Gobbled too much turkey or downed too much eggnog over the holidays? Here are 5 Google resolutions that?ll kick your website into shape in 2010.
1. Use Web Analytics
If you run your website for fun, manage a website for a huge company, design the layouts or code-up the pagecheck out web analytics. This is the one resolution that will give you great inside information and help you to make smart decisions about your website.
Web analytics is the lifeblood of your website, and provides a wealth of information about your visitors, their usage behavior, which pages on your website convert best and much much more.
There are lots of web analytics programs out there, but if you haven?t used one before I?d recommend starting out with Google Analytics. It’s free and it’s easy to install, so really there’s no excuse.
The more adventurous might want to try out Stats2 web analyticsit does pretty much everything Google Analytics does, but in real-time. So you can see changes on your website as they happen, which is pretty unique. Stats2 is included free with our business hosting plans, so those of you with access I really encourage you to make the most of it.
2. Sign up to Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools is a free online dashboard that gives you information about how the Google search engine spiders and ranks your website.
Getting started is easyfirst sign up here, and then verify your site. Once verified, take a look arounda good place to start and resolve is thecrawl errors? section, and redirecting any deadlinks found with htaccess.
3. Create a site map
Its not just surfers who get lost when visiting your website, Google can too! So in addition to making a sitemap page for your customers, it’s also a good idea to make a sitemap.xml for search engines. Sitemaps are a way to tell Google about pages on your site that they might not discover. In its simplest terms, a XML Sitemap is a list of the pages on your website.
Sitemaps are particularly helpful if your site has dynamic content,? or your site has pages that aren’t easily discovered by Googlebot during the crawl process (ex. pages using rich AJAX or images). It’s usually not worth creating a sitemap if your site has only 1-10 pages and unless your website is HUGE (we’re talking hundreds of pages), I’d recommend writing them manually rather than using automated software.
In addition to regular Sitemaps, you can also create Sitemaps designed to give Google information about specialized web content, including video, mobile, News, Code Search, and geographical (KML) information.
4. Spend an afternoon doing keyword research
SEO is only as good as your keyword research. So even if you think you’ve got your SEO strategy licked, keywords & search volumes change from time to time so it’s a good idea to revisit your keyword research every 6 months or so.
Keyword research is pretty easy (if a little boring) & involves thinking about what your potential visitors might search for to find your website. When researching keywords, it’s really important to validate your data with actual search volumes using the Google Keywords tool rather than just guessing. You may be surprised that the keyword you?re optimizing for doesn?t get as many searches as you first thought.
For beginners there is a great article on keyword research here, but also let me know in the comments & I?ll be happy to elaborate.
5. Optimize your Web Pages for Speed
Having a fast-loading website has been shown to increase your conversion rate, improve stickiness, and is rumored to be a big factor for SEO in 2010. So in addition to using a speedy web host (Midphase) you should really think about optimizing the content and structure of your web pages for speed.
A great place to start is by installing the Google Page Speed extension for Firebug and then simply following its recommendations. For those with big heavy sites, or where speed is really important, you may want to consider using a CDN (Content Distribution Network). We?ll be launching a CDN product in 2010 so watch this space & I?ll reveal more later!
Let me know how you guys get on, I’m off to check our deadlinks in webmaster tools!
Have a great 2010