Making Data From Google Webmaster Central & Bing Webmaster Tools Actionable

February 29, 2012
By Lisa Barone in Internet Marketing Conferences

Ready to have your head explode? I AM! Which is good because I’m pretty sure that’s what’s about to happen in this one.  That’s what always happen when my feeble brain attempts to liveblog technical sessions. I don’t know why I keep doing this to myself. I obviously have self-hate issues. But enough about me!

Up on stage to cause the damage we have Duane ForresterVanessa Fox, and Neil Walker.

Vanessa says this morning she was in a conversation with someone who had never heard of Google Webmaster Tools so she had to help them set it up. That still happens. In 2012. Yeah.

Vanessa asks who has never used Bing Webmaster Tools.  Some people raise their hand.  Duane asks if they’ll use it after he explains everything he’s hear to talk about today.  Vanessa basically says that’s cheating and he has to make them WANT to use it with his talk. That’s why we’re here. So let’s get to all that stuff.

Up first to chat is Vanessa Fox, who is pretty much one of my favorite people on the planet. Just so you know.

Categorized Sitemaps

She talks a lot about ways to categorize your sitemaps based on the type of page or by topic area. She asks how many people are doing this? A handful of people raise their hands so not too many.  She says that Google keeps track of how much of a particular sitemap has been indexed. She shows an example of this. But that’s an image. So I can’t type that.  She uses this so that over time she can see when indexing drops happen only for particular types of pages.   She highly recommends you categorize your sitemaps.  That’s her tip number one.

Another thing she likes to track over time is to download the crawl errors and the content analysis. From there you can track if there’s a spike of anything over time.

My computer froze and suddenly we’re looking at query data. Vanessa says that a query is only reported if it showed up in the top number for the day.  So in her chart we only see 12 days of data instead of 30 days. That makes it difficult to know what the data is saying. Looking at it for trending is okay but you can’t really use it to compare to analytics data.  She wants to look at categories, not each individual query, to see how they’re doing for a topic area over a certain period of time.

There are two ways to get query data. Google launched a Python script [download search queries data using Python] that you can use. The drawback to this is you can only get the last month of data. If you do get the CSVs, know that Google’s modified them. They now no longer say the date range in the file so that may cause some issues for you.

If you use the API, the sitemap data you can get is only the data you personally downloaded. That makes it difficult in some ways to use the API to get sitemap data.

Neil is up next. He has a very thick Australian accent… and says he’s definitely not Australian. Right. Got it.

He shows us a SERP from 2012. You can see the search options, the search results, the search ads, etc. In 2012,  GWT released impressions, clicks and CTR data. What did he do with it? He went into Webmaster tools to download the CSV and turn it into a big Excel data because that’s how big of a nerd he is. With that data they got the average CTR.

But then everything changed! We’ve seen SERP changes like:

  • more opportunities in local
  • paid shopping results
  • local results
  • location-based SERPs
  • site links
  • Google+1
  • Instant previews

So he had to do all that Excel work all over again. Then he compared the data. He found there was a dramatically lower clickthrough rate for the same clients with the same keywords at similar positions. The SERP changes were having an impact.

Is SEO Dying?

No. It’s just evolving.

  • Universal SEO
  • more keywords
  • Google Plus
  • Local Search
  • Google Products
  • Reviews
  • Google News
  • Video

Now we can see CTR for Web, mobile, image, smartphone, video, etc.

The longer the keyword the less important to rank number 1. That’s useful to know.

Next up is Duane.

Bing launched a keyword research tool that pulls its data from the organic results. It resides within your WMT account and offers the ability to see query volume data on the phrase you enter, and related phrases, across many different countries and languages.

Empower action by enabling alerts inside the tools. You do want to know about malware warnings quickly, right. You can set up the preferences and Bing will ping whatever email account you want.  This also comes up in case there are indexing issues, sitemap problems, crawl errors and stuff like that.

Track Action

  • Watch the keywords driving traffic
  • Should you be buying paid ads on those phrases?
  • Watch the average impression position number
  • Higher (closer to) indicates not just higher rankings, but increased trust
  • Lower may not indicate less trust, but maybe others are doing a better job
  • Compare keywords driving traffic with keyword research to determine your share of voice.

Research Before Action

  • New Webmaster Tools data API
  • See your data where you want to

Index Explorer Tool: Can help you uncover content gaps in Bing’s index. You drop in a URL, apply the filter and see if they have it.

Inset your content direct to Bing’s index: Add URLs direct to their index. You have a limited number each month (50 a month per domain) and user-response will determine quality.

Drop your RSS feed into Bing Webmaster Tools. Put it in and they’ll see your freshest content fast.

Control the crawler: Manage bandwidth usage with custom crawl settings. Control when Bring visits and how hard it crawls.

Bottom line:

  • Use these accounts
  • Set up alerts
  • Help Bing help you
  • Watch the numbers and investigate
  • Remember if you see a malware alert, it might not be on your server. It could be on a third party’s servers that you partner with.

Read the rest of our SMX West 2012 liveblogging coverage for more insight.

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