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The most overlooked website diagnostic software is provided free in Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). Most dealers are unaware of the wealth of information that GWT can provide regarding the health of your website.
Dealers are more familiar with Google Analytics but GWT provides additional insights not contained in Google Analytics.
An interesting SEO diagnostic report is found under the Diagnostics menu called "HTML Suggestions".
This report displays how many pages on your website have duplicate Title Tags and META description tags. Have you checked this statistic for your website? You should if you care about organic search optimization and increasing website traffic.
Google recommends that each website page should have a unique page title and META description tag. When you have duplicates, Google may decide NOT to include the pages in their index. Keep in mind that Google provides this report for a reason! If this was NOT an important design feature, they would not include it in GWT.
I'll show you also how to see how many pages of your website are indexed. This could be the symptom of a poor SEO strategy.
Here is an example of the HTML Suggestions report from a car dealership website:
In this case, this dealership needs to identify the source of these duplicates and work with the website vendor to correct this problem. With this many duplicates, it looks like there are system generated website pages where the programmers did not create unique tags.
Most websites have a file called a "SiteMap" which contains a list of all the pages in the website that are supposed to be visible to consumers. It's like a Table of Contents.
This sitemap file can be submitted to Google via Webmaster Tools and in turn, Google will provide you with diagnostic information about the website pages.
Take a look at this report that is found under the Site Configuration menu, under Sitemaps.
In this case, not all of the dealer's website pages are included in Google's index. There are valid reasons for SOME pages not be included in Google's index, but there are too many pages here to not look into why this is happening.
Poorly structured pages is one common reason. Another reason is often pages that have little content that have no search relevance.
In any case, if you have many pages that are NOT valuable to consumers, then you may ask why these are uncluded in the Sitemap to start with.
These are just two of many important GWT reports that dealers should use to make sure that your website is configured properly and optimized for Google search.
Another important report is "Links to Your Site" report (see image on right) which will show you which pages have the most off-site links and where these links are coming from. Inbound links are very important still for basic SEO strategies.
If you don't have thousands of good quality links to your key website pages, you can't expect to have a strong organic search presence.
So make sure you add GWT to your digital marketing strategy and inspection process for 2012.
Brian Pasch, CEO
PCG Digital Marketing
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