A Guide to Google Webmaster Tools

We’ve all heard of Google Webmaster Tools, but how many actually know how and why to use it? My goal with this blog post is to teach you about why you should use Google Webmaster Tools and also how to use some of the key features to easily improve your SEO and rankings.

While there are many great SEO services out there such as Moz and Ahrefs that will give you many details about how your website is performing based on how Google is perceived to work, Google Webmaster Tools is direct from Google providing some of that information for you. Webmaster Tools will give you insights about your website ranging from popular queries, crawl errors, even mobile usability complete with suggestions to improve it. It also lets you manage your site’s appearance in search such as removing content you don’t want seen, removing malware and even removing spam links directly from the console. Want to hear the best part about it all? Google Webmaster Tools is absolutely free to use!

Now that we know about some of the reasons you should be using Google Webmaster Tools, lets talk about some of the features that you should be using and taking advantage of to start improving your sites ranking and SEO performance.

First things first, you will need to set up Google Webmaster Tools and link your site to your account. You will need a Google account for this. I recommend using the same one you use for Google Analytics and all other Google services. If you don’t have one yet, please set one up now. Navigate to www.google.com/webmasters and log in. Once you’ve logged in for the first time you will be prompted to add your site and verify it. Verification can be done a number of different ways, however the recommended way is HTML file verification. Once verified your site will be added and will start collecting and recording data for you.

The first thing to check out is your dashboard. You will need to give Google a few weeks to start collecting data after signing up. Your dashboard gives you a brief overview of any crawl errors, a graph of search queries and your sitemap. This overview is a great way to very quickly get a sense of how your website is performing and any errors that require attention. I recommend checking at least your dashboard once a week.

Next we will go through some of the key features, what they are and how they will help your site. On the left-hand navigation bar under Search appearance we will start with Structured Data. If your site uses any structured data within the code, Google will display how much structed data it has found and how many errors it has found with it. If you’re unfamiliar with structured data, be sure to check back for an in-depth post on structured data. Essentially structured data is basically small snippets of tags that tell Google what the information on your page is, for example around your logo. Google can’t read and interpret the image file that is your logo, so you need to put a little description telling Google that that is your graphical logo and so on.

Next in the list under Search Appearance is Data Highlighter. The previous section was on structured data and analyzing problems with it, but let’s say you wanted to add structured data to your site but didn’t know how. That is where the data highlighter comes in. From the page, you will click on “start highlighting” and use the tool to help you create HTML tags that you can then insert on your page for Google to understand it better. The tool also helps you add it properly. If you struggle with some of the more technical aspects of the web design, I recommend checking this out to ensure you’ve done it correctly and get help where you haven’t.

Sticking with our theme of data markup and HTML tags, the next tab is HTML Improvements. HTML Improvements is great because here we can quickly see any problems that are impacting our sites user experience and performance. Under the Meta Descriptions headline we can see if we have any duplicates, something we need to resolve as it is bad for SEO. Under here we can and long and short meta descriptions. When you select long or short, it will give you a list of all pages with a meta description and the description, something that should be reviewed anytime the content on that page changes to make sure it accurately reflects the web page.

The last tab in Search Appearance is Sitelinks. It is important to note here that not every site will have sitelinks so don’t be alarmed if yours doesn’t have anything there. For those who don’t know, sitelinks are the sub links below the main website when you search on Google. Within the Sitelinks tab you can select certain URLs to remove and which ones you want displaying as your sitelinks. I suggest checking to see which pages you have sitelinks to and ensuring they are high traffic and important pages.

Next we are going to move onto the heading Search Traffic, a very important tool to see how your site is doing based on keywords and click through rate (CTR). First we are going to look under Search Queries. You’ll notice that this displays a larger version of the graph your had in the middle of your dashboard. This graph shows the impressions, number of times your site appeared on Google search when a user searched a query, and also the number of clicks you got. More importantly below, you will get a table showing you each query that you rank for, the position you rank for it and the CTR for each query. You can change the date ranges to look at historic trends and see spikes and drops to find out what worked or what went wrong. High impressions and low clicks can also point to potential SEO errors, perhaps your Title tags, page descriptions or Googles interpretation of your page aren’t what they should be.

