SEO using Google tools

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    SEO Using Google ToolsJason Whittaker

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    ::rintrah snippets::

    1. SEO Using Google Tools

    forthcoming

    2. Setting up a Podcast Channel for iTunes3. Audio Editing with Audacity

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    SEO Using Google Tools

    Jason Whittaker

    Rintrah Books

    ::rintrah snippets::

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    Rintrah Books, Redruth, Cornwall

    2010

    This book may be shared freely under a Creave Commons licenceso long as the author is aributed, but it may not be used forcommercial purposes or modied without the authors consent.

    For full details of this licence, go to: hp://creavecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/uk/.

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    Contents

    Introduction 4

    Search Engine Basics and 6SEO Principles

    Googles Webmaster Tools 8

    Using Google Analytics 12

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    Introduction

    The vast majority of web users come to a site through a search engine,with Google dominang the market in the UK, North America and manyother parts of the world. According to Hitwise (www.hitwise.com), in 2009

    and 2010 Google accounted for between 70 and 75% of all searches byvolume, followed by Yahoo!, Bing and Ask (these being the only enginesrecorded by Hitwise).

    Month Google Yahoo! Bing Ask Total

    February 71.35% 14.60% 9.56% 2.55% 98.06%

    January 71.61% 16.76% 9.13% 2.66% 98.16%

    Hitwise stascs for 2010

    Googles share of search trac by volume has grown from about 60% in2006 to more than 70% in 2009, largely by taking trac from Yahoo! andAsk (Microsos Bing has increased recently, but that is mainly becausethe companys old MSN/Live search had seen its market share fall drama-cally between 2006 and 2008 before being relaunched as Bing). Since July2009, Microso has powered Yahoo! searches, with Yahoo! providing thesales force for both companies premium search adversers. In eect, then,Microso/Yahoo currently accounts for about a quarter of the market withsearch engines other than Google accounng for some 4-5% of trac byvolume.

    As such, if you want to drive visitors to your site Google is the searchengine that it is worth spending most me on. While Google indexes manypages automacally, that process can also be speeded up by paying at-tenon to a few basic rules and also using free tools available to webmas-

    ters.

    4

    SEO for Beginners Using Google Tools

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    Introduction

    5

    Search engine opmisaon (SEO) is the name given to how webmastersand content providers can improve the ow and/or quality of trac to

    their sites. SEO is an important process for leng visitors know that yourmaterial is there, but it is also important that the right visitors come to yoursite: if they click o immediately because the content is not what they arelooking for (something known as the bounce rate), this is ineecve foranything other than demonstrang an increase in hits. If you wish to guidevisitors to other pages on your site, or direct them to adversers or ecom-merce stores, for example, it is important that visitors are not irritated bydiscovering that the site is irrelevant to their needs.

    The major part of SEO work consists of opmising HTML and wring

    in such a way that it will be indexed most eecvely by a search engine.There is no real quick x to improving the ranking of sites in Google - forlong-lasng improvements, you need other sites to link into yours, whichrequires providing good-quality and relevant content to ensure that visi-tors will want to stay and return. So-called black hat strategies (such aslink farming to spurious web sites that you have created, or spamdexing,that is repeang unrelated search terms in your pages) can result in sitesbeing downgraded in Googles ranking system. There is no need to indulgein such short-term measures if you want your site to rise in search engine

    rangs and stay high; instead, we shall look at the sorts of things that allweb designers should consider when preparing their pages.

    In this guide, then, we shall consider ways of increasing the visibility ofyour site by using Google Webmaster Tools to improve how quickly andeecvely Google trawls your site, as well as a more in-depth guide to usingGoogle Analycs to examine how visitors come to your site, what they arelooking for, and what you can do to improve trac. Before exploring eachof these, however, we shall take a quick look at how Google indexes its datawith some brief guides to how you can improve search engine opmisaonfor your own web sites.

