5.19.15

4 New Features in Webmaster Tools and How to Use Them

BY JOSH CULVER

The search marketing landscape can be difficult to keep up with. Constant changes to just about every platform make it difficult for our team of search experts, let alone marketing professionals to keep up. Today, we're going to highlight a few new features in Google Webmaster Tools that have been updated over the last few months.

Google Webmaster Tools always been great for developers and digital marketers alike to understand how Google reads and interprets a website. Recently the boys and girls in Mountain View have added some pretty interesting features to Webmaster tools. The two sections we will focus on for this posting will be Search Traffic and Google Index

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The most notable change that the search giant made to Webmaster Tools in the last month or so has been adding the section called Search Analytics under the Search Traffic section. Now this is different information that Google Analytics. It does pull in some similar information that those familiar with Analytics used to display which was very keyword focues that has now been replace in Analytics with the dreaded 'not provided'. This section in Webmaster Tools is being used to replace Search Queries

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They've made the Search Analytics a really interesting and robust section. Viewable information that was visible in the old Search Queries was Pages, Clicks, Impressions and Click-Thru rates in every position.

What has been added is you are able to evaluate your traffic under different lenses like Countries, Desktop or Mobile Traffic to name a few. It makes it much easier to segment out and understand the data. Unfortunately that data still only goes back 90 days, so it is important to pull information every 30 days or so to keep a historical record.

Another feature that's been added and Webmaster tools is Mobile Usability. We have a few other blogs that cover Mobile Usability in a bit more depth so we won't spend as much time on it here. However it is a very helpful new tool to understand how Google interprets your site from a mobile perspective.

One newly added feature that I feel has been overlooked in the search community a bit is the International Targeting. While this isn't important for every site, it is a good way to manage similar content in different languages, and Webmaster Tools makes it a bit easier than the complications of using a 'hreflang' tag across your site.

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You can find more information here about International Language Targeting but this isn't just for large brand sites like Nike.com or Amazon. What a hreflang tag does is tell Google's crawlers what language they should be interpreting the pages as and directs them to their other language alternative. Because language tagging can be so complicated (really it should be done with someone that is an advanced SEO working closely with someone on the development team) using this simple feature in Webmaster Tools can save a lot of time. It works similarly to the HTML markup tools were you can easily select your country preference and highlight any different language versions as needed.

The last feature we'll cover is Blocked Resources which can be found under the Google Index section. While controlling what is being indexed by Google isn't new, this section helps you control what items of the site you would prefer to leave out of Google's index and if there is something blocking a section of your site unintentionally.

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For us, this tool helped us identify that the mobile version of our site was being blocked in our robots.txt file. We noticed this before the mobile update went into place, however, it could have severly hurt our search traffic had we not had access to this resource. It's great for more clearly understanding Google's interpretation of your site. It isalways a good idea to use youno follow tags or blocking access to robots.txt to manage your content and directing the crawlers to search specific content that you want to appear in the index and what you'd rather leave out.

Hopefully this article has helped you better understand some of the new features in Google Webmaster Tools and why each is important. Google is always updating all of their platforms and featues so it does make it a bit challenging to keep up. We're always happy to give more explination if you have questions or we'd be happy to review your site with a SEO audit. Simply fill out the form to request more information.

Josh Culver
written by JOSH CULVER

Josh Culver is the Director of Inbound Marketing for Carbon8. With more than seven years of experience in digital marketing, Josh has been able to work on email and display projects with a recent focus in paid and organic search.

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