Analytics tip – Beginner’s Guide to Google Search Console

Google’s search ranking algorithms sure keep us on our toes, but the complexity is just part of the fun! Why won’t Google just tell us what to do to improve our position? Google Search Console (formally Google Webmaster Tools, as of May 20) might be the closest we’ll get to Google whispering the secret to successful search in our ear.

What is Google Search Console?

Google Search Console offers insight into how Googlebots view your site, how it appears in search results, and how your audience interacts with those search results.

It’s a looking glass into your search efforts and helps you monitor, optimize, and maintain your website. (You’ll notice some overlap if you currently use Google Analytics. For example, you’ll see a breakdown of your most popular landing pages in both tools, but Google Search Console takes it a step further to show your placement in search results for specific keywords.)

The Search Console dashboard is a quick look into your site’s current status, and the left navigation offers a deep dive into search appearance, search traffic, Google Index, crawl status, and security issues.

Google Webmaster Tools Dashboard

Instead of listing all the functionality bundled into Google Search Console, we’ll focus on two main assets: is your website performing at an optimum level? Are your SEO efforts paying off?

Google Search Console measures website performance

Google Search Console monitors your site’s health and performance to ensure you maximize your website investment. It offers granular insight into the complex inner-workings of how Google sees and experiences your website, but also actionable fixes that a non-technical person can understand and correct.

For example, Under Crawl, you can check Googlebot’s crawl activity for the last 90 days. Among many other features, you can check and correct URL errors across desktops, mobile, and featured phones.

Google Search Console Url ErrorsUnder Search Appearance, the HTML Improvements tab calls out corrections for your site’s user experience and performance. Correcting duplicate meta descriptions, for example, is usually a quick and immediate issue you can resolve.

Google Search Console HTML Improvements

You can also improve overall search results by controlling some of the information users see. This is just the tip of useful resources to explore in Search Console.

Google Search Console helps measure SEO success

Search Console is the best way to shake Google until you get SEO answers!

Under Search Analytics, Search Console spells out the most popular search queries driving people to your site and the search results generating clicks. (Search Console’s ability to deliver search queries is especially important, in light of Google Analytics’ change to SSL and ‘keyword not provided’ in metrics).

Google Search Console Search Analytics

This section provides rich SEO information:

Queries: the keywords people type into a browser to find your site or that returns your site in search results
Pages: your landing pages people visit from organic search
Countries: countries where the search originates
Search Type: filters search results in Google Images, Video, or Web search
Devices: breaks down results by desktop, mobile, and tablet

For each set of data you can measure clicks, impressions, click-through rate, and search position.

These factors tell you if you’re reaching enough people and if they’re clicking (aka, is it working?), so you can develop a more successful search strategy around topics resonating with your audience. (If the site pages you deem most important aren’t listed under your Top Pages, you have work to do.)

Understanding popular search queries can also help you develop audience personas and fresh content ideas to target users with specific questions.

Similarly, under Links To Your Site, Search Console quantifies sources linking the most frequently to your site and the specific content that is getting the most traction.

Google-Search-Consule-Links

You can even check for mobile usability issues under Search Traffic, a huge factor in light of Mobilegeddon.

Setting up Google Search Console

Sign up for free at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/. First, add your website’s URL in the property field. You’ll then have to verify that you own your website. There are many verification options, but we’ve found the Alternate Method: HTML tag option to be easiest.

1.  Click the Html Meta Tag

Setting up Google Search Console
2.  Copy the provided meta tag and paste it into your site’s home page in the <head> section, before the first <body> section.
3.  Click Verify.

(Don’t remove the meta tag, even after verification succeeds.)

Unlike duking it out in the search competition, setting up Google Search Console is easy!

Linking your Google Search Console + Google Analytics account

We highly recommend linking your Search Console account with your Google Analytics account for a 360 view of your site performance and activity. To do so:

1.  From the Search Console homepage, select Manage Site
2.  Select “Google Analytics Property.”
3.  Choose your website property. Click save.

You’re halfway there! Now you need to make sure all that rich data is accessible in your analytics account.

