DIY SEO: Getting Started with Google Properties
If you’re looking to boost your website’s visibility in organic search results, then you’ll need to be fully integrated with Google. In this blog post, we’ll introduce you to crucial Google Properties and explain why they are an absolute necessity for any website you hope to optimize for search engines. The four key properties we’ll discuss in this blog are Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and your very own Google Business Profile for maximum online exposure.
What is SEO?
What is SEO? It’s a question that often pops up in the world of digital marketing. SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, is all about improving your website’s visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). In other words, it’s the art and science of getting your website to show up higher in organic search results.
In laymen’s terms, when people type a query into Google for your service, investing in SEO helps make it so that your company appears at the top of search results. For example a search for “single family property management Seattle” should show you North Pacific Property Management at the #1 spot because they are the premier property management company in Seattle but, more importantly, they hired a fantastic SEO agency to ensure they rank high for that keyword (hint: it was us).
But how does it work? Well, search engines like Google use complex algorithms to determine which websites are most relevant and authoritative for a given search query. By optimizing various elements on your website such as keywords, meta tags, and content structure, you can increase your chances of appearing prominently in organic search results.
Why is this important? Because studies have shown that the majority of online experiences begin with a search engine. So if you want to attract more visitors to your site organically – without paying for ads – mastering the art of SEO is crucial.
Nowadays, there are countless strategies and techniques you can employ to improve your website’s SEO. From keyword research and on-page optimization to link building and user experience improvements – every little tweak can make a big difference in boosting your organic traffic.
So whether you’re a small business owner looking to increase local visibility or an e-commerce entrepreneur aiming for global reach, understanding the basics of SEO will set you on the right path towards achieving online success. So let’s dive deeper into one of its key components: Google Properties!
What are Google Properties?
Google Properties refer to a wide range of tools and platforms offered by Google that can be used for various purposes. In terms of SEO, the Google Properties we’re going to discuss in this blog post are Google Tag Manager, Google Analytics, Google Search Console, and Google Business Profile, although there are many more.
Google Tag Manager is a tool that allows website administrators the ability to quickly and easily manage their website’s code snippets. It makes it easier to deploy and update tags (such as conversion tracking, remarketing, etc.) without having to manually edit code on your site, which can be both time-consuming and difficult.
Google Analytics is a free web analytics service offered by Google that offers powerful insights into website traffic and user behavior. It can be used to measure ad campaigns, see where visitors are coming from geographically, track page views, understand user interactions, and identify potential areas of improvement for the website as a whole.
Google Search Console is a valuable tool that allows website owners to monitor their site’s performance in organic search results. It provides important data such as the keywords your site is ranking for, crawl errors, and insights into how users are finding and interacting with your site.
Finally, there is the Google Business Profile to help businesses create and manage an online presence on Google directly. It allows businesses to manage their information and appear in Maps, Search, and other Google properties. If you ever Google a business, this is the pane that appears to show you directions, reviews, and basic information about the business in your search query.
The combination of these tools empowers businesses to understand their audience better, optimize their web content, and ultimately drive more organic traffic to their websites.
The Benefits of Using Google Properties for SEO
Google Properties offer numerous benefits for SEO. They are owned and operated by Google, the most popular search engine in the world. This means that using these properties can have a direct impact on your website’s visibility in organic search results.
One of the key benefits is that Google Properties allow you to gather valuable data about your website’s performance and user behavior. For example, with Google Analytics, you can track important metrics like traffic sources, bounce rates, and conversions. This information helps you understand what is working well and what needs improvement.
When users see that you have an active presence directly on Google with your Google Business profile (formerly Google My Business), or appears in knowledge panels on search results pages, it adds legitimacy to your brand. It also gives Google confidence that you are taking a professional approach to your website, and thus giving their users a more positive internet experience, something they strive for with every search query result.
