SEO (search engine optimization)small business

Using Google Analytics and Search Console for SEO

Using Google Analytics

Using Google Analytics and Search Console for SEO

How to Improve Web Presence for Small Business – Free (part 4)

We follow Part 3 of our series on how to improve web presence for small business by taking a look at Google Search Console and Google Analytics. You have built the site. You have followed all the recommended best practices for keyword optimization and including social media. Now we need to get Google to recognize and favor your site.

Fast and Strong Wins the Race

Before we dive into Google Search Console and Google Analytics, let’s make sure your site is build as solidly as it can be. For this, we will use GTmetrix. It is free and invaluable.

GTmetrix evaluates your site from the ground up. It registers site load speed, volume, and a host of areas that determine how well your site performs. A lot of the results it returns will refer to technical things, like minimizing javascript or leveraging browser caching. Even if you don’t know what these things mean, GTmetrix will tell you. Better, it often shows you. For example, it will help you optimize images by showing the exact image replacement you should use on your site.

If the information is still too technical, that’s okay. Just contact a good web developer and they can help you. I hear Crimson Web Design is a great company. 😉

On to Google!

Google has a few ways it evaluates the quality of your work. We are going to look at Google Search Console and Google Analytics. Working in tandem, these will be your best friends for seeing improved search engine results.

I’ll add a small preface to this article though. Google is an ever-changing beast. The payout and even function of some elements today may be different tomorrow. There have been changes in layout and features between the time I started drafting this article and the time it was posted. You may have even gone to youtube videos or how-to blogs previously and found the instructions out of date. My approach here is to give you the concepts and as much direction as possible. Even if you find the layout quite different when you visit Google’s sites, you’ll still be able to understand what you want to do.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console allows web site owners to prompt Google to index their site. This improves visibility for your site. So it is, effectively, the end result of SEO.

Here are the steps you want to take to get the most out of this resource:

1. Add Property

This is simply adding your web site to the Google Search Console so you can work with it. It lets Google know the site exists. When you are adding the URL for your site, remember to be specific. An “http://” site and a “https://” site are counted as two different sites by Google. Some people add both versions but you definitely want to add the one that applies to your site. It you aren’t sure which you have, simply visit your site and look in the address bar. Doing a copy/paste from the address bar to Search Console is the easiest way to add the property properly. (alliterative tongue twister!)

2. Verify the Site

Google wouldn’t want just anyone adding sites to their Search Console. You will need to verify the site as yours. The Search Console will provide you the method to do this when you add the property.

3. Set Language and Country

You may be prompted to set your preferred language and origin country. This will help target the desired users.

4. Submit a Site Map

This is a crucial step. It is how Google knows what pages, posts, images, and so on you want it to index. There are different ways to get the site map. The easiest way is from the search console itself. In the section for submitting site maps, type in “sitemap.xml” and submit it.

If you are building your site with WordPress, there are sitemap plugins that can help you. The Yoast SEO plugin has an entire section dedicated to precise site map submission.

The sitemap evaluation does not happen instantly (although you can test the sitemap first to make sure you didn’t get it totally wrong). Give Search Console 24-48 hours to do its thing. Then come back to it and check the results. If you find any site map errors (eg, pages taking too long to load) you’ll want to fix that and resubmit the sitemap.

5. Fetch, Google!

This is the feature by which Google Search Console actually retrieves your site and crawls through it, looking for how it is structured. Simply “Fetch and Render” your site from Google Search Console. As with the site map submission, this isn’t instantaneous. Check back in 24-48 hours and make sure there are no errors.

6. Results, Near and Far

When you return to Google Search Console after a couple days you will be able to see what Google thinks of your site. If there are errors in the site map, rendering, or anything else, it will tell you.

Think of this as Google helping you deliver the best site possible, one that gets good SEP results. After all, that’s the whole reason you’re doing this. Any major technical errors are better caught now.

From here you can revisit Google Search Console as often as you want to see how your site is doing. You can find graphed reports of what web searches people are doing that brought them to your site as a result. This will help you modify your previous design to take advantage of those things for which users searched most.

To get the most out of this endeavor though, Google Search Console is only one half of the puzzle. The other is Google Analytics.

Google Analytics

This is the bread and butter of Google’s SEO optimization. Used in conjunction with Search Console, it is one of your best resources for tracking your site’s performance. Not all features are free (Google isn’t a not-for-profit company after all) but you can get a great deal of value even from the free resources.

Here are your basic steps:

1. Go to:

Google Analytics.

2. Create an Account

Then Create a Property. This property will, of course, be your web site. Remember that the URL needs to match the one in the address bar of your site.

3. Verify the Property

Just as with Search Console, Google will want to ensure this is all legit. They will provide you with ways to verify that the property is yours. If the verification process is too technical, you should get a web developer to help you. You can also find the steps from self-help videos online if you are dedicated enough to use them.

4. Manage Property Settings and Other Settings

There are several options here for how Google Analytics should use your data. Most will be self-explanatory but they need to be set up to work as you want.

5. Paid This and That

Google will offer you options for paid features. This includes paid ads, paid keywords, and so on. These can be of great help but our blog series has been on Free SEO. Either way, I wouldn’t immediately jump into paid features if you are only now getting your site set up with Search Console and Analytics. See what sort of results you are getting first. This will help you make an informed decision when/if it comes time to pull that company credit card.

6. Let it Breathe

Visit Google Analytics as often as you want to see what sort of results the internet is giving you for your web site.

Summary

Remember, this is all a process, not an event. It takes time for your site to work its way into the hearts and minds of users. If there was some magic bullet that put you on Page 1, Listing 1, everyone would be pulling the trigger.

Things will change. Work always needs to be done. Your web site will never be a “make it and leave it” thing that somehow magically brings you business. But there are ways to get results.

Those results provide opportunity and that will bring you customers. If you have followed our series of articles on How to Optimize SEO for Your Small Business – for Free you will be on the journey to internet excellence.