The 4 Stages Of Search Via Webmaster Tools

> tools and recommendations for a better indexation (ranking?) of your website

You may have noticed a recent change in Google Webmaster Tools navigation menu : indeed items have been re-arranged to now reflect the 4 stages of searching, from a search engine’s point of view : crawl, index, search traffic, and search appearance. A perfect opportunity to review what the essential WMT features can do to help you with SEO for your website.


1. Crawl
> Google indexation bots crawl the web to collect all the web pages that are put online. See information about how Google discovers and crawls your content.

  • Crawl errors
    > Includes the list of “not found” (404) pages, so you can get to fix them.
  • Crawl stats
  • Fetch as Google
    Lets you see a page as Google sees it. This is particularly useful if you’re troubleshooting a page’s poor performance in search results.
  • Blocked URLs
    > Use a robot.txt to indicate the URLs you don’t want search engines to access.
  • Sitemaps
    > Add and test your sitemap(s) to allow SE easily understand and fetch your pages.
  • URL parameters
    > Duplicate content often occurs when sites make the same content available via different URLs – for example, by using session IDs or other parameters. Here you can exclude URLs in order to consolidate properties from duplicates into one representative URL often provides users with more accurate search results.

2. Index
> Once the web pages data is collected, it’s time to store it, and above all to organize it. Keep track of how many of your pages are in Google’s index and how it understands their content.

  • Index status
    > Follow the number of indexed pages for your site – great if your project allows you regularly add pages.
  • Content keywords
    > Lists the most significant keywords and their variants Google found when crawling your site : the significance of each keyword reflects how often it’s found on your site’s pages. Click each keyword to see a sampling of pages on which it appears. Both keywords and their variants are listed in order of frequency of appearance.
  • Remove URLs

3. Search traffic
> Next on Google analyses the pertinence of your website. Check how your pages are doing in the search results — how people find your site, who’s recommended your site, and see a sample of pages from your site that have incoming links from other internal pages.

  • Search queries
    > Provides information about Google Web Search queries that have returned pages from your site.
  • Links to your site
    > Keep an eye on your backlinks – other websites linking to one of your pages.
  • Internal links
    > The number of internal links pointing to a page is a signal to search engines about the relative importance of that page..

4. Search Appearance
> Finally your pages are displayed in SERPs on requests that are relevant according to its content, structure, and so on. Mark up your pages to help Google understand your content better during indexing and potentially influence how your pages appear in our search results.

  • Structured data
    > Helps Google understand the content on your site, which can be used to display rich snippets in search results.
  • Data highlighter
    > Teach Google about the pattern of structured data on your website. You simply use Data Highlighter to tag the data fields on your site with a mouse. Then Google can present your data more attractively
  • HTML improvements
    > WMT highlights weak meta title and description tags : duplicate, too long or too short, then it’s your job to correct them.
  • Sitelinks
    > Sitelinks are automatically generated links that may appear under your site’s search results. If you don’t want a page to appear as a sitelink, you can demote it.


I must say Google Webmaster Tools is not really useful for a website as small as mine where among 8 pages I cannot have any 404, nor do I need to remove URLs or to use structure micro-data. But when it comes to working on massive projects with thousand of pages, then yes, WMT is quite a powerful resource !

So don’t hesitate, collaborate : I can only advice to follow the guidelines given by the Big G itself – if you don’t play the game you might be sidelined. It would be a shame not taking benefits from these effective features I listed here – now you only can go audit your WMT account to see what actions you can take this week to improve your SEO !

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