Before doing any SEO, you must install these two tools: Google Analytics and Google Search Console.
These two tools reveal:
Where your visitors are coming from.
The Google searches used to find your website.
Lots of additional data that helps you familiarize yourself with your audience, such as average age, etc.
Install Google Analytics and Google Search Console
Google Analytics (GA) & Google Tag Manager (GTAG)
Google Analytics allows you to gather information on visitors to your website, such as how many there are, what devices they use (desktop vs. mobile), what pages they browsed, etc.
The code you will see in the video is a little different from the one you will need to copy-paste. This is because Google encourages the use of its tag manager. A tag manager removes the need to go through a developer every time you want to add a tracking tool to your website. Here is the official Google guide for installing gtag.
If you do not have access to the code, ask the person in charge of the website to install this tool. It is a quick and easy task.
Install Google Search Console
Google Search Console enables you to gather precise information about what your visitors searched for in Google to find you.
It is easy to install:
Go to Google Search Console.
Select “Add Property.”
Enter the URL for your website.
You will be presented with several options. If you correctly performed the previous step, you will be able to select Google Analytics, and your website will be added automatically. This helps Google ensure that you own the website.
Here is the associated Google guide: add a website property in Google Search Console.
Basic set up
Google Analytics set up
Once you have installed Google Analytics, your visits to your website will be logged, which can throw off results. To avoid this issue, you need to exclude your IP addresses. Follow these steps:
Go to Administration (bottom left).
Click on Filters (3rd column on the right), and then Add Filter.
Enter a name for the filter.
Select the type of filter: Exclude.
Select Traffic from the IP addresses and that are equal to.
Finally, enter your IP addresses in the box.
You can find your IP address by going to the website WhatsMyIP!
Google Search Console set up
Once your property has been added with its exact URL, you need a sitemap.
How you create the sitemap depends on your website’s technology:
If your website was built with custom code, you will need to develop a sitemap that updates automatically. Remember, every new web page you want to have appear in search engine results must be added to the sitemap.
If your website was built using a CMS (like WordPress), there are existing plug-ins to create and automatically update your sitemap. A great example of this is the SEO plug-in "Yoast" for WordPress.
Follow these steps to add your sitemap in Google Search Console:
Use the newer version of Google Search Console.
Click on “Sitemaps” in the left-hand menu.
Enter the URL to your sitemap, and click "Send."
There are two essential tools that should be installed on every website:
Google Analytics helps you gather information about your visitors.
Google Search Console helps you track changes in your positions and keywords in Google search results.
Do not forget to perform the basic setup for these tools.
You now have professional tools at your disposal and can begin your audit! The next chapter details the steps involved.