1.  In Google Analytics, go to Acquisition – Search Engine Optimization – Queries. Select “Set up Webmaster Tools data sharing.”

Set up Google Search Consule data sharing
2.  Review and modify settings to meet your needs.
3.  Scroll down to Webmaster Tools Settings at the bottom of the page, click the edit link, and select your website.

Linking-Google-Search-Consule-Google-Analytics-Property2
4.  Hit save.

Enjoy the best of both worlds: a wealth of information about your website and site visitors in one place.

Google Search Console is your search ally

Brands should monitor data on Google Analytics, AdWords, and other search tools to make cautious tweaks and changes reflective of consistent trends, instead of rushing to modify at the slightest traffic peak or valley. Used in concert with other search tools, Google Search Console offers a holistic view of actions to take today to improve your site and search results.

Behind the glasses – James

 

Each month, we’ll go behind the glasses with one of our fab employees here at Whereoware. For May, we get to know James, our Online Marketing Manager, a little better.

James Guitard Whereoware's Online Marketing ManagerWHO:

What’s your name?
James Guitard
Job title:
Online Marketing Manager

BACKGROUND:

Favorite food: Eggplant Parmigiana
Hidden talents: I’m pretty good at the piano.
If there were a movie of my life, I’d be played by: Adrian Brody or Pharrell Williams
One item you would bring with you to a desert island and why: Dolphin riding harness. Self-explanatory.
My earliest memory: Waking up in the hospital with my head full of stitches after a serious bed jumping session, while singing No More Monkeys Jumping on the Bed.
In a zombie apocalypse, my weapon of choice would be: Flamethrower

NERD QUIZ:

Facebook or Twitter:Snapchat
iOS or Android: iOS
‘Nerd’ or ‘Geek’: Rockstar
Star Wars or Star Trek? Live long and prosper.

What’s the best part about working at Whereoware?

Whereoware has a really cool working atmosphere and company culture. I immediately felt that this was a good fit for my particular blend of creative & tech background. My coworkers are all ambitious, knowledgeable, and sophisticated experts in technology, design, marketing, and communications. I’m looking forward to growing into my new role and can count on the support of my team to realize my professional aspirations.

Behind the glasses – Alyson

Each month, we’ll go behind the glasses with one of our fab employees here at Whereoware. For April, we get to know Alyson, our Internal Online Marketing Manager, a little better.

WHO:Alyson Hunter Whereoware Internal Online Marketing Manager

What’s your name?
Alyson Hunter
Job title:
Internal Online Marketing Manager

BACKGROUND:

Favorite food: It’s a toss-up between Thai food + sushi (addicted to spicy tuna)
If there were a movie of my life, I’d be played by: Allison Hannigan from How I Met Your Mother.
One item you would bring with you to a desert island and why: Books – entertainment + fire source. I’m pale + high maintenance, so my chances of survival are low regardless.
In a zombie apocalypse, my weapon of choice would be: An underground bunker (stockpiled with food, water, wine, books, my husband + pets, and artillery, just in case.)

NERD QUIZ:

Facebook or Twitter:Facebook for keeping up with friends + family. Twitter for keeping up with industry trends and whichever current event/scandal has the Tweeters freaking out.
iOS or Android: Android
‘Nerd’ or ‘Geek’: Nerd
Star Wars or Star Trek? I haven’t seen either, actually.

What’s the best part about working at Whereoware?

As an Internal Marketer at Whereoware, I get to do what I love (write) all day on topics that I’m interested in. I make sure the talented people, quirky culture, + serious achievements that make up Whereoware are represented + shared. My coworkers are so smart + passionate about elevating status quo marketing tactics, and it’s inspiring to share their successes (and occasionally, awesome failures). Whereoware embraces logically and carefully pushing the limits, and it empowers all of our teams to do truly cool and inventive things for our clients. I am happy to be a part of it. I’m also behind the camera taking all of our social event pics, so if you’ve ever checked out our Facebook or Twitter pics, you probably have no idea I work here.

SEO tip – Google updates mobile URL structure

Today, we’re taking a break from Mobilegeddon to share another Google mobile enhancement you might have missed. Google is rolling out an update to its search algorithm to change the URL structure of websites for mobile search results.

