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Fixing Blog Issues via Google Webmaster’s Diagnostic Tool

Eww.

You’ve done a great job so far walking through the Google Webmaster Tools series – so proud of you! We’re near the end, so don’t quit now!

The next section is called “Diagnostics” and there’s some great information in here that you don’t want to miss.  In addition, there’s a lot to do as well (hopefully not, but most likely you will)!

What we’ll walk through is some of the more important elements and then you’ll be able to take it from there.

Let’s go, shall we?

Malware

The first section is called malware and hopefully you never have to jump in this section – but occasionally you may have a vulnerability or get hacked and you’ll know about it right quick!

Google will send out an email to you and let you know what they see from their side of things and suggest some ways to fix the issues. Read this extensive overview of how to clean out a site that might be infected.

The reason for fixing this as quickly as possible is obvious – loss of traffic to your blog and being de-listed is a possibility that you want to avoid! Hopefully most of you will see this when you visit this part of Diagnostics:

Whew!

Crawl Errors

The next section is a place that you’ll want to spend a good deal of time in. In fact, you’ll want to check this at least once a week to make sure that nothing crazy is going on!

Things to fix!

There are few things that you can do to prevent a number of crawl errors but what you can do is fix them as soon as you are able.

For most people you’ll spend the majority of your time in “Web” and not “Mobile CHTML” or “Mobile WML/XHTML” – and in regards to “Web” you’ll most likely spend most of your time in the “Not Found” area:

Ah.

As you can see I have a few things to fix!

I’ve already shared the best strategy to fixing these so visit this blog post here: Fixing and Redirecting 404 Errors.

That’s it! Make sure to visit weekly to keep this spot clean! And remember that for some of those that aren’t found there’s very little you can do about it since the originating post might be another person’s blog!

Crawl Stats

There’s nothing much to do here except look at the neat graphs of how often Google crawls your site. You can change the rate at which they do this in the Site Configurations portion of the tool.

Ooh. Pretty.

That’s about it! It is good to know that the Crawl stats takes into account all content types that we download (such as CSS, JavaScript, Flash, and PDF files, and images). They also include AdSense fetches too.

Moving along…

Fetch as Googlebot

This handy tool allows you to see a particular page or post on your blog just the way Google does. It’s helpful for troubleshooting a particular post or page’s performance in regards to search results.  The following information is outputted just for you:

  • The HTTP response returned by your server
  • The date and time of your crawl request
  • HTML code
  • The first 100KB of visible (indexable) text on a page. If there is no content, it may indicate that your page is generated entirely from JavaScript or rich media files, not text-based content. You should review this text to make sure that it doesn’t include unexpected content, which could indicate that your site has been hacked. (Note: Googlebot may crawl more than the first 100KB of text.)

Only 10? Ah...

This is also helpful if your site has been hacked or compromised.

HTML Suggestions

The final section of the Diagnostic portion is HTML Suggestions and can help you further optimize your meta descriptions, title tags, and provide solutions for non-indexable content.

You could spend some time in this section so just make sure you take a look every week for any changes or to see if anything is out of the ordinary.

A few things to check out.

I’ve already spent all the time that I need to optimize my blog and although they’ve found some issues on my blog all of them are either outside of my control or not important enough to handle.

For example, the Community Forums that we have runs a software application called vBulletin which doesn’t do a good job of meta-description management per thread. As a result Google sees duplicate meta descriptions all over the place:

Sigh.

There’s nothing I can really do (or care) about this especially since I’m not making the content indexable directly – you have to be a member to view the content! So I can just skip over this very quickly.

The second example is title tags:

Opportunity for improvement?

Here we see that I have some duplicate title tags, especially on my categories. Again, no big deal since I opt to not index content via the category level – only the single post layer. Read this post on canonicalization for more information.

Otherwise this section is entirely clean as well. What you’ll want to do is make sure that if you do have a few posts that might have similar title tags that you go back and change/update those so that they don’t compete with each other for search results.

Again, the point is this: These issues don’t prevent your site from being crawled or indexed, but paying attention to them can improve the user experience and even help drive traffic to your site. For example, title and meta description text can appear in search results pages, and useful, descriptive text is more likely to be clicked on by users.

Great! Feeling good about your optimization efforts so far? You should be! We’re almost through to the end!

[This is part of the Bloggers Guide to Google Webmaster Tools.]