We find that although Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools are free, many of our clients had not taken advantage of them when they came to us. These two tools give understanding to the SEO health of your website. Keep in mind, Search Engine Optimization is expansive so there is more knowledge beyond these two tools, however they are a great place to start to address many low hanging opportunities that you may be able to optimize yourself.
Since Google is most likely the top search engine driving organic traffic to your website (as it is for most) this should be the first tool you setup. If you already have Google Analytics installed on your website setting up Google Search Console is quick and easy as long as you are logged into your Google Analytics account at the time you sign up. If you don’t already have Google Tag Manager setup, you may want to explore this option as well to help for future code snippet installations. We find clients often confuse Google Search Console with Google Analytics, but these are separate tools giving you different information to assess your website health and engagement.
One of the most important metrics that Google Search Console gives is information on what keywords or terms your website currently shows up for (called impressions) in Google as well as click data. This is important for a few reasons, as you adjust content on your website you wouldn’t want to accidentally remove terms that you rank highly for and that drive traffic to your website. We see this mistake happen time and again during website redesigns where content is heavily rewritten. Additionally, we find evaluating keywords with high impression rate and low click-through helpful as it can identify content that may need to be written differently to add clarity to the intent of the content which in turn improves click rate.
Beyond keyword information, Google Search Console gives technical information about the crawlability of your website. This is important because if a page isn’t crawlable, it won’t get indexed properly and be served to your audience. The best place to look for this content is under the “Coverage” section. As you can see from the below image “Errors” are what you should be most concerned with and research first, but also make sure to look at “Excluded” to ensure you aren’t accidentally excluding content that you want indexed and shown in the search engine. When there are errors, these will be listed by category to help you identify the necessary actions to take. As the last step, we always review what is indexed to make sure pages that we want to be excluded such as Thank You pages that we don’t want a user to find unless they have actually performed an action otherwise it can skew conversion data research.
Bing Webmasters is a similar tool, but like the name would suggest it gives you information on your organic presence on Bing’s search engine. Since some of the features are the same as Google Search Console, we will focus on some of our favorite differentiators.
Bing Webmaster tools has a section that shows you the different websites that are pointing back to your website. Authoritative domains that point to your website can help your domain authority grow as well as help drive new traffic. This is important data to track if you have started an ongoing content marketing and search engine optimization strategy. There is also a feature to disallow, in those circumstances where a spammy site may be pointing back to you.
This is absolutely a top feature as this site scan will give you information about SEO issues or areas of opportunities regarding your website and rate them by severity. The good news is the items that this scan highlights, when fixed will help you not only on Bing, but on Google as well. This is a top feature as site scan tools are typically what a company seeks out and pays a third party for. There are of course, some great 3rd party tools out there that will dig deeper, but again this is a great place to start to fix the low hanging fruit in regards to Search Engine Optimization.
Search Engine Optimization tools can be expensive, with limited budgets and even those companies with larger budgets the strategy should always start with adding these tools as they give you direct feedback by the search engines themselves versus a 3rd party tool and who doesn’t like a free tool. If you are working with a developer, ask them if these tools are set up as they may be and if they are just ensure that you have access and are receiving notifications to allow for transparency.
If you find you need assistance with your Search Engine Optimization strategy please Contact Us to have a conversation about how we can help support you.