Analyze and Improve Your SEO Campaigns with Google Webmaster Tools
The Google Webmaster Tools suite is one of the best tools available for tracking SEO campaigns, analyzing results, and optimizing your efforts for maximum return-on-investment (ROI) – and it’s absolutely free.
This powerhouse toolset allows you to view your website through the eyes of Google. You’ll receive valuable insight into critical performance elements such as which of your web pages have been indexed, what inbound links are pointed at them, and which keyword terms are drawing the most visitors to your website. The actionable data provided by Webmaster Tools helps ensure that your site is being fully indexed and has the best chance possible of ranking well in the search results.
Getting Started with Google Webmaster Tools
- Visit www.google.com/webmasters/ to sign up for a Webmaster Tools account.
- After your account is created, head over to the dashboard and verify ownership of your site’s domain. Your hosting provider may be able to facilitate this process through a pop-up window application that streamlines the verification procedure. Other options include verification by adding a simple Meta tag to your homepage, or uploading a Google HTML file to your site’s root folder.
- Once ownership is verified, Webmaster Tools will start collecting your site’s data within 24 to 48 hours.
Making Sense of the Data
The best place to start is with the Search Queries section, which provides you with a combination of traffic and keyword information that will give you important and actionable insights into website traffic potential as well as detailed site ranking data.
1. The Query indicators will show you the specific keywords that your site is ranking for. This “report card” is an accurate way of determining how effective your SEO campaign is at ranking for targeted keywords. You’ll be able to identify the most valuable keywords that are driving traffic to your site, as well as which “underperforming” keywords have high potential for boosting your search ranking but may need additional relevant backlinks or more content created in order to deliver optimal results.
2. The Impressions metric tells you how many people are viewing your listing in the search results, as well as which specific keyword search terms are attracting them. Optimizing for the best impression-generating keywords can help maximize your site traffic potential by eliminating unproductive keyword terms.
3. Clicks represent an important metric in tracking SEO campaign performance. This indicator tells you how many people are actually clicking through to your website after viewing your search results listing.
4. Your CTR (click-through-rate) is simply the percentage of search users who have clicked on your search listing out of the total number of people who have seen your listing in the search results. CTR can be improved by writing more complete and descriptive page titles and Meta description tags; be sure to include your targeted keyword term at the beginning of each tag. Another factor that has a strong influence on your CTR is including a call-to-action (CTA) in your Meta tags. Many users will respond to a simple nudge such as “Discover how,” “Click here,” or “Read more about.”
5. The Average Position metric shows you where your site is ranking for each keyword. Remember that your position on the results page has a direct bearing on the number of clicks you’re likely to receive – the first page of Google results for a given search term receives almost 90 percent of the traffic, with the first three positions on that page receiving more than 62 percent of the action.