If you've read my blog on Google Analytics, it's easy to see how helpful such a service is to your company's marketing campaign. Google Webmaster Tools, however, is a bit more intangible to a company owner because it's geared towards the web developer so its benefits, although quite powerful, are not as outwardly apparent.
While Google Analytics is tailored more towards marketing, Google Webmaster Tools works directly with Google's search engine and helps with the crawling, indexing, and other technical aspects of your website's Google Search presence. It works "behind the scenes" to help Google index your site more quickly and efficiently. In addition, just having your website registered with Google Webmaster Tools (as well as Google Analytics) can have a positive effect on your Google search engine ranking.
Some important features of Google Webmaster Tools (hereafter referred to as "GWT") are:
When Google crawls and indexes a website (especially a new one), all of the pages might not appear in Google's search results. GWT allows the web developer to create and upload what's called a sitemap.xml file. This is a file created by using a special code that lists all the pages of a website and how they relate to each other. GWT then uses the sitemap.xml file to crawl and index the site rather than its own haphazard default method of indexing.
Submit to Index
Google by default automatically crawls and indexes new websites on its own timetable, basically when it "gets around to it". This can sometimes take weeks. Google has a "Submit to Index" feature available outside of GWT that is geared towards non-web developers. This index submission feature does not guarantee that Google will index your site right away. However, the "Submit to Index" feature inside GWT has more options and is more powerful, and because it's part of GWT it will take precedence over non-GWT index submissions. What this means is that your website could show up in Google search more quickly.
GWT includes several "Health" options that lets the webmaster check for any errors that would prevent the website from being crawled or indexed properly. For instance, a website could be compromised with malware or a page could be blocked for a variety of reasons. GWT's Health options allow the webmaster to check and repair many website health issues.
"Backlinks" are incoming links from external sites. The more backlinks that your site has, the more popular your site is to search engines and the higher your site may get ranked in search engine results. GWT allows you to see the websites that contain links to your website. If you don't see a lot of backlinks, this means you need to start promoting your website through various online listing and social media sites (I offer these services).
There are many other GWT features that help Google Search crawl and index your website, but some of these features are a bit technical. Just remember that all of Google Webmaster Tools' features put together overall can have a positive effect on your website's Google Search engine health and ranking.