Google Webmaster Tools can be a powerful ally. But, if you make a mistake or put this power in the wrong hands, it can mean trouble for your search engine optimization. In this post, I provide a basic SEO Guide to Webmaster Tools to help get you started if you aren’t taking full advantage of WMT yet.
It is very important to point out that some of these things are more detrimental than others. Also, there could be multiple articles written about each of these tools and reports. This SEO guide to Webmaster Tools is a simple overview with a little insight.
Messages: Spam Warnings & Other Notifications
Priority: Medium / High
Many of us know that Google sends an email to Webmaster Tools if there is an issue with your site. If you don’t check Webmaster Tools messages frequently, you could miss an important piece of information.
An example of an important message would be an unnatural link notification. A message such as this could be indicator of a major issue, or it could result in almost nothing at all. It really all depends on how Google plans on dealing with your particular situation. Regardless, if you get any type of notification, it is important to figure out why.
In the settings tab, you can do three things: set geographic target, preferred domain and crawl rate.
According to Google, “If your site has a neutral top-level domain, such as .com or .org, geotargeting helps Google determine how your site appears in search results, and improves our search results for geographic queries. If you don’t want your site associated with any location, select Unlisted.”
Make sure to set this up so that it targets your intended geographic market.
Google states, “If you specify your preferred domain as http://www.example.com and we find a link to http://example.com, we’ll consider both links the same.”
I always recommend setting a preferred domain based on the way you want your website indexed. To do this, you may need to verify ownership of both the www and non-www versions of your domain.
Search Engine Land is always a great source of information, sometimes you just have to dig through the redundant data to find the good stuff.