Two essential tools for search optimization

We’ll look at two useful tools that can help your SEO and metadata efforts. One helps us to create search-friendly copy, the other is helps us measure how effective our site and its pages are.

Keywords and search optimization

Google searchKeywords lie at the heart of search optimization. You optimize a web page for specific keywords and phrases that searchers use in their queries.

Note that it’s the page, not the site, that you optimize for, so each new piece of content should be optimized for relevant terms. (There are also site-wide things the web developer can do. Most of these are set at the time the site is built.)

There are two major tools SEO experts use when optimizing pages.

  • Keyword research tools to help identify terms to optimize for
  • Analytics reports to monitor how the page is performing against these terms and other criteria

Roughly speaking, you use keyword research at the beginning to guide the writing of a page, and analytics at the end to measure how successful it is attracting readers.

Two of the most widely used tools are supplied by Google which makes available a vast amount of information about what people are searching for and where they’re finding it. The best part about it is that the services are free. Google provides them to help customers of its paid advertising program (called AdWords) to develop and track advertising campaigns. But they’re great for any optimization project.

#1 Google AdWords Keyword Tool

Google adwords researchGood SEO practice starts with putting yourself in your readers’ shoes and trying to guess which words and phrases they’ll use to search for you or your book.

A pencil, paper and a brainstorming session is a great place to start. But Google helps by providing a keyword research tool which you can use to find, refine and test likely words and phrases. It will also suggest keywords that are likely to be relevant.

There are two ways that you can use the Google AdWords Keyword Tool:

  1. Enter your own keywords to test
  2. Enter a link to a web page (such as a high-ranking competitor) which Google’s tool will analyse for keywords

When you run the tool against your keywords, it will:

  • Show you how many search queries use the terms
  • Suggest new phrases
  • Show you how much demand there is for these terms by other marketers

A phrase with a high number of searches and low demand, for instance, might be a good one to optimize for if it’s relevant to your page.

Tip: Don’t focus your efforts on single words. You should use longer phrases, often quite specific, rather than just one or two words. And  optimize for exact phrases (including variations like singular vs plural which produce different sets of results).
VIDEO: How to research keywords with Google's Keyword Tool
In this video, we use an example of a book campaign to show how the Google AdWords Keyword Tool works and tips to use it effectively.

Note that you can switch to a higher resolution using the cog icon, and you can switch to full-screen viewing by pressing the four-corner icon on the lower right.

Try it >>

#2 Google Analytics

google-analytics-symbolThe real power of digital marketing comes from the ability to measure almost every aspect of online performance. This opens the door to testing alternatives and fine-tuning your marketing to generate sustained sales success. Once again, Google provides us with one of the best services and it’s free.

Google Analytics works by adding an invisible, unique tracking code to each of the web pages you want to track. It matches this against the vast amount of data it captures from users and other websites to provide analysis of your online performance, including:

  • How many visitors found the page
  • Where they came from — which sites, which countries
  • Which search terms or referrers (links from other sites or social networks) led them there
  • Whether they purchased products or viewed other pages
  • Where they went when they left the page or site
  • How different groups of users compare

Google Analytics goes further by letting you track the effectiveness of ad campaigns you might be running, or by letting you set up tests to compare performance of different page elements such as headlines (or titles and subtitles), blurb copy, cover images, offers, and placement.

In line with the increasing importance of social media, Google has also added social reporting to Analytics. This tracks visits from social media such as Twitter and Facebook to your site’s pages.

VIDEO: An Overview of Google Analytics
This video from Google (9:07) provides a good overview of Google Analytics and how it can be used to improve your website. Note that the user interface has changed since this video was produced.


Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.


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