In general, website owners are referred as Webmasters. There are various tools required for the webmasters to optimize their site and make sure their site is shown in the search engines for the selected queries and Webmaster Tools is a package offered by a Search Engine provider for the same purpose. Every search engines like Google, Bing, Baidu and Yandex provides their own set of tools to optimize the site to index and display in their search results.
We explain here the common features available in all the Webmaster Tools:
Webmaster Tools (WMT) is the only way you can submit your site to Google whereas Bing, Baidu and Yandex offers anonymous site submission. This makes sure that only site owners can submit their site to Google which is not the case with other search engines. Hence, you can submit your site to any search engines and the listing is purely depends on your content quality and the algorithm followed by each search engines. After adding a URL, you need to verify your ownership by adding a HTML code in your home page in every WMT account to start using other features.
We strongly recommend you to submit the site yourself instead of choosing paid listing services.
Sitemap is a navigation system helps the search engine crawlers to identify the structure of your site in order to understand the content appropriately. The example sitemap format is http://www.webnots.com/sitemap.xml and this is different than the HTML sitemap which you use in your site.
After submission and verification of your site it may take up to a week for the search engine crawlers to go through your site and index it in the database. The crawling time can be different for each search engine and you do not have a control over the frequency of crawling. What is important here is the crawling errors which need your attention. For example, if you see an error like no authorization to access, then you need to check your domain authorizations to make sure the search engines can crawl your pages.
WMT shows both internal and external links to your site. Internal links are the one you used to navigate from one page of your site to another page and external links are the one pointing to your site by someone else. External links are also called as Backlinks. This is the most useful information you need to check and make sure you have a good amount of links pointing to your site and your site does not have any broken links. Search engines consider the backlinks and broken links as a great factor for listing in the top of the search results.
This section provides the list of the search queries brought traffic to your site. You can analyze every query and the landing pages in detail and optimize the content accordingly to provide better user experience.
There are various other features like indexed pages, Sitelinks and linking author information to your search results which are specific to one or other WMT. Refer our separate sections on each WMT in detail to understand more.