Google and Bing both provide tools which allow you to submit your website to the search engine, and also customise how it should be searched and monitor any issues. These free tools are the best way Google and Bing have to talk directly to you if they notice issues with your site so all website owners should set them up or you are missing out on an easy opportunity to find out any issues with your website.
Google Search Console (aka Google Webmaster Tools as it used to be known) and Bing Webmaster tools can be set up in a few minutes and, once set up, can be checked periodically to see any issues with your websites. This includes missing pages, security issues to any way the search engine has decided to penalise your website.
How to set it up
To set them up is as simple as registering with the appropriate website:
You will need a Google or Microsoft account (note these do not need to be a Gmail or Hotmail e-mail accounts and you can use your current e-mail address and even use the same e-mail address for both). You will then be asked to prove ownership of the website you are trying to register. This can be done in one of several ways including adding a bit of code to your home page, adding a special file to your website or adding a DNS record. This is the most difficult part of setting this up, but only needs to be done once, and after that you can add other users without this hassle.
Google treats each variant of your website differently so you should register all the versions. For this site, it meant registering tunetheweb.com, https://tunetheweb.com, www.tunetheweb.com and https://www.tunetheweb.com - despite the fact that all sites are the same and the first 3 redirect to the last version. You will do most of your work in the one site after initial set up but it's good to register them all so you get alerted to any issues with any of them..
For Google Search Console, you should set the version of the website you prefer (with or without the www) and in most cases it's OK to let Google decide on the crawl rate. You can also link up your Google Analytics account if you have one which is useful to see the search terms people use to get to your site. And finally you should register an XML sitemap. Then comes the tough bit as you need to wait at least a week for anything interesting to show up in there.
For Bing webmaster tools you only need to verify the one version of your site. You should register an XML sitemap. Bing also reverifies ownership periodically and removes access if it can't do this, so best to verify ownership with a BingSiteAuth.xml file and just leave it on the server. Like Google Search Console, it will take at least a week for Bing to gathering the data on your site.
Once you have registered your site, and left them for a week to gather data, it starts to get interesting. You can get details of who's visiting you site, what search terms are bringing them there, what broken links you have on your site (maybe a typo somewhere which is preventing your page being discovered!), any security issues on your website and any messages Google and Bing want to tell you about your site.
Google run an excellent Google Search Console Help Forum which is the best way to get help for this, and Bing has a similar Bing Webmaster Tools Help & How-To Center.
The other websites don't seem to have such webmaster tools, but with Google and Bing owning 98% of search these two are far and away the most important to watch.
There is no downside to registering your website with the webmaster tools. The main issue will be finding the time to check these out regularly, but even, if you never go into these tool (and I strongly advise that you do every so often!), just by registering, you will receive an e-mail alert for any major issues.
Website owners should always register their website with Google Webmaster tools as Google is the dominate search engine on the web, and it pays to understand how Google sees your site. The Google Search Console provides a wealth of information about your site, and can also be used to test your website, using the "Fetch as Google" options, using the structured data tester and the robots.txt tester. These all help to ensure your website is showing correctly to Google.
Additionally a few years ago Google made search terms private, removing them from analytic tools like Google Analytics. Therefore the only way to see the search terms that are used to bring visitors to your website is through Google Search Console (whether they are only shown at a summary level and cannot be traced back to individual users hence not causing any privacy issues). These can then be linked back to Google Analytics so you can see the same data in there.
Bing registration is often forgotten about in preference to Google but really requires no effort and the options available in here are expanding all the time so I would advise registering there too.
Want to read more?
More Resources on Webmaster Tools
- Google Search Console (aka Google Webmaster Tools as it used to be known)
- Bing Webmaster tools
- A Beginner's Guide to Google Search Console - good article on Moz which goes into a little more detail on how to set up Google Search Console.
- Official Google Webmaster Central Blog - where Google announces changes, tips and suggestions for website owners.
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