Get Your Money's Worth From Google
If you run an eCommerce business, you interact with Google’s applications and services every single day. Their dominance in organic search and on-line advertising borders on monopolistic. I’m sure there are times when you wish your business was not quite so dependent on their algorithms and advertising platform. But, when your search rankings and conversion rates are good, they are your friend and hero.
Google offers a wide variety of free services that you should be using on a regular basis to help improve your search marketing effectiveness. Are you using Google Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, Google Insights for Search, and the Google Merchant Center? Each of these will help you improve your search marketing results and provide valuable insight on your progress and potential areas of improvement. The best news is they are all FREE!
Each of these tools offers a great deal of potential value. I’ll focus on the things I find most useful from each of them rather than try and go into all their functionality.
I use Google Webmaster Tools primarily to see which keywords are delivering search traffic to our sites. For any given term, you can see how many impressions and clicks were delivered to your site You’ll see trends over time in aggregate or by individual terms. By selecting a specific term, you’ll see what position in the search results it was presented in and which specific urls from your website are represented for that term. You’ll be amazed at the wide spread of positions your site turns up in and how deep your site really may be in the Google world.
Google Webmaster also provides information about incoming links, internal links, relevant keywords, and crawl errors. You can see how often Google is crawling your site and to what depth. If there are HTML errors or problems with title tags, meta data or descriptions, you will have direct access to those pages to make corrections.
Google Analytics provides hugely informative data about visitors, content, traffic, referrals, conversions, and ad campaign tracking. I use this tool daily to assess traffic and referral trends and monthly to take a deep look at visitor behaviors (page views, time on site, content viewed etc). You will definitely want to use the Ecommerce tracking capabilities to be able to view the real ROI of your keywords and referral traffic. Don’t miss out on the chance to view your conversions from mobile devices. It may be an eye opener for you. I assume most of you use this service, so I won’t dwell further on its rich set of capabilities.
Google Insights for Search will allow you to quickly assess keyword trends over time. You can type a set of keywords in and see their trend over several years, or just the past months. You can also choose specific countries, or even specific cities for their results. A quick look in this tool will verify why some products were hot 2 years ago and are not so hot now. I use to to look for up and coming keywords.
Finally, Google Base, once Froogle, now the located in the Google Merchant Center, is a must if you are able to do a product feed out of your eCommerce system. First, Google Base provides the results for Google Shopping. You'll find marketplaces like Amazon.com and Buy.com getting the majority of placements for broad terms here, but you'll want to be in the mix. We have good success from long tail keywords there.
Also your products (and images) will have a chance to be displayed in very prominent positions in Google's standard search results (usually in the #3 position in most searches), and you can use this data feed to deliver “additional results” in your AdWords PPC campaigns. From the analytical side, you’ll see in-depth reports on impressions and clicks by product. We don’t get a huge number of referrals, but since you are sitting in the #3 position in the search results, you may get a high conversion rate. The feed is easy to upload, but must be done on a consistent basis to receive high rankings for your products.
I found all of the tools easy to use and set up. Like most things Google, frequent changes are made to the interface and functionality, but it's free!