Trying to understand what’s needed for SEO can be a bit of a minefield. From knowing which tools you should use, to understanding what will get you ranking. In todays blog we’ll talk you through the essential tools you need.
Webmaster tools and search console are perfect for keeping an eye on search queries that your website appears for, identifying any technical issues and seeing clicks and impressions from the respective search engines.
All you have to do is type in Bing webmaster tools on Bing, and Google Search Console on Google to find the sign up pages.
Each will ask for your domain name and then give you a number of options to verify your website.
If you have a WordPress website there are 2 ways to verify either option.
The first option requires going into the code, but is relatively simple. To be on the safe side, you should only do this if you have a backup of your website and feel comfortable making changes in the code
1. You can take the code which they provide > go to theme editor > find the “header.php” file > paste the code just before the closing </head> tag
The second option is the easiest, but it requires adding a plug-in. We always recommend trying to limit the amount of plugins you install on your website. But if you’re not comfortable making changes in the code this is a great alternative
2. Go to “Plugins” > click on “Add Plug-in” > type “Header and Footer Scripts Inserter” > once the plug-in is installed you just enter the code provided by Bing or Google
Once you’ve added the code to your website, make your way back to Bing or Google and then click on “verify website” within Webmaster Tools or Search Console.
When you’ve verified the website you’ll then be taken to a dashboard where you’ll start seeing data. Give it at least 7 days before you start seeing anything meaningful. If you’re an established website you’ll probably have quite a bit of data to look at after 7 days. If you have a new website don’t be worried if you don’t see a lot of information in the early days.
Have you ever wondered which pages on your website are the most popular or where your traffic is coming from? Then you need Google Analytics. With Google Analytics you can see all of this information and more.
All you have to do is go to Google and type in Google Analytics. Click on the link in the search results page and then click “Sign Up”. You’ll then be taken through the process of adding your website address and verifying the account.
Just like with Search Console, there are 2 ways to add the code to your site. That’s right, you can add it in the code within the header.php file or install a plug-in.
If you installed the plug-in that we mentioned earlier you don’t have to add another plug-in just for Google Analytics. Within the settings is the option to add the tracking script for Google Analytics.
Again, leave it for at least 7 days to start picking up some data.
The next thing you want to do is make sure you have a sitemap on your website. A sitemap helps search engines understand the structure and hierarchy of your website and makes it easier for them to crawl (visit) and index (rank) your website more effectively.
So how do you find out if you have a sitemap?
Go to your website and then click in the address bar. At the end of your domain name, enter the following: “/sitemap.xml”. For example, “www.example.com/sitemap.xml”
You’ll then see a page which has all the URL’s on your website.
If you have a WordPress website, depending on what SEO plug-in you’re using, you may need to type “sitemap-index.xml” to see the sitemap.
Next up is something called the Robots.txt file.
The robots file is important because it tells the search engines which pages to index (rank) and which pages you want to block e.g checkout pages or login pages
Again, to check if you have one, just go to your website > click on the address bar > type the following at the end of your domain name “robots.txt” – for example, “www.example.com/robots.txt”
Broken pages, otherwise known as a 404 error message, are not great for user experience or your SEO. After all, there’s nothing worse then clicking on a link and then seeing a dead page.
But how do you find these broken links? Thankfully Search Console has our back and there’s an area in the dashboard which shows broken links. It’s not 100% accurate, so it’s definitely worth using a couple of tools. If you have a small-ish website (under 500 pages), download Screaming Frog. Screaming Frog does a plethora of things, one of which is checking for broken links.