Did you know that Google will tell you how to improve your website loading times for free? That’s not all - Google will also pinpoint exact website issues and errors to help you improve your SEO rankings.
Google provides a range of website tools to help you stay on top of trends, isolate errors and improve rankings. And best of all? These tools are free.
To run an efficient and effective website, you need to live by Google’s rules. This means that you need to have fast loading times, engaging content, working links and analytics that keep you updated with impressions, traffic and mentions.
In 2017, 79 percent of all global desktop traffic came from Google, meaning most of your business is coming from the search engine. So you need to do what it wants you to do, perform as it wants you to perform and provide the information it thinks you should be providing for an optimal digital marketing and SEO strategy.
Google knows this, and it offers its own range of services and SEO tools to ensure that all websites are working to the best of their abilities on desktop, or Android or Apple mobile devices. You can’t afford to not be staying up-to-date on evolving trends, market insights and industry benchmarks.
Here are eight free tools from Google that will tell you exactly how to get better results.
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The Google Search Console is by far one of the most comprehensive free tools offered by Google to help determine page impression, indexed pages, website issues, keyword rankings and overall website performance.
If you want to make sure your website is working, look no further than this tool, which offers a wide range of tests on a number of different website factors.
As a website owner or administrator, one of the best parts about this tool is its ability to give updates on the overall health of your website. If there is anything fishy going on — think malware attacks, hacking attempts or content removal — you’ll get a message sent directly to your email alerting you instantly.
Ransomware attacks grew 36 percent in 2017 and will continue to rise in 2018. That’s a lot of time, resources and money that could be lost trying to fix the problem. But with Google Search Console, you’re constantly in the know and aware of how your website is handling any unwanted intrusion.
Another great feature of Google Search Console is its sitemap checking abilities. If you’re trying to find out how to index your site, this helpful feature will analyze sitemaps and tell you the optimal ways to do so to get ranked higher on the search engine.
There are also a lot of tools that help detect any obstructions or crawl rate mishaps. If there are certain bugs or robots running, Google won’t be able to show your page. And if you have web speed problems, you don’t want Google deciding against ranking your webpage at a higher standing. These tools can pinpoint any problem areas and help you fix them.
An additional valuable factor to consider when ranking for SEO is links.
According to a Q&A with Google Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrey Lipattsev, good content and link building are two of the biggest factors that go into ranking your content on Google.
It’s a good thing, then, that this tool analyzes the links on your site to see if they’re working or broken. It also allows you to track links and see how certain campaigns or pages are performing based on the traffic produced from these links.
One of the most powerful tools this Google Search Console has to offer, however, is its ability to track search results statistics. Because, of course, it is important to know that your site is running well from a technical standpoint, but you also want to make sure that it is getting the traffic and engagements you want it to in order to succeed.
With the keyword tool feature, you can see the top keywords that brought people to your site which can then help you optimize pages in order to increase that traffic going forward.
You can also analyze click-through rates for specific campaigns, web pages and content types to see what’s working, what’s not and what needs to change for a better overall website in the future.
This feature gives you your overall ranking. And when you combine this tool with others like Google Adwords and Google Analytics, you can start seeing an even clearer picture of your website’s standing.
But that's not all! Google recently announced a new update to the beta Google Search Console version that lets brands and businesses check specific URLs on their website. By inputting these links, brands can gain insights into how each, individual URL is performing and gain insights into how each of these pages can be better crafted for higher traffic and better rankings.
One of our most common user requests in Search Console is for more details on how Google Search sees a specific URL. We listened, and today we've started launching a new tool, “URL inspection,” to provide these details so Search becomes more transparent. The URL Inspection tool provides detailed crawl, index, and serving information about your pages, directly from the Google index. Enter a URL that you own to learn the last crawl date and status, any crawling or indexing errors, and the canonical URL for that page. If the page was successfully indexed, you can see information and status about any enhancements we found on the page, such as linked AMP version or rich results like Recipes and Jobs.
This is a game-changing tool that can help create better websites across the board, and your business can learn a lot from the data gleaned. This update also offers users more structured data reports, 16 months-worth of analytics and new search appearance filters.
There are a number of benefits that come from using Google Search Console, but what is imperative for marketers and website owners to understand as a whole is the importance of SEO and how these factors play into how your website will be ranked.
