Data-driven marketing should be a priority for your agency, and there are many tools available to you to help with this effort. Just like Google Analytics, Google Webmaster Tools is a free program Google offers to website owners. Webmaster Tools allows you to view even more metrics about your website, as well as technical data. Some of this data you can use for marketing while some can be used to fix technical issues you may not have known you had on your website.
When you log into your Webmaster Tools account, your main dashboard will show you a snapshot of different data points surrounding your website. One important area details your crawl and URL errors:
Your site errors can include issues with DNS (domain name system), server connectivity, and your robots.txt file, as well as any crawl errors. Crawl errors (or 404 errors) occur when Google tries to crawl your website and cannot reach particular pages:
Typically this means these pages are no longer live on your site and lack a proper redirect to another page. For example, if your agency’s website has a page for a program you no longer provide, like restaurant insurance, you shouldn’t simply delete the page from your website. Make sure you redirect the URL of that page to a similar page (perhaps, in this case, a general business insurance page) so that Google and users can still get somewhere when they crawl or visit your website.
Another area of the dashboard containing important technical data has to do with your website’s sitemap:
The “Sitemaps” section of Webmaster Tools shows you how many URLs you have submitted to Google through your website’s sitemap, how many of them are indexed, and if there are any issues with the map. Warnings regarding sitemap and indexing issues can include unreachable URLs, inaccessible sitemap folders, and more:
It is important to ensure Google can crawl and index everything within your XML sitemap and its folders; you don’t want to risk leaving errors unsolved and Google not reading all of your important content.
Data for Marketing
The data under the “Search Analytics” section of Webmaster Tools is likely the most accurate search engine results page data you will receive on your website – it comes right from Google!
Within a set timeframe, “Search Analytics” data will provide you with the top search terms associated with your website, as well as:
- Clicks (number of times a search user clicked over to your website when searching the term)
- Impressions (number of times your website came up in results pages for the term)
- CTR (click-through rate)
- Position (average position/ranking in the search engine results pages)
This data can give you insight on the types of products and services your customers and prospects are finding your website for and, therefore, provide you with some marketing topics. In the example data above, this agency should think about focusing their product-related blog posts on health insurance, renters insurance, auto insurance, and business insurance (specifically small business and workers compensation).
Links to Your Site
Under the “Links to Your Site” section of Webmaster Tools, you will find a list of websites that are linking back to your website, as well as your most linked-to content.
This data can help you understand a couple of things. First, you will see the types of websites that are linking to your website the most. These are the websites that are providing the most effective avenues for visitors to get to you. If you’re doing any advertising with your top linking websites, or have any content partnerships with them, it is likely a good idea to continue that. Second, you will also get to see which pages of your website are receiving the most links from outside websites. While your homepage will typically be the most linked-to page, you may also see various product pages and blog posts within the data too. This can tell you what types of topics your blog should address more, and which products you should promote more.
Are you using Webmaster Tools in your marketing and website maintenance efforts? What data do you find the most useful? Leave your feedback in the comments!