Google integration is a service I offer to business owners. It’s something they can do themselves, and I usually recommend that they at least try before contracting with me, but they usually just pay me to do it because of my experience. They’re juggling sales and services and just want it to be done. That’s understandable, but it’s not optimal.
I’ve said it before; if you think of your website as a sunk cost, then you’re doing it wrong. Your website should be thought of as a digital salesperson, promoting your brand across the globe and selling around the clock. You take the time to make sure that your salespeople are proficient in their knowledge of your services and effective in their sales pitch, right? Google integration allows you to do the same with your website.
Google’s web service tools are free, but you have to register with Google. The day before you launch your website, you need to set up a Gmail account. You don’t ever actually have to share this account with anyone, but it’s necessary to access the remaining tools. Just use firstname.lastname@example.org. Once that’s set up, you need to register and verify your website with the following programs:
Analytics is the industry-leading traffic analysis tool. It will tell you who’s coming to your site, how they’re getting there, how long they’re staying, what they’re looking at, and everything else you can imagine down to their IP location, operating system, and browser.
Google Webmaster Tools
Webmaster Tools shows you how Google’s searchbots see your site. A word cloud can help you understand what you’re saying, but this tool let’s you see how Google hears your message, so to speak. If the terms Google associates with your site are not your core strengths, then you need to rework your copy. More importantly, you get to see any conflicts that the search engine giant may have with your site.
Google has been moving to more location-centric results. This shift is great for search users. You google pizza deals and get results for the places in your area. It’s not the best service if you’re a business owner trying to sell carpet around the world, but it’s a no-brainer that you want your business listed there. Google Places allows you to control your listing and integrate it with Google Maps. Make the listing as detailed as possible while remaining brief. And include pictures. Several pictures.
Google-friendly XML Sitemap
If you’re a WordPress user, you can automate this process with one of several plugins. Here’s mine. Most content management systems publish a sitemap, but search engines like varying formats. Google loves XML. An XML sitemap is a virtual blueprint of your website. Google’s searchbots use it to quickly discover and crawl all of your content. If you need to create one manually, click here.
If you want to give your website a chance to succeed, then these steps are not optional; they’re mandatory. These are the ABCs that you need to learn before moving on to the more advanced grammar of effective search engine optimization.