Decorative Flower
Her Realm, Personal website and blog of Cole
Jul 25

3 Ways Google’s Webmaster Tools Helps Your Site

If you’re like me, you might not like signing up for new services. I have hundreds of accounts everywhere, and if something isn’t worth my time, I’d rather skip it. However, Webmaster Tools is one of the things that you absolutely shouldn’t skip. Here’s three reasons why!

Indexing with a Sitemap

Chances are, Google won’t naturally index every page of your site, so Webmaster Tools lets you go in and add a sitemap that lists them all. If your website has several hundred pages, give it a few days. Then, when you log in, you get to see how many pages are indexed. At first, I used my RSS, but I was surprised to see how little this helped. Google only knew about 11 pages. Eleven! I opted for a WordPress sitemap plug-in, instead, and now 1600+ pages are indexed. Nice!

Google won't miss a page when you add a sitemap

Google won’t miss a page when you add a sitemap

Changing Sitelinks

Sitelinks are what Google calls all those little sublinks under your domain when someone searches for the domain name. Once your pages are all indexed, you’ll start to see them. Google automatically picks ones that work the best, but the search engine isn’t always right. You can log in to Webmaster Tools, click on a property and add certain links to the ignore list, which strongly encourages the search engine to promote other links, instead. It’s not perfect, but it does afford you some control over your website’s appearance in the SERPs.


Fix Those Broken Links

Four oh dear! No one likes a broken link, but I had quite a few, because my site had been around for so long. I’d transferred blog platforms and domains and permalink structures a couple times. For whatever reason, Google was still thinking that pages from six years ago still existed, when they didn’t. I could have saved some hassle if I started it on my broken links after the indexing completed, but I waded in before. Regardless, you can use Webmaster Tools to look for broken links on your own website–and then fix them! It results in a better experience for your users, and those links can help your PageRank in the long run.

Jul 15

In Which Cole Improves Her SEO

I’ve been taking some time to both make my site more visible on Google and improving the user– that’s you!–experience. First up, was a stop to webmaster tools. I decided to tackle all the 404s. A site that’s been as long as this one, that’s more than a decade, is bound to collect a few.. hundred. Okay, almost a thousand. Putzing around in the crawl errors revealed just how out of date Google’s index is. It knew of a whopping 11 pages. Until that point, I’d just been using my feed as a sitemap, but it obviously wasn’t doing the trick.

That led me on the search for a WP sitemap plugin, and I found one. It submitted just under 1700 pages to Google, which is a far cry from the 11 that Google knew of. It took Google about two days to index all those pages. My other sites, all of which have fewer pages, took less time. Immediately after the indexing finishing, Google began displaying sitelinks, which are the sub-pages that appear when you search for any specific website. Now, my sitelinks aren’t quite right. They include a bunch of subdomains that, to Google ,are part of the site, but aren’t to me.

My next step, then, was to go back to webmaster tools and demote specific sitelinks. According to Google, this doesn’t guarantee they’ll disappear, and this can take an unknown ammount of time. However, the search engine will take my demotions into consideration when determing which pages belong in the sitelinks.

Finally, I’ll be editing the meta data for my main sections. I’m not hoping so much as to raise their ranks but to help Google recognize the value of those pages and use them as sitelinks, because there’s no other way to add sitelinks. For this end, I’ll be making use of All in One SEO Pack, which I already had installed.

Wish me luck.

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