Entrepreneur and web influence Neil Patel has spoken at length about the power of SEO and how vital it is in ensuring your website can succeed. He outlines the importance of staying up-to-date on analytics, ensuring mobile-friendliness, using keywords and building links which are all huge determinants when it comes to how Google ranks your page.
He’s had years of success with his findings and advice. And what we can see from his advice is that it is vital that you’re using the information Google can provide through tools like the Google Search Console in order to identify factors that are hurting your SEO rankings — factors like page crawling, your current search rankings, and keywords.
Therefore it’s obvious that tools like this one are great for making sure you’ve got a website that makes an impact — on Google, and on your target audience. It’s a keyword tool, cybersecurity alert system and performance analyzer all in one.
2. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a helpful and free tool that helps you understand, using metrics and data, how your website is performing as a whole. It is the industry standard when it comes to gaining insights and setting benchmarks for your website performance and effectiveness.
With the Google Analytics tool, you can measure website traffic, conversion rates and ad performance. You can also use this tool to gain knowledge about your current audience, what kind of content they are looking for, what content they interact with most and how they’re engaging with your content.
For years, Google has topped the list as the best analytics tool for businesses big and small, and this trend continues with new integrations, better quality analytics and an influx of new tools to gain even more specific and accurate insights into your performance, audience and functionality.
But why are these insights helpful? They give you the complete picture of your customer journey, they offer ways to improve your marketing plan by giving you paths for trackable results, they present your data in easy-to-digest ways, and they give you the data that only Google can give you — which is, really, the only data you need considering Google receives more than 66,000 searches every second on any given day.
You can overhaul your entire social media strategy with these insights, changing how you interact with your audience and structure your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram marketing plan.
Le Petit Marseillais, a company that falls under the umbrella of Johnson & Johnson, was able to use Google Analytics to pinpoint what traffic was true traffic, and what was post-click traffic throughout a number of campaigns they ran for a new product line they were launching:
The team [at Le Petit Marseillais] used DoubleClick Campaign Manager to plan, execute and measure Les Petits Bonheurs campaigns, and leveraged Google Analytics 360 to measure user activity on the brand’s website. The full integration empowered Johnson & Johnson to discover and create valuable audiences. They used their YouTube channel audiences to target users likely to be interested in Les P’tits Bonheurs products. They then used Google Analytics 360 to segment website visitors into different audiences based on visit durations and specific on-site behaviors. DoubleClick Search allowed them to create further audiences based on users’ previous keyword searches. These methods of finding the right viewers and serving relevant ads at scale paid off; Johnson & Johnson France increased reach among their target by 19% and saw a 21% improvement in cost per unique user.
Thanks to this free Google tool, the team at Le Petit Marseillais were able to gain access into data that helped them more effectively target audiences and gain insights into how users were interacting with their ads and their content. This lead to major improvements that will continue to drive traffic and increase engagements.
Google Analytics is a vital tool for growing your business online with copious amounts of data that you can’t find anywhere else.
3. Google Alerts
Google Alerts is a tool created by Google that lets an individual or organization set alerts or notifications for when there are new articles, websites or mentions about a specific topic, brand or organization. It detects changes across the web and sends notifications to users based on their set preferences and alerts.
These alerts are sent via email and are collected in real-time.
To create these Google Alerts, all you need is a Google account and you’re ready to go. Just head to the Google Alerts page, and in the search box enter a topic you want to follow.
You can set up your alerts with your own preferences — how often you want to receive alerts, the type of content or website you want to be notified about, where in the world you want these results to come from and how many results you actually want to be sent to you.
Once you’ve set your preferences, just click ‘Create Alert’ and you’re good to go.
But what benefits does Google Alerts have for a brand or organization from a marketing or content perspective? Quite a lot, actually.
For starters, setting up these alerts can give you real-time data updates on when you, your brand or your products are being talked or written about. This is great for understanding who is writing about your content, what they’re saying and what more they need to know.
Setting up these Google Alerts is also great for keeping an eye on the competition. You can follow what they are saying, what’s being said about them and how your mentions stack up in comparison.
It’s also a useful tool for staying on top of trends and industry insights. Analytics are great as a whole for understanding your audience and what they want, but these alerts are a fantastic resource for up-to-date insights and sneak peeks into the industry. You don’t want to miss out on a golden opportunity because you weren’t performing active social listening.
