dilbert webmasterDesigning and building a website is one thing, but maintaining the site is definately something else. I’ve met many website owners who thought that getting someone in to build up a website and turn it on is all there is to running a website.

What a hard lesson that was for them when it turns out that getting a website started was the easiest part of running your own website. Thankfully, there are a great many wonderful tools out there that webmasters have been using to help them manage their sites.

Here are some of the webmaster tools that I use everyday and definately can’t live without.

Google Webmaster Tools
http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools
As far as I’m concerned, this is the mother of all webmaster tools. If there is only one tool you have time for, this is the one. Why should you use this? Google being the dominant search engine is likely to be one of your top sources of traffic. As such, it would be in the best interest of any website to be friendly to GoogleBot (that Google robot that comes to visit your website to see what you have). Whatever GoogleBot finds out about your site is reported back to Google Webmaster Tools, so it makes sense to see what the ‘bot is happy or unhappy about.

Google Analytics
http://www.google.com/analytics/
Yet another ‘G’-tool. The analytic tools tells you about your site traffic, and this is an important information for any webmaster. For a free tool, the features available make GA one of the best analytics tool available. I personally like the ability to compare date ranges, and the being able to drill-down my content stats from site-level to individual page-level.

Firefox and its numerous plugins
http://www.mozilla.com/firefox/
If you’re a webmaster and you’re not using Firefox, you’re missing out on a great many tools available as plugin/addon for this great browser. The must have plugin for me is Yahoo!’s YSlow for Firebug (and Firebug itself). You can use Firebug to checking your webpages and a href=”http://www.cssnewbie.com/tool-review-firebug/”>troubleshooting problems. In addition, YSlow provides a grading on the performance of your website according to Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site.

Other plugins I have in my Firefox: Web Developer, SEO for Firefox, Colorzilla, Codetech.

Xenu’s Link Sleuth
http://home.snafu.de/tilman/xenulink.html
So what happens when you find that Google Webmaster Tools has reported a bunch of broken links on your site. That’s where Xenu’s Link Sleuth comes in. I’ve used this many times (on some very large sites), and it’s by far the fastest link checker I’ve seen. It’s great for locating that errant linking problem hidden in some obscure corner of your site. Highly recommended.

Search Engines
Google, Yahoo et al
Last but not least, the search engines themselves are great webmaster tools. Not only for searching for webmaster information and solutions (everyone knows that!). You can use special operators in that search box to find out more about your site in the engine’s index, or even about your competition. Did you know that you can find the number of articles that link from one site to another? How about searching for keywords that only appear in the page titles? Or, look for your webpages that were added to the search engine index yesterday?

Google provides a bunch of operators you can use in its search box, and Yahoo provides a few more functions that big G doesn’t do. Check out Bruce Clay’s extensive list of operators for each search engine.

If you know of any other great webmaster tools you can’t live without, do share.

Have fun!