Part of your blog strategy should be appearing in organic search listings. Why? Well, should your readers want to find your blog they will most likely search it on google! If you didn’t know Google is the most popular search engine, statistics in 2012 highlighted that Google had a 65.2% market share. This pretty much means, if you’re looking for something you are most likely going to Google it – probably how that saying started. Of course there are other search operators, for instance Bing and Yahoo are popular. But, noticeably they only have a 2.5% (Microsoft) and 4.9% (Yahoo) market share.
114.7 billion searches were made in 2012 on Google
Nonetheless, you should still try and aim at getting your site indexed on these search engines as well. For the time being I will focus primarily on Google, as its probably the main search engine you and others are using!
How to use Google for your Blog
Without going into too much detail, search engines use crawlers otherwise known as spiders. These crawl your site and look at a number of factors, please note it is important that you optimise your site and pages if you want to appear for various search terms. This is known as on-page optimisation. For today we will only focus on getting your blog indexed, the reason being: when someone types in your blog name you will want it to appear first.
5 Reasons why its important to be indexed
- So your competitor doesn’t rank for your site name (it happens).
- To increase visibility and improve traffic.
- To let your readers find you easily.
- Users have a short attention span. If they have to find you on social media first and then click through they may loose interest.
- Search engines should be one of your main marketing platforms.
Before you submit your site to Google you need to ensure that you have a sitemap.
What is a sitemap?
The most common site map you will hear about is an XML sitemap. A sitemap is a list of webpages available for the spiders to crawl. Sitemaps are a file on your site that is not visible to the common user. And, they are important because Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask all use them. So you will probably need one to get your pages indexed and appear on these popular search engines.
How to create a sitemap
If you’re on WordPress.org then its your lucky day, there is a plugin called Google XML Sitemaps. This creates a default sitemap from activation. It also lets you customise the settings, such as: priorities and change frequency. Another recommended tool is the Yoast WordPress SEO plugin. You will also find that the majority of the free content management systems like wordpress.com automatically create a default sitemap. If you’re on blogger then check out this nifty guide to creating and getting your site indexed.
Webmaster tools is a handy free tool that you can use to find out who is linking to your site, as well as finding out what people are typing into Google to locate it. On top of that, you’re going to need to submit your sitemap through Webmaster tools for it to get indexed.
The first thing you will need to do is to verify your blog/site ownership in Webmaster tools. And, then add your site. See below for the step-by-step guide to adding and verifying your site.
Verifying Blog Ownership
- Sign-in and press “Add a site“.
- Then enter your site URL into the pop-up box.
- You will now need to verify the site, we recommend using the “Alternative methods“, and we suggest “Google analytics“. This allows you to track your sites visitors, and can be done by adding a small piece of code your blog.
Congratulations, you have now successfully verified your site!
Submitting your Sitemap
- Once signed in, and your blog/site has been verified click on it from the dashboard.
- The third row along, there is a sitemap button. You will want to click this.
- On the furtherest right hand corner there is a “Add/Test Sitemap” button click this.
- Once you’ve clicked the button, a pop-up box will appear asking for the URL path of your sitemap. You will want to add this in, for any generated sitemaps this will be /sitemap.xml otherwise it will be likely that the tool you’ve used will feature the URL.
- Finally press “Submit Sitemap”.
- And, click “Refresh the page“.
Wicked, you have just submitted your site to Google and should expect to see your site being listed soon. Its worth checking back in a couple of hours to see whether it has been approved yet! There are more uses for webmaster tools, so keep reading!
Further uses of Webmaster tools
Webmaster tools is not just good for submitting your site. But rather, can be used to find out further information. If you’re tired of seeing the ‘not provided’ tag on Google analytics then you can use webmaster tools to find out a number of search terms you’re organically ranking for.
This tab on the left hand side “Search Traffic” is good for finding out your search terms, current links to your site, internal links, and if there are any manual actions against you. But for this instalment I am going to be focusing mainly on “Search Queries”.
These are the current search queries people are undertaking to find your site, as well as what search terms you rank for. It also provides information about how many times your site appears and your average position.
What you need to know
The first graph contains some details of my queries for the last 30 days. It shows the amount of times people clicked on my site as well as the amount of times my site was listed in the search results. You’re able to filter this to only show a given period, however I prefer the 30 day listing its perfect because some search terms are seasonal!
Heres a screen shot for two search terms I rank for, with some confidential information hidden.
- Query – stands for the search term people are using
- Impressions – the amount of times your site has appeared organically in searches
- Clicks – how many clicks for that query
- CTR (click through rate) – this signifies the percentage of people that have clicked through
- Avg. Position – your average position for that search term (the lower the better)
Its important to remember that the higher your position on Google the more-likely people are going to click through. You are also able to click the query to find an in-depth break-down of rankings and clicks based on position.
What can you do with this data?
With this data you can pretty much work out your current ranking on Google, decide to modify/edit meta data to appeal more and increase CTR. Optimise more posts to increase rankings. Work out what content is ranking well, and what isn’t on Google.
Thank you for reading
I hope you enjoyed reading, and actually learned something new! This post was part of the ‘How to start blogging’ topic, located in the digital section. Follow me on twitter or bloglovin to keep up with my new content.