Maybe you’ve heard about Google Analytics, Google Adwords or even Google Adsense, it’s companion programme. But few people I’ve come across, authors included, have heard of Google Webmaster Tools and yet, it’s brilliant little service you can enable even with WordPress.com. You can also do the same with Bing Webmaster Center.
Now that I’ve intrigued you though, you may be wondering why you might use these particular services. The answer to that question is a little something called SEO (search engine optimisation) to you and I.
Both Google and Bing will monitor your website or blog and give you useful pieces of information such as:
- how many sites link to yours and who they are
- the words and phrases those sites use in their link
- the search words people type into Google (or Bing) which bring up your site in a set of results
- where you appear on that list and the click through rate (how often your result gets clicked for that particular term)
- how much of your site or blog has been indexed by the search engine
- the primary keywords it thinks your blog or site is about (mine is author … that’s good then!)
- any errors on the site such as bad links or pages that no longer exist.
You may be wondering why it really matters – after all you’re just writing a blog post aren’t you? It matters because what a search engine thinks of your site may, or may not be, what you think it is.
For example, a search engine takes into account who links to you to determine your relevance to a particular search term. Therefore, if you are writing books and the sites linking to you are sites selling meat then the relevance looks a bit dodgy, unless of course you’re writing cookery books and posts about how to make the best of a bit of pork; in which case it becomes highly relevant and the search engine will love you.
I can tell from my account that my author interviews are one of the best ways to gather traffic to the site – people search for an author, my Thursday Throng author interview pops up and hey presto they visit and perhaps hang around to read a little more. Unfortunately we don’t have the ability to add Google Analytics to WordPress.com, but the built-in statistics can give us a clue as to what works and what doesn’t when people visit.
Every site, not just those using WordPress.com can use the webmaster support tools at Google and Bing and I’d say it’s the first step in understanding who comes to your website and why. You can get started by creating an account with one or the other – then follow the steps to connect your account up.
It’s fairly easy with WordPress.com – visit Tools on the left hand side of the screen and paste the code you are given by Google or Bing into the relevant box and click Save Changes.
Once you are done the search engine will visit and index your site – give it 24 hours before you see anything and a month to get anything meaningful.