To protect your account and your website Google will need to verify that you actually own this domain and that you are authorised to see some critical details of this website. There are a few different verification methods that you can choose from but you will need to do this successfully before continuing. The options that you are your webmaster have include uploading a specific HTML file to your site, adding a specific meta tag to your source code or making a small change to your site DNS record.
Another helpful option is the Google analytics access method which you can use if you have Google analytics installed and administrative access to the account. Once you verify the website you will see a listing for in your main dash board with any important messages.
Clicking into this website will bring up a dashboard and a menu of all the different areas of webmaster tools. You can see some high-level information here around crawler errors and search queries.
And you can also get a quick view of the number of URLs you've submitted to your site maps and the number of URLs that Google has indexed. You can drill into the crawl error reports to look at what problems Google has had while crawling and indexing your site.
Crawl errors can hurt site in the Google search results. So it's important to identify the type of crawl error that is affecting your different URLs and take the appropriate steps to resolve those errors. This may include implementing 301 redirects or fixing some web server configurations. You may also need to remove references to pages that are no longer part of your site.
You can also click on the search queries reports which provide some interesting details about your organic search visibility. You can see impressions as well as how many clicks you got for different keywords. And you can also see the average positions your site was ranking in for different keywords over a given period of time. You can also use filters to look at specific search queries, different types of search, different countries or only queries that generated a certain volume of traffic.
There are lots of reports in sections of webmaster tools to review and I would encourage you to spend some time going through each for your own website. The configuration section includes general settings like what country your website is targeting, what URL parameters are used on your pages and for what reasons and who else has access to the information in webmaster tools for your domain.
We have already looked at the crawler report but the health section contains additional functionality that lets you block Google from seeing certain pages of your site and also lets you know if you've been hacked.
You also want to check out the optimisation section. This is where you'll be able to review and submit your external site maps as well as take a look at the HTML improvement section to identify potential problems with your sites content that you can address immediately.
As you can see there are many other features to Google webmaster tools that you should explore. And there are always more new features coming out. Google has done a very good job of letting you know how it views your pages and allowing you to provide input into what it knows about you. Staying on top of the world webmaster tools month after month is certainly an endeavour that will pay dividends.
Author Bio:Sadhiv Mahandru has been involved in online marketing for over a decade covering PPC, Affiliate Marketing, SEO , Content Creation and also creating effective websites. Specialising in Search Engine Optimisation Manchester and providing services throughout the UK. You can learn more about Internet Marketing and SEO by reading my own blog which is updated frequently.