Chapter 4 – Google Webmaster Tools Site Dashboard.
In the last chapter, we became familiar with menu and option present on the home page of Webmaster tool. In this chapter and coming chapters we will take a detailed look at the data and tools available for website in webmaster tool.
To look at the data and tools for the website we need to click on a URL link of the website.
This will take you to the dashboard of the website. Where you can see some important data as well as the menu on the left. The dashboard will show important message if any for the website, crawl errors, Search queries and sitemap status. On the right hand top highlighted in green box you will see a cog which is settings button.
We will go through all the details about data and tools available to us in more details while discussing about the menu option in coming chapters. In this chapter, we will discuss about Site Message and Settings.
So let’s get started.
Site message: As we had “All messages” on the home page of webmaster tool which displayed message for all websites in one place. “Site message” here display message related to your website. These messages are alert and suggestion related to your website from Google. It through these messages by which Google tells you what needs to improve on your website and what is wrong with your website. Messages are mostly related search aspect of Google.
Settings: Unlike settings of home page these settings of home page. Setting on website dashboard are more specific to your website. Some of these settings, which you see here are the same setting which was on the home page of webmaster tool, hence we will not discuss them here.
(a) Webmaster Tools Preferences
(b) Site Settings
(c) Change of Address
(d) Google Analytics Property
(e) Users & Site Owners
(f) Verification details
(a) Webmaster Tools Preferences: This setting is same as the “Webmaster Tool Preferences” on the home page. Using this setting you can change the language of the message sent to you. You can also disable and enable the notification from here and choose whether you want to receive notification of all issues or top issues only. (Please refer to the previous chapter for more details)
(b) Site Settings: This is one of the important settings for your website. There are two settings here Preferred domain and Crawl rate.
Crawl rate: Let’s talk about Crawl rate first. You can see there are two options to choose from. “Let Google optimize for my site” and “Limit Google’s maximum crawl rate”. By default it is set to “Let google optimize for my site” and as google recommends I too would recommend you to leave it as it is and not to change to other option unless there is a specific need to do that.
Preferred domain: In the previous chapter if you remember while adding site to webmaster account I told you to add both www and non-www version of website to account and verify them both. I did not give the reason there and promised you that I will tell you the reason later. So now I am keeping my promise.
Have you noticed that when we type a web address in browser address bar sometimes we type address as www.example.com and sometimes we forget “www” and just type example.com. No matter what we type website still comes up and the website which comes up is same, for the obvious reason that address is same.
For us it does not matter but for software these are two different names and these names are also referred as canonical domain. There is a reason same website appears for both names and the reason is that either one the domain name is redirecting to other through 301 redirects. This is something which you set up when you buy a domain from a web hosting provider. In case if you have not set it up this is the right time to do it.
This is the same case with Google. It considers “www” and non-www as different pages and indexes them separately and also shows them separately in search result. Using this setting you can set your preferred domain as www or non-www and tell Google that both are same page. Google will use this information for future crawls and also keep this preference into account while showing the search results. To set a preferred domain you will have to add both www and non-www version to webmaster account and verify them.
(c) Change Address: This option is of great help when you want to move your existing website to a new domain for any reason. This is a great tool as it helps to save lot time in getting the website indexed with new domain name. Prior to this tool if you moved the site to new domain name you will have to forget the old indexed page in google and wait for Google to index your website again with new web pages but with this tool once you inform Google about your site move indexing your page with new domain name become a lot quicker.
(d) Google Analytics Property: It is the option by which you can associate your webmaster account with Google Analytics account. (Please refer to the previous chapter for more details)
(e) Users & Site Owners: Using this option you can manage users and site owner for website on Google webmaster account. (Please refer to the previous chapter for more details)
(f) Verification details: In this option you get to know how the selected website is verified, for example, in this screenshot this website has been verified by meta tag. It also gives the details when the verification was successful and unsuccessful.
As discussed in the previous chapter I did outline the fact that if you verify using meta tag and by any chance if you make changes to the home page and meta tag is lost your site gets unverified. In this case you have to update meta tag again and verify the site again. This is the reason you see so many entries of verification successful and unsuccessful here.
Using this option you can also change the verification method in case if you do not think meta tag as a reliable way of verification which in my case it is clearly not. You can switch to HTML file or any other way of website verification.
You can see there is “Add an owner” button at the bottom it is used to add owner of a site to manage the website from his own webmaster account. (Please refer to the previous chapter for more details)
(g) Associates : Using this option you can associate different Google account with your Google webmaster tool account. Associated users or account will not be able to see the data of webmaster account but they can perform actions on behalf of your site (e.g., creating an official YouTube account for the site, or posting to Google+ on behalf of the site through an associated account)
To add an associate user, follow the steps below:
Click on the “Add a New User” button.
Enter the email address.
Select the type of association you want.
To associate a Google+ page, if it’s the same account on webmaster account and Google+, then you’re done. If you’re using different accounts follow the steps below:
Navigate to the Google+ page.
Click on the profile button on the left.
Click “About” in the links section.
Add a link to the site.
This is it for this chapter. We will explore more about Google webmaster tool in next chapter.