Webmaster Academy – Simple Google Tutorial or Indispensable Resource?

 
 

With webmaster tools support forum, being as they are, fairly disorganized, I actually expected Google to give us something a bit more useful with more hierarchy a long time ago. Just going through some of the answer threads there can make my head hurt.

Webmaster Academy

Seems we now have a winner, Webmaster Academy[1] as Google named it[2]. At the first glimpse it looks like a simple checklist found on dozens of sites already, thins you need to do to get your site on the web, working with webmaster tools as well as how to optimize it according to their guidelines and … But is it just that or is it a bit more, let’s take a closer look at what Webmaster Academy has to offer.

The goal of Webmaster Academy:

“Our goal is to help you create great sites that perform well in Google search results.”

One thing is clear, the academy is geared towards new webmasters and unestablished ones. There is very little an experience webmaster can learn from this tutorial, but just in case, I recommend you go over it.

There are 3 parts:

-          Google & You

-          Webmaster Tools

-          Business

Each of them tackling a few important questions and even providing videos to help you understand the matter quite easier.

Google & You

Webmaster Academy  Google & you

-          Learn how Google works describes the very basics, how Google algorithm works[3], what are paid results and also makes a claim of transparency that Google has a policy. Which is funny, one of their recent deal with AVG[4], I’m sure they will hide even more metrics from now on.

-          Make sure Google knows about your site explains about indexing your site and different situations where Google might have not caught up yet or has an issue with indexing your site.

-          Influence your site’s listing in search talks about the basics of on-page optimization that will help users decide on your result, like title, URL, meta description as well as placing a local listing and managing your sitelinks in GWT.

-          Create great content. (One of Google’s famous lines) In basic lines this part explains what makes a piece of content good, and things you should avoid, like thin content, too many ads and excessive grammar and spelling issues.

-          Images and video section can even be interesting for advanced users. I know this is basic, but from what I’ve seen plenty of established domains don’t follow the basic guidelines listed here like adding alt tags or even using high resolution images, not to mention adding image and video sitemaps.

-          Google+ is there as well. A bit about their new product and why it’s beneficial for you, like +1 button sharing and more importantly authorship markup that it allows.

-          Resources is the last section in Google & You. There are a few links you should read about common mistakes and things to avoid as well as a link to their SEO started guide PDF[5].

Webmaster Tools

Webmaster Academy   Webmaster Tools

-          Add your site to Webmaster Tools talks about adding the website, verifying your domain ownership and adding new users as well as setting special permissions for those users.

-          Enable message forwarding is a very important step in setting up your GWT account, especially because it allows important notifications to reach your mail, like unnatural links report and similar.

-          Update your settings is the part where we start doing some tweaking to our GWT account in order to tell Google a few things about our site and set certain preferences like preferred domain and geographic region we wish to target.

-          Make sure Google can crawl your site is where we get a bit technical, but this is a very important step, so I would advise anyone to go over it. You will learn about site errors, url errors as well as other crawling issues[6], which may lead to your website not being found in Google results, and we don’t want that. This part will also explain a bit about 404 errors[7] found on your website.

-          Monitor and manage your site goes a bit deeper into potential site issues like malware, blocked URLs as well as where is your traffic coming from including search queries from organic search and referrals coming from other sites. You will also learn about inner links and HTML errors you might have as well as a few other things, definitely a step you don’t want to skip.

-          And then there are a few more resources to learn about the mentioned topics.

Businesses

Webmaster Academy   Businesses

-          No website? Get online for free is a section dedicated so far to US market only as it gives an opportunity for small business based in the US to get a free website trough their deal with Intuit[8] and a few other companies.

-          Get your business listed for free on Google Places is an important step for any business with a physical location. Adding your business to Google listings and optimizing it a bit can certainly increase your organic traffic.

-          Optimize your site is a short section, I suggest going over their PDF linked above after you go over this part as it provides more details than this section.

-          Google+ again, this time Google+ for businesses or how you can create a page there, which is a smart move to do, and how to add a badge to your site as well.

-          Tell Google about your products and services is technically advanced part and unless you know how to code this will be done by your developer, but make sure you know the subject, it’s important to know what needs to be done. Anyway, this part is dedicated to rich snippets like service and product markup[9] provided by schema.org[10].

-          Again, the last part gives us few more resources to learn about Google, in this case, Google adsense, analytics and adwords.

Overall impression, good job Google, a bit late, but good job! This is an important resource for small business owners and non techy people that wish to start their online venture. Knowing what Google wants, how it helps and what to do in certain situations will help you along the way, even if you don’t do anything yourself, you will be able to monitor the situation.

My advice, take a few hours and go over these resources whether you think you know them or don’t, it won’t hurt, you may even learn something new.

References:

1. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/static.py?hl=en&page=checklist.cs&tab=1095581

2. http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2012/05/introducing-webmaster-academy.html

3. http://www.google.com/competition/howgooglesearchworks.html

4. http://www.avg.com/au-en/do-not-track

5. http://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/untrusted_dlcp/www.google.com/en/us/webmasters/docs/search-engine-optimization-starter-guide.pdf

6. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/topic.py?hl=en&topic=2446029

7. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=2409439

8. http://www.gybo.com/

9. http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=146750

10. http://www.schema.org/

Zac is a link building specialist and a seasoned SEO professional. He manages a team of link builders and actively promotes some of Australia's biggest brands. Zac is an active blogger and also maintains Dejan SEO's news and updates section.

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