Using Google Properties is advantageous as they offer opportunities to increase visibility in search results. Optimizing content and being rewarded with features such as rich snippets or related searches within YouTube (another Google Property) can draw in potential customers. Moreover, access to valuable tools and resources for SEO efforts are also available. Search Console can be used to monitor crawl errors, while Keyword Planner (a tool within Google Ads, yet another Google Property) & Trends (a free tool from Google) can help identify keyword opportunities – all of which are ideal for optimizing your website effectively.
How to Use Google Properties for SEO
All of these Google Properties are free to use. To get started with each one, it is as simple as creating a free account. The tricky part comes in connecting the accounts to your website, associating the accounts (where necessary), in optimizing them, and in maintaining them regularly.
Below there will be a section for each Google Property, instructions on how to get started, and a overview of how to optimize and maintain them. For small businesses, this should be relatively easy in the beginning, but as you grow and have less time to manage it yourself, don’t let them go unmanaged. Hire a professional to takeover for you so that your Google Properties (and websites) don’t become outdated. As your digital presence becomes outdated, the user experience of interacting with your digital properties becomes worse, and as a result Google will not be as keen to include you in its top search results.
Getting Started with your Google Tag Manager
Google Tag Manager (or GTM for short) is a free tool that allows you to manage and deploy tags on your website. Now, if you are new to this you might be asking what are tags, why do I need to deploying them on my site, and why do I need a tool for that? – all great questions.
- What are tags? Tags are snippets of code put on your site. These snippets of code inform tracking software when certain actions happen on your site. For instance a tag can inform Google Analytics that someone viewed a page, clicked on a button, or navigated away from a website altogether.
- Why are tags necessary? Tags are required to get insights from users and their activity on your website. Various tools such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Facebook, Email Marketing Tools, Lead Generation Tools, and others have different types of tags to help you collect and learn from the data collected on your site. Each tag has a “trigger” that gets activated with an action. For instance a pageview tag is triggered each time someone views a page, adding a +1 each time it gets triggered so that when you view a report in Google Analytics you’ll see how many visitors viewed that page.
- Why do I need a tool for that? Tag management tools like GTM save time, allow for easier troubleshooting, provide an easier experience, and reduce the amount of code on your site. You can implement code directly on your site if you prefer, but as you scale you’ll be happy that you used a tool to keep everything easy-to-find and orderly.
GTM can be difficult when deploying complex tags, but for the basics it is relatively straightforward. You’ll want to create an account, create a container associated with your site, and then add two snippets of code directly to your site. A major benefit if you have WordPress is that you can use the Google Site Kit plugin to do all of this automatically on your site, all in one place – and that includes the addition of Google Analytics & Google Search Console.
If you are having trouble getting through this part, Google Support has a helpful guide including step-by-step a video. The container you added is going to live on your site and is where you’ll add tags. Instead of having every tag on your site, you’ll put them into the GTM container and only have the container on your site. GTM can then troubleshoot the tags to make sure they are working, you can edit or add to them later without having to start from scratch, and they’ll all be easily found in once place.
Think of each tag as a folder and the container as a filing cabinet. When any actions happen on your site, all of the folders have speadsheets in them to organize the actions into a report for you. Instead of having to have those folders all over the place, you have them neatly in a filing cabinet, automatically sifting through the data and arranging them into a report that you can see via the respective tool (Google Analytics, Google Search Console, or any other tools you’ve created tags for).
The only two tags we’ll need to add today are for Google Analytics and Google Search Console. For Google Analytics, you’ll need to create the tag and add it to the GTM container. For Google Search Console, when creating the account you’ll need to verify account ownership which gives you an option to use Google Tag Manager; by using this option you will successfully create a a link between Google Search Console and Google Tag Manager. If either process is unclear, Google has created a step-by-step guide on how to do each one. Click here for a simple guide on adding a GA4 tag using GTM and click here for how to add a Search Console Tag using GTM.
Getting Started with Google Analytics
Google Analytics is a powerful tool that allows you to track and analyze the performance of your website. Whether you’re a small business owner or a digital marketer, understanding how to use Google Analytics is essential to your SEO efforts. To get started with Google Analytics, the first step is to create an account. Simply go to analytics.google.com and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have one, creating one is quick and easy.
