In all of our b2b enterprise SEO audits we use this totally free tool to learn lots of great information about how to increase traffic to our sites or client websites.
In this guide we will do much more than simply explain to you how to install Search Console, but rather will teach you how to gain insights and make meaningful traffic gains with this totally free tool..
How is it different from Google Analytics and What happened to Google Search Console?
First, off Google Analytics is based on real time users and ALL traffic sources, it doesn’t give you the full SEO picture. Meaning, if someone sends paid ads to your site, you’ll want to measure that traffic with Google Analytics.
Search traffic from Google, the best way to measure progress and find new opportunities is far and away to use Search Console. For example, it will explain new keyword opportunities and places to improve your website.
Thats nice… So what’s the deal with Google Search Console?
It’s the same as Search Console 😀 – they changed the name a few years back.
How To Install Search Console
Okay, it’s a pain in the butt, but hang in there, the results are amazing. There’s always some small problems, so you’ll need patience. After you sign up to Search Console select this option:
We recommend using the domain option：
They simply have you add some information to your DNS settings.
Hot Tip: If you are not so techie and get lost along the way, just ask the people you bought your domain from or even your hosting provider. Chances are they will tell you what to do and you are not the first person to ask.
It will take a bit to verify, if you have a decent domain registrar, it will take around 15-20 mins, anything else could take up to a day.
How to Submit XML Sitemap
Once you have full access, I would add the XML sitemap:
This will help your website get 「indexed」 by google. Meaning your site will get added to their search results more quickly.
Here are some quick tips:
- If you are using WordPress, chances are a plugin is creating a XML sitemap automatically.
- If you are using another paid platform such as Shopify, Shopine, etc just ask their support for a link or look up how to find it with Google.
How Can It Help With SEO Website Optimization?
The section that we are going to focus on is the “Performance” tab. It helps find a lot of great keywords.
Here is a screenshot from one of our smaller client sites we have permission to share:
As you can see you can get:
- Total clicks – Someone clicked on your result and visited your website.
- Total impressions – this means someone saw your website in the search results. Pay close attention to this one.
- Average CTR (Click Through Rate)
- Average Position – Average Position in Google Search Results. (ie do you rank #1,2,3+ etc.)
Personally, we really like to focus on the “total impressions” and “Average Position.”
Our goal is to find new traffic opportunities
What happens is you rank for keywords you didn’t realize you are performing well for. Here is a pretty good example:
Chances are the search query is stuck around page 2 or the bottom of page one. From here you can start to figure out how to better optimize this page for this keyword.
Before reviewing Search Console, we had no idea this keyword was struggling to get traction. We wrongly assumed it was too difficult to rank for.
Search Console is filled with meaningful insights like these.
Find Keywords That Are Not Available in Paid SEO tools
You have to be willing to get there and really figure it out. There is a lot of insight to be had with hidden keywords.
This actually measures HOW people found your website. Not guesses from paid SEO tools. The data is super valuable if you are willing to take the time and learn how to analyse it.
Again, you’ll have to play around with the above tabs to find insite.
Easy Win: Look for Branded Keywords
A branded search would be something like “Nike basketball shoes” – someone wants basketball shoes made by Nike. That’s an example of a branded search.
Here is a real example from one of our English language clients:
Terrible! As you can see they are getting tons of impressions but hardly any clicks! This is because they are stuck around position #4 for this keyword.
This is a huge tip for those that have an established online brand or if you work with larger clients. For example, for the same client we figured out a lot of questions were being asked about our brand.
All these questions were being answered by competing websites. Meaning, their competitors were getting easy traffic from our clients hard earned brand. This is really bad.
If someone is asking a question about your brand, you want to be the one who answers it.
When we told our client that they simply have to address these questions on their website, they were very thankful.
It was also an easy ‘win.’ It is quite easy to rank for branded keywords when you own the web property.
Other interesting features:
Removals – For When Spammers Attack
This tab is super useful for when Spammers attack. For example if someone hacks in and creates a lot of bogus pages. You can use this tab to remove them from the Google Search results.
Or if you want to remove a page from Google you no longer want there.
Disavow Tool – Remove Backlinks
There are a lot of different types of external links. One type is called “negative SEO” – where spammers send low quality links to your site in an effort to hurt your search engine rankings.
Thankfully, Google gives you the chance to say “I don’t want those links to count.” It allows you to safeguard your site from those with malicious intentions.
Mobile Page experience – What Do you Do With This Thing?
Its official page experience is now a ranking factor. We find these issues quite annoying to fix, so we suggest sitting down with a developer. You can certainly fix it yourself, but we prefer to focus on other aspects and find it’s just easier to oursource.
You should note, this is different then page speed. For example, if you have an annoying popup that appears within a few seconds of visiting a website, that would give you a negative page experience.
This doesn’t mean don’t use popups, it means have the pop up appear after 10-20 seconds or in a way that provides a better experience.
Another example would be if page elements move around, so you try to click a button and it suddenly moves once the page is finished loading. That would be a bad experience.
Search Console is a super powerful tool, we can’t recommend enough learning how to use it. It does take some getting use and we recommend digging around at least once a month or so into its insights.