If I could take my website out for coffee, I would ask it all kinds of questions:
“How are you getting along with your buddy, Google?”
“Are you enjoying lots of visits lately?”
“What do people like about you? What are your best qualities? What about yourself do you think needs improvement? Tell me. Tell me please. TELL MEEEE!!”
Unfortunately, my website is not like an old friend I can obtrusively pry for details and share a lemon rhubarb scone with. Upon launch, my website was cast to the vast, cruel world of the Internet, without a word of farewell. And now, months later, I gotta wonder: is it really helping me achieve my business goals?
I mean seriously, haven’t you wondered the same about your website? “Is this thing really working?” You can corner prospects and ask them how they heard about your business, or count the number of customers coming in from your online store, but at the end of the day, wouldn’t it be nice to have an easy way to understand how your website is performing, and how it is benefiting (or hurting) your company?
Good news: there is. It’s called Google Webmaster Tools, Also Known as Search Console.
Google Webmaster Tools (Search Console)
Google Webmaster Tools is a free suite of tools provided by Google that gives you access to tons of data about your website. As Search Engine Watch contributor Jayson Demers says, “ at it’s core, Google Webmaster Tools is all about metrics: what’s getting indexed, what’s getting linked, and what’s getting ranked.”
To clarify some of those terms:
Indexed pages on Google have been stored in a data bank for it to search through to find a match to a user-fed query. Example: If your page about Pizza Delivery in Kelowna has been indexed by Google, chances are it will be plucked out for display on a user’s search query for “pizza delivery in kelowna”.
Linked pages are connected to another web document. Google perceives “high quality” links as a measure of trust in the linked page. Examples: If your website is being linked to from authoritative sites such as chamber of commerce websites or travel bureaus, major publications and company websites, Google approves.
Ranked pages have a position within the search results of a user fed query. Example: if you are a real estate agent in Kelowna, you would probably like to have your website homepage ranked in the number one organic position for the search query “Kelowna real estate agent”.
Determining what pages are being indexed, linked and ranked on your website is an important first step towards planning an SEO strategy. With this information, you can make decisions based on data, not guesses. And that’s why Google Webmaster Tools is so important; it stores and displays all of that “tactical gold” (Demers). Now you really can know how your website is doing.
For example, Google Webmaster Tools provides insights for:
- The keywords Google is ranking your website for.
- HTML errors that could be hindering your website from being ranked high on Google.
- The click-through rate on the pages of your site, and for keyword searches on Google.
- How fast your website is running (which is an important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm).
Think about the time and money you could save by using Google Webmaster Tools/Search Console to help you make decisions about how to tackle SEO and design changes for your website. Base your strategy in hard facts and you improve your chance of better results.
Want to get started with Google Webmaster Tools/Search Console?
My advice would be to work with an SEO/PPC manager who can help you integrate Google Webmaster Tools with Google Analytics and make the most of understanding your website data, including next steps such as organic search strategies and paid ad campaigns. It’s the next best thing to taking your website out for coffee.
We can help! at Navigator Multimedia.
Demers, Jayson. “How to Use Google Webmaster Tools to Maximize Your SEO Campaign.” 10 June 2013.
Photo credit: Alejandro Escamilla at Unsplash.