We’ve all heard of Google and probably understand that it can be a valuable tool for sending visitors to your website, but did you know that you can improve your site using a few simple Google tools? Google Analytics and Google Search Console are two resources that can help you optimize your site, deliver a better experience to your readers, and improve website traffic.
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Of the two tools, Google Analytics is probably the most common. Once connected to your site, it provides information on your website traffic sources and user behavior on your website. If you decide to monetize your site, Google Analytics also integrates with Google Ads and Adsense.
How To Use Google Analytics
When I better understand how my visitors are using my site, I have a starting point for improving my site to better fit their needs. I recommend looking at one or two metrics at a time. Then as you improve in those areas, you can focus on new ones. Here are a few examples:
- Google Analytics shows how visitors reach your site. This is important for increasing what is working and improving what isn’t. For example, I can see which websites are referring visitors to my site and plan future collaborations around those. Or I can see if my Pinterest traffic drops and adjust my pin-worthy images or Pinterest activity accordingly.
- You can also track most popular time of day, which is helpful for knowing when to use your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
- Visitors by location may be useful for you if you’re targeting local customers.
- User retention provides insights into new vs returning visitors. When growing a blog, both are important metrics. If you aren’t offering new content regularly, your return visitors will drop. If you aren’t receiving new visitors, then you know you need to increase your traffic promotion.
- Device type is always important to me. Are my visitors mostly mobile? If so, is my website mobile friendly?
- What pages are users visiting? How can I improve those pages and create more like them? If a product page is receiving a lot of traffic, but not a lot of orders, why am I not converting on it?
- What is my average session length and bounce rate? Are visitors coming to stay on my site, or taking a quick look and leaving? Website hits are great, but interaction is the goal.
Google Search Console
Formerly Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console helps improve your site’s performance on Google searches, but it can also alert you of potential issues on your site. This one is a little less intuitive to use, but worth connecting to begin collecting data from your website for advanced SEO work down the road. Here are a few examples:
- See what search terms are driving traffic to your website. For example, “WordPress blog design services” sends traffic to my site. This is helpful for selecting key words and writing snippets. As I publish new content, I want to make sure those words are included when applicable.
- Review your external links. You can see which pages on your website have been linked to the most on other websites around the web, like which of your posts other bloggers are sharing. You can also see the top link referrers (sites) here and top referred terms (like blog design by Christi Fultz). External links are a major key to growing your new site.
- You can also review your internal links. Remember, to help people navigate your site and all your content then you need to include links to and from your posts and pages.
- Submit site maps to help google “crawl” or index your site. You can tell it to ignore certain pages that you don’t want to show up in search results, which can help narrow down your most important pages in user searches. The Yoast SEO plugin can help with this.
- View your site how Google sees it. You can input any link from your site and check to make sure it’s on Google.
- Get alerts and fix errors quickly. If there’s a crawl error, spam, etc. you will receive an emailed alert.
Dig Deeper into Google Tools
After your site is up and running and you’re consistently putting out valuable content, it’s time to analyze how well your site is performing so you can make informed marketing decisions going forward. This is where using Google Analytics for SEO and Google Search Console for performance can make a big difference. This related post has more info.
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