This is the place where you can see if Google has been unsuccessful in finding pages on your website, if your sitemap shows a vast difference between the number of pages indexed versus the number of pages submitted, this area might highlight the problems you have got.
So if Google cannot successfully crawl a webpage, you will find that pages link listed in this area. When you land on the dashboard of your webmaster tools, you’ll immediately see your site errors, they are split into 3
- DNS Errors, – this means that Google cannot communicate with your server, or your website is not there!
- Server Connectivity – if there is an error here its typically a speed one, perhaps the server timed out….it could be of course that your site is blocking the search engines
- Robots TXT Fetch – If you want some of your content blocked from the search engines then you need a robots txt file Google always starts a crawl with this file, if it can’t be reached the crawl is abandoned. If you don’t want certain parts of your site blocked then you don’t need this file.
If you are getting any of these errors, you need to jump onto them straight away – all of them can really impact how the search engines view you site and your online reputation so they need to be fixed immediately.
Underneath your site errors, is the second part, your crawl errors. These specific pages on your site that were not available to be crawled. When you click through to the crawl errors, you will see 3-4 tabs (you mat not see the last one if it is not relevant)
- Smart Phone
- Feature Phone
- Android application
Under each tab you will then see the errors that have occurred corresponding to the different crawling mechanisms Google uses. Typically there are 6 errors you will see
- Server Error (for urls) – typically a speed issue where the connection timed out, just check to make sure the URL is available
- Soft 404’s – This is when the server returns a real page from your site, but not the one that was requested – You need to make sure your server is configured correctly to always display a 404 page
- Access Denied – This could be pages where a password is required, or you may have blocked access on purpose to individual pages or groups of content.
- 404’s (page not found) – The most common – the search engine simply can’t find it
- Not Followed – these are links that Google can simply not follow
- DNS Errors for urls – this means that Google cannot communicate with your server, or your website is not there!
Whilst some of these errors may be absolutely fine, it is worth checking on a monthly basis to ensure all is working well. As a minimum you should clean up your broken links as these can affect usability – noone likes landing on a broken page!
Again this might be a job for your web designer, but it is worth getting them to complete it for you so that you know your site is running at its optimum.