Use Webmaster Tools to Monitor PR and Earned Media


Well, good afternoon folks. It’s time for another SHIFT Communications earned media micro-webinar. Today I want to talk about measuring earned media impact with Google’s Webmaster Tools, which is probably one of the most underrated tools you can have available to you in the earned media or even in the marketing realm. Most people don’t use it – I’m not sure why; it’s free!

First things first: you’ll obviously want to get set up with an account. Get that at That does need you to have a Google account, so your Gmail account or your Google+ account will do for that. And also, you will need to authorize your site; so you need to have either access to your website, you need to have access to the server it’s on, or you need to have access to the Google Analytics account that it’s associated with. One of those things is needed in order to prove that you actually own the site because, of course, Google doesn’t want you messing with websites that aren’t yours.

The second thing is: you’re going to want to go into the interface (we’ve got this lovely screenshot here). You want to go into the interface, go to “Traffic”, go to “Links to Your Sites”, select “More”, then download the latest links. And there’ll be a nice button here that says “Download the latest links to your website”. You’ll have two options: you can choose a CSV file if you are a spreadsheet ninja in another application (like Numbers or Excel), or if you want to use the free Google Docs, there’s an option for that as well.

This is where it gets fun. Start browsing around the data file to see what’s in there. If you are looking for earned media impact and you think you’ve been in the news recently, type in the little find box some of the keywords you might be interested in, like a news site or a certain domain name or a publication (like the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, as some examples).

Look also for your SEO keywords. Now there are certain keywords you want to have associated with your name and your brand. Hit the little find button, and you can find all the references to that inside the document, inside these links that have come in. You can even – there’s a special formula, we’re put it down here. The formula will let you figure out just the top level domains. So you’ll notice, for example, “ really long number for the post”… if you just want to know that you’re getting lots of links from Twitter, this is the formula to use, and it will make a nice little column that you can then sort or a subtotal if you wanted to.

Finally, for power users, you can even take this data and correlate it to figure out, “Okay, I have my top level domains list there,” or “I’ve got my inbound links there… Do the number of links that I’m getting from my website – into my website – do they correlate with when I launched an earned media campaign?” If you got favorable press in a major newspaper or trade publication, look at that and see, “Okay, yes, it does correlate very strongly with the number of links that came in.” Because of course, with earned media, every time that you get a major media mention, you’re going to have bloggers and journalists and folks who are not associated directly with the publication you got a hit in, talking about: “Hey, this company got a review on the New York Times,” or “This agency was favorably mentioned in the Boston Business Journal,” and you should see this secondary effect.

The reason you want to use Webmaster Tools as opposed to – well, in addition to, I should say – other monitoring tools is that it is not context-related. So, for example, let’s say “SHIFT Communications” is the word I want to look for. I can go to Google Alerts, I can go to paid tools like Cision Insights and stuff like that, and I can see all the mentions of SHIFT Communications – awesome. But if no body actually ever says “SHIFT Communications,” I might not necessarily pick that up in Alerts, because I can’t just type the word “SHIFT” into Google and get a gazillion and a half alerts that have nothing to do with the brand. Webmaster Tools allows you to see who is linking to your website, regardless of the words they use to describe it. So you can see it on Twitter, you can see it on Facebook, you can see it on blogs, you can see it anywhere. By having this tool available to you, you can find all those other stories – all those other mentions that you may not have known about otherwise.

So give this a try, completely and totally free:, and see how your earned media is impacting. Of course, it would be remiss if I didn’t mention that if you are not getting any earned media, this is somewhat less valuable… but hey, we know an agency that can help with that! Thanks for watching.

Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology


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