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Google have made a change to the navigation design in their Webmaster Tools web service.

The change to the navigation is a minor one but makes it easier for users to organise and locate their most frequently used features into related groups.

“Search Appearance” as Google has named it, has organised the “stages of search” into groups: crawling, indexing and serving.

Here’s a sample screenshot from my own Webmaster Tools account to show you the new navigation:

Google Webmaster Tools Search Appearance

The screenshot above shows the new navigation headings: “Search Appearances”, “Search Traffic”, “Google Index” and “Crawl”. The new Webmaster Tools layout allows quick access to the features we most-commonly use.

As a general rule, Google Webmaster Tools should be checked regularly by any site owner or client account holder. Using the service we can find out immediately if Google has any problems with crawling and indexing our site which puts us in a position to promptly fix our site(s) accordingly. What’s more, it’s a free service.

Once we know our site is being crawled and indexed efficiently, the next step is to improve the appearance and coverage of the site itself. After all, we want to reach the optimum levels of search traffic to our site.

Here’s a little more detail for what each of these new headings contains:

Site Appearance

Under this heading are the Structured Data, Data Highlighter, HTML Improvements and sitelinks categories. Within this section you will find information on rich snippets, help on improving your performance in search results, meta description and title tag performance, and the ability to remove pages that you don’t want to appear as sitelinks in an individual Google results.

Optimizing the appearance of your site correctly in the search listings is important as it attracts those all-important click-throughs. Implementing rich snippets has shown that you can poach visits from the top spot.

Search Traffic

In this section are Search Queries, Links to Your Site and Internal Links information. You can see the number of impressions and clicks your site is receiving in Google, links to your site (although this is not every single link to your site, the best tool for that is Majestic SEO), and a list of pages in order of which is receiving the most internal links.

Google Index

Index Status, Content Keywords and Remove URLs are under this heading. This will give you an historic look at how many pages of your site have been indexed in Google, the keywords which Google have defined as the most significantly associated with your site, and a version of your Robots.txt file allowing you to remove pages indexed by Google.

Crawl

Everything you need to know about the crawling of your site is located here – Crawl Errors, Crawl Stats, Fetch as Google, Blocked URLs, Sitemaps and URL Parameters. That gives you the ability to find a list of server errors or pages no longer found and an opportunity to let Google know you’ve fixed them (once you’ve fixed them). The number of pages crawled and time spent downloading those pages, how Google sees your pages (HTML), pages in your Robots.txt file, your sitemap and your URL parameters can all be found here.

A healthy site is a profitable venture. And thanks to this update, you can now keep a tight check upon all the key areas.

If you’re receiving any warning or error messages in Webmaster Tools, get in touch with us and we’ll work through these for you.