On WordPress alone, there are more than 77 million new posts each month. That’s not to say that this is direct competition, but keeping an eye on these conversations and this new content can help you come up with content of your own.
So staying on top of trends and setting up these alerts is great for creating exciting content opportunities for a company blog or product pitch. You want to create content that the people actually want to read and absorb, right? So what better way to brainstorm ideas than to pull directly from what is actively being created and sought out.
4. Google News
Another great resource for content ideas and brainstorming sessions is Google News. This free tool keeps you up-to-date on the latest news stories as well as any topics that Google thinks you’d be interested in reading about.
If you’re looking for timely article topics or conversations to jump in on, Google News is the tool for you.
With Google News, you can quickly and easily search for topics and stories. And with its advanced settings, you can also narrow these searches by date, region, category and website. This is ideal if you’re looking for a timely story in a specific area or category.
It’s also a great tool for checking to see if you’re being written about, or if your competition is being written about. You can then delve deeper to try and understand why you or your competitors are or aren’t being written about.
Research shows that 91 percent of marketers say that they invest in content marketing, and using these insights from Google News can help ensure that what you’re producing is high-quality content that people want to read.
Staying on top of Google News is imperative for brands and organizations who create content with quick turnarounds and high shareability. Look at brands like Insider, Elle and Buzzfeed. These news sites rely heavily on fast-paced, quick pieces that get pumped out hourly. They don’t have time to waste searching through news sites to find a piece that is newsworthy.
No, they need their news all in one place and right when they need it. Google News offers that flexibility, freedom and speed. With up-to-the-minute alerts about breaking news, trending topics and market insights, Google News is a vital tool for creating content, coming up with new stories, understanding your competitive landscape and remaining unique and fresh in an ever-evolving technological world.
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Google PageSpeed Insights is a great tool for analyzing loading times on any given webpage. All you have to do is plug in the URL, and let Google work its magic. This free Google tool will then give you real-time performance markers that shed some light on the efficiency of your website loading times.
Research shows that 47 percent of users expect a webpage to load within two seconds. Similar research also shows that 40 percent of users will leave a website altogether if it doesn’t load within three seconds of clicking on the page.
In short, loading times matter. Page speed matters. Google has been ranking websites using website speed as a factor since 2010. And just recently, Google announced it will begin ranking websites based on mobile loading times as well:
People want to be able to find answers to their questions as fast as possible — studies show that people really care about the speed of a page. Although speed has been used in ranking for some time, that signal was focused on desktop searches. Today we’re announcing that starting in July 2018, page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches.
So from now until July, you’ve got some time to improve your page speed to ensure you don’t get knocked off Google’s radar altogether.
And that’s where Google PageSpeed Insights comes in.
Using data from the Chrome User Experience Report, this tool reports on two distinct metrics — First Contentful Paint (FCP) and DOMContentLoaded (DCL). Your calculated averages are then compared the Chrome User Experience Report to decide whether your web page runs fast, slow or average.
This tool also offers users an optimization score to determine how well their page follow common best practices when it comes to performance in two categories: time to above-the-fold load and time to full page load.
The score is a number out of 100. A page with a score above 80 is good. A page with a score between 60 and 79 is medium. A page with a score less than 60 is low.
Another section offers insights into whether or not the layout, appearance or functionality of a page can be altered for increased results. These suggestions continue, with the tool offering ways to improve your website speed and rankings in order to score higher and attract a larger audience.
One company that has used Google PageSpeed Insights to drive traffic and improve its rankings is Szkla. According to a case study, the company was able to increase mobile revenue by 60 percent thanks to usability improvement suggestions offered by the free Google tool.
After realizing mobile conversions were much worse than desktop conversions with the help of Google PageSpeed Insights, the company was able to make the necessary adjustment and increase performance, thus driving traffic and revenue.
Not only can this tool help you improve your ranking and drive traffic, it can also help you make more money.
Google Surveys isn’t a tool that will analyze your website or derive data from your traffic or usage, but it is an exceptionally exciting tool for learning more about your consumer base and understanding your audience, gaining a vital understanding of what makes your audience tick.
Not only that, but you can find out specific information through these surveys, asking certain questions and eliciting a distinct reaction. This can help you create a better business model, reach out to your audience in more targeted ways and make an overall better brand impact.
