The Internet, like the universe, is constantly expanding. According to a recent study, we collectively send 500 million tweets, upload 4 million hours of video to YouTube, like 5.75 billion things on Facebook, and perform 6 billion Google searches every day. Which means the Internet shares another quality with the universe – if you’re not careful, your content will disappear into a black hole, never to be seen again.
Luckily, there are a number of strategies to ensure your website ends up on the first page of Google results instead of on the 42nd moon of Jupiter. These strategies are known as search engine optimization (SEO) and include a number of tools and tactics, from a user-friendly website design to a robust presence on social media to cleverly crafted copy.
One of the most effective and easiest ways to improve SEO is by taking advantage of search engine webmaster tools. Both Google and Bing, the two most popular search engines, offer these free tools as a way for site owners and developers to control how search engines view their websites. These webmaster tools also collect data and information about how users are engaging with your website, which is a great way to analyze its overall performance.
Still not convinced search engine webmaster tools are for you? Here’s a bit more about what these tools can do for you:
- Submit and check your website’s sitemap. As I’ve pointed out, the Internet is a huge and vast system of information and data. While search engines crawl through it fairly regularly, there’s a chance they may overlook some important part of your website, or that they’ve fallen behind schedule and haven't indexed your latest blog post. By submitting sitemaps manually, you control what web crawlers see and how often they look. This is especially important for newer websites that don’t have as many external links pointed at them, and for websites that add new products and landing pages regularly.
- Adjust the crawl rate of search engine bots for your website. Sometimes you don’t want the search engine bots crawling your site frequently, as their presence can occasionally slow down your site or server. Search engine webmaster tools allow you to implement a crawl delay value, which forces the crawler to wait a specific amount of time, anywhere from one to 10 second, between visits. This will lessen the strain on your server and keep things running smoothly and quickly, which your users will appreciate.
- List the internal and external pages that link to your website. Who is linking to your website? What sites are sending traffic your way? Are these the websites you want to be associated with, or are they full of unflattering spam? With search engine webmaster tools, you can see all the backlinks, both internal and external, that lead to your website. This is important because a website’s SEO is influenced by its associations, so you want to make sure you’re hanging out with a reputable crowd. If you discover some of your associates are not ideal, search engine webmaster tools allow you to protect your good reputation and disavow unseemly backlinks.
- Analyze keyword searches and click-through rates that led users to your website. How are people finding your website? What words are they searching? How long do they stay on your website and what other links do they click on? All this information is at your fingertips when you use search engine webmaster tools. This data can offer incredible insight when it comes to creating fresh content, tweaking your web design, and focusing on keywords to strengthen what’s already working and fill in any existing holes. It’s much easier to give users what they want when you know what they’re asking for.
- Learn about website issues, such as broken links, spam and malware. There’s nothing more user-unfriendly than a broken link (AKA 404 error), or a virus. Search engine webmaster tools will alert you to these issues and offer recommendations for how to fix them.
- Tweak your domain name. What’s in a name? A lot, as far as your website is concerned. Search engine webmaster tools allow you to set a preferred domain name (for example, yourdomain.com instead of www.yourdomain.com, or vice versa) which will determine how the site URL is displayed in search engine results pages. This offers a good opportunity to keep your branding consistent and ensure that your domain name fulfills the three C’s: clean, clear and consistent.
As you can see, search engine webmaster tools are incredibly valuable when it comes to improving SEO and increasing your website’s visibility and usability. These perks are just one of the reasons Sage Island
offers sitemap submission services for all our clients. If you’d like to take advantage of these tools for your business or brand, contact us today and get ready to rise to the top.
Mike Duncan co-founded Sage Island in 1997 and since then has evolved the agency’s scope to include marketing strategy, creative design, technical development and a wide range of digital marketing services. With an integrated approach that leverages the power and measurability of the internet, the savvy Sage Island team develops strategies, builds brands, writes killer copy and delivers to clients all over the world. And they have an awesome time doing it. Sage’s collaborative working environment keeps creativity and innovation at the heart of the concept. With a 17-year history in Wilmington and beyond, Sage Island shows no signs of slowing down. To learn how Sage Island can grow your business, check us out at www.sageisland.com. To stay updated on the latest in digital marketing, follow Sage Island on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SageIsland, and on Twitter at twitter.com/SageIsland.