Webmaster Tools guidelines


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What is Webmaster Tool?

In simple Google Webmaster tool is an interface/communication between website owner and the Google Crawler/Bot, Google Bot crawls website and reports here on the webmaster tool for any uneven activities against the google search norms noticed on the website. The website owner or user can take action for the same, apart from this the webmaster tools helps to control and communicate several aspects to the search bots, gives data or insight of the search activities on the internet related to the business/Web pages. The more about webmaster is explained below in detail.

Tool: google.com/tools/webmaster, A free tool from Google.

To have a webmaster account for any website the website owner have to sign up and submit the website, which approves and provides the tracking script. The tracking script is then uploaded to the website root directory on the hosting server, so that tracking of all the webpages is possible.
In simple if a text or image is not clear on the website, anybody can notice that and a website owner can fix that. But for the components which crawls or bots see on website are not visible to anybody except the crawler itself, crawler maintains a record of each and everything and we create an account and access all the crawl details, here the great feature is we can control or communicate crawl/bots behaviour.

Features or components of Webmaster Tool:

Messages: Whenever something goes wrong with the website the Google team sends us a message to let us know of the same.
Note: We receive messages only if the bots crawl and notice the issue on the website.
Webmaster will not send any messages in real time, there will be a delay of two to three days at least.

For eg: your server is down for 5 min and during the time no bot reached any of the webpage and you will not receive any message.
In case if any of the bot crawls and notices the webpages are not accessible you will be intimated and will receive a message, but later after 2 or three days.
The messages will be sent only for the prolonged issues or high impact issues which can definitely cause a harm to the website performance. The alerts usually sent are about the external spam links, to many status errors (Includes all the server issues), phishing notification etc.

Webmaster overview

Webmaster Tool Overview

Webmaster Tool Overview

Eg of webmaster message:

Dear site owner or webmaster of http://example.com/,
We recently discovered that some pages on your site look like a possible phishing attack, in which users are encouraged to give up sensitive information such as login credentials or banking information. We have removed the suspicious URLs from Google.com search results and have begun showing a warning page to users who visit these URLs in certain browsers that receive anti-phishing data from Google.

Below are one or more example URLs on your site which may be part of a phishing attack:

Here is a link to a sample warning page: http://www.google.com/interstitial?url=http://www.example.com/~alldata2/datass/contact/bank.barclays.co.uk/
We strongly encourage you to investigate this immediately to protect users who are being directed to a suspected phishing attack being hosted on your web site. Although some sites intentionally host such attacks, in many cases the webmaster is unaware because:
1) the site was compromised
2) the site doesn’t monitor for malicious user-contributed content
If your site was compromised, it’s important to not only remove the content involved in the phishing attack, but to also identify and fix the vulnerability that enabled such content to be placed on your site. We suggest contacting your hosting provider if you are unsure of how to proceed.
Once you’ve secured your site, and removed the content involved in the suspected phishing attack, or if you believe we have made an error and this is not actually a phishing attack, you can request that the warning be removed by visiting this page, and reporting an “incorrect forgery alert.” We will review this request and take the appropriate actions.

Apart from messages webmaster tool notifies you to check on several aspects when a major change is noticed. The change can be related to search organic traffic, Index pages, External links and sometimes a technical error impacting SEO.

webmaster alert

Alerts from webmaster tools

Search Appearance:
The appearance of our website on the search results page can be customized here, we have three different components like
Structured data:
The data types implemented and their status and errors are found here. Here in the below image we can see there were no data types on the website up to April 2014, later in April the two data types are implemented, one is breadcrumb and the other is Image Object(Image Schema).
As the bots observes and records the same and can be seen in the graph below and currently the number of such pages with structured data found are 445851.

Webmaster Structured data

Structured data details & errors

Data Highlighter:

Is an interface which allows the website owner to Highlight or to communicate to the search engines to show specific data type to the users, such as rating, reviews, author name, Price, event timing etc.
In the below example, the website owner has highlighted the user rating, the number or reviews, the price and product availability.

Webmaster Data Highlighter

Webmaster Data Highlighter

HTML improvements:
An interface where the duplicate content on the website and the content whose length in characters doesn’t follow the norms is recorded and the website owner can explore and fix the issue.

html improvements

html improvements

Site Links:
Any user searching for a website will see some of the related links/webpages related to the website and the same can be controlled. Let’s say’s google don’t want to show up the 4th site link “Images”, the same can be blocked under the “site links” section.
Note: The site links which are not required can be blocked, but which to be shown up is purely a search engine decision based on traffic to those webpages in relation to the user interest/activity on the page (Time Spent), CTR’s for the page, user satisfaction, season of the product search etc.

Site Links of Website

Site Links of Website

Search traffic:
This is data rich section, where you can see for what all the search terms/Queries a website is shown on search engines, from where else the website is accessible(External links), either by bot’s or by user and visit our website. How bot’s navigate internally once they reach any of the webpage.

Search terms: Available by device type (Mobile and Web), result type (Mobile, Web, Images).
Here the data like no of times website shown up for the searches, number of visitors from that search term, the average position and some calculated data like the CTR is seen.

