Google Webmaster Tools

You Have a Very Useful Web Analytics Tool, But Are You Using It?

Whenever I ask an online marketing manager what they are doing for Web Analytics, I get the same reply: “Oh, we have (insert product name here, usually ‘Google Analytics’)”.  This is a fine response, but it doesn’t really answer the question of “What are you doing (or not using) for Web Analytics”.  A better reply would be “I’m monitoring the bounce rates of my organic landing pages” or “I’m analyzing how people interact with different colors on my navigation menu” or even “I’m just spending fifteen minutes a day, usually while stuck in a meeting, to look for really big and obvious problems”.

But we don’t say these things because we really aren’t doing them.  At some point in the past, someone installed Google Analytics on the website and, for too many of us, that’s it.  But the point of any tool is not to have the tool, not to install the tool, but to use the tool.  Nobody goes to the hardware store because they need a quarter-inch drill bit – they go because they need a quarter-inch hole.  Likewise, nobody needs a Web analytics tool for the sake of having one, but we all need to know what’s going on with our website visitors.

I’m not talking about analyzing the small, subtle behavior patterns of your visitors or advanced statistical analysis.  I’m talking about big, gaping problems with your website that, if no one has been keeping an eye on the analytics, are almost certain to exist.  Things like the bounce rate on your web site has doubled since you redesigned it three months ago.  Or that not one person has clicked on that flashy “Request a Free Trial” button that’s taking up a third of your home page. These are big issues, revenue-killing issues that should be easy to spot in any analytics solution.

So, if you aren’t already using your web analytics tools, I urge you to spend fifteen minutes a day, possibly while stuck in a meeting, to look for really big and obvious problems on your website.  If no one at your organization has done this before, I can almost guarantee you’ll find them.

If you aren’t sure where to start, Nowspeed offers analytics consultation for Google Analytics, Omniture, and many other platforms that includes setting up Goal Tracking, Dashboards, or even implementing the web analytics solution if you’re starting from scratch.  Please contact us to talk it over.

Google Webmaster Tools – A Quick Introduction to the GWT Dashboard

Back sometime in 2007, Google was continually rolling out new features into what is currently known as Google Webmaster Tools. Over the years Google Webmaster Tools ( GWT ) kept providing more insight into what Google knows about your website including search and link stats, found issues, and even site performance metrics.

This post is to serve as a quick introduction to the Google Webmaster Tools dashboard and help provide an understanding of what those dashboard metrics mean and how you can begin to take action and help contribute to your company’s SEO effort.

The Google Webmaster Tools dashboard is laid out in a comfortable and well-know Google format – highlighted website KPI’s occupy the right 2/3 of the  screen, and simple navigational aids anchor the left-hand side of the screen. The key pieces of information that Google shares with a webmaster tools user are the following reports; the Search Queries, Crawl Errors, Keywords, Links, and Sitemaps. Each report can help you identify weaknesses (and strengths) in your website, as well as help guide your ongoing SEO effort.

Search Queries Report
The Search Queries report provides a 30-day snapshot of impressions and clicks that occurred with your site when a Google search engine user typed in a search query in its search box. You can then drill down into more specific data about where your site ranked when it was visited. This is important for understanding how your site ranks on specific keyword searches, its visibility and how it is helping to drive visitors to your site.

Crawl Errors
If your site lacks visibility in the search results page, the Crawl Errors report can help you identify the pages within your website that Google is having trouble with. These reports can help your IT staff identify pages that are not found, unreachable or even restricted to be crawled and indexed by Google. Investigate the issues and work with your site administrator to resolve as many issues as possible.

Keywords
The keyword significance report relays information about the most weighted keyword found within your site. The weighting of the keyword is derived from its use in content within the site and the inclusion of the keyword into the HTML elements found within your website. If your company’s “shortlist of desired keywords” are not appearing near the top, it is time to reevaluate your content and website structure.

Links to Your Site
Google is much more transparent once you are a verified user and site owner in GWT. The inbound link report or Links to Your Site is the current number of trusted links pointing to pages within your website. It is not uncommon for your homepage to have the most number of inbound links pointing to them, but this report can also help you identify the high value SEO pages that have a disproportionate low number of  links.

Sitemaps
Google wants to know about your pages contained within your website. By submitting a sitemap in a GWT supported format, you can provide Google with a list of the pages that should be indexed and shown within the search results pages. Once your sitemap is submitted, the dashboard will highlight the number of pages indexed. This can help you find your submitted website pages to indexed pages ratio. Knowing this information can help map areas of your site that are being indexed as well as help encourage Google’s crawl bot to index new pages.

The Webmaster Tools Dashboard is essential for marketers and webmasters to begin to understand how Google views your website and the areas that need attention or focus to make improvement and strides into your website’s visibility and SEO effort.