Google Webmaster is free tool that can help photographers ensure their website is crawled and indexed properly. When you perform a search on Google, three main components go into serving up the results:
- Crawling: Does Google know about your site? Does it know where the content is?
- Indexing: Can Google process your web pages and parse the content on each page?
- Serving: Are relevant results displayed to the user to match their expectation?
The Webmaster tool gives you a way to register your domain with Google, and then provides you with additional features to enhance and monitor the searchability of your website.
Add your site:
After you create an account, you can add your domain to the “dashboard” by simply typing in the URL. You can then click the domain.
The Overview page indicates some basic information:
- Has your site been crawled?
- How many pages are indexed?
- Were there any errors with the crawling?
On a small website (i.e. < 100 pages), you should do your best to minimize the errors. On larger sites with lots of dynamic content (and perhaps a number of legacy pages), it isn’t unusual to have a few errors. Obviously, an error-free site is ideal, but often impractical.
Determining how many pages are indexed:
There is no guarantee that Google will index 100% of your website. However, you can easily determine how many and which pages have been indexed without even using Google Webmaster. From the Google homepage, you can type in:
Note, there should be no spaces. For example:
Similarly, you can see how many pages link to your homepage by typing:
Both queries can give you a way to monitor any sudden increases or drops that might affect your SEO.
The setting page allows you to set preferred domains and geographical targeting (both of which are probably not important to the photographer). You should, however, check “include my site in Google Image Labeler,” because this is one of the factors that will help get your images into the Google Image Search.
Three main reports are offered :
- Web Crawl: the Googlebot crawls the site by traversing links from page to page. This report indicates problems that the bot encounters. In most cases, this will arise because you have a dead link.
- Mobile Crawl: Unless you have a separate mobile site, you will likely not have any errors on this page.
- Content analysis: Google likes meta descriptions and diversity of content. The content analysis will report whether you have duplicate page titles/descriptions, missing titles, and other factors that might be negatively impacting your SEO for these on-page factors.
Top Search Queries
You can see the search terms that drove the most clicks to your website by month. But unlike the keyword report that is available in Google Analytics, this report also indicates the search results position that you’re domain occupies for the term.
This report is good for determining whether your keyword hit list and SEO efforts are actually driving material traffic to your website. You might also find terms that are sending traffic to your website that you were unaware of.
What Googlebot Sees
This report shows the anchor text of inbound links to your website. Anchor text is an SEO factor that can really benefit you because good anchor text is both descriptive and can act like an endorsement. For example, most people will probably link to your website by your name.
Check out these pictures by Allen Murabayashi of the New York Yankees.
Better anchor text:
Check out these New York Yankees Opening Day pictures by Allen Murabayashi.
These are the best New York Yankees Opening Day pictures I’ve seen, which were photographed by Allen Murabayashi.
If you maintain a blog and link back to your images, you should use descriptive anchor text based on what you think people will search for to find your images.
Google indicates how often and how many pages are being indexed by their bot. You can’t really do anything to affect these metrics, but you should be aware of large increases or decreases, as it could point to a major issue with your site.
If your website has RSS capability, this page will show you how many people are subscribing to the feed based on a service called FeedBurner. This is particularly good information if you maintain a blog since increased readership is a key goal if you’re spending time blogging.
Pages with external links
Not all inbound links point to your homepage, nor do you want them to. This report can indicate what images or galleries have really caught the attention of others. Remember, link building is the most significant factor in SEO. So unlike Google Analytics which just reports the number of visitors, this is a much better indication of whether your content is sticky enough to affect SEO.
Pages with internal links
These are links that you create to other content on your site.
Site links are like a Table of Contents that Google displays in search results pages. There is no way to affect the publishing of a site link – Google has their own algorithm to determine whether a sitelink is provided or not.
A sitemap is a document that tells the Googlebot where your content is located, how often it changes, and what you think the “priority” of that content is. Without a sitemap, Google has to find and traverse links on your webpage. The sitemap is a way to ensure that your top content is found and increases the probability of being indexed.
There is a sitemap format using a language called XML that Google prefers. Fortunately, PhotoShelter automatically generates a sitemap for all the Standard and Pro users, which lists all of your galleries.
Assuming you have a sitemap, you can enter its location and submit it to Google. PhotoShelter users automatically have a sitemap in their home directory. For example:
Once you’ve set up your Google Webmaster account, there is very little maintenance that you need to perform, but it does confer some great benefits. So get your account today.
Wanna learn more about SEO? Download our free SEO Kit for Photographers.