TIP: Consider scalability when getting started with this process. While you are managing this work today, in 1-2 years it is likely you’ll have an employee or agency handling this for you. Consider creating or using a gmail specifically for marketing purposes when creating an account for Google Analytics, other Google Properties, or other marketing tools as well. At the very least, use a business email to handle this so that editing permissions and granting access in the future will be easy.
Once you’re logged in, you should see a button right on the homepage that says “Start Measuring” but if not, you can click on “Admin” on the bottom left to create a new account and new property. Once doing so, you’ll see a screen like the one below. Enter in your details as best you can.
The final page of setup is where you’ll create your data stream. Here you’ll select “Web” (as you’re looking to track engagement on your website, not in an app) and go on to enter in your website information and name (as pictured below).
After setting up your account, it’s time to add the tracking code to your website. This code will collect data about visitor behavior and provide valuable insights into how users interact with your site. To add the tracking code, navigate to your new data stream and select “view tag instructions” on the bottom of the page. From here, you should see two options as seen below:
Install with a website builder or CMS is the go-to option, as Google will automatically scan where your site is built and give you exact instructions as to how to install the code properly. If you prefer to install the code manually or using Google Tag Manager (more on this below), choose the option to install manually.
Remember: If using WordPress, download the “Google Site Kit” plugin and handle the creation, activation, and connecting of your Google Properties directly through that plugin. It makes the entire process as simple as could be.
Now that everything is set up, give it some time for data collection before diving into analysis. Explore different reports available within Google Analytics such as audience demographics, traffic sources, top-performing pages and more. The great thing about Google Analytics 4 (GA4, the newest edition of Google Analytics) is that you can type into the search bar the exact report you want to see! For instance, you can type “organic traffic trend last month” and the graph that shows the exact data you’ll looking for will appear. That said, as you just created your account, there isn’t data yet! You’ll need to give it time to collect data for you to pull useful reports!
Using the information from GA4 effectively can help you identify areas where improvements are needed or opportunities for growth. By regularly monitoring these metrics and making necessary adjustments based on insights from Google Analytics data, you’ll be able to optimize your SEO strategy over time for better organic search results.
Getting Started with Google Search Console
Next up on our list is Google Search Console. This is a priceless tool for anyone looking to improve their website’s visibility in organic search results. Google Search Console provides valuable insights into how your site is performing and offers suggestions for optimization from data pulled directly from search data associated with your website.
To use another client as an example, NeueHouse can access their Google Search Console to see how many people saw them (impressions) in search results after typing “coworking space los angeles” or “coworking space nyc” and see how many clicks resulted from those impressions. They can also see which page those users ended up on. They can also look at each individual page to see what keyword searches are leading people to those pages. Going further, we can see if they were on desktop, tablet, or mobile, what country they were searching from, and even the date of their search.
To get started with Google Search Console, the first step is to create an account and verify ownership of your website. Once that’s done, you can start exploring the various features and reports available. One important feature is the ability to submit a sitemap, which helps Google understand the structure of your site.
Another useful aspect of Google Search Console is its coverage report. This report highlights any issues or errors on your site that may be impacting its visibility in search results. By addressing these issues promptly, you can ensure that Google can crawl and index your pages effectively.
You’ll also find a performance report in Google Search Console which provides data on how well your site is ranking for specific keywords and phrases. This information allows you to identify opportunities for improvement and track progress over time. The examples above (in regards to NeueHouse) were all done through the performance tab.
In addition to these features, there are many other resources available within Google Search Console including URL inspection tool, mobile usability analysis, security issue alerts etc.
By utilizing all the features provided by Google Search Console effectively, you’ll have a better understanding of how your website performs in organic search results and be able to make informed decisions about optimizing it for better visibility.
Getting Started with Your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business)
Your Google Business Profile is an essential tool for improving your online visibility and attracting more customers. It allows you to manage how your business appears on Google Search and Maps, giving potential customers key information about your business.
