The Google Webmaster Tools dashboard has recently undergone a face lift, with the main enhancement consisting of an improved navigation based on what Google considers ‘the stages of search’ – crawling, indexing and serving.
I previously wrote a post outlining the basic elements of Google Webmaster Tools, in which the key elements of these stages were covered. Since then, adjustments have been made, and another intriguing and helpful feature has been added in the form of the ‘Search Appearance Overview’.
To view this new bank of information, simply log into your Webmaster Tools account and locate the ‘Search Appearance’ section within the left hand navigation. Next to this heading you will see a question mark symbol, which when clicked on displays a demonstration panel containing all of the key elements within this section including Titles, Snippets, Sitelinks, Site Search, URL’s, Bread Crumbs and Author Information.
You are able to click into any of these elements to learn what changes you can make on your site to influence how it appears within the search results.
Although the elements within this section are not entirely new to Webmaster Tools, there has been more documentation and guidance added to help webmasters gain information on how certain aspects of their website are appearing and performing within the search results. This information can be particularly valuable for several reasons:
It helps webmasters to identify errors and make improvements to HTML aspects of their websites.
It helps webmasters to make informed decisions with regards to the way they write the core elements of their web pages, such as Title Tags, Meta Descriptions and URL structures.
It helps webmasters to check that structured data mark up is implemented correctly and that rich snippets are displaying correctly within the search results. For this, you are also able to use the rich snippet testing tool, which stands alone from Webmaster Tools.
As the search results become more competitive and clustered, standing out and making sure that Google understands your content is more important than ever. These latest enhancement to Google Webmaster Tools are a positive step in helping to educate webmaster’s in how to make beneficial improvements to their websites and get the most from their efforts.