In my previous post I showed you a cool WordPress plugin that captures traffic data. The next step in prepping my SEO campaign is to configure Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
Set Up Google Webmaster Tools
Visit https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home?hl=en and click the Add a Site button. I add my URL and click next to get to the verification stage of the process. Now I have some options: I can download an HTML file (it’s a blank web page that proves you have some kind of ownership over the site);
Since I just set up the account, the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard is likely to look a little boring. It needs data before it really becomes a resource, but I still have some configuring to do before I move on.
First I configure my preferred domain under settings. More than anything this is a reminder for myself to ensure I’m going to use a consistent version of my website’s URL from here on out. I’ll dive more into this later, but here is a handy SEO audit checklist with a section that speaks specifically to architecture and consistent URLs.
If you’re using WordPress your website is probably already using one version of the top level domain. In SEO we reference this as the www versus the non-www versions of a website. If we let it, Google will try to index each version of each page even though we know the pages are really the same.
How can you tell, though? The easiest test is to type your website into the browser with and without the www; www.marketingchris.com, for example. In my case, the www version of the website redirects to just http://marketingchris.com. I can watch as it happens using the built-in web developer tools in the Chrome browser. (CTRL + Shift + i will open this tool.)
Click the Network tab and type the version you want to test into the browser. Below you can see the original call for www.marketingchris.com followed by a 301 Permanent Redirect response to http://marketingchris.com. (Click image to enlarge)
If I’m using WordPress I can change which version I want to use by navigating to the Settings > General tab and adding or removing the www from the home page URL. You may need to verify the other version of your website as well.
If you have questions about this process and need help, please feel free to contact me. See you next time!