So, you’ve finally launched that brand new website. You’ve invested a lot of time getting the design to look just right, creating that all-important content to draw in your visitors and keep them engaged, and you’ve hooked up a couple of social media profiles to start your online marketing efforts.

The good news, is that you’ve already done much of the hard work. The bad news, is that there’s still a lot to do.

Though it may sound obvious, websites don’t look after themselves. If you’re going to enjoy any kind of long-term success with your site, you’re going to have to put some effort in.

Maintaining your site

There’s a lot goes into maintaining a website post-launch. Along with all the back-end tasks that need doing if your site is to remain fast, healthy and properly secure, there’s also the process of ensuring that you’re drawing in new visitors on a regular basis, encouraging them to use your site and ultimately invest in whatever product or service you happen to be promoting.

One of the easiest ways to do that of course, is to pay close attention to your Search Engine Optimisation efforts, getting your pages seen for the right reasons by the right people, and compelling them to click your links over those of your competitors.

Thankfully, the world’s biggest search engine, Google, is on hand to help us do just that with their free Webmaster Tools.

Never heard of it? Worry not, dear reader. We’ve got you covered with this beginners’ guide.

Who should use Webmaster Tools?

To be brief, anybody and everybody who either owns a website, or has a vested interested in the results of that site, such as marketers, SEO professionals and business owners.

Whether you’re simply maintaining a blog, or running a fully functioning store on a shared web hosting package, a large amount of your website is likely to come from Google itself, so why wouldn’t you want to use free tools to make your web presence as Google-friendly as possible?

How does it differ from Google Analytics?

Webmaster Tools isn’t necessarily a replacement for the popular Google Analytics. With the latter, you’re essentially measuring your existing traffic, analysing where those visitors are coming from and how they’re finding you.

With the former, you’ve got some powerful tools at your disposal to take all that data and use to create strategies for attracting new visitors and improve both the performance and overall user experience of your site.

What can I do with Google Webmaster Tools?

An awful lot. By looking at key data such as traffic insights, keyword metrics, and even how your site is performing speed-wise, you can gain a much clearer understanding around what is -and isn’t- working on your site, and put that to work in maximising your SEO efforts, and building towards the long-term success of your site.

How do I get it set up on my site?

More good news now, getting set up with Webmaster Tools is as straight forward as you’d expect from a company like Google. Just head to the Google Webmaster Tools homepage, sign in with your existing Google account (or create one if you need to) and add a site. From there, you’ll need to verify that you actually own the site, but even this isn’t as difficult as it may sound.

Also see: How to Add Blogger Blog to Google Webmasters Tools

Either drop a small piece of code into your site, or, if your site is hosted with a provider such as GoDaddy, simply log into your hosting account, and have Google manage the whole verification process for you in just a few clicks of a mouse.