Another great resource under Search Traffic is the Links to Your Site section as links are highly correlated with SEO. This page will display who links to you the most so you can get a sense of your link profile, but more importantly it shows your most linked content. This is vitally important when seeking out links, you must have people link to popular content or those links are going to be wasted and you likely won’t generate any value out of them.

While there are still more tools under Search Traffic, I am going to move onto Google Index and allow you to explore the others yourself. If you have specific questions about headings under search please reach out. Onto Google Index and a very important part, Index Status. Index Status will show you how many pages are indexed by Google. Indexed pages are pages that can be found by search engines, it is vital that your pages be indexable or you won’t show up in search. Google will index your page one of two ways, either new pages will be found via a link to your site from a previously indexed page or link, or you can request that Google crawl your page which will index all of them. If you find you’re unable to rank for certain keywords or topics, it would be a good idea to check if Google can see all the pages.

Next, under Content Keywords we can see Google will let us know in priority order what it thinks our site is about. This ties back into the impressions and CTR a little bit and may help point to some issues if you find people are not visiting your page. It is worth checking what Google believes your page is about and perhaps revising content as required. Title tags, H1 tags, Meta descriptions and targeted keywords should all be reviewed if you’re finding Google misinterpreting your page.

Moving onto the Crawl section we can start by viewing the Crawl Errors Tab. Sites with no errors will rank better than sites with errors so its important to be checking back regularly. Under Crawl Stats you will see how many pages Google crawls a day and download times. If you see any big spikes in download times it could point to problems with your site and the content posted. It could be an issue with the web hosting server, or perhaps the content you just put up wasn’t prepared properly (picture files way to large or video files).

That wraps up the most important features of Google Webmaster Tools that you will want to learn about and focus your attention on to start improving your sites SEO. If you have any questions, suggestions or want to share your experience with Webmaster Tools please comment below. We love hearing from you.

Your website is $*#&%! There I said it!

99 percent of all websites are crap!
Yours probably is as well, and I can quickly prove it!
 

When you had your website designed:

Did you dream that 1000's of people would automatically go there?
That you would immediately start selling your product?
That you would make millions?
That people would visit your Blog, subscribe to your message?
That people would beat your door down?
That rainbows and unicorns would surround your computer?

Well, before I go further in my rant, please do this quick test.
Perhaps all of the above is happening for you and I'm just wasting your time.

Please skip to the free site SimilarWeb.

Enter your Website URL and be prepared for the cold hard truth. By the way, if no data at all shows up, you are not even on the radar.

But if you did make it to the island, first look at your Total Visits:

Bang! It will show you how many people are visiting your site.

Time on site will show you how long their visits are. Bounce rate will automatically show how many people come to your site and say,  “Hey! This is not the right site. I made a mistake! I'm Outta here!”

If you stop weeping for a moment, you can move to Traffic by countries. Look! I'm getting 100's of people daily from Bangkok, Thailand, to my restaurant in Halifax, Canada. Sorry, that traffic is not doing you any good.

The third tab will quickly tell you if it is Direct traffic, meaning people know the address and are typing it in (already know you) or actually getting there via Search, which is really what you want -  New People finding you on the search engines.

“But, but, but Tomek I spent over a thousand dollars on my site and hired the best web design company who spent months designing it!” Numbers don't lie. If you require a shoulder to cry on, I hold a support group every Thursday night for people just like you. This group is large, please join the waiting list...

“Hey! I made the website with my brother/cheapest/free company I could find and spent nothing!” You would have been better off buying new shoe laces as that time would have been more productive to your cause, as least your shoes would work perfectly for the long walk of shame with no money in your pockets.

I know this is all tough web love, and I'm not trying to be mean or silly. I just need to break the circle of chains of people wasting money and time. Most people are delusional about their websites. We are in a new era of web development.
It's play ball or go home.
You have all been warned! And I will never speak of this again.

