Dear SEO Professional,
Here, have a seat for a moment.
I want to know how you’re getting along with Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
We have already talked about the ins and outs, intricacies, and the tools available — Google seems to be a very caring and giving other half of your relationship.
With all this SEO love available as raw material, it’s about time we deepen your relationship.
You’ve seen each other for a while so it’s time to take it to the next level.
And that requires a bit of time and effort, but so does any long-term relationship.
I want to cover a few areas where you can squeeze some juice out of the fruits of your labors in the vineyard of SEO.
These are but a few ways you can actually make use of what is available to you.
We’re going to talk about how using the Search Queries section can help you better see and understand the cause and effect of queries, impressions, keywords, changes over time, clicks, and so much more.
Oh we’ll also touch on Author Stats and, of course, a bit about linking (how can you not, right?)
You Did Confirm Your Relationship Already, Right?
I’d like to assume you’ve already done this, but so I can sleep better at night knowing I’ve covered everything, let’s just double-check that you have confirmed ownership of your website, right?
Confirming the website is very simple and there are many methods to select from. The easiest way of confirming is by using your domain name provider, who is a partner with Google. Google has several partners around the globe who are willing to help you set up any verifications you need to use Google Webmaster Tools in just a few short clicks.
Another way to confirm is to use HTML. Uploading an HTML document to the root folder and adding the correct meta tag on the website homepage allows you to confirm without much difficulty. If you already have a Google Analytics account, the website can be verified there instead.
Once a website is confirmed and verified it only takes a short time for Google to gather the information you need on your website. The process can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days depending on the size of the website and data needed.
Alright, now on to the juice…
Squeezing Juice Out Of Search Queries
This, obviously, displays keyword and traffic information that is crucial to operating your website. GWT allows users to get a bit more holistic view on their website statistics. Sure, Google Analytics shows a breakdown of traffic, but GWT is more about giving you a clear idea of your traffic potential (by rankings across search results and impressions, for example).
While I wouldn’t depend on GWT for these things (it can sometimes be behind and not in “real time”), the main purpose isn’t necessarily to give minute-by-minute insight on rankings but rather show overall, major trends.
You can break down the Search Queries section into five key areas:
- Query: This gives you a better understanding of your keywords. This section displays the rankings of your keywords, so that you can get a better map of how specific keywords are bringing in traffic. The rank can affect both SERPs and active traffic, so this information is important to analyze. With the help of the Query indicator, you can identify relevant keywords to boost in your pursuit of linking or further optimizing your content.
- CTR (Click-Through Rate): This rate is a percentage representing the number of people clicking on your website directly in the search results. If these rates are low, it is a clear indication that your meta description and title need to be improved. This also allows you to target the content more towards the potential reader, and entice them to visit your page. A strong call to action that appeals to a broad traffic will help improve the chances that people will want to see what you have to offer them.
- Average Position: This informs you where your site typically ranks according to keywords. The top two positions are the most likely to be selected during a search, so this metric is generally used to measure how your ranking is improving regardless of traffic increases or sales.
- Impressions: This is important if you want to know how many people are viewing your website for a specific search term. This metric allows you to sense what sections of your website are being viewed the most often. This goes hand-in-hand with the Query metric and the data you have collected from Google Keywords.
- Clicks: One of the most popular metrics. This section allows you to see how many of your visitors are actually clicking on content and allows you to see how your viewers are responding to search results.
Any Relationship Changes, So Spot The Changing Trends Over Time
The “With Change” feature is an excellent way to see how effective your newest SEO strategy is. When checking out the Search Queries section, you can activate this feature. By clicking the “With Change” button, the statistics shift, displaying both current and previous changes.
By displaying the performance over time, you get a great understanding of how your current SEO campaign is affecting your performance. This information is a useful way to see the effectiveness of your latest updates.
