This week, we are going to discuss how to see what Google ‘knows’ about your content, or phrased another way, does Google know about your new content?
One of the best ways to tell if Google knows about your content, is to search for it using the hyperlink URL.
Meaning, if you want to know if Google has a particular URL indexed, just copy the URL from your Browser and paste the URL into the search box at Google.com or inside your browsers Search input box (if it has one).
If you need “more” than the very basic understanding of what Google knows about your website, it is time to step up and sign up for Google Webmaster Tools.
The link is http://www.Google.com/Webmasters/
You will have to sign up for an account (free) and verify that you ‘own’ the website which you want to see data for. If Google didn’t require this step, your competitors would be able to see your information in their accounts. Not a good result, certainly.
In order to verify your website, you will have have to accomplish one of three activities. I have always added a meta tag line of text to my home page in order to verify my website(s). It is the easiest (for me) of the three options.
A meta tag looks like this:
<meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”mEVZc3DAmRiUb7lElXndIuhiJehE1ua4SgeJ2HqiE9d” />
Google gives you the script text that it wants to see on the home page (above) and you copy the value into your page (between the <HEAD> and <BODY> sections) and come back to your account and tell Google to verify you.
Here is an example of what a meta tag insert might look like:
The other two options are either adding an HTML file to your website, or adding a DNS record.
Once you sign up for an account, there is a large amount of data that you can peruse regarding the results for your website. A couple of thoughts about this:
One – This is Googles data, it will not include other Search Engines. Two – The Webmaster tools are very specific on what they report, you will likely see lower numbers than maybe you were expecting (even from Google Analytics).
If you would like to see what queries are bringing your website up, click on Your Site On The Web > Search Queries menu choices on the left of the page after you have signed in.
On the dashboard (once you have verified your website) are many areas of interest.
Interested in what Google knows about your Sitemap.xml? View the right hand side under “sitemap” (you learn about the sitemap in Part 1 of 4).
Interested in what other sites link to your website? View the bottom left “Links to your Site”.
Interested in what queries people used when your link(s) came up? Look at the top left under “Search Queries”. When you select “more” in the Search Queries section, you come to the second page which not only lists the queries, but also allows you to “drill in” (meaning, you click on the link and it will show you more information right under the search term). This will show if your website was shown on the all important front page, the second or page 3+ designation.
On the top right of the dashboard, you will see what (if any) Google crawl errors there are on your website. Review these pages (click the “more” link) and review to see if there are any links which you might need to fix. If you notice pages which you recently deleted, wait a few days to see if Google cleared out the cache on the web servers.
In a separate series of posts, I will go more thoroughly through all of the functionality of Google Webmaster Tools.
In conclusion, I wanted to point out that the Webmaster tools are one of the best ways to start really getting an idea of how Google sees your content and website in their search engine.
Considering Google just released Caffeine, you might want to pay attention to any changes for the next couple of months to see if their new search activity changes anything with your website(s).
Do you use Google Webmaster tools? If so, do you have any suggestions readers can use? Feel free to add them!