July 23, 2014

A Beginner’s Guide to Google Webmaster Tools

Professional Website Design Company | Website Development ServicesYour website is like a high-performance car. Similar to a Porsche, your website should grab attention, navigate easily and hit max speeds. To keep a

fancy sports car in tip-top shape, you use a specialized mechanic. To keep your website in tip-top shape, you should use Google Webmaster Tools (GWMT).

Think of this Google feature like a toolbox full of fine-tuning agents that can help you improve your website. GWMT isn’t just about performance either; you can learn how customers find your site and use this information to tweak certain pages and boost website traffic.

“Google Webmaster Tools is a free resource that gives you a ton of useful information,” says Chipper Nicodemus, our Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Manager. “You don’t need to understand Google’s algorithms or have a vast Internet background to use it, either. It’s a user-friendly tool that business owners should dive into.”

At VerticalResponse, we want you to get the most out of your website. So, let’s follow Nicodemus’ advice and dive right in. We’ve created a guide to walk you through all that GWMT has to offer.

Set up and verification

First, you need to sign in to GWMT. If you have a Gmail account, you’ll need your Gmail password. From there, you’ll enter the URL of your website. You’ll also need to verify that you’re the owner of the site. There are a couple of ways to do this, and it varies depending on things like where you created your site. To figure out which process is right for your site, check out this link to the GWMT verification methods.

Familiarize yourself with the dashboard

Once you’ve set up and verified your account, you’ll be able to access the GWMT from one dashboard. Our guide will go through each one of the tabs on the left. We’ll explain what each feature does and tell you what you can learn from it.

Site messages

If Google wants to communicate with you, this is where they do it. For instance, Google will send you a message if there have been any attempts to hack your site, or if a new version of software is needed. It’s just like an inbox; you want to keep an eye on incoming messages.

Search appearance

Structured data

  • When you do a search, you’re presented with a list of relative links. Each link has a brief description under it, which helps users decide which link is best suited for their needs. For example, when you Google “Best Italian restaurant in Miami,” you get these results with snippets under each link.
  • Wouldn’t it be nice if you could control what those snippets say about your business? You can do that by creating structured data, which is what Google uses to create your snippet.
  • To create this data requires some HTML knowledge. It does get a little technical, so if you’re a beginner, we suggest you check out the next option on the list, data highlighter, which is an easier tool to use that achieves similar results. However, if you’re up for a little challenge, GWMT has a step-by-step process on its website to help you create the snippet that appears in a web search.

Data highlighter

  • Think of the data highlighter as a tool to teach Google what’s important on your site. You don’t need any HTML experience, just go into your site, highlight certain types of data and categorize it. For instance, if a local hotel highlights text about its upcoming concert series and categorizes it under “event,” Google will showcase it in a search like this:
  • There are several kinds of data that you can highlight including: articles, events, local businesses, restaurants, products, software applications, movies, TV episodes and books.
  • Like the structured data tool, you’re telling Google what information should show up when your site is searched.

HTML improvements

  • If there is something you can do to make your user’s experience better, Google will let you know in the HTML improvement section. Here’s a look at what might appear:
  • You might see suggestions like “duplicate meta descriptions.” You’d fill out this field to describe a particular entry. For example, when you write a blog post, you’d put a brief description of the post in the Meta description field. You don’t want duplicates, so Google will warn you about something like that in the HTML improvement section.
  • You’ll also see title tag suggestions. These titles are what show up as links in the search. For example, when you search “VerticalResponse,” the purple text is the title tag and clickable link. These suggestions will help you fine tune your titles so searchers know what your site is all about.

Site links

  • You know those additional links that show up under the search results? They’re called site links. For instance, when you search “VerticalResponse” you not only get the link to the main page, you also get a series of other links, like the “Log In” and “Pricing” links that you see below. These are site links.
  • Right now, Google selects these links for you, but through this tab on GWMT, you can demote a link if you don’t want it to appear in your search results. Just put in the URL of that particular page and click “demote.”

