Google Webmaster Tools Can Help You
Google Webmaster Tools has become my best friend. Why? Using Google Webmaster tools to find and fix URL errors can save you time and frustration when cleaning up bad URLs. Learn my method for doing just that!
Recently I wrote a blog post about increasing traffic to your website. In there I explained that there were 3 things you could do to increase that traffic. As a refresher, here they are again:
• Ensure your links are active!
• Check your links on a scheduled basis!
• Random check multiple links
We’ll be working on the first bullet point – making sure your URLs that you have are working.
What Is Google Webmaster Tools
According to Google,
“You want to be found on the web. We want to help. Track your site’s search performance with Google Search Console and browse around for more webmaster resources:
1. Webmaster Tools (this is where I’ll be concentrating.)
2. Webmaster Education (This section has videos and articles that will help you be found when people are searching in your niche using specific keywords or phrases.)
3. Help Center – Have a problem about your website that you don’t have an answer for? Find those problems and get help fixing them.
Using Google Webmaster Tools to Find/Fix URLS
You will need to set up an account with Google Webmaster Tools in order to be able to use their tools. Once you set up your account, and you log in, you will have a window open to your Home page that will look similar to below, depending on how many websites you have:
Left click on the website URL that you want to use Google Webmaster Tools for. So in our example above, that would be www.borlokvirtualassistants.com. (Yes, you are right – you are seeing double. For each website that you have, Google recommends that you have a www version, as well as one without the www and then identify which one will be your default; and don’t forget to add any secure HTTPS sites you might have.
So I click on the link and it takes me to another page:
This page will give you two options for accessing any crawl errors, both shown with arrows above. It appears that the option on the left will have the most up-do-date information (at least on my site).
As you can see from below, I have a link that they consider to be a bad URL. If you left click on the link, you will see why it was bad:
So now we have the error details and we can assume that a 404 error was the end result. To verify that, if I click on the actual link for the post, I can see that it really was a 404 error.
However, there is a faster and easier way to find out. If you use the menu option on the left for crawl errors, you will notice that it tells you why the link is bad:
From using Google Webmaster Tools, we now know the following:
• If we have a bad URL
• If we do have, we can determine why it is a bad URL and either fix it or delete it.
To Fix or Delete?
To determine whether I want to fix the article or delete it, I ask myself a set of questions to help me decide which course of action I should take:
• Is the content evergreen? (In this case it was not evergreen as it referred to Father’s Day 2014.)
SiteProNews.com says this about evergreen content:
“Evergreen simply means something that stays fresh forever, and this is exactly what you want for your content. In a more technical term “evergreen content” would mean content that is long-lasting with a relevance that does not fade after it is published on the Internet. Evergreen content is timeless. For example, a “how-to” article never become irrelevant — there are always people looking for such guides on a myriad of topics.”
• Do I have other articles that refer to this article? If I do and I decide to delete this one, I could be causing even more bad URLs in the future because the other articles won’t be able to find this one.
• Can I improve the blog post with new information so it tells a better story? Or perhaps I have more knowledge than I did when I wrote the post.
• Did I change the way I have my Permalinks displayed? (I just recently discovered that I had been using a Permalink structure of http://www.borlokvirtualassistants.com/2015/04/13/sample-post/ to http://www.borlokvirtualassistants.com/sample-post/. It seemed like such a simple change to make, but I unwittingly caused a whole bunch of bad URLs that I am still fixing.)
• Can I improve my search engine optimization (SEO)?
• Do I even want to keep the post anymore?
Now that I have taken steps to in using Google Webmaster Tools to find and fix URL errors, there is one more step you will want to consider. That is marking the not found error as having been fixed. This will remove the bad URL from your listing. Hopefully, it never reappears again; but if it does come back, you will have the steps on using Google Webmasters Tools.
So, I hope this article has provided useful information pertaining to using Google Webmaster Tools to ensure your links are active. This is only one way to improve your website visibility and Google friendliness. When I first started out writing for our websites, I had no knowledge on Google Webmaster Tools. As time goes on and as I learn new things, I will definitely share my findings with you.
Pam Lokker is a master writer and a virtual assistant professional. While we are not currently taking on new clients, Borlok Virtual Assistants has been the place to get global expert VA services with quality and on-time delivery for many years.