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    SEO for Beginners Using Google Tools

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    Search Engine Basics and SEO Principles

    This guide will concentrate on using Googles Webmaster tools andGoogle Analycs, but before turning to these it is worth consideringhow Google works to index a site and what basic things you can do to

    ensure that your content is searched as eecvely as possible.

    How Google Searches and Organises DataGoogle performs three main operaons when searching the web. It needsto:

    Crawl a site (determine that there are pages to be searched). Index those pages to compile a database of key terms.

    Determine relevancy using its PageRank algorithm.

    Crawling is performed via an automated system called Googlebot, but thereare simple tasks that any webmaster can perform to enhance the process.Search engine opmisaon techniques aim to improve visibility of pages inGoogle. PageRank works by providing a rang based on the number of siteslinking into a web site, as well as relevance of content.

    SEO for HTML and ContentWhen creang a page, there are several factors that you should pay par-cular aenon to in order to maximise that pages visibility in a searchengine:

    Unique tles: especial importance is given to these via Googlesindexing and page ranking engines. Titles should accurately describecontents and be brief but informave. As well as helping Google, ofcourse, such tles will also be appreciated by visitors to the page.

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    Googles Webmaster Tools

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    feeds is to ensure that those feeds (which also use XML) are submied viaWebmaster Tools. If the URL for feeds for your site is hp://www.mysite.com/feeds/, then you would add this address by clicking the Site congu-raon link under the Dashboard link, selecng Sitemaps and clicking theSubmit a Sitemap buon (Figure 1.3):

    Figure 1.3: Subming a sitemap

    RSS feeds work well with dynamically generated sites, and Google willcrawl through your pages shortly aer they are updated. However, forsites with stac HTML, it is also worthwhile creang a sitemap, an inde-pendent XML le that you upload to your home directory and then add toWebmaster Tools. A free service for generang sitemaps can be found athp://www.xml-sitemaps.com/.

    gure 1.2: Verifying your site

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    Once a sitemap has been added, the next step is to ensure that Google-bot can access all areas of your site. If there are any pages or directories

    that you do not wish to be indexed, then a le called robots.txt needs to beuploaded in the relevent directory on your server. Selecng Crawler accesswill display any robots.txt les on your site or allow you to generate themif you want to prevent Google searching any areas (Figure 1.4):

    Figure 1.4: Generang robots.txt les

    Webmaster tools can display useful features such as a list of keywordssearched for by users, as well as stascs for the crawl rate (see Figure 1.5).While this can be customised by a webmaster, unless there is constant andrapid change of a site there is lile to be gained from changing the crawlrate for a site (if a page is set to be crawled every hour, Google will prob-ably index it less frequently than that; if the page is set to be crawled everyweek, it will probably happen more regularly).

    More useful for webmasters are the diagnosc tools which can indicatesuch things as crawl errors and HTML errors (for example, missing or dupli-cate tle tags). These are accessed by going to the Diagnoscs link at the

    boom of the le hand side.

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    Googles Webmaster Tools

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    Figure 1.5: Crawl stascs

    Once you have ne-tuned your sites submission rate with Googles Web-

    master Tools, the next step is to monitor performance using another freeservice from Google, Analycs.

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    SEO for Beginners Using Google Tools

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    Using Google Analytics

    Although it is not necessarily used directly for SEO purposes, GoogleAnalycs (hp://www.google.com/analycs/) is extremely helpfulfor monitoring performance. Sites are added in the Analycs dashboard

    (Figure 2.1), which in turn generates a short piece of code to be includedin the HTML for a site, typically added before the nal tag of anytemplates.

    Figure 2.1: The Analycs dashboard

    To add your site to Analycs, click the Add new prole link in the top righthand corner of the dashboard and enter the URL of the site. Next, click the

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    Using Google Analytics

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    Finish buon. The nal stage to allow Analycs to start collecng data is toselect the Edit link next to your new prole: to the top right of the panel

    displaying informaon on your site you will see a link saying Check Status.Click on this to see the code that you need to copy into your site just beforethe nal tag (Figure 2.2). Once data has been gathered, a greenck mark will appear next to the prole in the dashboard.