Search Traffic

Search queries

  • This is probably the most beneficial tab on the GWMT. Here you’ll find out how people get to your website.
  • You’ll see a list of search terms that led people to your site, which is a valuable tool, says Nicodemus. “As a business owner you assume you know which words people are using to find your site, but this list can reveal terms that you weren’t even thinking of,” he says.
  • Learning these search terms might persuade you to make some product adjustments, Nicodemus says. For instance, if you’re selling coffee mugs online and a lot of people find your site by searching “brown coffee mugs” and you’re only selling black mugs, you might consider adding brown mugs to your product line. “It’s a great way to find missed opportunities,” Nicodemus says. “Business owners can use this information to add products, remove under-performing products, and create relevant blog content that uses these keywords.”
  • The search queries page will also show you a graph of impressions and clicks. Impressions are the number of times that your site showed up in search results. Clicks are the number of times people actually selected your website from the results, and the click through rate is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click to your site.
  • How do you keep these stats high? One of the best ways is to keep your site updated regularly with high quality content.

Links to your site

  • This section tells you who links to your site and how. It’s organized in basic categories like “Who links the most” and “Your most linked content.” Why does this matter? The more quality sites that link to yours, the better your Google ranking. If you’re providing quality content, other sites will link to your content naturally.

Internal links

  • To improve navigation on your site, you’ll want to provide internal links. For instance, on this VerticalResponse page “Check it out” and “Apply now” are two internal links that take customers to another spot within the website.
  • Internal links make it easier for people to surf your site and tell Google the importance of a page. The more internal links that point to a page, the more Google assumes its significance.

Manual Actions

Google Index

Index status

  • This tab shows you the total number of URLs that Google has recognized and will appear in search results. Google finds these URLs with a ton of computers that “crawl” through the Internet to look for new and updated pages online. Once a new page or an update is found, the Googlebot scans it for important information and indexes it so it can be found during a search.
  • The index tab shows you the number of URLs the bot found. Why is this important information? You want to make sure that Google can find and index your site. A steady increase in the number of URLs is proof that Google can find your site and catalog the content on it.
  • If you see dramatic increases or decreases in the graph you might have a problem with your server, or something is blocking Google from crawling your site and you’ll want to investigate further. Again, a steady increase is all you really need to look for here.

Content Keywords

  • This is a list of the most significant keywords that are used throughout your site.

 

  • The keywords are listed in order of usage, with the most used keywords at the top. You can click on each word and see where it appears on your site. This information, along with the search queries information, can tell you how Google interprets your business site.
  • If you feel like the keywords that are listed aren’t accurately reflecting your site, it’s time to rethink your content strategy. You might consider making a list of keywords you want associated with your site, and add the keywords that people are using to find your site (found under the search queries tab) and create a master list of keywords. Use those keywords in your website content and blog topics.

Remove URLs

  • If Google has indexed a part of your website that contains confidential information, you can send a request to have that URL removed. This should only be used for emergency cases, like exposed confidential data.

Crawl

Crawl errors

  • As the Googlebot crawls through your site, it will list any errors it finds with your site. Here’s a look at a typical list of crawl errors.
  • The most common error is a 404, which means the page can’t be found. If you’ve redesigned your site, you might see this a lot if you didn’t redirect people to the right page. You’ll also see these error messages if you take down old content. If another website linked to that old content, you’ll get the 404 error message too. If that’s the case, send an email to the site manager and ask to have the link updated.

Crawl stats

  • This shows you how often Google is crawling your site. You’ll want to check this graph from time to time to make sure that Google is scanning through your content. If you think Google should be checking in more often, make sure you’re updating content regularly and you’ll keep the bot coming back for more.

Fetch as Google

  • This handy tool lets you see a webpage the way Google does. Just enter a URL and hit “Fetch.”
  • This option is particularly helpful if you’re trying to troubleshoot issues with your page. For instance, if you have crawl errors or HTML suggestions and you’re making attempts to fix those issues, you’ll be able to fetch the page and see if the problem is fixed in the eyes of Google.

       Blocked URLs

  • If you have content on your site that you’ve blocked from Google on purpose, you’ll see a list of those links here. Remember when we talked about confidential pages that you didn’t want Google to include in searches? You can keep track of them here.