According to Google:
Google Surveys makes it easy to get fast, reliable insights from consumers across the internet and on mobile devices — allowing you to make more informed business decisions, understand your marketing impact, and keep a pulse on the health of your brand.
It’s vital to understand your market and gear your strategies, designs and offerings towards these people. And these surveys can help unlock these otherwise secret data points.
Get real-time results and connect with your actual customers with the use of Google Consumer Surveys.
Surveys are a valuable tool for a variety of reasons and in a myriad of different business niches. From marketing to design to IT — survey information can make a huge impact on business operations and more.
And they can shed some light on the specific content your users want to see, helping you better create an SEO plan for future success.
7. Google Places For Business
If you’re an e-commerce brand or a business with a storefront, you want more visibility — not just online, but in person. And Google Places For Business — along with a Google + account and Google Local integration — can help you show up where your audience is, promoting more real-world interactions.
Generate traffic and drive more organic visibility with the help of this insightful Google tool. This is thanks to its integration into Google Maps, letting you control how much information, and what information in general, is available on your Google Maps listing.
It’s kind of like Google + on steroids — it allows you to post and interact on the platform itself but also gives your brand a bit of an extra SEO boost by giving you even more places to let your brand identity and business information live — and best of all, it doesn’t cost a thing.
8. Google Keyword Planner
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool in Google Adwords that helps brand pinpoint the words and phrases being searched for most on the search engine. If you’re going to start advertising using Google Adwords, this is a can’t-miss tool to take advantage of.
It can help you craft the ads that will reach the most audiences and engage in a way that they want to be engaged with, providing them the content they’re actively searching for. The results from your search will allow you to see what words and phrases generate the most traffic, and it also gives you a budget estimation so you know ahead of time what you could potentially be spending.
And you can even break down these results and separate them geography, gender, interest and platform to narrow down your audience and find the words that will give you results.
Find new keywords, research existing keywords and use this information to create a more targeted Google Adword advertising plan that will get your ads ranked high, and drive traffic to your website.
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If you’re trying to improve your rankings, increase your website speed and draw more users to your website, look no further than these eight free Google tools. They offer insights you wouldn’t otherwise gather, and they come at absolutely no cost to you. Here’s another breakdown of each tool and how it can help boost your SEO initiatives.
Google Search Console: This tool helps you understand page impressions and what pages drive the most traffic. It also helps you to figure out how to best index pages, find website issues, solidify keywords to optimize for and increase website performance.
Google Analytics: This tool helps you see the bigger picture as far as your website and your audience is concerned. It provides actionable data that you can use to improve results like conversion, click-through rates, engagements and impressions. As the industry standard in analytics, Google Analytics provides you with the data and metrics that will get you the rankings you want.
Google Alerts: This tool helps you by notifying you of specific topics or keywords that you set up. This can alert you to when you or your brand are being talked about. This can also help you to keep an eye out on the competition by seeing who is talking about them, what they are saying and if they are creating content that your audience is engaging with at a high level. It also gives you some ideas as to what content you should be producing.
Google News: This tool helps you stay up-to-date on breaking news and trends in your industry. This is helpful because it can offer insights into the content you’re creating, and what you should create going forward. It is also a great tool for creating timely pieces that can get seen on the popular news site and get more eyes on your content.
Google PageSpeed Insights: This tool analyzes loading times, rates your website on its speed and offers insights on how to improve the overall functionality of your website. This is vital considering now, more than ever, page speed is a major determining factor in the Google ranking algorithm.
Google Consumer Surveys: This is a great resource for understanding your audience and developing a plan of attack when it comes to how to approach your audience and develop content catered to them. Get in-depth results and build an SEO plan around them.
Google Local For Business: To increase exposure and control the content available on Google Maps, this is a great tool that will help you get more traffic and more awareness of your site.
Google Keyword Planner: Get the most out of your search engine ads by utilizing Keyword Planner, which will let you research and choose the right keywords for the right audiences. Find the words and phrases that will make for effective ads and get an estimated budget while you're at it!
You don’t have time to waste hoping your website is performing at its maximum potential. You have a digital marketing and SEO strategy to think about. And you may not have the money or resources that are required to outsource these analytics and insights.
Google runs our lives, and we must learn what it wants from our own content in order to succeed. These eight free tools simplify the process, putting you one step closer to running a website that sees results.
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