To get started, you’ll need to create or claim your listing. This involves providing accurate details such as your business name, address, phone number, website URL, and category. Make sure these are consistent across all platforms to boost your organic search results.
Once you have claimed your profile, it’s important to optimize it for better SEO performance. Add high-quality photos of your products or services and write a compelling business description that includes relevant keywords related to what you offer.
Encourage satisfied customers to leave reviews on your profile as positive reviews can improve both visibility and credibility. Responding promptly to customer reviews also shows that you value feedback.
Regularly update the information on your profile – this could include changes in opening hours or special offers – so that potential customers have the most up-to-date details about your business.
By using a combination of well-optimized content and engaging visuals on Google Properties like the Google Business Profile, you can significantly enhance organic traffic to your website and increase conversions.
DIY SEO Tips
When it comes to improving your website’s visibility in organic search results, there are some DIY SEO tips you can implement. These strategies will help you optimize your website and increase its chances of ranking higher on search engine result pages (SERPs).
1. Keyword Research: Start by conducting thorough keyword research to identify the most relevant and valuable keywords for your business. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to find keywords with high search volume and low competition.
2. On-Page Optimization: Optimize your webpage content by including target keywords in title tags, meta descriptions, headings, and throughout the text. Remember to write naturally and avoid keyword stuffing.
3. Quality Content Creation: Create informative, engaging, and original content that provides value to your audience. Consistently publish blog posts or articles related to your industry using relevant keywords.
4. Mobile-Friendly Design: Ensure that your website is mobile-friendly as more users are accessing websites from their smartphones or tablets. This will improve user experience and boost rankings.
5. Link Building: Build high-quality backlinks from reputable websites within your niche. Guest blogging, influencer outreach, and social media promotion can help you acquire these valuable links.
6. Social Media Engagement: Engage with your audience on social media platforms by sharing useful content, responding to comments/messages promptly, and encouraging shares/likes.
By implementing these DIY SEO tips consistently over time, you’ll be able to improve the visibility of your website in organic search results.
DIY SEO: What Next?
Now that you have set up these Google Properties, you can begin to optimize your website for search engines. So what can you do next? Understand that SEO is a neverending process. There is no such thing as completing it. Once you get the #1 spot in Google for a keyword, you’ll need to prevent competition from unseating you while going after other keywords. SEO is an ongoing process that requires continuous effort and adaptation. Here are some steps you can take to further improve your website’s organic search performance.
1. Keyword Research: Conduct thorough keyword research to identify relevant keywords and phrases that potential customers might use when searching for products or services like yours. Use tools like Google Keyword Planner or SEMrush to discover new keyword opportunities.
2. Content Creation: Develop high-quality, informative, and engaging content that incorporates the targeted keywords naturally. Remember to optimize meta tags, headers, and images with relevant keywords as well. Unsure why people still use blogs? Research shows that they create tons of opportunities for businesses looking for organic traffic.
3. Link Building: Build quality backlinks from reputable websites in your industry. This helps establish authority and credibility for your website in the eyes of search engines.
4. Monitor Performance: Regularly monitor the performance of your website using Google Analytics, Search Console, SEMrush, or other tools. Analyze key metrics such as organic traffic, bounce rate, average session duration, and conversion rates to identify areas of improvement.
5. Stay Updated: Keep yourself updated with the latest trends and algorithm changes in the world of SEO through reputable sources such as Moz or Search Engine Journal.
Remember, DIY SEO takes time and patience before seeing significant results. Measure results in 3-6 month increments (on average). Continuously refine your strategies based on data-driven insights and stay committed to providing value to both users and search engines alike!
Next Steps in Your SEO Journey
It is important to note that while it might seem like a giant task, getting started with the Google Properties mentioned in this post is actually just a basic first step in your SEO journey. This step is going to inform all the work you do moving forward and that work will continue to build as your business grows. While that might sound daunting, remember that there is a reason why SEO is a massive industry that is continuing to grow. Growing your website’s organic traffic is the most valuable, cost-effective, and worthwhile way to guarantee long-term success for your business.
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