       Sitemaps

  • A Sitemap is exactly what it sounds like; it’s a map that helps Google recognize all of the pages on your site. This isn’t something the Googlebot handles, you actually have to create an XML sitemap and submit it to Google. How do you do that? We suggest using XML-sitemaps.com. This site will walk you through the process and get the information to Google. It might sound techy, but it’s beneficial. If you can get Google to recognize all of the pages on your site, your searchability will increase.

       URL parameters

  • This section allows you dictate which URLs Google crawls, but unless you’re an Internet aficionado, you’ll probably want to stay away from this. If you enter the wrong URLs you can negatively affect your site. It’s best to leave this one to the pros.

        Malware

  • If your site has fallen victim to hackers, Google will let you know. You can also request a malware review from Google to make sure all infected areas are clear.

       Security issues

  • This tab is another way for Google to get in touch with you should there be any security concerns. It’s just another inbox-like feature that you should monitor.

Additional to ols

  • You’ll find some helpful resources in this section. We’ll go over the most important and easy-to-use tools.

Google Places

  • You want customers to be able to find your business, its location and contact information in a snap, right? Then you should check out Google Places. In a few simple steps you’ll get your business on the map – literally. A map with a pin showing your location will appear in search results. Other important information will also pop up in searches.

Google Merchant Center

  • When you Google “new shoes,” a list of relevant links come up along with several pictures of products.

Page Speed Insights

  • If a customer has to wait for your page to load, they might get impatient and go to a competitor’s site. To avoid this, use the Page Speed Insights tab to see just how fast your page loads on both a desktop computer and a mobile device. Check out the report below.

 

  • You’ll get a rating. In this case, the desktop rating is 81/100. To improve the speed, it gives you a list of things you can change to make your page load faster.

Labs

Author stats

  • If you’re writing content for your site or for others, you can see a list of your top ranked articles. Of course, you’ll need to associate your articles with your Google profile for the posts to show up. You can learn more about that through the Google Authorship site. It’s worth your time. It shows you what articles are getting read so you can adjust your topics accordingly.

Instant preview

  • This option is a lot like Fetch as Google, it shows you a page as Google would see it. It also tells you if there are any errors as the bot works to preview the page. Again, it’s another way to learn about bugs in your system.

Hopefully, we’ve helped you learn your way around GWMT. It’s a powerful tool for business owners who want to improve their website performance and traffic without spending a dime.

How Can Social Media Drive Traffic To Your Website

The latest changes to Google’s search algorithms have marketers and web designers scrambling to devise new ways to boost SEO results. If your company is currently struggling to climb the search rankings, you may be missing out on an important tool that helps drive more traffic. The more you engage and share on social media, the better your search results will be. If you’re not sure how to continue driving traffic to your site through social media, read on to learn how.

Actual Search Engine Ranking

Believe it or not, your company’s Facebook profile might just show up before your website in a Google search. The same is true for your Twitter account. If you’re not making the most of your “About Us” sections to direct buyers from social media to your website, you could be missing out on a great deal of traffic.

The fact remains that many buyers will seek out your social media accounts before they even approach your website. This is often to get a feel for your company culture before they invest more time and money. Make sure your brand is consistent across all channels.

Boost in Search Query Volume

Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ are all great places to connect with other like-minded business owners and even fans and friends of your brand. Engagement is important for building relationships, but you can also boost the number of searches for your site through these social platforms.

By simply sharing your best content according to the buyer personas that are most likely to frequent each of your social accounts, you get your brand out there for more eyes to see. More eyes equal more curiosity, which then results in a higher number of searches.

Post According to Buyer Personas

Not every social media platform will bring the same results. Sure, Facebook is the largest network, but that doesn’t mean you’ll see more conversions from Facebook than from Twitter. In fact, your biggest driver of traffic might just be Pinterest or Instagram. Business that cater to other businesses probably find that LinkedIn has been the most helpful.

The key to excellent social media results is to go where your followers are. That means you need to determine which social network will play host to your buyer personas. Of course, you also can’t just count on one. While Instagram or Pinterest may refer the lion’s share to your particular website, you could still see a fair amount from other places.

