Design Oahu

Web design blog from the middle of the pacific.

Straight from the Horse’s Mouth

Do you want to know how Google sees your website? Well, why not find out straight from the horse’s mouth. That’s right, let the Google Webmaster Tools show you how Google has indexed, ranked, linked, and cached your site. After you have signed in with your Google Account or Gmail address, you need to add your website address. Then the next step is to add the link to your sitemap xml file. If you use Wordpress I highly recommend the Google Sitemap Generator plugin.

It is really easy to set up, just create two blank files sitemap.xml and sitemap.xml.gz in your top-level blog directory. Make sure you chmod (set the permission of) them to 777 (read write execute by all). Generate the sitemap from Options->Sitemap and make sure everything is working, and for now on your Google Sitemap will be regenerated automagically.

Now that you have the sitemap, just add it to your Google Webmaster Tool. Give Google the link to your gzipped sitemap xml file. I verified my site with the html method, by simply adding a new blank html file named what they gave me. After verifying you have access to all kinds of valuable stats “straight from the horses mouth”!

The diagnostics are where you need to start to make sure everything is found correctly. The following crawl errors are listed for the web if found: HTTP errors, Not found, URLs not followed, URLs restricted by robots.txt, URLs timed out, and Unreachable URLs. There is even a mobile section which reports crawl errors wit your CHTML and WML/XHTML mobile content. The Diagnostic Tools gives you the ability to test against your robots.txt file with each of Google’s User-Agents: Googlebot (Web Index), Googlebot-Mobile (Mobile Index), Googlebot-Image (Image Index), Mediapartners-Google (AdSense Content), and Adsbot-Google (AdWords Quality). There is also a tool to “opt-in” to Enhanced Images Search.

The Statistics section has a crawl stats area that gives some good information on your page ranking. My favorite tool is the query section which lists your highest positions on different search terms, and also the most popular search terms. The page analysis allows you to view the common words on your site as well as the common words used for other links to your site.

The Links section has a very useful tool where you can view who is linking to specific pages on your website. You can also learn more about the internal linking of your website.

When the Horse talks it is hard to ignore. These are very valuable tools to keep track of what the most important search engine thinks of your site. By the way, even MSN and Yahoo! are now using the Google Sitemap format.

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2 Comments

  1. Comment by askie on July 18, 2007

    I have a wp include 50,000 posts ,use the Google Sitemap Generator plugin can not create a post list sitemap, How can i do?

  2. Comment by Patrick Ahler on July 25, 2007

    They are so important, I just launched a new site last week and couldn’t get it indexed until I created a sitemap and it was immediately in Google. Check out http://www.politpal.com . My company: http://empoweredinternet.com (Empowered Internet Solutions) found them so important we built a tool directly into our website management system to autobuild the site maps.

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