Last week I posted a couple of articles based on an excellent post by Ian Lurie at Conversion Marketing.
Here are some more of its points, in just a little more detail.
Using the Free Tools Effectively
Search engines give you a remarkable array of tools to help you understand how people use your website, and how well search engines can index it. These tools include:
- Google Webmaster Tools
- Yahoo Site Explorer
- Bing Webmaster Tools
- Google Analytics
Each of the above should be used in conjuction with the other three. The first three tell you a little about what the search engines know about your website, for example, how many pages they are aware of on your website, how many links they are aware of to your site, and so on.
Such information is extremely helpful in uncovering weaknesses in the SEO profile of your website.
Google Analytics is a different beast. It tells you a wide range of metrics about the people that find your website, and how they behave within it. It also indicates which of your marketing channels are successful, and which ones are not. Used properly, it is extremely helpful in indicating how marketing can be improved.
Remember when using Google Analytics to set up goal recording and hence conversion correctly. Funnels for goal achievement are also important. Correctly set up, these help you identify what bottlenecks there are in the conversion process and therefore what you might need to improve to increase conversion.
Telling the Search Engines About Your Website
All the major search engines accept submission using the XML sitemap protocol. This is a handy way of indicating to a search engine the URLs that make up your website, in order to ensure that the website URLs are crawled effectively. It is important to understand that the sitemaps do not influence ranking, just whether a search engine knows of a URL or not. They don’t even guarantee inclusion, because clearly you could include URLs of web pages that contravene the search engine guidelines.
Probably the one thing most neglected by websites that rely on XML sitemaps is that they cannot cause PageRank to flow to pages that cannot be reached by other navigation methods. From a best practice SEO perspective, XML sitemaps DO NOT replace good, indexable navigation.