5 Important Features From Google Webmaster Tools

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Website owners and developers all over the world already use Google Webmaster tools to diagnose, monitor, and optimize their site. And those who aren’t using this free feature to their advantage should start immediately. The awareness you get from monitoring keywords, links, alerts, and manual actions is priceless.

Here are five important uses for Google Webmaster Tools that you should be aware of:

1. The Best Not-Provided Alternative for Keyword Data

Since the dreaded (not provided) message plagued analytics reports, it is impossible to figure out which keywords are the most productive. Even though it’s not quite the same as before, you can still access some of the keyword referral data you lost.

To start, Google provides insights into impressions and clicks, and allows you to see how visitors are reaching your site. You also have data regarding the click-through-rate, so you’ll know what percent of people decided to click on your site’s link, and finally the average position of your site in the search results.

Monitoring the keywords over time may give you a clue on what works for your site and what is the direction you should take regarding the keywords you need to rank on.

The information provided in the Search Queries tab in conjunction with the Google Analytics data will give you more relevant information about your ranking keywords. Keep in mind, the data provided by Webmaster Tools isn’t 100% complete, and they display only a small portion of keywords for sites with lots of ranking keywords.

GWT Historical Ranking Data - Not-Provided

Screenshot taken 20/06/2014 of https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools

 2. Monitor Your Site’s Link Profile

I can’t stress the importance of the “Links to your Site” feature from Google Webmaster Tools enough. You can see exactly what websites link to you(although this has an upper limit, too). For sites with more than 100,000 links, Google may not list all the backlinks.

It’s a gift sent from Heaven for SEOs because you can work a lot of angles with the data provided in this tool.

You also have the option to download the URL lists in a CSV or a Google Docs file and use it in various backlink analysis processes.

Links To Site Webmaster Tools

Screenshot taken 20/06/2014 of https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools

3. Get E-mail Notifications About Your Sites Issues/Penalties

GWT instantly alerts you the moment you’ve been penalized by Google or if there are any other problems with your site. This is one of the bread-and-butter elements since this is the only place where you will notice if there have been manual actions taken against your site, if you’ve been the target of a malicious hacker, or if there are robots.txt or crawling issues.

You do have the possibility to set GWT to send you email notifications so you’ll be notified quickly, even if you plan to do other stuff besides monitoring the site on the tool.

Webmaster Tools Manual Action

Screenshot taken 20/06/2014 of https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools

4. Recover Your Site Using The Disavow Tool

It’s not all fun and games with GWT and sometimes, from one reason or another, you might be struck with the penalizing hammer by the omnipotent entity called Google.

If your site is raising a lot of red flags to Google, it’s going to be reviewed by a human and it will be penalized until the guideline violations are resolved.

But, don’t let that rain on your parade –  it’s not the end of the world. Since Google Webmaster Tools doesn’t offer specific information regarding the links that were focused upon when the manual actions were taken, you can browse through the links and see which one are unnatural and remove them.

Disavow Webmaster Tools

Screenshot taken 20/06/2014 of https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools

5. Identify Broken Pages on Your Site

As a marketing rule, if you try to get visitors to your store but you don’t have the product on the shelf, they are going to leave and head to your competitor. It’s the same when it comes to sites. When people can’t access your site or certain pages from your site, they’ll go back to the search results page and click on another link. It renders all your SEO efforts useless and nobody wants that.

Looking at the Crawl Errors feature from Webmaster Tools from time to time can save you from disappointing many visitors.

You’ll have data about URL/site related errors that were identified when GoogleBot was crawling your website so you can fix the problems and improve the user experience.

Crawl Errors

Screenshot taken 20/06/2014 of https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools


This article was meant to offer you a solid idea of how useful Webmaster Tools can be. Building a healthy website that continues to grow and performs well in search results isn’t easy. It requires paying attention to many different things, but these tool make it considerable easier.

Featured Image: keso via Flickr

Razvan Gavrilas
Razvan is the Founder and Chief Architect of cognitiveSEO, an SEO Toolset focused on in-depth analysis of ranking signals. His passion for search engine marketing led him to create his own SEO Toolset, trying to solve the issues that he is facing in the search engine optimization field.
Razvan Gavrilas
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  • http://www.easysourceindia.com Sanjay Singh

    Got a question. Can I trust on search queries in GWT? I mean I can see many keywords there with good CTR and impressions while only few of them shown in analytics. In analytics most of organic traffic comes from “Not provided” keywords. Can I consider GWT report over analytics?

  • Gary Bongiorni

    I knew most of what was in this article, but for some reason never utilized all the benefits of GWT on a frequent basis.

    Since reading this, I have been trawling the keyword data and my word… there are some gems in there for my site that I never thought I should optimize for.

    It should also be noted that you can integrate GWT into Google Analytics to get more thorough analysis of your site. I have found this very beneficial. 🙂

    • http://cognitiveSEO.com Razvan Gavrilas

      yap. I agree. there are so many things you need to consider when thinking about technical SEO that sometime you may miss some. If you want a more complete view on GWT here is a super comprehensive guide that we wrote at cognitiveSEO about it http://cognitiveseo.com/google-webmaster-tools-guide/ . hope you will find even more useful data there.

      • http://hypertrafficseo.com Gary Bongiorni

        Thanks for the guide.

        Razvan – Do you happen to have more info as to how Google processes video sitemaps vs regular sitemaps.

        I have discovered upon my many sites that Google is much more selective with indexing videos from the sitemaps versus regular sitemap indexing.

        Would be good to get more information.


  • http://www.pswapps.com Pera

    Great post. I have to say that information I found on section 4. is totally new for me (disavow tool).

  • Karan Rawat

    Hi Razvan,

    Before reading this article i was only using “google webmastewr tool” to remove bad links.


  • http://www.jamilaliahmed.com Jamil Ali Ahmed

    I agree with author here, Google webmaster tool should be used immediately by all SEO’s and marketers because this tool provides real stats to bank on. I love the search queries results, they help me monitor and analyze the keywords brining traffic and how to improve there SERPs

  • John Lincoln Ignite SEO

    Webmaster tools is amazing. Just today i was looking at the updates they made to the search traffic report. You can click on any URL, see the change in rankings and CTR. It has come such a long way. Also, the new preview tool updates have made it more more valuable.

  • http://www.friendlygorilla.com Hannah

    Really interesting article. I’ve used webmaster tools for a while now, but had missed/misunderstood a few features. Thanks!

  • http://blog.linkbird.com Karan S.

    Great work Razvan. Very educational article. I like WMT but one of the things is the overwhelming number of things you can do with it. This article helps with getting some structure in the approach.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Jeseph Meyers

    Great post, so many website owners neglect webmaster tools. I am constantly amazed by the number of people that don’t even know it exists. Will add this list to my references!

  • http://dinoenterprise.com Nick

    I still don’t understand why the keywords were removed from google analytics if they are still more traces of them in google webmaster tools. Has anyone heard of why? They’re both free tools of google

  • http://www.thaneweb.com megha kinger

    I guess even the Structured Data Testing tool and sitemap submission, both are very important tools to look for in GWT. 🙂

  • Susanta Kumar Sahoo

    Great post! You have covered all the major points although we can add two more features: Fetch as Google and Robots.txt Tester.