In the SEO community, there’s been debates as to whether you should bother using search engine webmaster tools. Thanks to the latest set of data Google is providing, there is more reason then ever before to create a webmaster tools account for your sites.
On the positive side of having an account were points like these:
- Ability to verify ownership – sites willing to verify might be more trusted in the eyes of engines
- Direct messaging & data from the search engines – the data to date hasn’t been very impressive & messaging typically only occurs if you’ve been hacked
- Help identifying issues – learn about crawl errors, robots.txt issues.
- Ability to submit things like sitemaps, canonical preferences, or report spam or malware.
On the negative side of having an account were things like:
- Giving the engines too much information – personal emails, IP, site network, etc.
- Most sites don’t register, and if you are properly optimized & crawlable there isn’t much reason to
- The information provided was far from spectacular, so why bother.
Thanks to the new types of data Google is sharing, visiting the webmaster tool area is worthwhile. Now you can look at things like:
- Natural search impressions
- Natural search clicks & ranking data, including breakdowns by rank and the pages that rank, plus sortable data
- Greater number of incoming links reported
- Site crawl speed.
The ranking & impression data I find the most interesting. I’ve long used analytics tools to pull out the page 2 queries, for example, but having exact ranking, impression and click through data helps webmasters better understand areas to make improvements, the meaning of dropping from a #1 ranking to a #2, how much personalized & geographical search components might affect ranking, and the wide variety of rankings & words any one page can have. It would be nice to see the data be more specific & reliable (right now clicks of less then 10 during the reporting period leave us with essentially no data).
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Preferabbly, all the new data shared in Webmaster tools would be included directly into Google Analytics, but I’m happy to see the new data & hope they continue to expand the data set. Nice work Google Webmaster Tools team!