How to Monitor Website Performance Without Breaching Google Terms of Service
by Jo Shaer, on April 29, 2013
It is quite natural for any webmaster or small business owner monitoring their own website to want to know how their site is performing. However, Google’s own terms of service state that they will penalize you if you are being over-zealous in terms of how often you are ‘scraping’ information relating to your website ranking.
We have a situation, then, where you want to know how well you’re doing, but aren’t able to look up rankings or other selected information.
You may have read a blog or article that suggests Google don’t notice too many sites currently ‘scraping’ information, therefore there are few penalties, but is it something you can afford to risk, especially if you are a small local business? Furthermore, if it is something that Google refer to, yet aren’t currently ‘too hot’ on, you can almost guarantee that there will be something put in place in the near future that helps them to be more stringent.
Does Your Ranking Matter?
Most of the time, people guilty of ‘scraping’ are looking for their search rankings for keywords. We’re in the camp that says this is unnecessary, predominantly because you might not be ranking for keywords that customers are searching. You could rank on page one, or even in first position, for any number of keywords, but if they aren’t representative or relevant to your business, people will scoot past you regardless.
Using Google Webmaster Tools
While Google don’t want you ‘scraping’ for information too regularly, they do provide a wide range of tools that you can use that means you never have to do it, therefore ensuring you are never at risk of a penalty.
Webmaster Tools would be the biggest and best of these, helping you to improve your site’s organic search rankings while also giving you early warnings of anything that will potentially harm your positioning.
What are the best functions of Webmaster Tools, and how can you use them to best effect?
As we alluded to earlier, your search rankings potentially mean very little. Instead, a far more useful and powerful metric to monitor is the organic traffic headed to your site. If you are meeting your growth and conversion objectives, you can safely say that your SEO campaign is succeeding and your website is performing well.
If you’re concerned with website performance, this metric will tell you far more than where you’re positioned for certain keywords.
That brings us nicely onto this point. Webmaster Tools can help you to find the best approach to optimizing your site by showing you which keywords are best for your specific industry.
The beauty of keyword relevance is this; your traffic might plateau or even drop, but your conversions can dramatically increase in contrast as a far higher concentration of your visitors has found you through searching a relevant keyword.
These two features, in unison, will provide you with most of what you need to know when it comes to website performance.
Avoiding a Penalty
Google’s terms of service don’t put it as blatantly, but the truth is that you don’t ever need to scrape for information to know how well you’re doing. You have all the resources you need at your disposal, whether it is Webmaster Tools, Analytics, or a Keyword Tool. Why carry out a low value task that could get you in trouble, when you can have high value information risk-free?