    Figure 2.2: Analycs code

    The reports generated by Google include visits and unique visitors, thelocaon of those visitors, sources of trac (referring sites, direct trac orthat from search engines), the bounce rate for pages (that is how manyvisitors leave a site aer viewing just one page), the me spent on the site,and which pages are viewed most oen (see Figure 2.3). The reports canbe customised to drill down to parcular informaon in a single chart, forexample new visits accompanied by the bounce rate of a site.

    The amount of data collected by Analycs is extremely helpful in termsof guaging overall use of your site, but we shall concentrate here on using itin conjuncon with Webmaster tools for SEO purposes. In this instance, the

    most useful elements of Analycs consist of the reports on Trac Sources

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    Overview (which shows how visitors are nding your site) and ContentOverview.

    Figure 2.3: Site proles

    The Trac Sources Overview screen shows whether visitors have cometo your site either as direct trac (either by typing the URL into the addressbar or from a bookmark in the browser), from referring sites, or through asearch engine (Figure 2.4). Note: Analycs tends to treat only results from

    Google as arriving via a search engine (what it calls organic) so visitors

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    Using Google Analytics

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    arriving from other search engines such as Yahoo! or Bing will be listed asreferrals.

    Figure 2.4: Trac sources Report

    In addion to showing how much of your trac comes from search engines

    (Google), the keywords secon shows you what people are looking for,and so you can start to use this informaon in pages on your site, addingarcles and tles that match up to favourite words or phrases being usedby visitors.

    In addion, it is also worth spending me examining the Content Over-view report, which shows which pages have actually been visited on yoursite, how many pageviews have been made and an average amount of mespent on each page. If you click through to the full report (the link is at theboom of the page), you will see various columns providing informaon onpageviews, bounce rate (how many people leave immediately aer lookingat one page), how many people leave the site from that parcular page(the exit rate), and the me spent. Clicking the header cell in each columnwill reorganise the chart allowing you to compare pages according to mespent, for example, or by bounce rate.

    The reason for paying special aenon to this part of Google Analyt-ics is that it provides you with important informaon on what visitors arelooking for in your site. If certain arcles gain a lot of hits or a lot of me

    is spent viewing them, these are obviously subjects that you should spend

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    more me on when creang other entries for your site. Likewise, if a pageis regularly contribung to a high bounce rate (or even a high exit strategy

    without me being spent viewing the content), this may contribute to thesense of your site as lacking valid and useful content and so could be worthavoiding in future or even removing.

    Another useful feature of Analycs is the ability to set goals for futuretargets. These include:

    Seng a parcular URL desnaon. Extending the me spent by visitors on a site. Increasing the number of pages per visit.

    The rst of these can also be customised via funnels, a series of pagesa visitor may have to pass through to reach a goal, for example by trackingwhether visitors click through from a product entry in a catalogue to anonline store. To set up a goal, click the Edit link next to the prole and, atthe boom of the screen that appears, click on the Add goal link and set atarget according to one of the three criteria above (for example, you maywish to monitor how many people spend more than ten minutes on yoursite).

    Figure 2.5

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    Rintrah Books

    The rst tle in the ::rintrah snippets:: series,SEO Using Google

    Tools is a concise, clear explanaon of how to make best use

    of Googles free Webmaster Tools and Analycs to drive traf-

    c to your site and understand what visitors are looking for.

    The book provides a short introducon to principles of search

    engine opmisaon before going on to show you, step by step,

    how to get the most out of these services.

    The ::rintrah snippets:: series consists of short, focussed guideson a parcular praccal and technical topics. The aim of the

    series is to enable readers to gain the essenal skills they need

    to start work in a parcular eld as quickly and eecvely as

    possible.