For baseline measurement of your site traffic and SEO performance, not only should you have a GA account, along with Google and Bing WMT accounts, but you need to ensure they are set up correctly. They will provide valuable insight on your site’s performance and monitor the factors that affect your site’s SEO.
Google Analytics (GA) offers all the basic knowledge you need to track your site traffic and evaluate factors that affect your SEO. When set up properly, GA provides analytics on:
- Search Traffic – amount and quality of traffic coming from search engines, including visitor demographics and how they found your site
- Keyword Effectiveness – which keywords are driving traffic and conversions
- Content Performance – which site pages and landing pages are driving the most traffic
- Sales and Conversions – which search results and pages users click on that result in a sale
- Engagement Metrics – which parts of your site have the best/worst engagement metrics
- Rich Segmentation of Traffic – specific segmentation of metrics (e.g. segmenting metrics by device type)
To get the most out of your GA reports, Google offers a setup checklist that includes steps for installing a tracking code, identifying goals for what you want to track, linking to AdWords and/or AdSense, optimizing keywords, and tracking e-commerce performance against keywords and marketing campaigns.
There are a number of common mistakes made with GA setup that can significantly skew your results – and therefore, the quality of the data you’re using. For Google Analytics to be effective, you need to make sure you filter out fake traffic from botnets and avoid using too many profile filters. Also, it’s a good idea to use other analytics tools to double check your GA numbers. For more on common mistakes to avoid when setting up Google Analytics, watch this SLI recorded webinar.
Webmaster Tools are both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Webmaster Tools (WMTs) provide you with important information needed to monitor factors that will influence your site’s SEO. WMTs go beyond Google Analytics to provide insight on how your site is viewed by search engines. It will notify you of broken links, crawl errors, HTML errors and other potential problems. You’ll most likely want to set up Google Search Console first. With recent changes to traffic distribution, however, Bing’s Webmaster Tools (showing data for both Bing and Yahoo!) should not be ignored.
To decide which WMT to focus on first, check your GA statistics for insight into which organic search sources drive the most traffic to your specific site. Then set up your WMT account. SEO expert Bruce Clay has a free online newsletter that goes through the WMT set up process in detail. Or you can get yourself started with Google at www.google.com/webmasters/tools.
Once your analytics, Webmaster Tools, site pages and URLs are properly set up, it’s time to monitor, tweak and repeat on a regular basis. Your Webmaster Tools will become your best friend, as they offer insight into how you can increase the positive signals and reduce the negative signals that will affect your site’s SEO
Third-party SEO Tools
There are hundreds of third-party tools available to further improve your SEO. Take a look at a few of these resources to see what might work well for you. Also, don’t forget to look at what third-party tools your direct competitors are using – if they’re more successful than your site in SEO, it’s a good idea to know what they’re doing to get there.
Here are a few third-party SEO tools that are popular:
- Moz, SEM Rush, Search Metrics: Several inexpensive, powerful tools that track your ranking of keywords over periods of time include Moz, SEM Rush and Search Metrics. These tools can also show you when a competitor started a campaign that targets your keywords.
- SpyFu: For between $79 and $1,000 per month, SpyFu shows you your competitors’ most profitable keywords and ads. This offers insight into their success so you can build a strategy to beat them at it!
- Screaming Frog: This low-cost tool crawls your site and provides an onsite SEO audit so you know where to improve SEO elements like URL, page title, meta description or duplicate page issues. Screaming Frog can also reveal issues with your site navigation and discoverability of content.The free version may be sufficient for spot checks. Make sure your site can sustain the load the tool might generate.
- Google Instant Search: For an incredibly simple, free tool for keyword discovery, start typing a keyword into a Google search box to see which suggested, common search phrases pop up first. As an example, when you type “pants for,” you’re shown different suggestions than when you type “jeans for.”
- Ubersuggest: Another easy-to-use tool for keyword generation, Ubersuggest.org is a free resource where you can plug in keywords, choose a language and source, and receive further keyword suggestions.
For more on improving your site’s SEO, please download our free white paper, “How to Get the SEO-driven Revenue You’re Missing.” Also take a look at SLI Systems’ solution for improving SEO, SLI Site Champion.