As digital marketers and business owners, we rely on a wide variety of tools to help us research, execute and evaluate the performance of our marketing campaigns. In this post, I’m going to show you 5 free tools provided from Google that will help you better understand searcher interest and provide a better experience to users once they reach your site.
Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool
Mobile search traffic officially surpassed desktop traffic last year and smartphones and tablets accounted for more than a third of online sales on Christmas Day and 57 percent of all online traffic. To ensure site owners are prepared to embrace this trend, Google has made a consistent and concerted effort to help searchers find mobile friendly pages and provide webmasters with tools to assist them in providing a great mobile experience.
With mobile usability officially becoming a ranking factor on April 21st, 2015, it becoming increasingly urgent for sites that receive mobile traffic to optimize their sites for mobile visitors.
Google has create a free Mobile Friendly Testing tool that will show if you site is optimized for mobile visitors, and if not, recommendations on how to provide a better experience. Here’s a screenshot of the tool showing that the tested page is mobile-friendly.
Google’s Customer Journey to Purchase Tool
Understanding the channels and devices that play a role in a conversion is vital for reaching potential customers with the right message, at the right place. Google’s Customer Journey to Online Purchase tool provides users with an interactive graphic that shows how different channels influence purchasing decisions.
Here’s a screenshot showing the typical purchase path for large businesses in the arts and entertainment industry, and if each touch point acts as more of an assist or last interaction channel.
Use this tool to see if your online marketing efforts across channels align with the path to purchase for other businesses in your industry.
Pro Tip: Use the Mobile in the Purchase Journey tool to understand how customers are researching and purchasing products on smartphones.
Google’s Page Speed Insights Tool
Did you know that the how fast your site loads is one of over 200 Google ranking factors? Sites that are slow can oftentimes provide a sub-par experience for visitors resulting in a high bounce rate. To assist site owners and webmaster with evaluating and diagnosing site speed issues Google has created a PageSpeed Insights tool.
Here’s a screenshot showing a webpage that could improve the page speed for both mobile and desktop visitors.
The tool provides actionable insight on how to improve web performance making it a valuable addition to any site owner’s toolset.
Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool
Adding semantic markup to your website assists search engines in understanding the information on your pages, provide more relevant results to users, and can result in a rich snippet or enhanced result in Google Search for specific types of markup.
Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool extracts the structured data from a webpage and reports on the types of schemas it detects as well as any errors it finds in the markup.
Here’s an example of a website that is using AggregateRating markup that’s resulting in a rich snippet (review stars) included with their result.
Here’s an example of a website that’s using Recipe markup that’s resulting in a rich snippet for their result in Google Search.
Rich snippets can help draw attention to your page, and as a result, increase the click-through rate and traffic you get from Google visitors to these pages.
Google Webmaster ToolsI’ve purposefully saved the most robust Google SEO tool for last. Webmasters and site owners that have verified ownership of their sites will have access to a Google Webmaster Tools account. The following is an overview of just a few of the tools, reports and features available to users:
- Structured Data – an overview of the types of structured data extracted from your webpages and any errors detected by Googlebot
- HTML Improvements – a report showing any titles or meta descriptions that are long, short, duplicate or missing. You’ll also find a non-indexable content feature in this report
- Sitelinks – use this feature to demote (request removal) any sitelinks you don’t want appearing in a branded search
- Search Queries – one of my favorite reports that shows what queries (keywords) are generating impressions and receiving clicks back to your website. Also available in this view is the Top Pages report that shows how many times your landing pages are appearing and getting clicks in Google Search results
- Links to Your Site – use this report to see what third party websites are linking back to you, who links the most, your most linked to content, and the anchor text that is being used
- Internal Links – use this report to see the most linked to pages on your site. Google uses the number of internal links to assess the relative importance of each page on your website
- Manual Actions – if you website has violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, they may choose to take manual action which can remove your pages or limit your website’s visibility in Google Search
In digital marketing, the only constant is change, and Google has done a great job of providing businesses and site owners with multiple free tools to help them get found in Google Search, understand the customer journey, and provide a great visitor experience across.
What did I miss? Leave any free Google SEO tools I didn’t mention in the comments below.
Brian Jensen is the Director of Traffic Acquisition for Big Marketing, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO, SEO site audits, social media, content marketing and analytics. Brian is passionate about helping businesses increase their online presence. If you have question about SEO, social media or content marketing you can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Connect with him on Twitter, Google+, or read more articles from him on his digital marketing blog.[related_posts_by_tax posts_per_page="5" format="thumbnails"]