If you were able to stop your sniffing for a moment, I do have a way out of this mess.  Join my newsletter for the newest ways to market online.  I don’t have all the answers yet, but together we can figure this out. 

Please also support the movement by pressing like and sharing this article to help someone else save their web dignity.

Question #1: Who Is Your Dream Client?

Roll out the carpet

Roll out the carpet

This is the first question in a series of 4 questions that I will be asking you to improve your business.

Most businesses don’t stop to think of the obvious.

They try to cast a wide net to capture as many clients as possible.

As you know, you will be spending time with these clients for most of your working day.

Do you want to spend it with people you like? Or don’t like?

Bad clients will take up the most of your time, make you miserable, and cost you money.

Treat your dream clients like VIPs on the red carpet. Don’t let everyone in; pick and chose. It's better to have a few great clients than a large number of bad ones.

Bad clients stop you from enjoying your business.

How to start? Look over all of your clients and pick the best ones and see if they are similar.

Or try this.

Who is your dream client? What do they look like? What are they passionate about? What are their goals, dreams, and desires?

Get very specific. Is your dream client for example, a middle age women with children, who only works part time on the weekends, and wants to own her own Spa?

Go to Google and look at images. Find a picture that looks like your dream client.

Save it to reference it. You can look at this picture to remind you where you need to focus.

When you have a mental image of your client, it will help you decide where to market. (Facebook, Pinterest, Radio, Magazine, Charities, etc.)

You can’t focus your marketing until you know who your dream client is.

Once you know who your dream client is, finding them will be easier.

SEO Steps and Web Tools I Used to Sell Over $140,000 Online.

I want to promote a new way of running businesses in Nova Scotia, with the focus on doing it in rural areas where we are losing industry and people. Today we should be more open to using new technologies available to us and preserve our great rural communities and the lifestyles they produce.

Although now I have become more sophisticated with how I market online, this is my story of how I generated $140,000 in a few short months, selling just one product on the Internet. It was an experiment to make sure I was on the right path for my clients and that I was not wasting their time or money. I wanted to do this all organically, not spending any money on Google AdWords. 

There are people online giving out business marketing advice.  I just thought that by showing you my methods, it would give you a new perspective on what I was able to do with just an online connection and computer from any location.

Finally, I'm doing this for no other reason than to show you that it's not as hard as you think to use the power of the Internet to make sales. Only though, if you have a smart website and follow the rules. 

Below are simple things you should do to your website for a win.

*Start Out with a Great Product.

This is the foundation of your business. Do marketing research to make sure there is a need for your product. I chose voice dictation for doctors. I saw that doctors do not have time to learn to type, and this product would help them.  It was also a niche market, meaning I didn't have many competitors to compete against, which is a huge advantage. Small companies are able to go head to head against the bigger companies as they can make website changes quickly.

*Buying a Good Domain Name

I picked Dragonmedical.ca because it had the keyword dragon and medical. Both words doctors were familiar with and my market was in Canada. Short, easy to remember and it describes my product. I had no time for branding. The domain should not matter in Google, but I played it safe and bought something that had my keyword in it.  Buy your domain at godaddy.com

*Find the Top 3 Competitors.

Why reinvent the wheel? Pick 3 companies who are doing well and mimic what they are doing right. You can always go back and add your own ideas later. They would have spent money and time to get to this position, use this as an advantage and scale quick.

*Get Keywords

Keywords are what Google uses to find your site on the Internet.

They are the words people type in the search window to find what they need. You have to have these words on your site, in your titles, headings, images, and text. Use H1 tags properly and follow web standards to build your site. Visit Moz.comto learn the basics. Give Google what it needs to index you. Google does not see images and cannot figure out what your site is about if you do not use text on your pages.

*How Do You Find Keywords?

I used Semrush.com and Answerthepublic.com for my long tailed keywords.Spyfu.com is also a good site to grab all of the paid keywords that your competitors use. Use these keywords they pay for to move you forward at their own expense.

