Google Webmaster Tools is full of powerful features, but if you're not familiar with GWT, you might be missing out. GWT essentially provides a convenient way for search marketers to communicate their preferences to Google. Here are my top seven reasons why search marketers should be using GWT:
What does Google think your site is about? Just take one look at the keywords table in GWT, and you'll get a good idea. The keywords table shows keywords Google finds most on your website when crawling your pages and ranks them according to most prevalent to least prevalent. Make sure that your entire website is communicating the right message to Google about what the site is about.
2. Search Queries
With all of the recent discussion about the legitimacy of the Google Keyword Tool, GWT's search queries feature has become more important than ever. GWT displays which actual search queries send organic traffic to your website, meaning you can tell not just which keywords are most searched, but also which keywords are having the best impact for you.
But GWT doesn't just show you the number of searches, but search trending data as well. Are searches for this term up or down? Also, like looking at a Google AdWords report, you can see how many clicks you've attained and what your average position on the term is. Powerful stuff.
3. Click-Through Rate
One of the best statistics I think GWT provides alongside the search queries is click-through rate (CTR). That's right; you can see what percentage of searchers for that individual keyword clicked on your listing. as well as whether the CTR is trending up or down.
I find the CTR measurement fascinating. In some cases, even if your average position improves, your CTR may decrease or vice versa. In one case, I saw a client's CTR increase by 262% by moving up from position 9 to position 6. As an SEO, that's the type of statistic that helps you prove just how much of an impact that a few positions can make.
4. Inbound Links
Similar to Bing Webmaster Tools, GWT provides a list of inbound links that Google identifies as well as the top content receiving those links. As an SEO, that's incredibly helpful when doing link analysis and determining strategy to spread links across particular content.
While you can't tell Google which sitelinks to add, from time to time you may need to tell Google to remove an inappropriate sitelink. For instance, I saw one site that had sitelinks for the forward and backward arrows on a page. Whoops! Probably not the representation you want in sitelinks. So you can easily tell Google to block those links from being listed.
6. HTML Suggestions
GWT's HTML suggestions is a fast and easy way to identify issues with title tags, meta descriptions and site indexability. GWT tells you if you have duplicate title tags or meta descriptions and identifies which pages they're on so that you can update them with unique information. And if your site has an indexing problem, you can also check here to see what Google is having trouble with.
7. Fetch as Googlebot
Hungry for more information about Google Webmaster Tools? Next week I'll cover the top technical benefits included in GWT.