Also, if Google makes an update that affects typical ratings, you can see how the newest changes are effecting your SEO, giving you the opportunity to take corrective action as needed.
Continually tracking this information will make your website more adaptable and allow you to have a clearer understanding of which SEO techniques are effective on your website.
Taking Advantage of Individual Keywords Data
When you are ready to start taking advantage of individual keywords, you need to gather information on how they perform. To understand this, simply click on the keyword in the Search Queries section.
This will display keyword data on individual keywords, giving you insight on their rankings. Use this to aid your overall success when using the individual keywords as it helps you discover different elements in your content strategy that work.
One of the biggest benefits of this feature is that it allows you to more effectively target your keywords. It can help you to identify different connections that may have been previously overlooked.
When you see and understand the potential of the keyword, you can start to understand where to focus your content. This is especially important when posting new blog posts, articles, graphics, or videos to your website.
Opportunities To Optimize Your Top Pages Are Plenty
While you’re still viewing the Search Queries section, you might as well view the top pages. This metric is perfect for those who want to know which areas on your website are getting the most clicks and impressions. You can find opportunities here that are generally easy to take advantage of.
To spot them, look for pages that are either on the rise or decline. Obviously, if they’re declining, you should consider adding something to the page in terms of content (graphics, video, and not just more words), links, and sharing more on social media.
If you’re on the rise, you could use the same tactics of promotion and adding content.
Refine Your Page-Level Approach And Strategy
When you first created your website, you probably chose specific keywords for each page of content on your website, or if applicable, each section of your content, even.
Reversing that process allows you to quickly identify which keywords on each page rank where. With Google Webmaster Tools, you can uncover unexpected keywords that help you refine your content strategy.
After mapping out the individual keywords for the page, add these words to your content in a clear, natural way. Be sure to pay attention to title pages and the first paragraph of your article, as these sections are prime real estate in terms of SEO.
What About This Thing Called “Author Stats”?
Google has plenty of features that are still being refined in their labs section. The best ones seem to be added to the Google Webmaster Tools line up, while others simply fade away and become obsolete. One of the newest experiments is Author Stats.
Author Stats is a popular feature that allows you to connect your Google+ author account to all of your posts throughout the web.
Google Authorship allows searchers to find your guest posts easily, no matter where they are across the vast expanse of the internet.
This handy feature is all the rage in the SEO world, especially since it is as easy as adding a “rel=author” tag to your work.
Once you implement the tag as a link in your articles, your picture will appear next to the content when it is displayed in the search results. The feature will also clump your works together, allowing people to easily find what you have written.
Some might even go as far as speculating a feature for those wanting to see their Author Rank in the near future, similar to the Author Stats feature that allows you to identify current search statistics.
Previously, it was difficult to understand the traffic that posts outside of your website bring in. This data can be crucial when developing a guest posting SEO strategy. These tools will not only show you where people are finding your writing, but show you which links have real value, allowing you to scale your efforts in a more meaningful way.
They’re Talking About You: Links To Your Site Report
The Traffic section is where you must go to use the Links to Your Site report. This data is important because it shows the total number of links to your website. You will see who links to you the most often and how each piece of data is linked with an anchor text.
The Internal Links section is also very useful as it shows how your internal links are being used within your website. These are typically product and service pages if you have a business website. Revisiting this section regularly is a wise choice if you have many links on your page and need to be determined which ones need more links.
These reports are shown as a CSV file or a Google Doc. This allows you to further analyze these metrics and see which content is visited the most often under which anchor text phrases.
Your Relationship So Far…
See how you can make get more use out of GWT?
It can give you a unique perspective on your website and insight into your SEO strategy.
Exploring this data can give you a wealth of opportunities to understand the inner-workings of your site and help improve your overall performance.
These tools are as important to SEO professionals as Google Analytics is and utilizing both in your website development will help your site improve over time as new features are developed for both.
How about you, what are you getting out of your relationship with Google Webmaster Tools?