Google provides a wide range of tools that are beneficial for web developers, internet marketers and website owners.
If you’re looking to improve user experience and search visibility for your website, the following Google services can certainly help.
1. Google My Business
Google My Business is a free and easy-to-use service for businesses and organizations to manage their information across Google. If you’re the business owner, you can easily sign up or claim your business. You’ll have to verify ownership by entering a code that is either sent to you via mail or phone text.
You’ve probably noticed the section on the right side of the search results which provides information for businesses related to your search query.
Your GMB profile is a great way to help people find your business location, get directions, store hours, learn about products/services offered, basic company information and read reviews.
Further to displaying company information you can also interact with customers through reviews, post company photos.
42% of businesses which add photos receive more requests for directions and 35% more click-throughs to their websites.
By ignoring setting up your Google business profile you can be missing out on a way to really stand out from the competition in the search results.
Sometimes your listing can be triggered by keywords instead of just your business name. For example if you search “Medical Courier Toronto” in Ontario, you’ll likely see one of our clients (R Courier) who specializes in medical delivery services.
Google My Business also provides analytics for your listing. These insights can provide further data on how people are finding your business, phone clicks and number of queries made which resulted in your business displaying in the search results or maps.
2. Google Analytics
Google Analytics is an effective and free tool by Google which allows you analyze traffic and user behaviour your website receives.
I’ve worked for companies in the past which previously spent thousands on third-party tracking tools which could have all been avoided with Google Analytics.
Setting up Google Analytics only takes a few minutes after signing up. You’ll need to embed tracking code to your website in order for data to be collected. It will typically take 24 hours for your website to start collecting and displaying data in your GA dashboard.
There is a lot of information that can be gathered from Google Analytics that can be used to make calculated website and business decisions.
For example if your bounce rate (percentage of people leaving your website after visiting one page) you may want to investigate what is causing the issue which can be related to poor user experience, content or other factors. By addressing issues this can lead to improved usability, search ranking and higher conversions.
While most site owners tend to put too much focus on site traffic it’s conversions are a more important metric in that is often not tracked. Whether your website is an online shop or corporate website, you’ll want to make sure you’re tracking conversions to gauge the success of your website.
Through Google Analytics you can gain insight into your website such as traffic, referring websites, time on page, conversions (actions on your website), location, type of browser or device they are using, page speed and much more.
Tip: If you’re website is developed in WordPress, be sure to check your theme options which typically provide a place to insert Google Analytics tracking before installing additional plugins or hard coding it.
3. Google Search Console
Formerly Google Webmaster Tools, this is another free platform offered by Google which allows site owners to monitor, analyze and manage how their website behaves in search engines.
Installing Google Console is easy to setup with your website. There are several different methods such as uploading an HTML file, adding embed code or bridging it with your Google Analytics if already installed.
Google Search Console allows you to gain useful information about your website such as what search queries are leading visitors to your website, user experience issues such as AMP, page speed and mobile responsiveness.
Through the GSC dashboard you can submit an XML sitemap to notify Google which pages on your website you’d like to index. You probably don’t want a ‘Thank You’ page being indexed which would be pretty pointless and likely lead to a high bounce rate.
TIP: If you’re website is developed in WordPress, I recommend installing YOAST for SEO which automatically generates an XML sitemap for your website. To access your websites generated sitemap visit your domain + /sitemap.xml. For example, the XML sitemap NexToronto’s website can be found by visiting https://nextoronto.com/sitemap.xml. Through the YOAST plugin options, you can also choose which taxonomies you’d like to be visible in your sitemap prior to submitting it to GSC.
This tool is often neglected by web developers however can make an impact on your search visibility in Google.
4. Google reCAPTCHA
This is an often overlooked tool by web developers which can easily protect websites from annoying spammers.
Most are familiar with the common “CAPTCHA” which is a turing test to distinguish bots from humans. You can see a sample of a CAPTCHA test here.
Google’s reCAPTCHA is easy to integrate into WordPress websites. One WordPress plugin that works like a charm is Invisible reCaptcha for WordPress.
Once installed you just need to setup your domain on Google reCAPTCHA and copy the two site keys into the plugin settings. Then select your protection settings.
TIP: Check if you’re current plugins have reCAPTCHA settings before installing the plugin. For example, you can enter the keys into the Gravity Form settings without having to install the Invisible reCAPTCHA for WordPress plugin.
After you’ve completed the setup you should see a reCAPTCHA seal on the bottom right of any pages which contain forms.
While some have complained on forums that it doesn’t work 100%, it at least offers a line of defense against spam bots.