Kayaking.org Update: Using Google Webmaster Tools and SEOMoz to Track My Progress

As you probably know I’ve been pretty busy turning Kayaking.org into one of the top Kayaking sites on the Internet. I’m not there yet…in fact I have a long ways to go – but I thought now would be a great time to show you the tools I use to gauge progress. You can’t really say you’re doing better if you have nothing to compare it to – right?

First, it’s important that you’re convinced of the potential. Never go through the trouble of building an entire brand in a tiny market. You can easily find-out how much potential your market has by searching on Google and seeing who the key players are in the space. In my case, the Kayaking niche is dominated by Paddling.net – a site dedicated to canoeing and kayaking. So how much traffic does the top site in this niche get? Remember, this is the site I want to beat – I want to get the same amount or more traffic than them!

As you can see from Compete’s estimates, the site gets somewhere in the 100-000 – 200,000 unique visitors/month range. If I can even get 20% of this business/market that is a very meaningful amount of traffic. If the leader in your market gets 500 unique visitors/month you might not want to spend your time developing the brand, unless of course you’re inventing a new category in which case go for it – just make sure you have the funds to do it right!

Now back to tracking your progress. So I’m convinced that there is a meaningful market for Kayaking.org online. Next I need to understand how I rank in Google. I can’t tell you how many Domainers still spend time typing their keywords into Google and using that as their ranking metric. This doesn’t work any more! It hasn’t worked ever since Google introduced Personalized Search which is enabled for pretty much everyone using Google. This means what you see is not what someone else sees when they type in the same keywords.

With Google Instant Search now the top keywords are displayed directly in the search bar making it even more difficult to really know where you sit in Google…unless of course you use Google Webmaster Tools which actually shows you – and it’s free, and it’s from Google themselves! Below is some of the useful ranking information it can provide for Kayaking.org:

Per Google’s TOS I’m not allowed to display screenshots with impressions or clicks…I’m hoping it’s okay to show the rankings. As you can see from above Kayaking.org’s ranking in Google isn’t anything to write home about. Okay let’s just be honest – they suck. This is my starting-point, I’m just starting to build the brand, the good news is that Google sees my site as a resource for all of these keywords – now it’s all about targeting specific keywords and improving my ranking.

I can easily track how my ranking improves by using this tool and monitoring important keywords over time. However rank is only one side of the equation, I’m also concerned about how many links I have coming to my site. The more links from high PR relevant sites the better I will rank, and the more traffic I will get both organically and from the referrer. I use SEOMoz’s Linkscape tool to get this information:

Linkscape is a great way to get a quick look at how you’re doing on the link-front…as you can see here I only have five links to the root domain. Like I said, this is a starting-point, I know where I am, and let’s take a look at where I want to be.

822 links to the root domain is my goal, that’s what Paddling.net has done (along with a number of other things) to get their brand and business to where it is today. Sounds like a hard goal? Who said any of this was easy! If you aren’t taking the time to learn about your market and know what you should be aiming for – how will you ever know when you hit your goals? Google is nice enough to provide a completely free tool to keep track of your ranking, crawling errors, and much more and everyone should be using it!

Learn Domaining

If you like this article you can learn a lot more about this topic in my brand-new video course that will debut in November. I just started taking pre-orders yesterday, if you’d like to take a look you can learn more about the Learn Domaining Video Course. Oh and if you order before November you get almost 50%-off 🙂

Morgan Linton

Morgan Linton