Who cares about URLs?

Google wants to make it easier for mobile users to find the best websites for their searching needs. Google also realizes that users aren’t reading and comparing every search result’s title, URL, and description to pick the best one.

Instead, they quickly scan results and then select the option that seems best. Well-structured, descriptive URLs assist this quick-scanner in their decision.

For example, if you’re browsing for a new video game, you’ll be more likely to visit the site www.videogamedepot.com then you would www.toydepot.com. The first URL offers context that the video game seeker will find exactly what they’re looking for, instead of taking the chance that Toy Depot carries video games.

Google Updates URLs to be Mobile-friendly

Google is updating the algorithm that displays URLs for mobile search snippet results to deliver more context clues than a poorly structured URL. Instead of displaying the full URL, mobile searchers will see the site’s name and breadcrumbs showing where the information is found within the site. Google defines a breadcrumb as a set of links that help a user understand and navigate your site’s hierarchy, like this:

Webmaster Tools › Help articles ›  Creating Google-friendly sites

Do a quick search on your mobile device, and you’ll notice a change:

Google updates mobile search results URL structure

Google will be showing both the breadcrumb URL structure and the name of your website, instead of the domain name and full URL. For example, if your URL is www.company.com/spring/blue-shirts.com, Google would split the URL into something like, company > spring > blue-shirts. Alternatively, they may use the breadcrumb structure of the page.

Don’t like how your URLs look? Well Google is supporting schema.org structured data to allow you to specify the website name to be used in the place of the domain name and the URL structure of the breadcrumbs.

Here’s some info on the update, including your site name in search, and the breadcrumb mark up.

Takeaways

Now is the time to look at your site’s URL structure. Site names and descriptive, user-friendly URLs (instead of arbitrary numbers and letters) are imperative to help mobile users find what they’re seeking and have a better experience with your brand. This change further cements the importance of thinking through your mobile users’ experience. It’s important to make searching for and interacting with your site as easy as possible from small smartphone screens.

Get Our Responsive Email Design Cheat Sheet

Are you keeping up with your growing mobile customer base? According to The Radicati Group, 78% of emails will be opened on mobile devices by 2017.

You only get one chance to impress these mobile customers! Responsive email design can help you deliver a fantastic email experience from every device.

Get our Responsive Email Design Cheat Sheet to use as you code your next email. If you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.

 

Can’t wait to see you at IBM Amplify 2015!

 

Reserve your spot to  speak to one of our mobile email experts at Booth 604. We’ll show you how to optimize one of your emails on the spot!

You’ll also want to pick up a pair  of our ultra fashionable geek chic glasses  + share a twitter pic, for the chance to win a $50 gift card.

(Read about how to respond to Mobilegeddon. Contact us if you’re still stressing out.)

Don’t miss our IBM Amplify sessions!

We’re speaking at four sessions at Amplify. We hope you sit in, + we’d love to chat with you before or after.

Tuesday, May 12

Mobile Sales App Integrated with IBM Silverpop + Mobile Customer Engagement Increases Efficiency 
See how the IBM Beacon Award-winning, Spotlight Sales App increases Evergreen Enterprises’ sales and improves sales rep oversight.
2:45 to 3:45 p.m. Room 31A.

Wednesday, May 13

From Onboarding to Post Purchase: Strengthening the Customer Experience
Learn how an automated onboarding solution helped Pitney Bowes decrease post-purchase customer service and streamline customer communications.
11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Room 33B.

Optimizing your mobile customer journey
Savvy marketers optimize the entire user journey regardless of the channel. Create mobile-friendly email capture, responsive emails and landing pages, and even mobile and web push notifications.
1:45 to 2:45 p.m. Room 23C.

Mobile Email: Scalable vs. Responsive Design —the How, the When, and the Where
Learn how Plow & Hearth decided to plunge into mobile email design and which technique—responsive vs. scalable—was the right choice.
3:15 to 4:15 p.m. Room 31A

Web tip – Respond to Mobilegeddon with responsive design

Is Google’s mobilegeddon stressing you out? Are you one of the many brands scrambling to optimize their website for mobile users today, the day Google’s search update went into effect?

