Poor website rankings? Got google webmaster tools?

This photo is courtesy of wikimedia.

This photo is courtesy of wikimedia.

If you’ve come across this article, there’s a good chance that your website isn’t coming up as high in Google’s rankings as you’d like it to. Like all site owners, you want to get as high up in Google’s organic rankings as possible to get the most traffic to your site, but how can you achieve this when they aren’t very transparent about their algorithms?

If you’re a website owner, it is crucial that you set up Google Webmaster Tools (GWMT) for your site. GWMT will give you a ‘glimpse’ into your site’s status. Though there are many search engine optimization (SEO) tools out there, the most important one to start with is GWMT. Best of all, it’s free!

What are some of the things that GWMT can point out to you?

Penalties – Not all penalties are listed within GWMT, however, if your site has incurred a manual penalty, Google will list it under their ‘Manual Actions’ section. If this happens, you’ll need to ensure that you make the necessary corrections according to their webmaster guidelines. Once you feel that the changes you’ve made satisfy their requirements, you may resubmit your site to be reevaluated.

HTML improvements – Google tends to frown upon duplicate content, such as duplicate page titles and page descriptions. If you notice any of these HTML errors in this section, it is highly recommended that these errors get fixed.

Index status – Do you have any idea as to how many pages on your site are listed with Google? By taking a look at the index status, it will give you an idea of how many pages you currently have listed (or ‘indexed’). This is important to know, because if you noticed a sudden drop, you’ll want to do some investigating to see why certain pages are no longer listed in Google’s index.

Security issues – It’s possible that your site has been hacked and you don’t even know it! This is a big problem that Google takes seriously. Fortunately you’re able to check the status of your site’s security within this section. There’s a tactic out there called Negative SEO, whereby people will intentionally bring your site’s rankings down. One of the ways is by hacking your site in an attempt to get Google to recognize this security vulnerability, which could result in your site being penalized.

PageSpeed insights –PageSpeed Insights will analyze the speed for any given page and give suggestions on how to improve your performance. If you’re running WordPress, it’s very easy to improve your page speed. Google does factor this into their ranking algorithm, so keeping your load time low is very important. PageSpeed Insights will give you a report for desktop speed as well as mobile speed.

Crawl errors – As time goes by, many pages are added to (and deleted from) websites. It’s possible that there are a lot of broken links within your site that is causing a frustrating user experience. This section can give you insight into which links may be broken. You may find that a simple fix, such as changing a directory path, may alleviate many of the errors on this page.

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