Since by definition optimization is an ongoing process, SEO (or search engine optimization) is a process that needs to be measured, monitored, and iterated over time. But, where do you begin? Let’s take a look at a few tools and places manufacturers and distributors should look to understand how optimized their site may be.
The best place to start digging into your site’s performance is its web analytics data. If you don’t already have an analytics tool (such as Google Analytics) correctly implemented on your site, turn back now and go do that first. Without data from historical performance and future performance as you are optimizing your site, you’re flying blind.
There are a few different reports in Google Analytics in which you can see traffic to your site from organic searches. Starting with the “Channels” report, located under the Acquisition tab, you’ll see basic visit metrics grouped by rolled up channel sources, such as Organic Search. Using the date range selector, you can change your dates and turn on comparison date ranges to see how things have changed over time for the mix of channels sending traffic to your site.
Drilling into the Organic Search channel by clicking on it, you’ll be presented with a report of keywords by default. However, you’ll likely notice the vast majority are “(not provided)”. This is due to a change in how Google and other search engines process search traffic on their sites, by serving encrypted or secure (e.g. https://) versions of the site to their users by default, data such as the keywords used are no longer sent over to Google Analytics and other tools in plain text for them to capture.
Locate the small “Primary Dimension” selector underneath the graph and above the data table to switch to “Source” to better see the break out of which search engines visitors to your sites are coming from.
By no means are these the only data points you can glean from Google Analytics in regards to organic search traffic (think: channel attribution for events and eCommerce transactions), but it is a good starting place to baseline and monitor your SEO efforts over time.
Webmaster Tools / Search Console
Though webmaster tools such as Google Search Console (formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools) have been around for some time, they’ve increasingly become more valuable as search query data has become encrypted and less transparent in normal analytics reports. Data around search queries, ranking on search results pages, how many times a page from your site has been served in results, and how many of your pages have been indexed are great data points to optimize against.
Both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools offer a plethora of reports and options for site owners to take advantage of. While there are far too many options to run through in the blog, be sure to check out their respective documentation to ensure you’re leveraging the tools to their full potential (Google, Bing).
Despite the funny name, Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider has been an extraordinarily valuable tool in many digital marketer’s tool belts for years. Emulating spiders (think automated bots scraping website data) like Google’s Googlebot and Bing’s Bingbot, Screaming Frog can scan an entire site and return data on pages such as: title, meta description, image alt tags, header (h1) tags, and much more. This tool is a great way to see gaps in fundamental SEO implementations on a site, and can be continually used to audit after fixes and as new pages go live. The free version of the software will crawl up to 500 pages, which should at least give you a rough idea of how things are looking on your site. While technical in nature, there are plenty of guides online on how to leverage its various features, including this one on how to look for broken links on your site.
Interested in reading more?
Check out these resources on SEO:
- Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO
- Google Search Console
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Screaming Frog SEO Spider Software
- Google Manufacturer Center