Every word on my Dragonmedical.ca page is a keyword without sounding too much like it is.

*Build Your Site.

I used Squarespace.com. They allow someone with little experience to build a website with e-commerce. The focus for me was to do the SEO and marketing, not wasting too much time on the site. I did create one video with my wife, to see how videos play out in search. This took some time, but the rest of the site was built in a day, and later tweaked and adjusted daily.

*Connect Your Site to All the Google Tools.

That way Google has you on the radar to crawl your site and you will receive valuable traffic feedback and potential errors to correct.

I also have a heat map by Hotjar.com connected so I can see where people are clicking on the site. I want my users to have a site they can navigate easily and get the information they need quickly. People have a very short attention span.

*Backlinks.

Every site on the Internet is given a rank, from 0 to 100. The better linked your site is to other high ranking sites, the more importance is put onto it. Your page will come up first before a low ranking site. This is why your site should be connected to as many high ranking sites as possible. The best tool for this isAhrefs.com. Again, by spying where your competitors are linking you can reach out to these sites to connect. Ahrefs is also good to find sites that are using you to grow their traffic. A good amount of all sites have parasite sites connected to them. This will hurt your standing with Google. 

If you are not doing any of the above, you are going to have a mediocre experience for your client and your website.

Worse, if you are not doing these things for your website, then SEO capable companies will come in and help themselves to your sales and customers.

It's ironic that most people stop at the design of their site.

Designing your site is the easiest thing to do. Making money from your site while you sleep is the hard part and 90% of all sites don't do this.

In a world of millions and millions of sites people will not naturally find you, nor should you expect them to.

To learn more how to make your site better, join my FaceBook page Oceanlo9ic

Or subscribe to my Newsletter.

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What I learned working at Robotnik for 18 years

Robotnik.com Antigonish Store

Robotnik.com Antigonish Store

Robotnik.com Halifax Store

Robotnik.com Halifax Store

My Personal Business Observations

Please hear me out!  These observations are obvious, but don't let it take you 18 years to figure out!

Focus on a specific market.

It is easy to get carried away thinking, "I'm going to sell to the whole world."  This is one major mistake people make.  When you cover a large territory, your competition increases tenfold.

It is easier and more profitable to concentrate on one specific group of people. This way, you can focus all  your attention on them and make them feel special. You can develop a better plan to sell to and service them.

Many times I have walked into a business that is trying to sell everything to everyone. It is like trying to find a tennis racket in a messy closet. By the time you find it, you no longer feel like playing.

Our company, Robotnik, learned that lesson.  We tried to be the "everything computer store". It was only after we focused on the three or four things that made us happy and money that we became successful.

The screening allowed us to improve on the things that we do well.  Which in turn drove us harder to give our customers better value.

Apple has been successful with this tactic. They offer only two or three laptops and one desktop. They decide what is best for their customers.

People often prefer quality over low prices. 

If you have fair prices, there is no need for you to discount.
You are never going to provide the same service at 50% off or a quality product that is 50% cheaper.  

The funny thing is, clients who want a deal will never appreciate your product or service. They will see no value. These clients will always go to the cheapest company and will never be a customer for life. Your energy is better spent on those clients who accept your fair prices, and value your services.

Most companies concentrate on how to make their product cheaper by cutting quality. Don't follow that path. Continue on your path and do not get sidetracked with what your competition is doing. Learn to innovate your business by thinking outside of the box. Either do what your competition does, but better, or invent something new.

Test and change business models quickly to win.

You might have to walk away from some clients, but will be better off for it in the long run.

Find talented people and let them do their jobs.

The hardest thing of owning your own business is letting go. Find the right people who love what they do and stay out of their way.

Fire people that are not in line with your company’s values and direction. Do not wait for them to change, as it generally never happens. It is not fair to your dedicated employees to keep someone on who is going against the grain.

Be good to your customers.

Poor service will destroy your business. I am thankful that I understood this from the beginning. Your reputation is everything, especially if you operate in a small town.

Work hard everyday.

