Google is actually quite good at telling you just what’s wrong with your website – all you have to do is ask. And you can “ask” via Google Webmaster Tools.
To get started, you’ll need to set up an account. Visit http://google.com/webmaster/tools and click the “sign up” button in the upper right corner of the screen. You will need a Google account to sign up, but this is free and easy to obtain – and if you already have a gmail account, you’re all set.
Next, you’ll need to add your website to your webmaster tools account. To do that, click the “Add a Site” button and enter your site’s URL. You be asked to download an HTML file from Google, then upload that file to your site’s root using either an FTP client such as Filezilla or your cPanel file browser. This allows you to confirm to Google that you do own the site. Once the file is uploaded, click the “verify” button.
Google will now begin crawling your site (they’ll do this anyway, but adding the site to Google Webmaster Tools allows you to control how and when they crawl, as we’ll see in a bit), reporting errors, and letting you know about any problems they find.
Expedite Crawling with a Sitemap
A Sitemap gives Google all the information they need about your pages in one file, rather than waiting for their spiders to index your pages organically. This can help Google find pages and posts it might not otherwise discover, and help make the discovery process faster.
You can manually create and upload a sitemap (Google provides the instructions here: http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=183668), but if you’re using WordPress, it’s much easier to simply use a plugin. Many of the SEP plugins offer this feature, and there are a few stand-along plugins that will create Sitemaps as well.
Monitor for Malware
Want to know what will really cause your site to tank in the SERPs? Uncontrolled malware infections. This generally means your site has been hacked, and if Google discovers it, they will include a nasty warning in their search results. Left unchecked, they’ll delist your site completely. After all, it’s definitely not a “good user experience” to visit a potentially dangerous site.
Fortunately, if your site is registered with webmaster tools, Google will let you know about any suspicious files it finds. You’ll see these notifications when you log in.
Remove Pages from Search Listings
You probably have pages that should not appear in the search results. Thank you pages, download pages, and member-only pages could be harmful if they’re accidentally discovered. Others, such as your contact page, simply don’t need to be indexed.
Using Google Webmaster Tools, you can have these pages removed from the search results.
Paying attention to how Google sees your site, which pages are indexed and when, and watching for hacking will all help keep your site in Google’s good graces.