A large part of today's market is digital. Thus, having a powerful online presence is a must for every and any business owner.
Whether you own a small company that's just starting out, or you're the CEO of an international conglomerate, you need a good online presence. This is especially important for locally based businesses.
Why you ask?
Because the higher your local search rankings, the more traffic you'll incur. The more traffic you generate, the higher the pool of potential customers you can convert.
In order to evaluate your online presence, efficiency, insights, and search rankings of your website, Google offers their proprietary Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). If you're not using it already, you should be. Besides the aforementioned, GWT also offers data on malware flags and other potential issues that your website might have.
But exactly how good is GWT for evaluating your search rankings?
Truth be told - GWT is not ideal, but it can be useful because it can show you the type of results shown for your keywords.
Over the past years, Google has made many major changes to its search results algorithm. Today, not only text data is factored in when providing search results, but also videos, images, news, mentions etc.
GWT will show you what type of results your keywords bring up. This is useful especially if you haven't exhausted the means of communication between you and your clients.
For example, if one of your keywords shows images that aren't related to your website... it's time to invest into some quality images that will link to that specific keyword.
A GWT downside is that it doesn't provide accurate data if your website traffic is low, meaning that it's use is limited if your website doesn't have enough daily visitors.
According to several research papers, if your website doesn't have at least 100,000 search impressions per day, the chances are slim that GWT will be or much help to your strategy development.
This may not come as a shock to some of you, but a large chunk of websites don't hit that daily target. Rendering GWT useless unless you already have mass market interest.
In other words, GWT favours global results, rather than local results.
But there's another challenge...
If you're running a local business that has branches in different locations, such as a chain of bistros, or clothing shops, without a few tweaks to it's parameters, GWT doesn't track separate geographic locations when it does the evaluations. In such cases, it's imperative to track each location separately to understand the trends that can boost your sales.
On a positive note, tracking your competition is made easy with Google's tool.
You can use GWT to track and analyse the websites of your competitors, not just to evaluate your own website.
And there's no denying that competitiveness is a keystone in most businesses. Let's be real, if your business isn't competitive in its niche, it's probably time to rethink your business plan.
However, keep in mind that It doesn't provide enough information if the niche or keywords are new.
So moral of the story is...
If your website is just starting out, it might not be a great idea to use GWT for rankings purposes. Allow your business to build notertiety in your niche, establish your keywords through SEO and content marketing and then pull out GWT to take your digital footprint to the next level.