There are rarely any short cuts to the goal of being successful. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it.

The past 18 years were not all fun and games. Yet, it is satisfying to know that I will have a business for 20+ years. This is my own personal testament of not giving up. 

Thank you to all the people who helped me get here.

For more business tips, join me at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/oceanlo9ic/

Exciting Times Ahead for Small Towns

halifax-web-design

A very sad thing kept happening to me while my family was happily looking for a cottage this summer in Nova Scotia. In every small town as we drove through, on each main street we saw neglected and closed down shops. Being a business owner, this hit me hard. I know personally how difficult it is to be an entrepreneur.

These towns were built by hand and certainly with multiple personal sacrifices. Seeing historical buildings and monuments neglected, is like watching our Nova Scotian heritage disappearing before our eyes.

Our family was moving in and everyone else was moving out.

But why was everyone moving? In my opinion, most of the general public has not yet come to the realization that we are living in a very interesting time, like no other in history. A time where you are not obligated to stay in one spot. People in the past were very connected to the location they lived in. Technology now has broken this system.

Location does not matter as much now to have a successful business.

How did I come to this conclusion?

When we had a hard time finding someone to take over website duties for our company, Robotnik.com. I decided to step up to the plate, I was the one who initially designed the first page for our company almost 18 years prior. Things have drastically changed since then. Back then you just built your page using HTML and formed links to other sites manually. Because of Google Search today, things have radically changed. It’s not just about building a page and its design. You have to be found on the Internet. You have to have a strategy for people to find you because you’re in direct competition with everyone else.

So as I dove deeper into figuring out web design, SEO, marketing and video creation, I realized I really liked how complex it has become. It is basically a huge puzzle to solve. I spent day and night studying and mimicking and testing the most successful sites.

I wanted to have a successful money making website of my own, that would free me to live anywhere I wanted in this beautiful province.

But the more I learned, the more I wanted to wake up other business owners who had websites that were little more than postcards on the Internet.

A really good website should pay for itself. Mine has ( dragonmedical.ca ).

So what is the point of this blog?

I truly want to help out other business owners who are struggling or want a different perspective on internet marketing. I’m grateful to live in Nova Scotia, and want to end this doom and gloom that everyone is talking about. There are some very intelligent people in this province, and by working together as a business community, we do have the combined resources to make a decent living in Nova Scotia, all without giving up our quality of life.

I created a private Facebook group, just now, with zero members :)

I hope you will join me and share your experiences & frustrations. I hope we can learn from each other. At the very least, it may stop you from making the same mistakes I made. I also have some business ideas to share; ideas that I have for websites that could potentially be profitable as well as some technical knowledge to improve your existing site.

So, show your love for Nova Scotia and click below.

facebook.com/groups/oceanlo9ic

2015 is the Year of Responsive Web Design

squarespace web design

Why Your Business Needs a Squarespace Website

  • Smartphones users check their devices 150 times a day.
  • 60% of Internet access is mostly mobile.
  • Of that 90% of cell phone owners, 58% have a smartphone. (more than half!)
  • 32% of adults in the U.S. own an e-reader.
  • 42% of adults in the U.S. own a tablet computer.
  • Users who have a positive experience on an optimized mobile website have shown a 67% increased chance of converting or using its service.

Is Your Website Ready for April 21st?

This might come as a surprise to many, but come April 21st Google will start using mobile-friendly compliances to govern how websites are ranked on it’s search engines. In the last few years, with the growing amount of mobile devices on the internet, adjustments had to be made. Mobile traffic now comprises 30% of all total traffic. This traffic continues to grow. Google, being first in the business of providing its clients the best way to find information on the internet, is always looking to make that experience better for its users. Google now will penalize your site if it does not size correctly on multi mobile devices and if its clients cannot manipulate your website while on the move. This means if your competitor is mobile ready and you are not, they will rank ahead of you on search, even if you have more relevent information on your site.

How do you know if your site is ready? You can simply go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

If your site fails, this may be a great time to re-design your site .

