It’s very important that you monitor your progress. Keep an eye on how many links you’re generating, where they’re coming from, and the bottom-line impact on your ranking.
But remember, as I warned you at the start of this book, it all takes time. (See ‘How long will it take for SEO to increase my ranking?’ more info.)
Monitor whether your pages have been crawled & indexed
The simplest way to see how many pages a search engine has indexed is to go to that search engine and type, “site:www.domainname.com” (without the quotes). The number of search results is an indication of how many pages are indexed.
If you’re after something a bit more specific and/or you want crawl details too, you can:
- Use Google Webmaster Tools to see what pages Google’s bots have crawled and indexed, and whether they encountered any problems along the way.
- Use your host-supplied webstats package to see when a bot crawled your site, and which bot it was. (Google Analytics doesn’t report bot activity.) Scan your reports for a hostname something like “crawl- 66-249-72-248.googlebot.com” (which is a Googlebot name) or llf320032.crawl.yahoo.net (which is, you guessed it, a Yahoo bot name). The other search engines will all be fairly easy to see. Most have “spider” or “crawl” or “bot” or something else fairly obvious in their name.
- If your host doesn’t offer a stats package or the one they do supply doesn’t reveal bot activity, ask them to give you access to your site’s logfile.
Monitor how many links you’re generating & who’s linking
It’s important to monitor how many links you’re generating because you can cross-reference that information against improvements in ranking to estimate how much effort your SEO push is going to take.
You can monitor how many backlinks you currently have using a variety of tools. Below is a range of options – from simple and fast to complex and expensive:
- Search Google for “www.yourdomainname.com” (FREE). Google will display all the pages it can find that contain “www.yourdomainname.com”. Normally this indicates a link to your site, most which will be ‘follow’ links. This is the quickest and easiest way to check, but it’s not the best for analysis.
- Use Google Webmaster Tools (FREE). Go to Links > Pages with external links. This will itemize which pages are actually the target of backlinks, and will tell you how many links each page has, plus a total for all pages.
- Use LinkDiagnosis (FREE). This tool takes a while to run, but it’s worth the wait. For serious backlink checking, this is definitely my pick. It reports a lot of information about each link (including the PageRank of the linking site, the anchor text used, whether the link is nofollow), your most popular pages, and the most popular anchor text. It doesn’t report the actual total number of links, because if it encounters a site-wide link, it only counts it as one link (which is pretty much what the search engines do anyway).
- Or, if you’re really serious, you could subscribe for a SEOmoz membership (USD $79 per month) and get full access to Linkscape. Amongst its reports is a detailed list of URLs linking to your page or domain, ordered by their relative importance. It also provides complete lists of anchor text used by those links, including distribution of terms and relative popularity.
TIP: You’ll notice that each of these tools return different figures. Don’t worry about this. Just pick a tool and stick with it – this way you’re always comparing apples with apples.
You should also keep track of new backlinks as they happen. This will give you some idea of what material is generating buzz for whom, which will help you plan your future link bait. The easiest way to track who’s linking to your site is to set up a Google Alert for your URL at http://www.google.com/alerts.
Monitor your blog’s popularity
By registering with FeedBurner, and installing the FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin on your WordPress blog, you can see how many people have subscribed to your blog’s RSS feed, its traffic, traffic sources, pages visited and links clicked.
This will tell you how successfully your social media optimization campaign is progressing.
Monitor your ranking
Obviously you should be monitoring your ranking to ensure that your hard work is not wasted (and to adapt your SEO and link generation strategy as needed).
The best rank-checking software I’ve seen is, without doubt, SEOBook’s Rank Checker. With it, you can:
- check the ranking of numerous domains for numerous keywords
- see your actual ranking (assuming you rank somewhere in the first 20 pages) without trawling through search results manually
- see your true ranking on Google.com even if you’re searching from outside the US (if you manually search Google.com, you’ll still get localized results)
- check your ranking on Yahoo.com and Live.com
- automatically check your ranking on local versions of Google and Yahoo (like .com.au)
- ignore Google’s personalized results
- export your results to CSV
- save your check and come back and run it again at any time
You’ll need Firefox to run it (it’s actually a plugin for Firefox), but you should already be using Firefox instead of Internet Explorer anyway! It’s much better!
Monitor site traffic and conversions
A high search engine ranking is worth nothing if it doesn’t deliver a lot of well qualified traffic and ultimately lead to conversions. So you should definitely be analyzing your site traffic (try Google Analytics) and you should have processes in place to track where your prospects are coming from, and the percentage of search-driven prospects you convert.
This is, however, outside the scope of this document (and outside the realm of my expertise). If you need help with analytics, I recommend you contact Nathan Stewart at Alkemi International:
Nathan Stewart Managing Director
Alkemi International Pty Ltd
+ 61 (3) 9431 4044
+61 412 742 006
Melbourne, Australia [email protected]