Google Index:
The valid web pages which we intend the user to access through search engines and their status are shown here.

Index Status:
The pages which ever crawled by search engines and indexed to serve for the internet searches and their number is seen here.

Content Keywords:
The top variation of words used more number of times on any content and whichever have been crawled by bots are shown here as the content keywords.
Removed URL’s:
The Webpages which ever have to be removed from the index are submitted here as a request to google team.

The section allows you to take an action on the crawl rate/frequency of the website.
One can ask the bots to crawl specific set of webpages/urls.
Informs not to crawl the specific set of webpages.
And can check the url’s blocked by robots.
Also provides a section where we can just specify the parameter to block the urls containing them.

Other resources:
Is a section where you can look for more support tools to enrich your website appearance on the internet searches.

Off page seo optimization


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Off-Page seo Optimization simple definition:

Off-Page: The activities performed outside of your website/web pages and on other websites, which in turn can help your website performance on search engines or help to flow more referral traffic to your website is an off-page activity or off page optimization.

  • Always it’s a link to your website on other website,” A hyperlink with an anchor text or no anchor text”.
  • Just listing of the brand/your domain name.
  • Image post linking back to your website. (Usually called as badges).

Off page activities can be done on various kinds of websites:

Blog/Article Directories.
Blog: WordPress, Blogspot, Tumbler, blog and more.
Articles: Articlemonkeys, sooperarticles and more.
A content of 200-300 words or more can be written about the website, business, a casual talk or anything interesting/your experience and providing links back to your website in the content.

Local Directories.

Yellow Pages, Sulekha and more.
As a service provider of that area and as a local business you can always do a listing on such websites and provide links back to the website.

Social Bookmarking.

Digg, Delicious, reddit and more.
It’s a kind of listing where you can add few lines of description about your website, but it’s different from local listing.

Forum Websites.

The forum websites are places where people ask for something they want to know about.
And you can always answer those questions and list your website either with a hyperlink or no hyperlink whichever the forum website permits you to do.

General Forums.: Here one can discuss about anything.
Eg: Yahoo forums. (Any discussions can happen over here). But there are some general forums where you can tag the discussions to specific category.
Community Forums: Discussions happen only about specific category.
Eg: Bharatmoms etc. (Speaks related to women/baby)

Business websites/Partner Websites. A buyed links from any other website, which might clearly describes themselves as a paid activity. (This is strictly not recommended).

News Sites/Bank Portals.
News Portals are those one very frequently crawled by spiders and has high frequency rate. Links from such website help to great extent.
Note: If you get links from such websites, your website should be mature enough to serve the visitor purpose.

An Image Portal.

Pinterest, Image Fave and more.
You can post an image representing your website Brand and can hyperlink back to your website if permitted.

Any other social network.
facebook, twitter, linkedin and more.
Above any of the activities done can be shared to the network of people on these websites.

Event Websites: We can post the event occurring and can link back to your website.
Eg: A company conducts seminar on particular and the same can listed over on event sites with the reference link of your website, where people visit website and come across details.

Information Websites: These websites are rich with content providing information about the topics people usually are in need. The content portal can cater to any category/industry or can have all topics related to all the industries, and we need to get links from the relevant category.

Why we want to do Off-Page?

Before we understand this, we need to be clarified with few things as how search engines work and show exactly the results you meant to be are served for you.

The search engines work exactly the same way as you search on the menu for some files saved on your machine, but on internet server this happens very intelligently, primarily because of the following reasons.

  • There exists millions of files with same name.
  • The Privacy matters.
  • There is a huge competition.
  • Relevancy to bigger extent always matters.
  • The cost matters.

So the search engines to serve an appropriate file to the user need to check with several factors that necessarily to be accounted.

Search engines serve the pages in the top of the searches when their database is frequently updated and they have a deep understanding of that particular webpage and also considers website practice of both on-page and off-page activities.

To better understand the webpage content google spiders very often visit the web page and crawl all the content and updates their database. Frequent visiting by spiders happen only when the webpages are very often updated with new content, practically this is not possible for 90% of websites on the internet server, but still people (webmasters) want the spiders to come and crawl their websites.

So to improve the crawl frequency of their websites by spiders without any new content, they intend to do several actions items as listed below.

  • Improve Internal linking on the website. (Spiders crawling particular page can branch out to other pages on the website).
  • Improve brand name.( When more searches happen for a particular thing, the spiders very often check for that on the internet serves and crawl very often, let’s say irctc or Flipkart being big brand and more searches happen on internet and hence spiders check very often for something related or associated to the brand and crawls everything related to).
  • Adjusting crawl frequency for the website/webpages.
  • Through sitemaps.
  • Through settings on webmaster account.
  • By fixing the code issues (Javascript, Non crawlable content/code) on the websites and more.
  • Setting Crawl rate for the website. (To control this we need limit on the outgoing links within website or to other website.)

Build Links from other websites. (So when spider start crawling other website, they notices the link of your website and visit your website in case if its follow tagged and crawls your website.). This how the crawl frequency of your website goes high.

