Now is the time for New Year’s Resolutions, and a great time to look at ensuring you have excellent foundations for your Search Engine Optimisation. There is no point forging ahead if you are not sure how to access vital tools, or how to assess what you are doing. Start out how you mean to go on, and you will be more focused and less confused!
I am a big fan of making Resolutions achievable – no sense in setting yourself up to fail. So let’s start with something easy. Have you signed up for all the free tools Google provides for assessing your site’s success (and if not, why not?!) and do you know how to access them all?
One thing I find clients often struggle with is ensuring they have just one central Google account for the website, with all the associated tools accessible under that account. It can be a personal account, if you prefer to operate that way, or an account with a generic email such as info@ so that you don’t mind giving access to other team members without the worry that they are accessing your personal Gmail account.
When I start work on a new website I often find they have many Google accounts, for no real reason. Check which accounts you have the what they have setup within, and then centralise. You can then have personal accounts that are granted admin rights to the central account, if you want to access features in this account without logging out and back in again.
A Google Account can contain the following tools that are highly useful for working with your website:
Google Analytics – I hope I don’t really have to mention this one. It offers free and comprehensive statistics showing what visitors to your site are doing, where they come from, how many of them there are, etc. For eCommerce shops it will show purchases, purchase sources, revenue, etc. Tons of essential data.
Google Webmaster Tools – This is quite a technical area, but either you or someone else who knows what they’re doing needs to be keeping an eye on the data it provides. It can show when a page on your website is not working, when people are trying to access old removed pages, how quickly your site is being indexed by Google, gives the ability to inform it of new pages, and many many more features.
Google Places – This offers you access to verify ownership and then make changes to your Google Map information. This is the information that appears when you search for your business and it comes up with a little map marker and then a web link and categories – sometimes more information. Google initially gathers this from online directories and you’ll want to update the information, add images, add opening times, etc, which will all help that map entry list higher.
Google Adwords – Handy, quick and targeted (as long as you know what you’re doing!) advertising available via Google Ads. You can turn it on, spend ten pounds and then turn it off – it will stick to whatever budgets you set and you can bid whatever you like to appear at the top of the search results. A money-pit if done wrong, a profitable marketing tool if done right.
Google Product Ads / Merchant Centre – It’s very important to have this in the same Google account as the above two items, as they all link together within Google Adwords, and also link with your Analytics. If they aren’t on the same account it’s harder to link the Analytics and conversions with Adwords, map listing with Adwords and Google Feed with Product Ads!
Google+ – Having a dedicated business Google+ Page is a good idea these days, go where your customers are and enough people are using this platform to justify your presence there. Having it on a centralised account means your Google Business Map will be on the same access for viewers as the Google+ Page, making it easier for them to find you and for you to negotiate linking things together.
There are tons of other Google tools you could benefit from, but I suspect you don’t need any more persuading.
How to Organise Your Google Accounts
Writing up a document is a great way to start if you suspect you have more than one Google account. If you can remember usernames/emails but not passwords, use the ‘forgotten password?’ tool on Google’s login. If you’ve forgotten usernames/emails too you can try a few possibilities in that ‘forgotten password?’ function and it will tell you when an email has not been used for an account.
Once you have logged in, write down what an account has access to (Analytics, Places, Adwords, etc) and what is set up in each. Once you’re written down all accounts and what is in each, work out which you want to keep and which to remove. Adwords is a tougher thing to move than Analytics, for example, so if you have an account with a detailed and working Adwords account, it may be best to keep that one and move everything else into it. Places is also a tough one to move, requiring a phone call to premises to verify.
Once you have moved everything into one account, ensure you delete the other accounts. They will only stick around to confuse you and others if you don’t. Then ensure you have the login for the one central (and any other personal) accounts somewhere clear and accessible, to avoid future confusion.
You will also benefit from using an email for this central account that is on the same domain as your website – Google likes organisation too, and will appreciate a strong association between your account, email and site.
If you are completely confused and in need or help, give us a shout! I’m happy to spend some time sorting your Google accounts out for you. And if you have an SEO package with us, don’t worry, we’ve already done all this for you.