Social Sharing Builds Links

Every time you share a link to your site on a social media account, you build links for Google to index. This also helps you boost your ratings in SEO, as social media accounts are considered quality sources. Of course, you want to make sure that your social platforms are of good quality and remain in good standing so as not to jeopardize your site’s ranking.

Google Author Rank

Again, there’s nothing Google likes more than quality content. By linking any content you write to your Google+ account, you not only tell Google that a real person with actual experience with the subject matter wrote the blog, but you also tell readers that, too. Building trust is one of the most important aspects of content marketing, and you do that by establishing yourself as an expert in your field. Visitors will seek out your site to read information from an expert.

Faster Indexation of Content

The more links your website has, the faster Google will index that page. Your social media accounts attached to your page will show more links to both your site and others that you might share.

Also adding to the ability to drive more traffic is the rate at which your content is shared. When influencers share your content, the page on which that content appears will be indexed even more quickly.

Social Media Contests

Social media is a great place to get people excited about your products. The fastest way to get people talking is to give things away. We’re certainly not fans of constant freebies, but a good contest brings new followers out of the woodwork. People who may have only been familiar with your brand in passing will definitely stop by if they have the chance to win valuable prizes.

To make the most of social traffic, be sure the contests refer buyers to your website. If the whole contest takes place within the social media platform, you may not see increased traffic at all. And if buyers never visit the first time, they won’t remember where to go once the dust from the contest settles.

Better Ranking for Quality Connections

As previously mentioned, great shares from influencers can boost the traffic to your site. According to research, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from friends, family, and other reliable sources. They get that information from social media, in many cases.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true when your followers are not of great quality. This means buying Twitter followers, spamming LinkedIn connections, and even creating bogus accounts for more shares will hurt you more in the long run. In addition to the ding you’ll receive from Google, you’ll also put your customers’ trust in you at risk.

Higher Engagement for Better Traffic

Once you have an enviable list of followers, you must engage. A social media account that does nothing but spew specials and marketing content all day will turn off even the most loyal followers. Those who aren’t invested to begin with certainly won’t take the time to visit your website.

Engagement does involve responding to mentions and comments, but you should also go out of your way to leave comments and mentions of your own. You’ll notice a big difference in customer opinion in a very short time.

Searches for Reviews

If you include sections for reviews on your social media, you can boost the number of searches that lead directly to you. Third-party sites have their places, but you really want customers to get the news directly from you. When someone searches for reviews of the products you carry, they may just end up on your social media sites, such as Facebook and Google+. Those will, in turn, direct the customers to your website.

Ranking by Keywords

While keyword stuffing is generally frowned upon in your website content and blogs, that doesn’t mean you should abandon them completely. Make sure the most important search terms show up in your profiles for your social media accounts. This will help you not only with Google, but also with the next point.

In-App Searches

Keep in mind that Google isn’t the only search engine out there. In fact, most social media platforms have their own search functions that can help you drive traffic to your website. By using the search terms you hope buyers will use to find you, your company is likely to show up higher in in-app searches, too.

The platform you use may have an effect on your referred traffic, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work with as many as possible. Maybe Facebook refers 20 times more traffic than Twitter, but can you really do without the visitors that just might come from Twitter?

Customized Search Results Based on Network

Social media also keeps an eye on who’s reading your content. Tracking the users who engage with your content allows Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn to refer your company to other potential buyers who have similar interests.

Geotagging for Local Search

With such far-reaching effects from social media platforms, the ability to reach local audiences sometimes is forgotten. Be sure to include your geographic location on all accounts. You never know who will find you based on your location information.

As you can see, leaving your Twitter account to die a slow death is a bad idea. Jump back on board the social media train to start driving more traffic to your site today. If you’re already experiencing excellent results from your social shares, let us know what works best for you.

Is Your Website Responsive and Mobile Ready?

by Robb Capielo

Is Your Website Responsive and Mobile Ready?

As more and more smartphone and tablet use increases so does the importance of having a mobile-friendly website. If SEO is part of your digital marketing strategy then having a mobile–friendly website is essential. Having one website that works on many devices provides the user a better user experience.

