To all our experienced webmasters out there this is probably something that won’t help you out a ton, but for anyone not familiar with webmaster tools accounts, this article will hopefully help you setup accounts with the big boys on the block. Setting up webmaster tools accounts is good for many reasons, but the most obvious is simply to help your website be indexed.
Why Setup Webmaster Tools Accounts?
As I just mentioned, helping search engines know more about your website helps them index and rank your site more accurately. In short this can help you boost some of your rankings. That isn’t the only reason to do it though. Each of these accounts can provide you with additional information to the status of your website. If for some reason your website were to get blacklisted for black hat behavior similar to the recent J.C. Penney story then you probably want to know what you did and the corrective action you should take.
These accounts also allow you to setup certain permissions for the search engines for your site and can provide a wealth of information around keyword traffic, links, errors and more. Bottom line: these accounts should be something that every webmaster has setup for every website they own.
Where Do I Setup These Accounts?
Each of the three major search engines has their own system, although each are fairly similar and each essentially requires the same action to “claim ownership” of your website. Before we talk about how to set them up, here are the links to each service:
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Yahoo Site Explorer
When you go to setup your first website you are given a few different options on how you would like to verify that you own the website. Google continues to add to this list and now probably the easiest way for people is to link their webmaster tools account to their Google Analytics account. For the other two services uploading a HTML file to the root directory is probably the easiest.
Once you have verified your account the thing I would recommend is that you link to your sitemap.xml and robots.txt files. If you don’t know what these are I’m planning a follow-up post to talk about how to create these.
What Can I Do With These Accounts?
As I’ve mentioned there are quite a few things you can do inside a webmaster tools account. Each has the same basic functionality, but Google has by far the most details. Google also accounts for 80%+ of search traffic to most websites so we’ll focus on that one and you can probably replicate that in the other services. The one exception is Yahoo Site Explorer’s link data. Because Yahoo is discontinuing access to the API of this data you have to be a little worried about the rest of their access also going away.
I don’t want to go through and ruin all the fun by pointing out every report that each of these tools have inside them. I do promise you will learn things about your website that you didn’t know before. There are powerful reports on links, keywords, search traffic, load times and more. You can also learn about problems you might be having with your site through crawl errors, broken links and more.
What are some of your favorite reports in your webmaster tools account? Do you have specific reports that you have questions about?
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