Important Note

Plese keep in mind that both terms, Google Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console , mean the exact same thing.

Chapter One

Google Webmaster Tools History

Google Webmaster Tools is a free toolset created by Google for website owners. It provides multiple tools. They are designed to audit and utlize current website design and development best practices. Implementing these guidelines will increase website visitors, search engine rankings, engagement and potential website revenue.

Now Called The Google Search Console

Google Webmaster Tools, now 10 years old, changed to Google Search Console in 2015. This new name signifies the toolset was built to be accessible for anyone, not only web development professionals1. Google hoped the new name would garner more use from non-technical website owners.

1   () Google Webmaster tools Rebrands to Google search console. Available at: (Accessed: 14 November 2016).

What is a Webmaster?

The term "webmaster" is used used to represent anyone who builds websites. A webmaster is also called a web architect, web developer or website publisher. The term can also represent a person responsible for maintaining one or many websites2.

2   Webmaster (2016) in Wikipedia. Available at: (Accessed: 6 November 2016).

Overview

This is Part One in a Three Part Series meant to further explain the Google Search Console. Resources for each guideline are listed to give website owners more efficient implementation options.

Common Misconception

Using the Google Search Console will improve search engine rankings and web performance for most major search engines, not only Google.

Just keep in mind that the Google toolset focus on improving Google rankings. On the other hand, Bing Webmaster Tools focus on Bing rankings.


Chapter Two

Prerequisite Recommendations

Google Analytics ServicesTrue

Google Analytics Section

Using Google Analytics To Ensure Accurate Reporting

Prior to implementing these guidelines, Google Analytics should be installed and configured on the website. Google Analytics measures website performance so ensuring your Google Analytics data is accurate and optimized is critical to success. Decisions based on inaccurate information can lead to disastrous consequences.


Chapter Three

Google Search Console Installation

Google Search Console Install Guide PDF True

The image above is the cover image on the Google Search Console Installation PDF. The Image Is Also A Link To Download The Google Search Console Installation Guide.


Download our step-by-step Google Search Console installation guide. This guide also includes detailed instructions on linking Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Search Console Installation Preview PDF ScreenshotwebP

This allows data to be shared between both platforms. Users are able to download and view the exact search queries used that list your website.

Data and Tools Available After Connecting Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools

9 Unordered
  1. International Targeting Setting  1
  2. Ranking , Impressions and CTR Sorted By Search  2
  3. Current Manual Actions and Penalties Against Website  3
  4. Google Mobile Usability Check  4
  5. Accelerated Mobile Pages  5
  6. Rich Cards Structured Data  6
  7. SiteMap Submission Tool  7
  8. Mobile, Tablet or Desktop Device Used  8
  9. Number Of Searches Per Device  9

   Download The Google Search Console Installation Guide


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Andrew Smallwood Signature Image

Chapter Four

The Robots File

Robots File Header Image

Web Crawler Representation

The robots exclusion standard which spawned the use of a robots.txt file communicates rules to bots and search engine web crawlers. These rules specify which directories, folders are webpages are off limits/unaccessible. This file acts like No Trespassing sign for certain areas of your website.

A few examples of commonly excluded areas are image directories, java files, cgi directories, user information and configuration files.

What Is A Robot or Web Spider?

A web crawler (also known as a robot or a spider) is a system for the bulk downloading of web pages3.

3  and (no date) Crawling_survey.Pdf. Available at: (Accessed: 9 November 2016).

This pertains to any program built to scan, download and analyze web pages and website resources. We need to ensure certain bots can analyze our site, like Googlebot and Bingbot. Can you guess what companies those two bots represent? An indexed website becomes searchable using Google, Bing and other search engines.

These bots can benefit a website, but there are many bots out there that can harm a website. For example, they can infect a website with a virus or inject unwanted information into a website. This file acts as one layer of security to block malicious bots.

How To Look At Another Website's Robot File

Disclaimer

This is not illegal. If you see a Not Authorized message it simply means that particular website blocks users from viewing their robot file.

To check the existence of a robots file within a website, simply type "yourwebsite.com/robots.txt" in the browser's URL bar.

