Thursday, November 15, 2007

SEO with Google Webmaster Tools

Many people are probably already aware of the Google Webmaster Tools, but since I'm sometimes not the last to find out, I thought I'd spend a second speaking to what a great help these tools can be.

SEO is always an interesting topic, mostly because there's so much hearsay and urban myth. Here's an example.

True or False: "Your key word density should not exceed 15%".
True or False: "Participating in link exchanges could actually hurt your site".
True or False: "Parametrized URLs (like http://domain.com/page.aspx?param=foo) are not crawled by the Google Bot".

There's a HUGE number of these, some of them are easy to find the answer to, while others often get bogged down in opinion stated as the truth. In an effort to quell confusion surrounding how SEO with Google works. Google offers the Webmaster Central which tries to answer a lot of these questions. A lot of content in the form of Blogs, Discussion Groups and a collection of SEO tools make both answering these questions and actually improving the crawl-ability of your site possible.

One of the most interesting tools to me has been the Webmaster Tools pages which allow you to analyze through the eyes of Google what your site looks like. I've often found that one of the most frustrating things about SEO is that it's extremely difficult to get feedback from your efforts. How do you know that the changes you've made are actually helping!?

The Webmaster tools don't solve this in entire, but they do tell you important information like:

  • Were there any errors when Google crawled your website last?
  • What are some key search terms that bring up your site?
  • A break down of internal/internal and site links.
Given that this is a blog, I'm often curious as to what people actually need to type in to a search engine to find this site. As it turns out right now they need to tickle Google pretty hard for this scarce blog to show up. But if you're curious as to which terms actually bring up this site (at time or writing), you're in luck! The Webmaster Tools actually show you specific search terms that bring up your site when searching with Google (see below).

If you expand the image above you can see specific search terms that bring up this site and the rank that this site will appear in. Pretty cool huh? This is one of many features available for free with the Webmaster Tools. If you have a site that you're even mildly interested in promoting, you should definitely check it out.

I'm also messing around with Google Analytics (I know it's been around forever but I haven't really played with it yet). I'll do another post if it's as impressive as I think it will be.

Best,
Tyler

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