Welcome back to your 5 day SEO Challenge! Today is day two, and we’ll be discussing how to install Google Search Console and Google Analytics, which can in turn be used to help your SEO strategy along.
By the time you walk away from this video, you should know how to install these tools on your website and be somewhat comfortable with their interfaces.
About The SEO Challenge
The SEO Challenge was intended to give beginners a sort of crash-course into building their SEO strategy. We’re going kinda fast, so by all means, if there’s something you aren’t clear on, go back and watch the video one more time, or check out the written transcript on my website for notes.
What Is Google Analytics?
Google Analytics is a free tool offered by Google that allows you to monitor and analyze your website’s traffic.
Not only can you see how many people are coming to your website, you can also understand what sources your traffic is coming from, what your top visited pages are, and more.
What Is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console was formerly known as “Google Webmaster Tools.” It’s yet another free tool from Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and troubleshoot your website’s presence in Google search results.
You can use Google Search Console to understand how your website is performing for certain keywords. Also use it to help you complete some more technical tasks, like submitting a sitemap and keeping an eye on errors that may arise over time.
How Is Google Analytics Different Than Google Search Console?
Google Analytics is all about the actual people who visit your website. Even though we can use it to help us understand if our SEO work is working, Google Analytics only gathers data about your visitors.
On the other hand, Google Search Console primarily deals with how your website appears to search engines.
Both Are Extremely Powerful Tools
BOTH of these tools are very powerful and complex. You could spend hours, days, or even weeks learning about these tools and you still probably wouldn’t know everything.
Don’t let that discourage you though!
We’re only going to touch the surface here today: I just want to get you set up so that you are collecting data, and we’ll briefly go over the interface, since it can look pretty overwhelming if you’re just starting out!
Even if you don’t walk away knowing everything, just being familiar with the interfaces and knowing a few key metrics will put you lightyears ahead of a lot of website owners.
How To Set Up Google Analytics
1. Start By Signing Up For An Account
Visit Google Analytics and click the start button to begin setting up your account.
The set up process is pretty self-explanatory: simply add your account name, choose your settings, what you’ll be measuring (web), and then add in your website name, URL, and category.
(If you aren’t sure what exact URL to use, visit your website and look to the browser bar. Is there a lock icon that shows up? Use https. If www. pops up before yourdomain.com, then you’ll want to include that as well. You can also take a look at any link on your website to see what loads.)
Once you agree to the terms of service, you’ll be brought to a screen with your tracking ID.
You’re then ready to hook your analytics account to your website.
2A. How To Connect Google Analytics To Your Squarespace Website
Copy your tracking ID to your clipboard
Open Squarespace and navigate to Settings >> Advanced >> External API Keys
Paste in your tracking ID in the “Google Analytics Account Number” field
2B. How To Connect Google Analytics To Your Self-Hosted WordPress Website
There are multiple ways to connect Google Analytics to your self-hosted WordPress website. The most straightforward way is to just enter the provided script into the header of your website, however if you prefer to not touch any code at all, I recommend using a plugin.
In WordPress, navigate to Plugins >> Add New and search for “Google Analytics”
Find the plugin authored by Monster Insights; click once to install and once again to activate the plugin
Use their set-up wizard to connect your WordPress website to your Google Analytics account
Please note there is a premium version of the Monster Insights analytics plugin; upgrading to the paid version is not necessary. Stick with free!
If your website is hosted on a different platform like Wix, Shopify, etc., check their support documentation for specific connection instructions.
How To Set Up Google Search Console
1. Start By Signing Up For An Account
Visit Google Search Console and click the start button to begin setting up your account.
Choose URL prefix (this is easier for beginners since you won’t need to verify via DNS).
Type your URL in the box (make sure you use the same format that you used for Google Analytics) and continue.
The “verifying property” should run. If you’ve already set up Google Analytics properly on your website, you shouldn’t need to do anything else to verify.
It generally will take a day or so for data to start appearing within Google Search Console.
Navigating The Google Analytics Interface
The Google Analytics interface can be a lot to look at!
I don’t want to get into EVERYTHING here, but I do want to give you a general break down so you understand how to navigate and find some interesting metrics about your own website.
(Please note: if you don’t have one worth’s month of data or more, any insights you gain from this may not be worth much because your data hasn’t had time to mature.)
How Many Visitors Are Coming From Search Engines?
To find this metric out, go to Acquisition >> Overview.
You will see a pie chart (look familiar? I showed you a sample one yesterday!) that breaks down your traffic from various sources.
This metric is great to track over time to see if your SEO efforts are working.
What % Of Your Website Visitors Are Mobile vs. Desktop Users?
To find this metric out, go to Audience >> Mobile >> Overview.
You’ll see a break down of users who are coming from mobile, tablet, and desktop.
Mobile has become more and more popular throughout the years, so don’t be surprised if your website has more mobile users than desktop ones!
What Are Your Most Popular Landing Pages?
Landing page = the page visitors are landing on when they first visit your website.
To find this out, go to Behavior >> Site Content >> Landing Pages.
You’ll see your top 10 landing pages here, along with other metrics like bounce rate, average session duration, etc.
Also note that you can use the arrows here to find your least popular landing pages.
You can use this information to infer what types of content are the most popular.
How Long Is Your Website Taking To Load?
Generally, the faster your website loads, the better it will perform in search results.
To find this metric out, go to Behavior >> Site Speed >> Overview, or Behavior >> Site Speed >> Speed Suggestions which I like a little bit better because of the table appearance.
View your more popular pages and then view what the average page load time is. If some, or all, of your website pages are taking a long time to load (say 6+ seconds), it may mean you need to better optimize them.
Navigating The Google Search Console Interface
Performance Data (Search Results)
Use this to see how well your website’s pages are performing in Google search results. See how many total clicks you’re receiving, how many impressions you’re getting (a.k.a. how many times people are SEEING one of your pages within the results), the average click-thru rate, and the average position you are appearing in on a search engine results page.
This data is super useful when you filter by individual query.
Navigate to the “Coverage” section to see if there are any pages on your website that have errors.
Some errors are nothing to worry about and resolve on their own, while others many require a little effort on your part to fix.
Help ensure that Google can find all of your pages by submitting an XML sitemap here.
Once you submit the sitemap URL, you generally won’t need to update it again.
Other Important Stuff
If you don’t, you are actually technically violating Google’s terms of service.
Wrapping Things Up
Today’s challenge lesson was a bit shorter than yesterday’s, and that’s because I want to allow you the time to set up both Google Analytics and Google Search Console and connect them to your website.
This will allow you to start collecting data ASAP, which is crucial. Without data, you’re basically just guessing at what your website visitors want and how well your content is doing, which just isn’t going to work well!
Lastly, I want to reiterate here that we just touched the surface with these tools here. There is a lot more that can be done, but this should have provided you with a decent intro so you feel comfortable exploring more.
Tomorrow we’ll be getting a little less technical: we’ll be discussing content and keywords. See you then!
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