So, you’ve put lots of time and effort in to building and marketing your holiday rental website – how do you measure its success?
First, you need to make sure Google knows you exist. It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised at the number of people that do months of work before even checking to see whether Google has indexed their website.
How to check your site is on Google
Go to Google and type your website address directly into the search box, including the extension, e.g. promotemyplace.com. If it appears in the results list – great news, Google has indexed it! If not, you need to do a bit more work.
If you’ve only just built and launched your website, it can take a few weeks for Google to index it, but posting an article or a blog on a well visited site such as EzineArticles.com will normally get your site indexed within a few days.
Tracking & analysing website visitors
Once your website has been indexed the next thing you’ll want to do is see where your website visitors are coming from, and get an idea of what they are doing when the get there.
The best tool for tracking website visitors is Google Analytics and the best news is it’s free!
If you haven’t already set up a Google Analytics account, you’ll want to do so ASAP, so that the necessary data is being gathered for you to analyse.
Once logged into your analytics account, you will find lots of useful info you can use to identify the following:
- how much traffic your website is getting – i.e. visitors
- where that traffic is coming from – i.e. geographic location
- where that traffic is being referred from – i.e. what sites are linking to you
- what keywords are being used to find your site – i.e. what people are typing into a search engine to find you
Checking your position in Google
You should also monitor the position of your website in Google, by running searches using your three or four chosen keywords and noting down where your site appears in the results list. You’ll then be able to see if your rankings have improved at all from the work you’ve been doing. Don’t get obsessed with doing this every day though. Once every couple of weeks should be enough. Google doesn’t update rankings that quickly and it takes a bit of time for your SEO efforts to have an effect on your rankings.
You should be checking the following:
- see if you appear in the first 10 pages of Google for each keyword
- if you do, note down where you appear, then carry on with your marketing efforts
- re-run the searches 10 days later and do the same again
- you will notice that sometimes there is some movement and other times none at all
Number of backlinks
Another thing you’ll want to keep an eye on is the number of backlinks your website is generating. Sadly most major search engines now do not show you all of the links your website has, due to the fact that lots of SEO companies and webmasters used to run lots of searches and copy all the links other sites were getting in order to “cheat” the search engines. Some would also go so far to say that Google has actively broken their link searching facility to stop this behaviour.
That said there are still a few useful tools out there that will allow you to check on your backlinks (use them as a guide only).
Another useful tool is Google Webmaster Tools. This is different to the Google Analytics service we mentioned previously so you’ll need to register there too:
‘Webmaster Tools’ is good for checking whether Google is having any problems crawling your website. It will also give you some information about backlinks pointing to your site, as well as the keywords people used to find it. Be aware that the keyword data in Webmaster tools is normally a week or so old. For example, you may have a keyword report that says your site is in position 25, but then you search Google directly and it’s not there or it’s moved to a different position. It’s a bit of a pain that it’s not an exact match, but it should still give you some indication of where Google ranks your website.
Finally, remember that enquiries and bookings via your website are also a great way of monitoring your websites success over time. You may not be getting a huge amount of web traffic, but due to the targeted nature of your website, you could be getting a good number of enquiries and bookings.
Measuring the results of your Search Engine Optimisation efforts, will give you an idea of what’s working and what’s not, so that you can focus on the things that do. Remember, the best way to improve your search engine visibility is to provide interesting and unique content that people will want to share with others, creating plenty of links, so you don’t have to.