Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) provides many functions that are very useful to search engine optimizers. It is a free service provided by Google. My top 5 reasons for opening a GWT account are as follows:

1. Indexing – GWT provides a sitemap submission service. This allows you to submit an XML sitemap of all the pages on your site. By providing this to Google you are ensuring that all your web pages are found and indexed. Pages that Google cannot index will not appear in their search results and therefore you will not rank for the key phrases that page is targeting. It is important that all your pages are indexed and for new websites it is important that they are indexed quickly. This feature will help the process.

2. Geographic Target – If you possess a .com website and you only target 1 country then you are best off setting your geographic target to Ireland (.ie) if you are an Irish based business. Google will associate your website with Ireland and this will help you in the local searches on Most people search on local search engines so gaining improved rankings would be very important for your business.

3. Link Analysis – Inbound links are possibly the most important ranking factor. Gaining any information on the links pointing to your site is highly important. As Google is the most popular search engine, finding out what link records they have is very important. GWT can provide information on both your inbound links and your inner links.

4. Geographic Target – If your website is solely targeting Ireland and you have a .com TLD then your website is at a disadvantage on local search engines. Most people search through local search engines like so it is important that you level the playing field. Ideally your website should have a .ie TLD but for many reasons this option is not always available to businesses. To fix this you can set a geographic target in GWT. Google will then associate your .com website with being from Ireland.

5. Geographic Target- If you have a .com TLD and you are solely targeting the Irish market then it would make sense for you to use a .ie TLD instead. Changing your domain name is not something that you should do without some serious contemplation of the consequences, as it can affect your rankings and branding efforts negatively. For those websites that have a .com and only want to target Ireland then GWT will allow you to associate your .com website with a geographical target. This is ideal.