via Flickr by C_osett

via Flickr by C_osett

The aim of this guide is to help store owners understand the use of Google Webmaster Tools and to show them how to set it up.

Google has a huge number of different products that can help you run your business online. Google Webmaster Tools is only one of them, but it is very important because it helps you see your website through Google’s eyes.

There are many useful reports in GWT. You can see which pages are indexed on Google, crawling errors, search queries people used to find you on Google, backlinks, etc.

You should definitely revisit this tool often so you can be up-to-date with indexing changes, errors and even to estimate the effectiveness of your SEO efforts.

Google Webmaster Tools

Now that you understand what kind of information you can find in GWT, let’s go through the process of setting it up.

Step 1: Create Google Account

There is a high probability that you already have a Google account. If you use products like Gmail, Google AdWords, Google Analytics, then you already have an account. You can use the same login information to create your account at GWT.

If you don’t, you can just create your account.

Step 2: Register For Google Webmaster Tools

Visit Google Webmaster Tools. Follow the registration process and sign in after you finished.

If you already have Google Analytics account and you’re tracking your site with it, use that login information. This will give you one more option for site verification later.

Step 3: Add Website Address

After you signed in, click “Add a site” button. Pop-up window will open. Enter your website URL and click “Continue”.

Google Webmaster Tools - adding URL

Depending on your needs, you will either add your top level domain or any of the subdomains. A vast majority of store owner will add a top level domain.

If you have different sections of your site aimed at different geographical area or languages, it is recommended setting up each subdomain separately in GWT.

Step 4: Verify Website

On your next screen, Google will show you recommended method of verification. This option may suit you, but if it doesn’t, click right next to that on “Alternate methods”.

Your preferred method depends on your site implementation so we will explain each one of them.

Method 1: HTML Tag

In this method you simply have to add a meta tag to your site’s home page. You will find a code snippet in the instructions. If you just paste this snippet in your <head> section on your home page, you are ready to be verified.

Method 1 - HTML tag in Google Webmaster Tools

If the code snippet is in the right place, click on “Verify” button. Don’t remove this tag from your page to ensure your verification doesn’t fail at later times.

Method 2: HTML File Upload

This is another very simple method. You will get HTML file and you just need to upload that file in your root folder on your server.

Download the file by following given steps.

Method 2: HTML file upload in Google Webmaster Tools

After the upload is done and published, click on “Verify” and don’t remove the file to ensure your verification will remain valid.

Method 3: Using Google Analytics

This method is available to you if you already have Google Analytics set up for the same website and on the same account.

Visit your Google Analytics profile, click on “Admin” and find “All products” button in “Product linking” section.

Method 3: Using Google Analytics in Google Webmaster Tools

Follow the instructions from there.

Method 4: Using Google Tag Manager

If you are already using container snippet from Google Tag Manager on your site, this method will be very easy to do.

Method 4: Using Google Tag Manager

Click on “Verify” and Google will do search for your container id.

Method 5: Create DNS Record

Sign in to your domain name provider and select the same on from the drop down list provided on the screen.

You will get instructions specific to your domain name provider. Follow them.

Method 5: Create DNS Record

If you can’t verify at this moment, you can log in at later times, choose the same verification method you’ve been working on and verify it then.

Verify later in Google Webmaster Tools

Now that you have everything verified, your Google Webmaster Tools reports should start filling with data and you can start gaining insights from them.

Final Checklist

To give you a short summary of everything we explained in this guide, here is a short checklist to put everything in perspective:

  • Create Google account
  • Register for Google Webmaster Tools
  • Add website address
  • Verify website

You need this how-to guide to help you understand the value of using Google Webmaster Tools and to get a complete list of steps you need to take in order to set it up.