Friday, May 8, 2009

MAKING THE MOST OF THE WEBMASTER TOOLS

You've spent hours upon hours building and tweaking your website until you're finally proud and satisfied to show it off to the world.

You check daily for the traffic of visitors to wander through, and praise all your hard work. Days go by, and still only a couple of people have checked anything out - what's happening?!?

Well, chances are that nobody really knows your site is online. While it's true that the search engines may eventually stumble upon your site if it finds a link on another webpage somewhere online, you'll likely be indexed so low in the listing that very few people will find you. Let's fix your problem using the huge arsenal of Webmaster Tools you may have missed the first time around.

We'll break down all the tools into three categories: SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Site Link Submissions, and Tracking systems.

SEO TOOLS

Though you'll be tempted to send a link for your site into the search engines (SE) right away, don't do it! Yes the search engines will accept adding your website to their long waiting list, but you'll be standing way at the back of the line if you don't prepare your pages properly first.

Search Engines will actually give a higher priority to accepting pages that have already done some of the work for them. The first Webmaster Tool to check into is the Meta Tag Generator. Hopefully you've given each page a short "Title" (which will appear at the top of the browser when people look at your page), but we definitely want to include at least two more Meta tag code types on each individual webpage.

- DESCRIPTION: Include a short description about what's on that specific webpage. This is the description which will appear under the link for your site when it's listed in the search engines. Think of this as your classified advertisement - you want the description to attract enough interest that users will check out your site.

DO NOT fill the space with random hype. The SE will give a much higher relevancy score when the description matches phrases from your actual content. Get rid of as many filler words (the, and, of) as possible for the best results.

- KEYWORDS: These are the main words you want the SE to consider when listing your site. Don't list every word you "want", and DO NOT include words that aren't actually in your content. The search engines may include you temporarily, but they will drop you just as quickly when they realize you've added words that aren't even in your webpage.

Rather than listing single words, concentrate on specific phrases (of 2 to 4 words each) that appear in your webpage. Many people make the mistake of listing every word or phrase they can think of or want, but the engines generally only consider the first 20. Focus on the main phrases in your keyword list: the search engines will find the rest on their own. Separate the words/phrases with a comma.

If you need help picking out some of your best keyword choices for that page, use the Keyword Density webmaster tool. It will help pinpoint some of your best options.

You can add in other fields as you want, but the generator only really needs the number of days for the SE to revisit. Just enter 7 days (even if the page changes daily) for normal pages, or 365 days for pages that won't be changing for a year. The search engines assign their own revisit schedule, so setting the days lower than 7 to try fooling the SE is foolish.

SUBMITTING YOUR WEBSITE

You could set up a webmaster account with each of the main search engines, but the Simple Submission tool will take care of getting your website included in the queue with just one button. It may take a while before the search engines actually check out your website (there are almost a million new sites added to the internet each month), so use the submission tool to make sure the main SE know you exist.

TRACKING SYSTEMS

Welcome to the most useful (and most overlooked) devices to pinpoint exactly how your website is succeeding, and where it's failing!

To save yourself hours of time and frustration, use the Pages Indexed tool as your number one guidance to see if the search engines have started indexing your website. You could go to each SE in turn, and try entering the name of your site, but unless it appears on the first or second page, you could spend hours looking for it (if it is even listed yet). The pages indexed will not only let you know which SE have picked up your site, but also which specific pages it has included in its listings.

Want to find out how your keywords or target phrases are doing with the Big-Three (Google, Yahoo, and MSN), then do it all in one step using the Position Checker. It will tell you right away how close you are to the top of each SE. If the results show you're way down in the listings, this will be the perfect time to re-optimize your page and keywords for better phrase choices that can get you to a higher ranking position.

Are you getting slaughtered or not showing up for important phrases? Then it's time to spy on your neighbor - which, in this case, is your competitor. Uses the Competitor Analysis to see how they are getting the keyword listings you want. Tweak your site a bit, and you may quickly overtake them.

MORE TO EXPLORE

There are so many fantastic tools available, and each serves its own specialized purpose. Make use of every Webmaster Tool available to build your ranking score ... and check out the Crazy Egg tool - it's probably one of the hottest tools you'll ever find!



About the Author: Amy Armitage is the head of Business Development for Lunarpages. Lunarpages provides quality web hosting from their US-based hosting facility. They offer a wide-range of services from dedicated servers and managed solutions to shared and reseller hosting plans. Visit us online for more information.



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