Google Webmaster Tools is a no-charge web service by Google for webmasters. It allows webmasters to check indexing status and optimize visibility of their websites. It has tools that let the webmasters:
- Submit and check a sitemap
- Check and set the crawl rate, and view statistics about how Googlebot accesses a particular site
- Generate and check a robots.txt file. It also helps to discover pages that are blocked in robots.txt by chance.
- List internal and external pages that link to the site
- Get a list of broken links for the site
- See what keyword searches on Google led to the site being listed in the SERPs, and the click through rates of such listings
- View statistics about how Google indexes the site, and if it found any errors while doing it
- Set a preferred domain (e.g. prefer example.com over www.example.com or vice versa), which determines how the site URL is displayed in SERPs
- Highlight to Google Search elements of structured data which are used to enrich search hit entries (released in December 2012 as Google Highlighter)
- Receive notifications from Google for manual penalties.
Before you can access any data on your site, you have to prove that you’re an authorized representative of the site. This is done through a process of verification.
There are five main methods of verification currently in place for GWT. There’s no real preference as to which method you use, although the first two tend to be the most commonly used as they’ve been around for longer.
- The HTML file upload. Google provides you with a blank, specially named file that you just have to drop in the root directory of your site. Once you’ve done that, you just click on the verify button and you’ll have access to your GWT data for this site.
- HTML tag. Clicking on this option will provide you with a metatag that you can insert into the head of your home page. Once it’s there click on the verify button to view your GWT data. One item to note about using this method of verification is that it’s possible for the tag to be accidentally removed during an update to the home page, which would lead to a revocation of the verification, but reinserting the tag and clicking verify again will fix that.
- Domain Name Provider. Select your Domain Name provider from the drop down list and Google will give you a step by step guide for verification along with a unique security token for you to use.
- Google Analytics. If the Google account you’re using for GWT is the same account as for GA (assuming you’re using GA as your analytics solution), is an admin on the GA account, and you’re using the asynchronous tracking code (with the code being in the head of your home page), then you can verify the site this way.
- Google Tag Manager. This option allows you to use the Google Tag Manager to verify your site.