Google Webmaster Tools New FeaturesAny SEO person worth their salt will tell you that one of the best ways to get your content quickly indexed in Google is to submit an XML sitemap through Google’s Webmaster tools… but apart from serving that purpose, what else does Webmaster Tools actually do? Well, as of today, we can say that it does much more than it used to. Google has just announced a new features.

Lets start with the new site dashboard. Graduating from simply giving you information on your keywords standings in Google, they have gone a little further and now offer a side by side comparison of your main keywords, where they rank, and even a click through rate for those keywords.

Since we talk about organic results in Google as being a “free” traffic, this is a new way to look at your keywords performance much in a similar light as what you would treat your AdWords campaigns. Finally, for the savvy SEOer, this should get you asking the right questions. Questions like: How can you craft your titles and descriptions to increase click through?

Google Webmaster Tools Top Search QueriesSo what’s else’s new? Next there’s the new “Top Search Queries” function which I think is probably the biggest improvement of them all. In short, it offers an entirely new page that tallies all of your highest performing keywords, where they rank, and gives an analytics style view of the traffic that each keyword is receiving.

You might be wondering “How’s this any different to most of the information Google Analytics provides this already?”. Good question… Although some of the information is similar, we see that the details in Google Webmaster tools to be more focused on treating your rankings like other forms of advertising. Google now gives you conversion information rather than the raw traffic stats. It’s now the best way to track what keywords are converting best in the SERPs… you can even take it a step further and locate those pages that aren’t converting as well, make the appropriate changes and bring in more traffic with no extra offpage link building.

Like anything new that Google provides, there is a level of criticism. People are asking, “Why not include this in Google Analytics?” I am not in a position to answer this but I for one welcome this change as I am used to monitoring my keywords and their performance in Webmaster tools. At the end of the day, I see only the positives from treating keyword performance in the SERPs like any other paid form of online marketing… it’s well overdue that SEOers start placing more emphasis on how we can convert those searches on the SERPs into visitors to our website.

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