Google dominates the search space. Without question. Turns out they also have some pretty amazing website tools you can use for your website. Sure, the tools ultimately help them to do what they do better, but we get some pretty amazing value along the way. Again, free website tools. Seriously.
1. Google Analytics
When you sign up for Google Analytics, you get a few lines of code you put on every page of your site. If you use something like WordPress to run your website it’s amazingly easy to implement. The code then passes information about your site back to Google and they bundle it up into every kind of report you can imagine. At a bare minimum, make sure this is running on your site. It’s probably the only free thing you will do for your website and yet is arguably the most valuable.
Here’s an example of things it can track for you:
- Visitors to your site, but even beyond that, it can track the path they take, show you pages with the most interest, how much time people are actually spending on your site or pages. So. Much. Data.
- How people are getting to your site, namely the sites that are referring traffic to you. This could be another site, it could be from a search on Google or Bing, or could be from one of your social channels.
- Which device they are using to reach you, which immediately lets you know the value of having your site mobile responsive or not!
- And seriously so much more.
There are so many videos and tutorials out there you can search for showing how to get into Google Analytics at whatever level you prefer.
Make sure it’s running on your site right now. I’ll wait…if it’s not, head over to google.com/analytics and sign up. They’ll give you a code. Copy and paste.
2. Google Webmaster Tools
This is also a free tool from Google. Once you have your Analytics in place it’s actually quite simple to connect the two. How Webmaster Tools is different is that it gives you deeper insight into how your website is actually working. Are there pages that are now missing for some reason? Are there links that are broken?
Just go to google.com/webmasters (that’s right, you are now a webmaster!) and sign up – use the same account you used for your Analytics account. You just “Add a Site”, and then can verify it using one of their methods. A nice trick is just using your analytics to verify. Simple! Once you add the site it does take a little time for Google to crawl through, find any issues, etc. Then you just get to sit back and watch the data roll in.
Beyond the house-keeping side of Webmaster Tools, you can also get deeper insight into how people are searching to reach your site. Once you have this info you can make better content decisions. You can title your blog posts or pages differently based on the keywords that you know are already driving you traffic.
Take any advantage you can when it comes to your website. You’re competing against a lot of other people. Though many of these tools are available, what I find is that either people don’t really take the time to learn how to use them or are not even sure how to log in to look at the data. Don’t be that person. Take 10 minutes a week – seriously, that’s it.
As a side note, there are a lot of other website tools you can load where you pay a good bit of money to track info, but honestly I would start with these two free tools and really dig in. If then you are still not getting all the info you need, sure, go buy something.