Having a website was enough for many years because most devices sat on desktops and had robust processors allowing for full web browsing capability. Well, those days ended when mobile devices were born able to surf the web just as readily as their deskbound brethren. Now, your site needs to be fast on computers, tablets and mobile devices running at vastly different speeds. That takes understanding your site’s performance and optimizing it continually to get the best possible results from your digital marketing efforts.
Thankfully, there are a range of excellent tools you can use to keep track of your site’s performance – many of which are free of charge. That’s great news for any business owner but it comes with a downside too. You’re going to need to learn some new skills or partner with an agency that can assist you with the tougher optimizations required to rank well in any vertical. So, let’s break down some of the tools you can use and why their use is vital to your continued success:
Analyze Webmaster Data
Webmaster Tools are a key element in getting the most from your web efforts as they assist your site in speaking to and dealing with the algorithms search engines use to categorize and rank sites for specific search terms. It’s also how you communicate with the robots that index the web via the XML sitemap you submit through Search Console – either Google's or Bings. It’s your ally in so many ways including helping you manage and maintain your most important web property. Let’s take a look at the steps involved:
- Step #1: The first step is to get your site working with Search Console. This is where you will add your website property and verify your site ownership – two very important elements. You can also set up who will have access and manage their activity right from your Console. You can add a great many properties to your account, so we recommend using your primary Gmail address to create and manage this. In a perfect world, this is the Gmail tied to your Analytics property and Google My Business listing.
- Step #2: Now you will need to handle some common Search Console tasks – like refining your personal settings and those of your web property. You’ll set your preferred domain (www or non-www) and adjust the Googlebot crawl rate to match your preferences. It sounds complicated, but it’s clear and easy to follow once you’re in the Search Console. You’ll want to set email notifications to ensure you’re always on top of what’s happening with the engines and your site. You’ll also be able to link Google Analytics to your Search Console during this step.
- Step #3: Okay, so you’re almost a seasoned Webmaster Tools pro. All you need to do now is use Search Console to properly manage and maintain your site and sitemap going forward. It’s not as daunting a prospect as it sounds, trust us. You can do it if you put in the time to properly understand what you’re doing. We’ve provided links to all of the help files you’ll need to inform your actions where Google’s Search Console is concerned so refer to them often when you’re uncertain. Or call the experts at Lift Conversions for the answers you’re after!. We’ll be glad to help for an affordable price.
- Step #4: So you’re up and running with Search Console as your ally. But you’re going to need to familiarize yourself with the reporting features to truly get the most from your activity. Thankfully, you have access to reports at a glance in Search Console, so you can get the information you need quickly without sacrificing accuracy or depth.
- Step #5: The last thing to do in Search Console is to benefit from the information available regarding the best content approaches to achieve the rankings you’re looking for. You can find exceptional insights into best practices where search-friendly content is concerned that can only help you to better your site’s organic rankings. Who isn’t interested in that?
- Google’s SEO Starter Guide
- Getting Started with Google Webmaster Tools
- Getting Started with Bing Webmaster Tools
- More Support Resources
Analyze Site Speed & Load Times
After you’ve established your website with Webmaster Tools you’re going to want to test your site’s performance in terms of its speed and load times. These metrics are huge in the experience your visitors have. That means you can have the formula for turning lead into gold on your page, but no one will ever see it because they wouldn’t wait longer than three seconds for your pages to load. If the whole world is hurtling by faster and faster you’re risking being left behind with a site that’s even a little slow. You can be sure one of your competitors is fast and they’re the one in the lead.
Below we have provided you with a bevy of tools you can use to test your site for free. Some will produce only datasets you’ll have to decipher and put to use on your own while others give insight and next steps. All have value and should have a place in your toolkit.
- Google’s PageSpeed Insights: This test produces results for both desktop and mobile devices which include breakdowns of key elements on your site. Find out how long it takes for the first meaningful paint with this amazing tool!
- Google’s Mobile-Friendliness: This test is exactly what its name suggests. It tests your URL to ensure it is easily accessible on mobile devices. With the rise of mobile’s importance, this is one test you can’t ignore.
Analyze Search Appearance
Structured data is the standard way that websites communicate with the machines that power search engines. This data included on your site in the correct manner helps to inform the robots that index your website, so they do a better job of properly cataloging and presenting your data to relevant queries. In short, it’s the language your site uses to educate the machines that are responsible for displaying your site in search results. Without it, you’re never going to rank well for any single term – let alone those of importance in your vertical.
Below, we’ve included tools and links to resources that can assist you in getting more from your website’s structured data opportunities. Let’s take a look:
- Structured Data testing Tool: Google has provided a free structured data testing tool you can use to verify that your site is up to par where this vital element is concerned. You cannot go without it – no matter what!
- Robots Validator & Tester: Robots are big players in ensuring websites are indexed properly. That means you need to be certain your site is setup to allow this. Use this Technical SEO tool to check!