Today, we’ll demonstrate why responsive design is the best choice for your website to respond (get it?) to Google’s search update.

What’s all the fuss about?

Google is boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly sites on mobile search results starting today (April 21). Ignore the doomsayers asking whether your site will survive this update. We promise it will, but if your site isn’t mobile optimized, you’ll start seeing your traffic drop.

We broke down how Google’s change will affect your organic traffic last month, but to simplify: Google wants to deliver the best possible search results to every searcher and almost everyone is searching Google from their smartphones at one time or another. (According to GlobalWebIndex, 80% of online adults own a smartphone (50% own a tablet) and spend 1.85 hours a day online from their mobile devices.)

If someone is searching for a new blender, Google intends to deliver the best blender vendors and blender reviews available. That means relevant information, and yes, an optimized user experience on the site.

If Google has to pick between a blender vendor with a site optimized for easy shopping from a smartphone, or a site where the searcher has to pinch to zoom to see blender options, squint to see the text, and struggle to click the Buy Now button, Google is serving up the optimized site – starting today.

The non-mobile-optimized website can still be found on Google, of course, but it will be lower in rankings than the mobile-friendly vendor, and lose traffic as a result.

Responsive design is the best response to Mobilegeddon

Responsive design is a mobile-friendly design technique that serves the same code on the same URL regardless of device (desktop, tablet, mobile), but renders the display differently based on the screen size. Responsive design ensures that a website visitor receives a fantastic user experience, whether they are on a smartphone, tablet or desktop, like so:

Currey-Co-Responsive-Design-Example

Responsive is a set of choices a developer makes to ensure the site is easy to interact with from all devices. A simple design that isn’t cluttered or content heavy, and won’t take a decade to load on a cell phone is a safe start. Navigation is often streamlined to make finding information easier and imagery and icons can also guide the visitor to pertinent content without forcing them to scroll a lot.

There are other design techniques (dynamic serving and separate URLs are two approaches), but responsive design is Google’s recommended design pattern. We recommend responsive to our own clients because it’s easier to maintain (updating one site vs. two), and you get all the mobile-friendly enhanced usability. See how it’s just as easy to input contact information and sign up for our client Mud Pie’s emails from both the desktop and phone.

MudPie-Responsive-Design-Example

Takeaways

Google’s search update wasn’t a haphazard decision to decrease your organic traffic. Mobile is simply a channel embraced by everyday users. It’s a good thing. Every time someone searches for your site, regardless of the device they use, is an opportunity for you to capture their attention. Google is making it easier for brands to capture the attention of their mobile audience.

If you want to maintain optimal levels of search traffic, than you need a mobile-friendly website. We build mobile-friendly and responsive websites and emails for tons of clients. Reach out if we can help you map out your mobile strategy. We also write about both topics regularly, so we’ll keep you up to date.

Spotlight tip – Helpful iPad tricks

Desktop Mobile Tablet Omni ChanneliPads are now as ubiquitous in everyday life as our phones, but there’s one drawback to leaning on these mobile tools. Every once in a while, our iPads don’t work as we expect, filling us with a red rage.

Today, we’ll go over tips to keep your iPad humming, and how to get better support when it’s not. (Hint – smashing it on the ground is NOT advised.)

iPad Battery Low?

Screen brightness
Do you feel like someone’s been shining a flashlight into your eyes after looking at your iPad all day? Tone down the brightness by swiping up from the bottom of your screen to access your Quick Actions menu. Slide your brightness to 50% or less, and you’ll notice a significant battery life increase and a decrease in your burning retinas!

Auto lock settings
Do you ever look down and realize your iPad’s screen is on, even though you haven’t touched it in ages? Change your Auto Lock settings to a shorter time period, and you’ll see an increase in battery life. Go to your iPad’s Settings app > General > Auto Lock. We suggest setting your Auto Lock settings to 2 or 5 minutes to maximize battery life.