What Does an SEO Do In Their Day-to-Day Work -MOZ

A lot of SEOs, especially those coming from consulting backgrounds or who've joined companies as in-house SEOs who've had kind of this big project based SEO work to do, find themselves struggling after that's done. Typically, that process is pretty straightforward. You kind of do an audit. You look at all the things on the site. You figure out what's wrong, what's missing, where are opportunities that we could execute on. Maybe you do some competitive analysis, some market analysis. You identify those fixes. You work with teams to make those changes, validate the results have been completed, and then you're sort of in this, "Well, do I go back and audit again and try to iterate and improve again?"

That doesn't feel quite right, but it also doesn't necessarily feel quite right to go to the very, very old-school SEO model of like, "All right, we've got these keywords we're trying to rank for. Let's optimize our content, get some links, check our rankings for them, and then try to rinse and repeat and keep improving." This model's pretty broken I'd say and just not reflective of the reality of opportunities that are in SEO or the reality of the tactics that work today.

So the way that I like to think about this is the SEO audit, an SEO focused audit -- which is trying to say, "What traffic could we get? What's missing? What's broken and wrong?" -- only works at the low level and the very tactical trenches of a marketing process or a business process. What you really need to do is you want to be more incrementally based, but you need to be informed by and you need to be evolving your tactics and your work based on what is the business need right now.

So this process is about saying, "What are the top level company and marketing goals overall? For everyone in the company, what are we trying to accomplish this year, this quarter, the next three year plan? What are we trying to achieve?" Then figure out areas where SEO can best contribute to that work, and then from there you're creating tactical lists of projects that maybe you're going to positively move the right needles, the ones that you've identified, and then you're going to evaluate and prioritize which ones you want to implement first, second, and third in what order, and test implement those.

So, hey we've figured out that we think that a new blog section for this particular piece of content, or we think that getting some user generated content, building up some community around this section would be terrific, or we think outreach to these kinds of publications or building up our social stats in these worlds will expose us to the right people who can earn us the amplification we'll need to rank better, etc., etc. Okay, this is a fine process, and you're going to want to do this, I would say, at least annually and maybe even think about it quarterly.

All this work is essentially centered on a customer profile universe, a universe of people. I've got my person X, Y, and Z here, but your customer universe may involve many different personas. It may involve just one type of person you're targeting that you're always trying to reach over and over again, but it probably involves also the people who influence that direct subsection of your market.

From there, you can take the, "Hey, you know what, person Z is really interested in and consumes and searches for these types of content topics and these kinds of keywords, so we're going to start by taking keyword set A or content set A and figure out our keyword list and our content list. We're going to create, launch, and promote work that supports that." It could be content pieces, could be video, could be some combination of those things in social media, all forms of content. It could be tools, whatever you want, an application.

We're going to launch that, promote it, and then work on some amplification, and then we're going to measure and learn, which is a critical part of that process. I want to not only see what are my results, but what can I learn from what we just did and hopefully I'll get better and better at iterating on this process. This process will work iteratively, kind of similar to our broken process over here or to our site audit process there. It will work iteratively, and then every now and then you should pop back up and go, "Hey, you know what, I feel like we've exhausted the easiest 80% of value that we're going to get from 20% of the work on keyword set A. Let's move on and go visit keyword set B now, and then let's go visit content set C."

Occasionally, you're even going to want to move one step up and say, "Hey, you know what, maybe our personas or our market is changing a little bit. We want to try targeting some new customers. We're going to look at these folks over here or this guy over here and see if we can reach them and their influencers with new kinds of content and topics and keywords, and that sort of thing."

If your site is rocking and rolling, if you've completed your audit, things are just smooth sailing, then this kind of a process is going to work much better, so long as it's tied to real business objectives. Then when you achieve results here, you can point back to, "Hey, remember I told you these are the areas SEO can contribute to our overall goals, and now I can connect these up directly. The metrics that I get from all this SEO stuff can tie directly to those areas, can tie directly to the business goals." Everyone from the CEO on down is going to love what you're doing for the company.