I often come across websites that are not using some of the free tools available from Google and Bing. Whilst ultimately they won’t get you more visits, they may help you see why your site isn’t performing as well as it should. Some of the tools I would recommend all sites having:
Google Analytics gives you a good idea of what is happening on your site. You can see statistics about visits, how much traffic is coming directly from searches and, if you use Google Adwords, you can hook this into the data as well. Whilst the data in Google Analytics won’t be 100% accurate, it is pretty good and often a lot more accurate than some statistics packages supplied with hosting. The important thing is that it allows you to see trends. Is your traffic growing? What are the popular pages? Where do people bounce off my site? It’s free so set it up!
Google Webmaster Tools
This one is even more unlikely to be found being used. Webmaster tools is a great tool for monitoring the health of your site. You can see details of 404 (page not found) errors as well as other errors like if a page is not being crawled by Google. As well as monitoring you can use Webmaster tools to submit your XML sitemap to Google and you can submit new pages just created so that hopefully Google will pick them up more quickly and index them. Google have also recently added a new feature in Webmaster tools called Data Highlighter which is great if you have events pages. This tools allows you tag your pages from Webmaster tools to enable Google to present your data in different ways and more attractively in search results. There’s loads more in Webmaster tools so sign up now.
Google Places is a great way to list your business and the services you offer and it doesn’t matter if you don’t have a website, you can still be listed. Having a Places entry means you could be shown in Google search results that are locally based. e.g. if you type Plumbers in Peterborough in, you’ll see some Google Places listings. The key to Places is to complete your profile in as much detail as possible and considering keywords when doing this. Add pictures and, if you have video, add this as well. Most of my clients who use Google Places see a good level of traffic to their website as a result of having a listing so it’s a no brainer!
Bing Webmaster Tools
Let’s not let Google steal the show here. Bing also have a good webmaster tool although I don’t think it is necessarily as accurate as Google’s version . Having said that, Bing is still used as a search engine by a considerable number of people so making sure Bing knows about your site and submitting your sitemap should be something you do as part of making your site as visible as possible. It’s easy to set up so go and do it!
I believe these are the key tools, there are loads of other free tools on the internet but these are the ones I use as a matter of course when working on client websites. If nothing else, these tools will give your site a degree of additional visibility and give you visibility as to how your site is performing.