still important to add, in order to ensure there is no confusion on what is your main URL. This concept is known as Canonical URLs, where you website can be served over multiple URLs that all point to the exact same page. It is important to only have one canonical or main URL, otherwise duplicate content issues may arise and impact your search engine rankings.
All in all, you should have the following properties added for each type of website:
- Website on a Secured Connection (https://) – Properties (1), (2), (3) and (4).
- Website on an Unsecured Connection (http://) – Properties (3) and (4) only.
After you have added your 2 or 4 properties, there are some additional settings that you will need to configure.
Step 4: Additional Settings
This section details some additional settings to be configured within Search Console so that your website is optimized with the search engine.
Site Settings – Set Preferred Domain Version
As described above, it is important to set the main/canonical URL of your website to minimize confusion for search engines and prevent duplicate content issues.
Go to the Website Property that is the https:// version (or skip to http:// if you only have that). In the top right-hand corner is a small ‘gear’ icon. Select this and select Site Settings from the drop down.
I personally like to set the preferred version as the one without the www. This to me is cleaner and shorter, but in the end it doesn’t matter, as long as you are consistent with which one you use and refer to it consistently everywhere else on the internet, social media or when giving the URL to people.
Set your Preferred Version and click SAVE.
Repeat this for the http:// property.
If you would like to target your website to users in a specific country, you can configure this option. Go to the Search Traffic menu in your property and select International Targeting. Check the box and select your desired country.
I have left mine unchecked because I would like my website to be international and not targeted to one specific country. If you would like the same, just leave this unchecked.
If you chose to configure this, ensure you perform the selection for all your property types (https://, http://, www and non-www).
Submit a Sitemap
Submitting a sitemap tells Google what pages are on your website and helps it to be more easily discovered and mapped out.
You will need to ensure a sitemap is available first, by setting it up in your WordPress website using the XML Sitemap feature in the All in One SEO Plugin.
Go the Dashboard of your property, select the Crawl menu and Sitemaps from the drop-down.
Click on the Add/Test Sitemap button.
Add the URL of your sitemap which is typically: yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml
It will take some time for Google to go through and index your pages, however for now you have told the search engine that is it there.
Google Analytics Property
This feature allows you to sync your Google Search Console data to Google Analytics, so when you are analyzing traffic in Analytics you can see the organic clicks that come through from Google Search. It is not an essential feature, but rather an enhancement of the accuracy in your traffic data. I recommend you link it up as it takes only three clicks to do.
First, when in your property Dashboard, select the ‘gear’ icon and Google Analytics Property from the top right-hand corner.
Then select your Analytics account and link it up. All done!
Step 5: Explore the Features
Let’s take a look at some of the powerful features within Google Webmaster Tools.
Check for HTML Improvements
Perform a quick check of whether there are any HTML improvements required for your website.
Analyze the Search Traffic to Your Website
This will take some time to build up, as Google will first need to index your site and then you pages and posts will need to rank high enough in the search engine to gain impressions and clicks.
A quick breakdown of the definitions for you:
- Clicks – a visitor clicks through to your website on a given page after finding it in Google Search.
- Impressions – this is the number of times a given page on your website has appeared in a Google Search for a given search query.
- Queries – these are the search terms that visitors type in to the search bar to hopefully find your website. The queries that are shown are ones that your website has appeared for in searches (at least 1 impression).
- CTR – Click-Through-Rate, which means the number of clicks divided by impressions as a percentage.
- Position – The average position of your website and pages in search engine rank. The lower the better!
Below is an image of a typical new website. You will notice the scattered position ranking (green line), impressions (red line) and clicks (blue line) start to get more consistent as time goes on. This improves as your website matures and you continually add new pages and content.
It is important to regularly check the mobile usability of your website as you will find that a majority of your users typically use their mobiles to visit your website. This is increasing each day as the world moves to convenience and mobility. You can check mobile vs. desktop users in Google Analytics.
It is also important to regularly check if your website has any crawl errors. These may come in the form of pages not found (404 errors) or more serious ones, and it would be a good idea to try to fix any serious issues as soon as possible.
Again, it is most important that your website does not have any security issues such as ‘malware detected’, as Google may prevent your website from appearing in its searches to protect users (and rightly so!).
This is one of the great benefits of registering your website with Webmaster Tools as Google will tell you if any security issues crop up that you need to address straight away.
You will find that there are some other useful free tools from Google to help with our online or even brick-and-mortar business.
The Other Resources section under Web Tools allows you to easily access these resources.
Two features to note are:
- Google My Business – If you have a physical location for your business, it would be great to have it easily discoverable and searchable in Google, Maps and Google+.
- PageSpeed Insights – Page speed is an important metric for website ranking and of course user experience. You can check how your page speed fairs using this tool and it will also give you suggestions to increase the speed and improve your website’s performance. Check it out from time to time.
As you can see registering your website with Google Webmaster Tools is a relatively straight-forward process and it provides you with many additional benefits. The automatic search traffic tracking and security analysis are essential tools for your online business.
I hope you found this guide useful for setting up the tool, and now you are one step closer to a smooth running online business. If you have any questions, or would like to know more about some other features not covered, please feel free to contact me!
Alright, Let’s Do This!
Create your Google Account (if you haven’t already).
Sign into Google Search Console.
Set up your website properties.
Configure the additional settings.
Ask me any questions you might have.
Continue your journey through the online world, and Periodically Analyze Your Data and Errors.
Let me know how you went with setting up the tool in the comments below!
It is a good idea to register your website with Bing Webmaster tools as this is the second most popular search engine.