Part 1 in our series on SEO for Startups & Small Business focused on www versus non-www web addresses and the benefits of setting up Google Webmaster Tools. Part 2 looks at the fetch-as-Googlebot function in Google Webmaster Tools as well as the importance of setting up website analytics. Google’s Maile Ohye (Developer Programs Tech Lead) recently gave her advice on the subject in a video titled SEO for startups in under 10 minutes which included her comments on the topics as well.
3. Fetch as Googlebot
Fetch as Googlebot is a feature found within Google Webmaster Tools that makes it easy to see your web pages the same way that Google sees them.
Why it matters
If you have a web page that you think isn’t ranking as well as it should, viewing it the way it appears to Google may help you to understand why that is. A web page looks different to Google than it does to a human visitor to the page because Google is looking at the readable code and text ‘behind’ the web page. If Google can’t see and read the text on a web page then it can’t determine what keywords the page is relevant for and rank it accordingly. For example, a human can see the text within an image on a web page but Google only sees the code for an image file. Fetching the page as Googlebot will allow you to see the code (including possible issues) that Google is reading and basing the page’s rank on.
If a page isn’t visible to Google like it should be, you can make changes to the web page and, after fetching it as Googlebot, also submit the page to Google for the changes to be recognized. Google would eventually recognize the changes anyway but, submitting the page after fixing existing problems could result in the page immediately getting indexed as expected and for the changes to be immediately be searchable. This is also helpful for when a new page is created on your site and you don’t want to wait for Googlebot to recognize that a new page exists at its own pace. You may have content on a new web page that you want indexed and for people to be able to find through an online search sooner than later.
4. Setup Website Analytics
Website analytics software will give you a near endless amount of information about traffic to your website, how people got there and what they did while they were there.
Why this matters
A website without analytics loses potentially valuable information every moment that passes. Because of this, it’s important to setup your analytics as soon as possible. Ideally, you’ll setup the code to track metrics about your site prior to the site going live but even if the site is already up and going, adding analytics to it now is better than waiting any longer.
Some valuable information collected by analytics tools that can help you make decisions about your site later include:
- How many people visit your website each day?
- How many people are new website visitors versus returning visitors?
- What keywords did someone type into a search engine to find your website?
- Which websites were people on before they came to your website?
- How long do people stay on your website?
- Which of your web pages is the most visited?
These are only a couple of the questions that website analytics can help to answer about your site but knowing the answers to questions like these can help you make other marketing decisions. For example, if you know which keywords people typed into a search engine to find your website, then you have a better idea of which keywords and phrases you should be investing more resources into optimizing your site for.
Opinions may vary about the best website analytics tools but a very popular analytics tool is Google Analytics; it’s both free and very effective. Even if you’re not sure if or when you’d personally look at your site’s analytics, still install an analytics tool on your site so you have historical data when you (or your internet marketing partner) needs it to improve your marketing strategy.