A Brief Chat About Google Analytics & Google Webmaster Tools
A short time ago I was asked by our local SEO Meetup to come and give a talk about Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. For those interested, the entire session was videotaped and you can watch it here!
The crowd was a pretty mixed bunch, from those who had never used the tools before to those who were seasoned pros. The trouble is, these tools have a ton of amazing functions and you could easily do a week long course on the uses of either, from basic to innovative and extreme.So understandably, the talk is a bit rushed as I tried to cram incredible amounts of information into eager minds!
For those who don’t have the time to watch the entire video, here’s a quick recap of what I covered. You can reference the video for more details:
Why Use These Tools?
- If you’re not using these tools, you’re missing out on a direct opportunity to capitalize on all the data you get back.
- This data can be used for everything from keyword research to improving your website’s design.
- There are also offline applications: like knowing which products you might want to put on sale or understanding your target market demographics
- They’re free and easy to install. Seriously, there’s no reason NOT to be using them.
- Make sure to install Google Analytics on a template or include level.
- Whether you put the GA code in your header or footer, be consisten.
- Ideally, register GA with an e-mail you can also register GWT with. The two services are merging! Your best option for implementing GWT is just to link it with GA and future-proof both.
Google Webmaster Tools
During my presentation I broke down the tools by the respective sections you’ll find when logged in. While I certainly can’t screen shot every function possible, here’s a brief outline of the various things you can accomplish with each tool using each section.
- Submit sitemaps, including .html, .xml, and the cruelly ignored .kml (hardcore local SEO? Yes please!)
- Create a robots.txt and block out pages and files you don’t want Google to see
- Emergency request the removal of a URL – make sure some things CAN’T be found (ie: private documents, etc.) – be sure to robots.txt those files first!
- Remove sitelinks (no adding them – Google determines this. You can help your cause by having killer, clean architecture)
- Tell Google my domain has moved (be sure to add & verify first!)
- Set my geographic target (Remember: you can register sub-domains as their own websites!)
Your Site On The Web
- Use “Search Queries” to explore examine keyword trends and rankings
- Use “Search Queries” to identify areas for content improvement or new opportunities
- Use “Search Queries” to discover if you’ve been hacked!
- Use date ranges and filters to greatly refine the data (and make it useable!)
- Use filters to understand how my mobile customers are searching
- Use “Links to Your Site” to identify key linking partners
- Use “Links to Your Site” to identify popular content (Use this to share more – and know who links out)
- Use “Links to Your Site – How Your Data is Linked” to evaluate anchor text profiles (Natural? Diverse?)
- Use “Keywords” to help guide and improve your content
- Use “Internal Links” to identify whether or not you’re giving new content link love
- Use “Subscriber Stats” to create a subscriber sitemap for Google
- Use “Malware” to find and identify malicious code on your site (File a reconsideration request with Google via GWT if malware exists, just be sure to clean it up first)
- Use “Crawl errors” to find out if your site is healthy (internal linking? Updated URLs?)
- Use “Crawl errors” to find out if your sitemap is current
- Use “Crawl Stats” to find out how crawl-able your site is
- Use “Fetch as Googlebot” to identify crawling, coding & content issues (how does Google see you?)
- Use “Fetch as Googlebot” to test your Robots.txt settings
- Use “HTML Suggestions” to identify duplicate content
- Use “HTML Suggestions” to identify lost SEO opportunities
- Use “HTML Suggestions to improve your click through rates (bonus: running a ppc campaign..?)
- Use “instant previews” to identify crawling errors (as if the other tools weren’t enough!)
- Use “Site performance” to gauge site speed – and improve user experience (..and maybe rankings!)
- Use “Settings” to grant client/agency access
- Use “Settings” to filter out company/personal IP addresses (keep in mind – these can change!)
- Use “Settings” to add/setup goals (make sure your pages are built first!)
(Dimensions, Advanced Filters, Regular Expressions & Comparative Date Ranges = Your 4 New Best Friends)
- Use “Overview” to get a sense for overall site performance (unique visitors and overall traffic)
- Use “Dimensions” to find highly specific information (combine data using the “dimensions” tabs found on each table)
- Use “Referring Sites” to identify potential linking/content opportunities; identify popular content (who is linking – and to what? How can you leverage this?)
- Use custom filters, regular expressions in “Keywords” to get highly specific information
- Use “Keywords” to evaluate the effectiveness of your targeted keywords (bounces, time on site)
- Use “Keywords” to identify new keyword opportunities (think of it as retroactive keyword research with real data!)
- Use “Keywords” & “Advanced Filters” to analyze and understand organic traffic gains/losses
- Use “Top Content” to identify popular content
- Use “Top Content” to identify canonical issues & duplicate content problems
- Use “Content Drilldown” to gauge user engagement per sub-domain
- Use “Top Landing Pages” & “Dimensions: keyword” & “Advanced Filter” to improve content; mapping
- Use “Top Exit Pages” to identify where you’re losing people’s attention
- Use “Overview” to track overall goal trends
- Use “Reverse Goal Path” to identify, simplify and improve your conversion activity
- Use “Funnel Visualization” to identify the pages driving the most interest in conversions
Visitors (Most of this information is more meaningful when combined with other metrics)
- Use “Map Overlay” to understand user demographics & identify new locales to target (get specific!)
- Use “Loyalty” to evaluate user interaction (how often are people coming back? Are they shopping around?)
- Use “Length of Visit” to evaluate user interaction
- Use “Depth of Visit” to evaluate user interaction
- Use “Browsers” & “Screen Resolutions” to check site design (Is your site optimal for multiple browsers and resolutions?)
- Use “Mobile Devices” to see if you’re a mobile traffic loser (Does your site look bad on mobile devices?)
Summing it Up
The biggest takeaways might vary from person to person, but here’s a few I think everyone can benefit from:
- Make sure you’re using these tools. It’s a no-brainer.
- Learn how to effectively use dimensions, regular expressions & filters in Google Analytics. This will turn overwhelming data into powerhouse, actionable information.
- Use GWT to understand how Google sees your site: your pages, links, content and keyword relevance. This is info straight from the source – don’t ignore it!
A big thanks to everyone who came to the session, it was a blast to share what I do for a living! For those who have questions, use the comments or tweet me at @cstechjoel.