Webmaster Tools & Google Analytics
When trying to optimize a website, Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are both invaluable resources. It’s important to understand how these programs work and how to use them to one’s best advantage.
How to Set up Webmaster Tools
Google makes a program called Webmaster Tools that allows webmasters to take control of their websites. It also gives Google a way to communicate with you about your website, as the company will send communication to your Gmail account. This program is entirely free so there is no reason not to get it. Here is how to sign up:
• Sign in to your Google account. If you don’t already have one, just go to a Google search screen and click on ‘You.’ Google will then walk you through the process to sign up for an account with a Gmail address.
• Next, go to www.google.com/webmasters/tools. You can sign in with your Google account.
• Click on the button that says ‘Add a Site’. It will prompt you to add the URLs of your websites.
• Google will offer you various ways to verify that you are indeed the webmaster.
• Create and submit a sitemap. There are XML sitemap programs that will make this easy.
There are a variety of uses for a Webmaster account. Explore the program and see which applications are best for you.
Benefits and Use of Webmaster Tools
While not as focused on hard data as Google Analytics, there are several ways that you can use Webmaster Tools to improve SEO.
• Create and upload an XML sitemap that tells Google what areas of the website to index. There are several programs and plug-ins that will make creation easy. After this, you simply upload the file to Webmaster Tools.
• Check to see if you have duplicate pages or duplicate content, to improve PageRank. These little dings can pull down PageRank immensely.
• Look at inbound links. These are an important part of optimization. Generally, more links are better as long as these come from reputable websites.
• See what keywords and phrases bring the most traffic to your website. You then can optimize further for these and also try similar ones.
• Run a Web Crawl Diagnostic to examine what search engine crawlers see when they explore your website. This will tell you about simple SEO issues such as bad links or pages that cannot be crawled.
How to Set up Google Analytics
Setting up a free Google Analytics just as easy as setting up Webmaster Tools. Just follow these steps.
• Set up a Google account and email if you haven’t already.
• Go to www.google.com/analytics and sign in with your Google account.
• Verify your account as directed by Google. This usually involves pasting a short piece of code onto a hidden area of your page.
• Set up your account. Check the boxes that you are interested in. Be sure to agree to share data with other Google products if you also have a Webmaster Tools account. In addition, check the Adsense box if you use Adsense.
•Install the code onto the website(s). This is usually as simple as copy and pasting it, although there are instructions for programs that will require more complicated installations.
Use of Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a one stop shop for most of a webmaster’s marketing needs. You can watch a website’s data while making changes to find the best SEO strategy for your website and your unique market. Here are a few special features that every webmaster should be using.
• Monitor traffic, including numbers, where they came from, and when they left.
• Create reports including data such as conversion rates, bounce rates, and abandonment rates.
• Track incoming traffic from different keywords.
• Examine bounce and abandonment rates of this traffic, including where and when people leave the website. This can tell you if you are optimized for the wrong keywords.
•Create goals, such as a number of visits, and tracked them based on data including number of visits, time spent on the site and individual pages, and the number of pages that were visited by each viewer.
How to Monitor Traffic
Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools are both important ways of monitoring a website. However, both are crucial in monitoring traffic related to SEO. Here are a few ways to improve optimization using these programs.
• See what keywords are bringing organic search traffic. Pay attention to the keywords that appear under the heading ‘(not provided)’ as these contain keywords that you haven’t been actively tracking.
• Track the success of new keywords. This is especially important if you have been trying new long tail phrases. Pay careful attention to the click through rate, which tells you how many people see your search engine results and click on them. The best optimization is useless if customers are for some reason not clicking, so this should be dealt with as soon as possible.
• Find surprise keywords that you did not purposely optimize for and increase your rank for these.
• See which landing pages are more likely to hold a customer’s attention and convert to sales.
Don’t be afraid to play around with all of Google’s tools and find out which information is most useful to you. There are so many possibilities that can be applied to SEO.
Third Party Analytics
Google has a variety of tools. However, they are best utilized by people who are already proficient in SEO. There many benefits of using third party analytics.
First, third party analytic tools are usually more user friendly. They can be used by people with no knowledge of SEO whatsoever. As people develop Search Engine Optimisation knowledge, third party tools also offer more functions and capabilities than the free Google programs.
Second, third party tools can track more search engines. Google tools of course will only give you information about Google searches. Because many people use other search engines, it is important to have this data.
Last, third party analytics allow you to compare your statistics to those of your competitors. This can help you to analyze a website’s performance and set more realistic goals.