So on ensuring proper crawl by several above listed methods, the algorithm ensures update of its database and based on the relevancy of the webpage to the query on internet, the users are served.

So its “Much they read (Crawl), better they remember and serve the users the most appropriate.”

So now a questions comes, which kind of websites would be good to build a link from or to perform off-page activity?.

Since concept being clear for us, we need to prefer the websites for which the spiders visit very often and then get links from them.

So the very often Google spiders visited/Visiting websites are generally the one on which the content updates happen very frequently.

Which are those websites?

  • News Portals.
  • Frequent Blogging websites.
  • Information oriented websites. And more.

Practically it’s not possible to build links from the website we want, so we make a secondary choice of building links from bigger brand websites, based on number of visits to that websites and the number of external links the website has and including few more parameters.

So to conclude above all we just check with the Page Rank (PR), Alexa Rank, Trust Flow and citation flow of that website from which we intend to get link from. All these as a good metric let you decide the quality of website/performance of them on search engines.

Tools used: Alexa.com, Spyfu.com, majesticseo.com and PR Checker.

Few things to keep in minds to get links from:

  • Relevance of the content of your website to the website from which you get link from.(News portals and blogs/articles are exceptional).
  • Pr of the website.
  • Trust Flow of the website.
  • Popularity/Brand of the website.
  • Maintain quality of content in case of articles/blogs.
  • Use high searched queries or most common searched queries on the content you generate for blog/article.
  • In case of directory listing or local listing prefer appropriate category for posting.
  • Maintain a network so that everyone come across your blog/article and spend time over on that page.
  • Distributed anchor texts, you should never use the same text to hyper link to your website.

  • Never build links from low quality websites.
  • Penalty websites.
  • Not related to our content.
  • Don’t duplicate the content in case of posting articles or blogs.
  • Don’t use same anchor text across.
  • avoiding Distribution of links to other pages of your website.
  • Don’t build links from network sites. (Hosted on same Server).
  • Don’t ruin the quality of content in case of blog/article.
  • Don’t go focused on using High volume keyword as an anchor text. Use distributed set of keywords and hyperlinks. (URLs).

How do you check whether Spiders are crawling your websites from other websites you built link from?

The webmaster external links is the interface which you can refer to number of times the webpage crawled by spiders from that external website, represented as external links on webmaster account.

Tools: Google.com/webmaster/tools, Majesticseo.com.

Majestic seo is one of the biggest crawler which can give you a detailed report of the links and crawled pages, whereas webmaster is restricted to the top 1000 domains details.

How to come up with an idea to find websites you can build links from?

  • Do a competitor analysis based on the data from the majestic seo and figure out the domains you can get links from.
  • Do a search on internet for the query which is your business related and check with the serp results, and pick up the first 20 domains and of these 20 filter out the best and try to get links from.
  • Banks websites are always helpful to build links for ecommerce websites or for the websites associated with the payment gateways.
  • Any well-built and real business oriented website can get links from the News Sites. As that will be as general news on the news portal and that’s how the search algorithm too relates to.
How to check the spam links to your website:

This is kind of hard to judge and decide the particular type of website is spam unless and until the following can be accounted:

  • Content is not related to our website and is completely different.(Blogs/Articles if intelligently written and news portals are exceptional).
  • The home page of that website is not indexed on the searches, and in such case it’s considered as a penalized website. We should also need to check with the no-index and HTTP status of that particular external websites home page, before we decide whether it’s penalized or not.

Action for the spam Links:
  • You can go and remove the links if those were built by you.
  • If those were not built by you or there exist huge number of such links, send an attached file to the google spam team through webmaster disavow menu and they will take care of that.

Search Engines considers links as spam/Paid.

  • When content on the other website has no relevancy.
  • Building reciprocal links.
  • Too many links from one website.
  • Too many exact anchor texts (High volume/Focused keyword).
  • Too many ads on your webpage with no strict practice of norms of seo, page layout and more.
  • A hint on Off-page Activity:

    If your website is already a big brand and has great credibility, just consider improving the intelligent internal linking on the website.

    As a SEO Consulting company to be remembered:

    *** Off-page Activity Costs much higher and one needs a good justice over the website the link built from and the cost of link.

    Few more thoughts on Building links/Branding:

    • In the Signature section of your mail add the website link.
    • Add the Link to your LinkedIn/Any other social profile.
    • When you comment on any articles/content of other website drop a link of your website.

    Whether it’s a follow link/ No follow link it still helps to improve your website performance.

    • If its no-follow spiders don’t visit your website and they don’t crawl, but the user can visit website and spend time on your website and this improves website performance on search engines. As algorithms consider activity/Time spent on webpages as one of the parameter to rank better on search engines.

    • If it’s a follow link we have advantage of spiders crawl and also time spent by users on our website.

    • Note the display Image ads or Text Ads are never crawled by search engines.

    Important Note: The

    penguin algorithm

    is the one that’s designed to check the off-page activity, and not following or misleading any of the above activity will be identified as spam and there are chances the website traffic might go down to significant levels or to small extent.