HTML Improvements with Google Webmaster Tools
January 10, 2014
It’s no secret that Google Webmaster Tools is something that SEO firms talk about A LOT. And it’s for good reason–GWT offers invaluable insight into the performance of your website, allowing you to assess and fix crawl errors, investigate backlinks to your site and can even tell you if your site has been manually penalized by Google. It gives us a rare glimpse into how the often secretive Google views your website.
Although it’s not exactly hidden in GWT, an oft overlooked feature is HTML Improvements. This feature can be found under “Search Appearance” in your GWT dashboard. If this section appears blank and says “No data available” it may be because you have not submitted a sitemap.xml to GWT, which should you do, like, now. On the flipside, you may see a message that says, “We didn’t detect any issues”, in which case you’re good! However, more often than not, you’ll see something that looks akin to this:
As you can see, it’s pretty self-explanatory. But for the sake of this blog, I’ll run through each item.
- Duplicate Meta Descriptions/Duplicate Title Tags – Title Tags and Meta Descriptions should be unique for each page. For more information on how duplicate content can “kill” your rankings, read our blog on the subject by SEOhaus’ own Elisa Houghtelin.
- Long/Short Meta Descriptions/Title Tags – Best practice is a maximum of 150 characters including spaces for Meta Descriptions and a maximum of 70 characters including spaces for Title Tags. In most cases, people get overzealous and try to cram too much information in their tags but the opposite can also be true and your tags may need to be longer.
- Missing Title Tags – Pretty obvious but this section lists all pages without Title Tags. Even if you’re not actively trying to increase the search presence for a particular landing page, you should still have a descriptive Title Tag in place.
- Non-Informative Title Tags – An example of a “non-informative title tag” can be seen below, with the Title Tag “Untitled Document.” This tag tells users nothing about what’s on that particular page, which is not going to help users navigate to that page via SERPs.
- Non-indexable content – This shows you issues with pages containing non-indexable content, such as some rich media files, video, or images.
OK, now that you’ve found areas for HTML improvements on your site, I recommend using the “Download Table” feature which exports everything into a handy CSV doc. Then it’s as easy (and tedious) as revising your tags so they are unique, descriptive of that particular page and within the allotted character count. Although fixing duplicate tags may be a “small win” in SEO, everything counts and this tool certainly makes the process easier.