Since joining the team at SiteVisibility back in May I’ve learnt a ton of things. The one ideal I’ve been trained in the most is “Work Smart Not Hard”.
Sure you can spend a few days or more figuring out how you’re going to get people to see your new fangled website just to come up with “I’m going to use every social network ever” or “oh hey, I make tshirts, this means I’ll mention the word tshirts on every page and Google will pick me up!”.
That’s cool bro, but what if your audience doesn’t use twitter, Google+ or YouTube? what if Google goes all penguin on your ass and you end up on page 50 of the SERPs?
The point is for every decision made in your digital marketing game plan, you should have a reason, and this reason should be well researched. At this point you might be worried that your work load just tripled with a sentence, but work hard not smart remember? The point in this post is to show you that you can be smarter with your efforts without actually thinking about it, welcome to some wonderful web tools people!
1. Social Crawlytics
I was introduced to Social Crawlytics through a talk by it’s creator and chief, Yousaf Sekander, at BrightonSEO (https://twitter.com/ysekand). This is a beautiful little social media tool that provides insight into the sharing of content across platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
It’s totally free, all you’ve got to do is authorise the application on your twitter account and away you go.
After you authorise the app, you’re presented with your ‘Dashboard’ which is as simple as three little fields, two of which are drop down menus! Yay for inclusion of the lazy person! Simply whack the URL of the website you’d like to analyse into the “Website address” field and hit forward. In fact, just keep hitting forward and Social Crawlytics will do the report for you right there and then.
The size of the site and the amount of content shared (as you’d imagine) will determine how long the report takes to generate. Once generated you’ll have a lovely report saved in the ‘Reports’ section of the sidebar and it will have these little fella’s at the top!
You obviously get a host of other information including which URLs from your chosen site are the ones that are being shared the most, and a nice bar chart depicting the different URLs being shared and on what platform they are being shared to (nice and colour coded, don’t worry if you think there’ll be too much shared content, you’ll see it clearly).
It’s up to you what you take away from this information. The example I’ve used here addresses a very similar person to me, a blogger, a digital media enthusiast and a compulsive tweeter. Taking all of the facts given by Social Crawlytics into consideration, I could infer that writing similar content and sharing on twitter may be the best option for me, it could even be a goal to get this content shared by that very similar person to their obviously established twitter following, which means smarter outreach. Alternatively I could see if Facebook is worth using heavily (if the audience actually is there and this guy just isn’t using it correctly) and one up the guy by sharing content across both social networks.
2. Google Keyword Tool
I use this blighter every day, so much so that I don’t know what I’d do without it. It is a keyword research tool provided by Google which allows you to see local and global search volume for any term you enter. You’re selling t-shirts and you want to know if people search for tshirts, tshirt, t-shirt or tee shirt? This tool will give you what you seek.
In any one search you can enter a maximum of 100 keyword terms.
You have huge control over the search with filters which dictate the kind of keywords. I have the most experience with broad and exact. The difference between the two is crucial to the search volume numbers provided, the exact match filter will display search numbers for searches made with exactly that term e.g. “tshirts”, the broad match filter will display search numbers including that term in any order and surrounded by other possibilities e.g. “green tshirts”.
This guy says that the term ‘tshirts’ is searched for 1 million times each month in the UK.
See why I said it’s important to know the difference? Going with what I just told you, a million people search for a sentence with the word ‘tshirts’ in it, 4,400 people search for ‘tshirts’ exactly. You wanna target the latter in your title tags, h1 tags and meta data because who knows what to optimise for with the former?!
Xenu the link sleuth is a free downloadable tool that crawls any URL given to it. This means you’ll get a lovely CSV that you can throw into Microsoft Excel (or your preferred spreadsheet software) to see what pages are throwing 404 errors. This is also probably one of the best ways to organise a list of 301 redirects, just so you know. You have a list of all pages, even the world can’t stop you now, sky is the limit.
4. Header Checker Tool
There are many checker tools out there, all you’ve gotta do is Google the above sentence and pick one of them.
Give one of these tools a URL and it will show you the server response. You’ll want to use this when looking at traffic flow and page visits in Google Analytics (see point 5. if you haven’t met Analytics yet), specifically when a page you thought didn’t exist, is being visited.
For example you may have set up a lovely customised 404 error page to be shown when a user visits a non existent page, turns out the page shows but your page visits are going up for “www.mydomain.com/leeroyjenkins. At this point you’re all, what the hell? this page’s status should be “400 NOT FOUND” but instead it’s “200 OK”, this is known as a Soft 404. This is problematic as Google won’t identify this as a broken link, instead it takes the 200 status code as a green flag to index this page in its search results. This increases the chance of visits to the page leading ultimately to high bounce rates, short duration of pages visits and most importantly, users avoiding your site in the future.
Now that you found a soft 404, you just gotta fix it by amending your .htaccess file!
5. Google Analytics
Meet the goliath. This baby is a service offered by Google that provides detailed statistics about website visits, it is indeed a marketers wet dream. You know before I said you need a reason that supports every decision you make regarding your marketing strategy? Most of mine come from this bad boy. Analytics details everything; visitor flow, landing pages, where your visits come from geographically speaking, what device/browser they come from, the average length a person stays on any one of your pages, the bounce rate, the number of pages visited, what keyword they used to get to your site. Everything.
The only thing that’s tricky (coming from an intern that is new to Google Analytics) is knowing how to read the data. It looks and even sounds overwhelming at first, but the more you use it the more you can translate the percentages and squiggly line graphs, and the more your site shapes up as a contender in its field. If you read it wrong, you risk making poor decisions which could negatively affect your website. The best way to get to grips with this tool is by diving in head first and making your way slowly to the surface. Google is your friend, not foe.
Featured image thanks to kalidoskopika