Your responsibilities as a new WordPress website owner require you to oversee the website’s activity, right? Here’s a tool that will give you behind-the-scenes data to keep things running smoothly. It’s actually a series of tools by Google called “Webmaster Tools.” Let’s take a look.
To find the Tools, go to Google and search for Webmaster Tools. OK, we’ve arrived at the Webmaster Tools page. Next you’ll need to add your website. Then, to get the data flowing, Google needs to verify you own the site using any of four different methods. Since Google Analytics code on the site is one method, I think that’s the way to go. Select this method to verify your site ownership. (You do have Analytics, don’t you?)
The next two items that that will get this valuable information coming in are to produce a sitemap.xml document and a robots.txt document. Both of them tell Google what to look at on the site, and the sitemap also tells Google how often those items change (good for SEO!). Google tells you how to do the text document. To do the sitemap and keep it up to date I use a WordPress plugin: Google XML Sitemaps.
The idea of a sitemap is to tell Google exactly which pages and posts to index for showing in a search. Very important to get right! This plugin does the job. It’s also an automatic updater for new posts and pages. It can even notify various search engines if you check that option. If you have a page or a post that you don’t want Google to see, that can be excluded, too.
Some of the other tools offered in the set include checking for “crawl errors.” These errors mean a user clicked a link to your site or on your site that didn’t work. Not what you want to happen! I have another plugin for that: Redirection. Any link typos you or others make can be fixed with this little plugin. Even off-the-wall links originating elsewhere can be redirected to a useful page on your site selected by you. Taken care of!
Those are my Webmaster Tools hot spots that I check once a week. There are other tools here that might helpful for you. It’s well worth the time to use both the Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. See what’s going on behind the scenes. Don’t guess or assume. Keeping track means you can be confident that your site is healthy and pages and posts are being found in searches. Just what we want, right?
If you run into any bumps in this Webmaster Tool road, let me know. I’ve been there and I can help. We’d all enjoy reading in the comments below how it went for you and if you think the Tools are worth the time.