When you set up a new site you’ll want to start tracking metrics so that you can optimize it over time. The first thing to do is set up a Google Analytics account for the site and make sure the tracking code is properly registered so that you can get accurate statistics. The next thing to do is set up a Google Webmaster Tools account for the site and link it to your Google Analytics site.
After setting these things up you can tell Google to go ahead and index the site for you. I did this after I felt like the new MaximizeYourMoney.com site was complete enough that it wouldn’t be embarrassing. It’s far from complete but it is far enough along that I want to let it start getting indexed so that I can see how things are going.
I set up the two things above then waited a few days and got an email from Google confirming that the site was indexed and a candidate for search results now. Sweet. While in the console I decided to check out a couple of other things to get a baseline – and I want to share these two “tips” with you…
Check your page for content keyword priority
Within Webmaster Tools click Google Index then Content Keywords. This will show you the words that Google believes – based on the content from your website – are most applicable for your site, and will therefor influence search results for your site. Here is the initial list that Google came up with on the early version of the MYM site:
I’m pretty happy with that initial list. Numbers 6 and 7 aren’t very useful, but they’re pretty low in significance. If you run this report and DON’T see words that you really want your site to be known for – go back to your site and start being more purposeful in your content creation. I didn’t just randomly get lucky for Google to index those words for us; I specifically targeted those words in advance (based on some keyword research I did to check search volume and competitiveness of different terms and phrases).
Check for site errors
One thing I noticed while in the portal, that wasn’t such a good thing, but easy to fix, is that Google was showing that my site had a few errors. To check for errors within Webmaster Tools, go to Crawl and then Crawl Errors. I was showing two errors, both of which were 404 errors on the site.
What had happened is that I had created a couple of pages on the site but afterward decided to rename the pages. But I forgot that I had already linked to those pages from other places (BTW, internal linking through your site is a great thing! It helps users navigate intelligently and it is also looked upon positively by Google for SEO purposes).
It’s nice that Google not only reports the errors, but tells you on which page the error exists, and if there is a 404 (page not found) like in my case, it will even tell you all of the places that link to that page. Once you know that, it is easy enough to go fix. Either fix the links directly (best idea) or you can set up a redirect from the old URL to bump the traffic over to the new URL.
(Yeah, I know, that isn’t a very good image. But right after I saved it, I fixed the error, so I can’t recapture it again right now. Just squint to see it. ;->)
Once you fix the errors on the site you can tell Google that the error has been fixed (a simple “mark as fixed” button is shown). Then the error will drop from the list and only show up again if Google notices the error still on future index runs.
Getting any search traffic?
Lastly, while in the console I decided to check on search traffic. Since the site is only about two months old, and I didn’t “announce” it to Google until a few days ago (because of all the random filler text I had online) – there was no expectation of any search traffic. So I wasn’t surprised to see “0 clicks” to the site.
That is a key report though that I’ll be checking over time. The first step is making sure Google is aware of and properly logging words that are important for your site, and the next step will be effort toward making the site actually show up in search results. Not just show up, but also getting people to click on the search result page.
To check the search traffic – and what search queries generated the traffic – click on Search Traffic then Search Analytics.
Just throwing a website online doesn’t do any good unless people go there, and one of the best ways to get traffic to your site is to make sure the content is properly indexing and properly showing up in search results. So go check this for your own site and also check on it on a regular basis. Early on you might want to check it weekly (I probably will) but once you are okay with the progress you can back off a bit and maybe check on it monthly. Of course if you’re actively making changes to optimize things you may want to check more frequently to make sure the changes are having the impact you expect.
[Update: 5/1/16]: I found that in Google Analytics you can click on Acquisition-> Search Engine Optimization-> Queries and that shows what search queries brought traffic to your website. In this case it is minimal because the site has only been up a month or so and Google isn’t giving it any priority. But what I do notice is that we’re starting to get a little Google-Love on the phrase “financial coaching”, which is exactly the goal. According to GA the average position right now is 36. Few people will click through four pages of Google results to find something, so that isn’t worth much right now, but that will be an interesting metric to track.
I hope you find this useful! Let me know what you think in the comments below.