Chances are you have ‘Googled’ something before.
There you go, the title of Captain Obvious goes to yours truly and I graciously accept the honour. But the fact of the matter is Google plays a big part in our daily lives. It answers life’s greatest questions: What time does the local pub open? And details about the Rugby World Cup (as was the case last year in NZ).
But Google also offers us a number of tools we can use to bring out the best in our websites. In the following paragraphs, I will be giving an overview of three of the most important tools and explaining why you should be using each of them.
1. Google Search Console
First up we have Google Search Console, a tool that helps us notify Google about our website and lets us know of any search-related issues.
Submit Your Sitemap
Our first to–do here is making sure that Google is aware of our website and we can do this by submitting our sitemap to Google Search Console. What this allows us to do is control, to an extent what comes up in the search results on Google. The main takeaway here is to ensure that pages that negatively impact your websites SEO are not included. An example of this is any pages that contain duplicate content as Google prefers unique content and will punish those pages that oppose this.
Up second we have coverage. Which as you may guess refers to what Google can see of your site. This is the part of Google Search Console that lets us know of any sitemap issues that need fixing. A common issue here is URLs that have been marked as noindex. This means that they will not appear in search results but are still found in the sitemap. This may be intentional as there are often URLs that you will prefer to keep hidden from Google to satisfy other SEO guidelines. A case by case basis is the best approach when fixing these.
URL Inspection Tool
Lastly on the Google Search Console front is the URL inspection tool. This tool is what you can use to diagnose why a particular URL is coming up with errors and gives you a number of different pieces of information that you can use to fix the error.
2. Google Analytics
Next up is Google Analytics. This is a tool that tracks and reports on your website’s traffic, giving you the data to better understand how your visitors use your website.
Google Analytics does not magically appear on your website. Instead, you will need to set it up and configure it. This involves creating your website‘s Google Analytics property and adding the Google Analytics tracking code to your website. Once this has been achieved you will be able to see in real-time the visitors of your website as they navigate through your pages.
Set Up Some Goals
Basic tracking is fine but if you really want to get some insights into how your customers are using your website than setting up some goals is the way to go. Since most websites are either designed to get customers purchasing items or getting them contacting you then there are some common goals to consider setting up. The most useful in these scenarios are customer purchases and lead generation goals.
The above points are great but are somewhat useless if you do not regularly review your website‘s analytics data. By doing so you can monitor the site over time and gather valuable information that you can then use to tweak your website or marketing material.
3. Google Tag Manager
If you want to track more than just the basics with Google Analytics then your best bet is to add some additional tracking with Google Tag Manager.
Track What Matters
By tracking with Google Tag Manager you can track almost anything but the most common goals tend to be around conversion tracking. Conversion tracking defines actions that your users take on your website that lead to either lead generation (contact forms, email links etc.) or purchases. These events are the reason you have a website in the first place so it is crucial that they are tracked.
What Else To Track?
Contact forms and purchases are not the only things you can track using Google Tag Manager. Some others include media player tracking, user pathways, scroll depth and many more. The list is large and overwhelming but since each website is unique it is best to sit down and figure what tracking is useful for you.
There you go, a quick surface look of where to start and what the aforementioned tools by Google can do for you and your website. If you would like to dive deeper into any of the tools listed above please get in touch.