Considering that there is a large range of mobile devices and browsers surfing the Internet now is the time that you should really consider making your website mobile compatible. Mobile website views have increased by more than 100% over the last year and responsive design ensures that visitors have a great experience on whatever platform they are using. Responsive web design is a website that is designed to resize and adjust to fit on any size web browser, smartphones or tablets.

If your website is not prepared then you’re missing a major audience.

Responsive web design (RWD) is a web design approach aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices (from mobile phones to desktop computer monitors).

What is responsive design? Watch the video. Test to see if your website is responsive by entering your website address on this test page. http://bit.ly/cpcresponsive

If you need a responsive website give us a call at (800) 796-3683 or use our contact form.

CP Communications Develops a New Website For Pat Taylor and Associates, Inc.

by: Robb Capielo

We developed and launched today a new responsive website for an employment staffing company in Washington, DC. http://www.PatTaylor.com

Since 1992, these three principles helped PTA aggressively expand from one woman’s vision to a dedicated team of experts fully invested in understanding and realizing our clients’ goals. From traditional legal staffing solutions to cutting-edge outsourcing alternatives, PTA team members are eager to put their insight and expertise to work for you.

People are our business; consequently, we apply the same energy into attracting, developing, and retaining talented candidates that we do to serving our clients. PTA’s rigorous selection process focuses on academic accomplishments, personal integrity, and the ability to deliver high-quality results under pressure.

In short, we seek candidates who will make immediate, value-added contributions to client teams and who share our vision of excellence in an instant. PTA offers generous benefits, unparalleled professional development opportunities, and sincere collegial relationships.  Then – because we aim to exceed industry standards every day – we encourage our candidates to compare us with the competition and, if necessary, we raise our bar even higher.

If you need a partner who can easily meet moving targets, contact PTA today.

Professional Website Design Company | Website Development Services

 

Google’s New Update Has Stripped eBay Of 80% Of Its Best Search Listings

Google’s latest update to its search engine ranking algorithm, dubbed “Panda 4.0,” has stripped eBay of up to 80% of its best search results, according to Larry Kim, CEO of search marketing company Wordstream.

At the same time, eBay has been Google’s second-biggest customer for its paid shopping “product listing ads” (PLAs). Retailers spend hundreds of millions of dollars on those ads, according to search marketing companies.

Thus eBay is likely to be steamed at Google right now: It’s being punished as if it were a spam website even though it’s Google’s single biggest PLA brand client, and comes second only to a company that bundles other advertisers’ buys together.

Previously, eBay had pretty good “organic” search ranking. If you searched for any product that could be bought or sold, an eBay page was likely on the first page of results — that’s prime real estate for online retailers, and lifeblood for auction sites like eBay.

Kim made the calculation by searching for common terms that used to produce good search results for eBay pages. He noted that 80% of the time eBay’s pages no longer made the first Google results page. (Generally, almost nobody looks on the second or third pages of Google results.)

A similar result was found by Peter Meyers who writes for the Moz Blog. eBay’s share of top 10 Google rankings across of a range of search results basically just collapsed in the past couple of days:

Kim says this is all eBay’s fault. The company previously employed two tactics to gain traction inside Google. First, it used an automated process that inserted whatever word a person was searching for into an ad. That produced ridiculous results like this, Kim says:

“eBay’s asleep-at-the-switch AdWords management style not only made them look stupid to searchers – those irrelevant ads also cost a brand a ton of money. Their failure to implement even the most basic of paid search best practices, like using negative keywords so you’re not appearing in queries for vomit, made their research completely unreliable,” Kim says.

Second, eBay had very thin landing pages for search results, Kim says. Searchers landing on an eBay page would often find virtually no content on it other than links to buy the thing they were searching for. Google’s entire algorithm is devoted to finding quality sites with lots of useful content. You can see Google’s official explanation of its Panda reforms here.

How serious is this for eBay? Hard to tell. It involves hundreds of thousands of pages carrying all manner of obscurata. But search consultant Rishi Lakhani points out that eBay isn’t even getting decent action for hot, high-value searches, such as “iphone 5 cases.” “This is a heavy search term keyword, so you can assume its loss from the top 10 could significantly impact traffic and sales,” he says.

Google declined comment when reached by Business Insider; we did not immediately hear back from eBay.