If you’ve ever had a severe drop in your Google rankings in search results, you may think of Google more of an enemy than an ally.
But if you knew what I do, you’d realize that there are tools provided by the search engine that help you learn more about your traffic, and may even help drive visitors to your site.
Here are five ways that Google provides free traffic assistance.
#1 - Google will Help Your Pages Get Discovered with Google Sitemaps
Google Sitemaps is a program that gives you the opportunity to present your site’s pages to Google in XML or text. Google will then come by and spider the pages, getting you indexed faster.
Take note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that your pages will be listed for your favorite keywords, only that discovery will take place a lot faster than with manual submission. Google Sitemaps will also give you some basic site stats if you verify your site, such as the top keywords for discovery, errors it found when crawling, and the types of documents at your site.
If you find compiling your sitemap for Google in the correct format difficult, try the SOFTplus GSiteCrawler Google Sitemap generator. It’s my favorite Sitemap generator, free and easy to use.
#2 - Google Will Talk To You and Your Webmaster In His or Her Native Tongue or Plain English with the Webmaster Section
The Google Information Page for Webmasters should be your first stop when you want to know more about anything that has to do with your site and its relationship to Google and any of its many flavors of search such as Froogle. Particularly for new site owners or operators, checking this page first has saved many from needless anxiety.
Most of the basic information is in straightforward language, with links to details for geeks like me.
#3 - Google will Tell You What It Knows with Web Page Information
If you type info:yoursite.com into Google, Google will tell show you a page that has your link at the top of the page, with a short description, and the following phrase “Google can show you the following information for this URL”.
This special page compiles several queries about your site including pages that contain your URL (all the pages Google knows of that are linked to you).
#4 - Google will Help You Analyze Your Traffic with Google Analytics
After a recent purchase of Urchin Stats, a free online version has been made available, and re-branded as Google Analytics. This cookie-based invisible visitor tracker can give you information that go a bit beyond standard stats such as bounce rates, visitor loyalty, keyword discovery results for a single day, click paths through your site, and page views per visit.
With the ability to analyze your traffic, you can help learn where the holes in your site are, and how to keep them on your site for longer periods of time, as well as better ways to steer a visit towards a specific action, such as a subscription. Results come in flavors for the executive and the search marketer alike.
There’s currently a waiting list to use Google Analytics due to popular demand.
#5 - Google Will Advise On Getting the Most from Your Traffic with Conversion University
Google Analytics also has two content sections that are available to all, called Conversion University. While the articles are decidedly slanted towards AdWords users, a prudent read yields many clues that can be applied to preparing for visitors who arrive through organic search discovery. One reference area is called “Driving Traffic”, the other “Converting Visitors.”
At the end of the day, the process by which your site gets ranked in Google search engine results is a computation of a complex algorithm, which means Google - the search engine - really isn’t capable of being your best friend or your worst enemy.
Meanwhile, Google - the company - also provides access to resources that will help give your site a fighting chance.