Optimizing your site is a skill of constant monitoring and tweaking. Two of the most powerful and free tools that are available are Google Analytics and Webmaster tools.
Google Analytics allows you to place a tracking code on your website and then monitor the actions of your visitors. Google analytics will monitor all aspects of your traffic from referrals to clickthroughs.
Webmaster Tools is a good compliment to Google Analytics and tracks the inner workings of your website. Now that rumors abound about how google is placing more emphasis on things like load times, Webmaster Tools is becoming more important to the improving your search engine optimization of your site.
In this post, I’ll discuss some of the ways that I use google analytics and webmaster tools to improve my site.
Google analytics basically takes a look at your blog from the outside as a visitor might use your site. It will then provide you data which simulates the user experience of your site. This data can prove invaluable on how you structure your blog.
I’ve previously written about a few methods to help you improve your bounce rate. google analytics provides a chart that quickly tells you the bounce rate on your blog. This basically tells you whether your visitors are looking beyond a single page on your blog, or whether they are going to one page and “bouncing” off.
You should use this data in conjunction with the time spent on your blog to judge whether you need to make changes. If your bounce rate is high and people are spending seconds on your blog, then you know that you need to improve your site structure or content. However, if people are spending 10 minutes on your blog, then bounce rate may not be as important. It could just be that you have great information on a single page.
Google analytics gives you a detailed report of the content on your blog. This report literally tells you which posts are the most popular on your blog as well as the time that people spend on that post, bounce rate, and exit rate. You can see exactly how each post is performing. Utilizing this report, you can see which topics are drawing your readers. Then you can look at navigation analysis and see exactly how your readers are following the links on your page. Using these content reports in google analytics, you can quickly see which portions of your blog are important to your readers and place your calls to action appropriately.
In Page Analytics
This is one of the newer tools in google analytics, but it is quickly becoming one of my go to tools. Using this tool, I can basically get an on page overlay of my site that tells me which links are clicked the most. If needed, I can use this tool to see which areas of my blog are getting clicktrhoughs and shift my links accordingly.
This information basically tells me how much of my traffic is coming from search engines as well as which phrases are bringing in traffic. This gives me a quick overview of my traffic sources. I actually prefer to use the search term information in webmaster tools to give me more detailed information on my search terms.
Google Analytics tells you about how visitors interact with your website, Webmasters tools tells you the inner workings of how your website interacts with the outside world. If you have technical issues with your site, webmeisters tools is one of the first places to check and see what can be fixed.
One of the first things that I look at when I use webmasters tools is to see how many web crawl errors my site is generating. This way, you can quickly see if there are any problems with the links to your page. This will tell you if there are any Http errors or 404 errors.
This gives you an idea of googlebot activity. It tells you how much data is being downloaded per day, and it also give soy an idea of how long it takes to for google to crawl your site.
You want to see that these numbers are basically level. But also, these statistics can give you an idea of how quickly your site is for your visitors. This is becoming a statistic that is getting more weight in google’s search algorithm.
Your Site on the Web
This is one of the most useful categories on webmaster tools that I use. This category displays information such as search queries, keywords and links back to your blog.
This tab basically tells me what keyword terms are sending visitors to my blog. This is a very simple tool to use. You can see very quickly which search terms are bringing people to your blog and the frequency. I will use this to come up with post ideas. If I see that particular phrase is bringing visitors to my bog, I may write a post around that topic.
Links to your site
This tab in webmeisters tools tells you how your site is being linked on the internet. You can quickly see the total links back to your site. But more importantly, you can see the specific details of those links.
You can see who links you the most as well as your most linked content, and the anchor text of how your data is linked. This is information that you can use quickly to improve your search engine rankings.
In particular, I can evaluate this data and determine which tools are working effectively for me and formulate my linking strategies.
For example, I’ve discussed previously a guest posting and backlinking service that I use.
You can find this tool under the labs section. This tab tells you how quickly your blog is loading and gives you a chart and comparison with the speed of other sites. It also gives you a few suggestions on how to speed up your site.
Google is placing greater emphasis on the speed of your site. This tool will give you an idea of whether you need to make some changes to improve your blog’s speed. If your blog is loading slowly, then you’ll want to consider reducing the number of plugins and images on your blog.
Between google analytics and webmaster tools, you can quickly get a detailed analysis of the performance of your website and how to adjust your website to your visitor’s benefits. These are two free tools that every blogger and webmaster should be using to evaluate their site.