Site-Building Challenge Day 8: Google Webmaster Tools for WordPressOne of the consistent themes we’ll remind you of in this series, and beyond, is the need to understand Google and how it works.

While Google isn’t the only search engine, it does command more than 60 percent of search volume. If you want to succeed as an affiliate marketer, you’ll have to make sure Google’s search engine spiders can easily index your site.

Yesterday, you went through the steps of setting up Google Analytics. Today we’re going to set up and install Google’s Webmaster Tools on your WordPress site.

But before we go through the steps you’ll need to take, let’s cover what Webmaster Tools is and why it’s important for your affiliate site.

What is Webmaster Tools?

Webmaster Tools is a suite of diagnostic tools for webmasters that allows them to check the status and visibility of their sites during the indexing process. (If you don’t know what indexing is, it’s when the search engines look at your site to determine what the content is about.)

Through Webmaster Tools, you can submit a sitemap, which helps Google find every page on your site more easily, see what keywords people using to find your site, and check for any errors, such as 404’s (Page Not Found) that might be on your site. We’re not going to go into detail about how you’re going to use this information today. Instead, we’ll simply focus on getting Webmaster Tools set up and installed.

Now let’s discuss why this information matters.

Why is Webmaster Tools important?

From Google’s perspective, it wants websites to be easy to index and in good-working order. This suite of tools helps confirm that your site is working by pointing out a variety of errors that webmasters often uncover – DNS errors, broken links or content that isn’t optimized for the right keyword. Webmaster Tools helps you take a proactive approach to finding these errors.

Now that you know what it is and why it’s important, let’s install Webmaster Tools on your website.

How to install on your WordPress site

Here are the steps you’ll need to follow to install Webmaster tools correctly.  (Don’t be intimidated. It’s not hard …  there are just a lot of steps to follow for this one.)

1.    Login to your WordPress dashboard
2.    On the left-hand side, navigate to Plugins-> Add New
3.    In the search dialog box, search for “Webmaster Tools Verification”
4.    In the list, install the plugin “Webmaster Tools Verification”
5.    Activate the plugin
6.    Go back to Plugins-> Add New
7.    Search for “Google XML Sitemaps”
8.    Install the plugin
9.    Activate the plugin
10.    Go to Google Webmaster Central
11.    Login with your Google/Gmail account
12.    On the home page, click the “add a site” button
13.    Enter the URL of your site (include www if your site resolves to www)
14.    Click continue
15.    Select the “alternate method” tab
16.    Select “add a meta tag to your site’s home page
17.    Copy the string of numbers and letters in the content key ( see the image below … don’t copy the quotes!)
18.    Go back to WordPress
19.    Go to Tools-> Webmaster tools verification
20.    Paste the code in the box for Google and save changes
21.    Go back to Google
22.    Click verify
23.    Go back to WordPress
24.    Go to Settings->XML Sitemap
25.    Click at the top to activate your sitemap
26.    Go back to Google and enter your sitemap URL (yoursite.com/sitemap.xml), then click verify
27.    You should receive a confirmation message. Now you’re done!

Site-Building Challenge Day 8: Google Webmaster Tools for WordPressAdditional Resources

There’s much more information about the uses of Google Webmaster Tools than we can cover in this post. Once you have your site set up, go back to these links and study them in depth.

Google Webmaster Central — The best place to start when working with Webmaster Tools.
Google Help Forum – Any questions or concerns? This active forum can help.

Action Items
If you don’t want to follow the step-by-step instructions, here’s a short list of what you need to do:

•    Install Google XML Sitemaps plugin
•    Install Webmaster Tools Verification plugin
•    Setup Webmaster Tools account
•    Verify Meta content key
•    Submit XML sitemap to Google

Next week we’ll be finishing up our WordPress configuration and working on site content.

If you have any questions or ideas about using Webmaster Tools as an affiliate marketer, please post them in the comments.