Airplane mode
Are you in a different location than normal, and your iPad says “searching” where it usually says AT&T, Verizon, etc.? Set your iPad to Airplane mode to keep it from searching for a signal all day. Swipe up from the bottom of your screen to open your Quick Actions menu and touch the Airplane icon toggle to ON.

Secret Tip: If you put your iPad on Airplane mode when charging, it charges twice as fast!

Is your iPad App Acting Up?

Sometimes, we all need a fresh, clean start to our day! Restarting the app simulates the first time you installed it (without losing any data).

STEP 1:
Double tap the Home button to view all applications currently running

STEP 2:
Restarting your iPad apps

STEP 3:
Reopen the app

Still Having Issues? Try Restarting The iPad

Remember powering down the old desktop computers? Of course not, none of us are old enough to remember those days!

STEP 1:
Press and hold down both the Home and Lock buttons on your iPad for approximately seven (7) seconds until the screen turns black

STEP 2:
After about 30 seconds, hold down the Lock button until the Apple logo appears

Still no luck? Send a picture to support

It won’t immediately solve your problem, but it beats sending a 1,000 word document to your support team.

STEP 1:
Hold the Home Button and Power Button simultaneously for 3 seconds until the screen shutters like a camera lens.

STEP 2:
Go to your iPad’s Photos

STEP 3:
Tap “Select” in the upper right corner in Your Photos

STEP 4:  (See graphic below)
Select your photos to send. A checkmark appears in the thumbnail’s bottom corner

STEP 5:
Select the share icon

STEP 6:
Tap the email icon and enter the support email address to send the photos.

Share photos with support

Back up your iPad!

Through your Apple iCloud account, you can automatically backup your iPad’s content. If your iPad stops working, you can restore all of your content on a replacement iPad!

STEP 1:
Go to the iPad’s Settings App > iCloud > Backup
If you’re using iOS 7 or earlier, tap Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup

STEP 2:
Make sure iCloud Backup is ON

iCloud Backup

 

These iPad tips may seem simple, but when the red rage overcomes us, we often lose our minds. Instead of destroying your favorite mobile tool, take a deep breath, and follow our tips. You’ll increase your iPad’s battery life, save yourself from losing important files, and rest assured that you’re not picking pieces of your shattered iPad up off the ground.

Whereoware changes name to Where-O-Wowza!

April Fool’s!

Happy April 1st! (The one day each year where you approach loved ones with caution, are wary wandering the Internet + definitely don’t trust anything you read on Facebook.)

We’ve received some hilarious April Fool’s Day emails today + shared a few of our favorites below:

April Fool’s Day emails we love

Birchbox brought us Throwback Thursday a day early, channeling beloved sitcom Save By the Bell. We loved the huge cell phone, mix tape, and liberal use of the word “rad.” The offer seems legit when users click through to the Featured Box page, but the CTA – Is this real? is quickly replaced with a heartbreaking call out box (the jig is up).

Birchbox email and landing page April Fools

Continue reading Whereoware changes name to Where-O-Wowza!

Webinar Recap – The Store Of The Future

Did you sit in on yesterday’s webinar, Connecting Devices and Data to Create the Store of the Future? The webinar covered personalization and technology in retail and had us totally geeking out. A round of applause for the host, Alicia Fiorletta of Retail TouchPoints, and the awesome speakers:

Webinar-recap-panelists

How often do you sit in on a webinar that talks about delivering a tailored customer experience, while showing off super cool technologies like RFID, augmented reality, robots (I mean, ROBOTS)?

Check out just a few of the sci-fi-ish technologies that ambitious retailers are adding into their brick and mortar stores to bridge the gap between the digital and in-store experience:

The New StoreThe webinar covered a ton of information, but we summarized a few of our favorite points for you.

Digital isn’t killing retail

The speakers agree that digital isn’t replacing retail. In fact, 94% of total retail sales are still generated at brick and mortar stores (eMarketer). Consumers visit retail stores because they’re seeking a comfortable, familiar, sensory experience. They want to touch and see your products and get feedback from your sales reps. Smart retailers are using digital to enhance and augment the retail experience, not replace it.

Continue reading Webinar Recap – The Store Of The Future