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Two more Google Webmaster Tools tips and tricks

Last week I shared a couple Google Webmaster Tools tips and tricks with you. This week, I have two more: sitemaps and data highlighting. I saved the best for last. If you have been obsessing on your Google Analytics numbers, cruising the SEO boards, and picking through MOZ and Woorank, wondering what Google wants and needs from you while scratching your head, then let me enlighten you!google-webmaster-tools-logo

Google wants you to be successful! They want you to do all the free work in the world on your own site to make it easier for them to make the handoff from Google Search to Google Found, where your site and your content is the Found.

So, instead of guessing what Google needs, you too can work on complying to Google’s simple list of essential changes that you will need to make in order to build the sort of seamless web of trust that Google demands from you before you become a respected and essential go-to in the wide world of search. And no, it has less to do with backlinks and google juice from PR6-9 sites circa 2015 than it has in the recent past.

The sort answer is simple: having a wicked quick, factual, easy to understand, mobile-optimized, machine-structured, beautiful site is probably the key as we move into Google’s future.  It used to be that all you needed to have your site perform was function; however, Google abhors both a vacuum and a high bounce rate.

If the visitors who Google passes off to you in good faith via mobile, tablet, or web bounce for whatever reason, you’re toast. Being visually- and mobilely-appealing is as important in 2015 on as is being highly relevant.  People are as likely to bounce if they don’t like how your site looks or responds as they are if they don’t like what you have to say, sell, or share.

So, let’s explore what Google says about structured data, how both Google Webmaster Tools and Bing Webmaster Tools demand that you have a Sitemap.xml on your site; and, if you don’t, how you can use Google’s data highlighter to train Google up as to how your site’s content and pages are structured explicitly through an interactive “show me” that Google’s happy to walk you through.  Finally, if your site isn’t fast enough in receiving Google’s search handoff then you won’t be getting that handoff for much longer.

And, aren’t you mobile native yet? No? Pathetic!

Google Only Speaks Structured Data (Sitemap.xml)

sitemapDetailsIn a post-RSS and ATOM world, Google needs a little help, especially when everyone’s trying to get so clever. I have a client who had decided to overrule Drupal’s default slugs and posts everything with the same URL structure: www.domain.org/blog-post, www.domain.org/site-page, www.domain.org/contact-form, www.domain.org/organization-news, www.domain.org/about-page, www.domain.org/press-releases, www.domain.org/articles, and www.domain.org/announcements are all different categories and types of pages.

sitemapBlog posts, articles, press releases, and announcements are all considered to be ‘articles’ by Google but since my client hasn’t defined an easy-to-understand URL or site formatting that Google can intuit and ‘understand,’ it needs a strong assist, and Google hopes that a well-made sitemap will do that trick.

Google needs your sitemap for two reasons: to understand your site (content, and site architecture) and to grok when and how often you make site updates.  If you don’t have a dynamic or frequently-updated sitemap.xml document on your site, you’ll lose out to those who do. Yes, Google can spider your site ‘by hand’ but why care about your site when other sites with very similar content are willing to take the extra step of complying with Google’s wishes.

Sitemaps can pass Google a lot more than just site structure, updates, and content, such as hreflang content and whatnot, but don’t worry to much about advanced features, care more about having one at all. It’s not guaranteed (well, it’s offered by default on Squarespace, which is convenient. If you’re on Squarespace, it can be found on www.yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml).

You Can Lead a Google to Structure (Data Highlighter)

typeIf, like my client, you don’t have a sitemap yet installed on your site, you’re not ruined.

Google has a very mind-numbing tool that can help you walk Google through your entire site, page-by-page and link-by-link, allowing you to explicitly define each and every page according to exactly what you’re saying, how you’re saying, by whom, and then down the rabbit hole of granularity, all the way down to content as specific as:

  • Articles
  • Book Reviews
  • Events
  • Local Businesses
  • Movies
  • Products
  • Restaurants
  • Software Applications
  • TV Episodes

titleTagSo, what can this do for you? Well, since Google’s really still so stupid, it’ll be your job to actually give Google’s spiders and bots a first-person tour of your entire site.

And, Google Data Highlighter is a little like their Google Authorship program (RIP), except in the case of the highlighter tool, it’s your job to do all the work yourself.

“What’s in it for me?” What’s in it for you? Well, according to Google, it will “improve your look in search” and “let users see your key information right in search results.”

dataHighlighterSo, if you ever wonder how movie, event, and news sites actually have their site content integrated in search results and felt green with jealousy? Well, this is how.

So, even if — when — Google asks you go through an hours worth of pages, correcting each attempt at structuring your data that Google tries, do it until you’re done. It’s worth it.

If you’re willing to bring a Google to structured data and then have the patience to wait until it drinks, you’ll be forever rewarded, I promise.

Page Speed and Optimizing for Mobile

Psyche. I think I’ll put off the important subjects of how important page speed (and quickness) is to Google and how essential being mobile-ready and mobile-optimized is for your present and future Google Search success until next week because I am on holiday in Paris and really want to take a jog in le Jardin des Tuileries before it gets too late so I’ll sign off for now.  Go git ’em, Tigre!

Chris Abraham in Paris France with a Madeleine

Chris Abraham

Chris Abraham

Chris Abraham, digital strategist and technologist, is a leading expert in digital: search engine optimization (SEO), online relationship management (ORM), Internet privacy, Wikipedia curationsocial media strategy, and online public relations with a focus on blogger outreachinfluencer engagement, and Internet crisis response, with the digital PR and social media marketing agency Gerris digital. [Feel free to self-schedule a 15-minute call, a 30-minute call, or a 60-minute call with me] A pioneer in online social networks and publishing, with a natural facility for anticipating the next big thing, Chris is an Internet analyst, web strategy consultant and adviser to the industries' leading firms. Chris Abraham specializes in web technologies, including content marketing, online collaboration, blogging, and consumer generated media.  Chris Abraham was named a Top 50 Social Media Power Influencer by Forbes, #1 PR2.0 Influencer by Traackr, and top-10 social media influencers by Marketwire; and, for what it’s worth, Chris has a Klout of 79 the last time he looked. Chris Abraham started doing web development back in 1994, SEO in 1998, blogging in 1999, influencer engagement in 2003, social media strategy in 2005, blogger outreach in 2006, and Wikipedia curation in 2007. Feel free to self-schedule a 15-minute call, a 30-minute call, or a 60-minute call. If you want to know the services that Chris offers check out Services If you want to work with Chris use the Contact Form You're welcome to follow me via Social Media You can learn more about Chris over in About Chris writes a lot so check out the Blog Chris offers webinars so check Events

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Discussion

  1. Avatar Bruce

    You say that if your visitors bounce then your toast…however, what about spam traffic? Does this have an effect on your trust or ability to climb higher in Google when your bounce rate ends up being 70% on the unfiltered view of your analytics?

    Or does Google somehow whitelist certain sites or referral sources like this to give you a pass?

  2. Avatar Wes Towers

    Excellent, thanks for the tips Chris.

    I’ve just taken on a website and the web developer wont give us access to Webmaster tools. If we create a new one will any disavow work done be lost? I think the previous guys did some dodgy seo so they probably did some disavow to fix it. I don’t want to start a new account and find the disavows are lost.

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