Google Chrome URL Bar Screenshot

Google Chrome URL Bar Screenshot

Sample Robots.txt File

User-Agent: Googlebot
Allow: /
User-Agent: Facebot
Allow: /
User-Agent: facebookexternalhit
Allow: /
User-Agent:Twitterbot
Allow: /
User-Agent: Googlebot-Mobile
Allow: /
#Bingbot replaced both MSNbot and Yahoobot
User-Agent: Bingbot
Allow: /
User-Agent: Yandex
Allow: /
User-agent: *
Disallow: /
Sitemap: http://www.louisvillewebsitebuilder.com/sitemap.xml
#Host directive for Yandex search engine
Host: www.louisvillewebsitebuilder.com

Resources



Chapter Five

Sitemaps

Site Map Webpage

The Search Engine Site Map

If you own a website you most likely have heard the term SiteMap. If you have not that's okay because I'm going to explain it right here. A sitemap is a page website's main folder written in a programming language known as XML (eXtensible Markup Language). It lets the search engines index your site properly and You can submit this sitemap to Google, Bing and many other search engines to act as a map and tell them about all the wonderful pages of your website and give priority to certain pages. I know what you're thinking, I'm building a map for Google to read? Is this crazy talk? Yes and no. It's almost like saying please come see my home and here is a map of all the important rooms in it (and now I wish I had a house big enough that it required a map).

Web Page Priority and Change Frequency

Make sure you set the priority high for the more important pages. Important pages include your homepage and pages crucial to your subject matter. It's measured on a on a scale of 0 to 1.0. The change frequency of a webpage indicates to the search engines how often they should update your website.

XML Sitemap Example

sitemap.xml
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset
    xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
    xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"
    xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9"
http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9/sitemap.xsd">
<url>
    <loc>http://www.louisvillewebsitebuilder.com/</loc>
    <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
    <priority>1.00</priority>
</url>
<url>
    <loc>http://www.louisvillewebsitebuilder.com/resume/index.php</loc>
    <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
    <priority>0.80</priority>
</url>
<url>
    <loc>http://www.louisvillewebsitebuilder.com/seo/index.php</loc>
    <changefreq>weekly</changefreq>
    <priority>0.80</priority>
</url>


The User Site Map

As a best practice, a readable sitemap should be created for users. This creates an easily accessible index for a website making navigation more efficient. This should be styled like your website and resemble a table of contents. A link to the "user" sitemap should be present on every page, and typically is located in the footer.

Automatic SiteMap Generator

XML Sitemaps Logo

XML Sitemaps offers both free and paid sitemap generator services. The free service will create both recommended sitemaps just by entering a web address. The entire process usually takes one minute.

XML sitemaps has additional features allowing users to manually set th webpage priority and change frequency. Priority is set by adding a value between 0 and 1.0 with 1.0 being the highest priority. Change frequency indicates to search engines and website crawlers how often pages should be analyzed for changes.


Chapter Six

Custom Error Pages

Custom 404 Error Page Example One
Custom 404 Error Page Example Two
Custom 404 Error Page Example Three

Another special page and a webmaster guideline is a custom 404 error page. We've all seen this even if we haven't paid attention. The 404 error is the common "not found" error if you accidentally type a link incorrectly or if there is a "broken link" on a website. The search engines would like you to customize this so users know they are on the right website, it looks more professional, and it's considered unique content as well. Just make sure that you include 404 in the title and the <h1> tag so users and google know it's an error page.

When Do 404 Error Pages Occur?

The following information is courtesy of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

  • An internal broken link
  • A mistyped URL
  • Out of date bookmark
  • out of date search engine link
  • An old social bookmark

The page should be user-friendly & give the user a helping hand  The message should be a simple statement that the requested URL could not be found on your site4.

Example Statements

  • We Apologize, You've Found A Broken Page
  • We're Sorry, This Page Doesn't Exist

4   HHS.gov (no date) Available at: (Accessed: 8 December 2016).


Chapter Seven

Add "Alt Text" To Website Images

Alt Text Header Image

The Alt Text Tag, Short for Alternate

Alt text is used as a description of an image on a web page. The alt tag's main function provides a description of the image's purpose, not a literal description. For example, a stop sign image warning users should have an alt tag that equals warning and not stop sign.

Search Engine Crawlers
When search engine web crawlers like Google and Bing access your website, the alt tag helps the search engines understand the image being displayed.
Accessibility
Screen Reading applications for users with image impairments read the alternate text on the web page.
User Blocked Images
Browsers have extensions and add-ons that allow users to block images. This increases web browsing performance, and is particularly useful on mobile browsers.
Broken Image Errors
In the event of coding errors resulting in broken images, users will see the alternate tag text in the place of the actual image.

HTML Code Example

Below is an example of exactly what your HTML code should look like.


<img src="http://www.example.com/images/alternate-text-example.jpg" alt="Alternate Text Example"/>

For WordPress users, the option to add alt text is available anytime a new image is uploaded.

Alt Text allows Google and other search engines understand your page more completely. The search engine programs cannot actually view an image. They use the file name, embedded image data, title tag and alt tag to collect data for an image.

The description should be relevant to the image and not too lengthy. For example, if you have a picture of a pug, an example of poor alt text would be "dog image 1" while an example of good alt text might be "Pug Sitting In The Grass". The alt descriptions is a good place for a keyword if it's relevant to the image.

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