Going Google-friendly

Finding visitors to your blog or website does not have to be difficult or an impossible task if you follow Google's webmaster tools. I decided to write about Google's webmaster tools because they are the key to anyone's success online. Without Google, most websites won't get much traffic and if there is no traffic, there will no sales or viewing of a website. Don't underestimate the power of the Google. If you agree, read on to learn how to make your website or blog more Google-friendly using Google's webmaster tools.

What do you get if you make your website Google-friendly? Here are some benefits:

  • you are improving the chances of your website to be seen by more people. This translates to more visibility of your blog or website.
  • there is a potential to find navigational , HTML, or server errors that other software may not tell you about
  • the service is free

Google's webmaster tools features include:

  • Diagnostic tools — this will help you see any issues that Google is aware of with your website.
  • statistics tool — this provides you statistical information on your website or blog.
  • Sitemap tools — this gives you a chance to tell Google more about your website.

Diagnostic tools

This is a powerful tool to diagnose problems on your website or blog. Specifically, it helps you know of these issues with your website:
  • Not found
  • URLs not followed
  • URLs restricted by robots.txt
  • URLs timed out
  • HTTP errors
  • URL unreachable

Not found

This error is meant to tell you Google could not find a page on your website. Even if you have no broken links within your website, other websites may mistype a URL when linking. So this results in a broken link but it is beyond your control to change. Suppose site x is linking to your page Y having the URL: www.test.com/cars.html but site x links to page Y using this URL: www.test.com/car.html (missing "s" in cars.html). This will be shown in crawl errors. There are two ways for you to fix this:

  1. Contact site x for linking to the correct URL, or
  2. If option does not work, create a new dummy page named car.html and redirect it it to page cars.html

Option 2 may not be always feasible particularly if you need the dummy page for some other purpose.

URLs not followed

This is reported to you when Google is unable to completely follow a page. This can happen when Flash, JavaScript, cookies, session IDs, or frames on your website keeps Google from seeing all on your website. Try seeing the page(s) in question in a text-mode web browser.

URLs restricted by robots.txt

This error tells you Google is unable to reach a specific page, directory or website due to the restrictions you listed in your website's robots.txt file. Make sure your robots.txt file is not prohibiting Google (and other search engines) any files that should be crawled. If your intention is to block a particular file or folder (perhaps because it is still under development or is a duplicate), don't view this restriction as an error. Google does not know whether or not you intentionally block particular page or section (directory or folder) on your website so it shows you what is blocked. Then, it is up to you to decide whether or not a particular restriction is valid.

URLs timed out

This is when Google cannot see your page within a resoanable amount of time. If this happens to Google, chances are if you go to that page, you also are likely to be tired of waiting for it to load. Make sure the reported page is accesible within reasonable amount of time (in seconds).

HTTP errors

This lists HTTP errors. One of the common HTTP errors you may be familiar with is the "404 not found." This is reported by your server (to the user and Google) when a particular document is not found. Make sure your domain and server are configured correctly to serve the content of your website.

URL unreachable

This is similar the previous error. Fixing this again requires taking a look at your server and domain settings.

Statistics tool

This tool provides you statistical information on your website or blog. Remember this information is based on data collected on Google's website in reference to your website. So in Google when someone clicks on a link that points to your website, Google stores this information for reporting to you in the statistics tool section (and for other purposes). Don't mistake the statistical information you see here paints the full picture on the performance of your website or blog. Remember this information is based on the data only Google collected on your website, it is not reporting you results from other search engines (Yahoo!, ask.com, live.com, and so on) and websites. If you want more accurate picture of the visitors activity on your website, look in to the analysis of your web logs.

This tool will give you information on:

  • Query stats — this displays you the top queries in a table that Google showed visitors on its website and number of clicks on the [search] results. In other words, first column contains the keyword (or queries), for instance, "car" and the second column a number, such as 30. This means your blog or website got 30 visitors from Google who were searching for something on "car."
  • Crawl stats — this section indicates Googlebot's (Google's robot/spider - the software responsible for contacting your server to see what you have on your website) activity. In regards to your website or blog, here you will find a conveniently generated graphical view with averaged number of pages crawled in a day, kilobytes downloaded per day, and time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds).
  • HTML suggestions — this section is a great way to see what Google thinks of your HTML scripting skills. This section lists any issues with the missing title or duplicate meta tags, too long or short meta descriptions, Non-indexable content (pages that cannot be seen by Google!), and so on. Take the Google's HTML suggestion seriously because they are raised to help you improve your website or blog. So take advantage of this. If you don't pay attention to HTML suggestions, your page(s) will still be found on Google but they may not rank as high as other pages. So it makes sense to resolve any issues that are shown in this section.

Sitemap tools

As motioned earlier, this tool is available to you so you can provide additional information about your website or blog. If your website is very large and Google has not indexed all of your pages, consider using a Sitemap to tell Google of those page. Basically, it contains, information on your URLs in an XML file. In my experience, if you have all of the pages on your website linked (one or more times), your pages will be indexed. Don't worry about having all of your images, flash files, or videos files indexed because Google will index only the stuff you are linking to. You can find more on creating and submitting Sitemap on Google's webmaster tools.

Getting started on Google webmaster tools

Google webmaster tools is a great way to improve your website’s or blog's visibility in Google’s search results. To get started with the suite of tools offered by Google and reviewed here, you will need to sign up for a Google account. If you have a Google account already, you can find a link to this tool under a link called My Account on the upper right corner when you log in to Google.

How will Google know which website you own or interested in managing in Google webmaster tools? Google has a way for you to tell that. You simply add your website. You just cannot add any website you choose because remember Google will ask you to verify that you are legitimate person managing that website. There are number of ways you can indicate to Google that the website you are adding is under your control. For example, you can add some verification code in your web page or add a verification file to your website. Google will tell you what verification code you have to add or the name of the verification HTML file. Once you have chosen how you want to verify and you add the necessary verification to your website, Google will test whether or not you have done it. It will tell you whether it was successful or not. If this sounds very time-consuming, don't be surprised if it takes you only a few minutes assuming you have read this.

Visit the home page of Google webmaster tools to learn more and start making your pages more Google-friendly!

Posted on 12/2/2007
by Raj Singh