Data is absolutely crucial for everything we do here at Helix House. It’s what makes digital advertising so powerful. The ability to track every impression, click, call, form-fill is what makes marketing over digital platforms explosively potent; you get immediate, tangible data on what’s working, what’s isn’t, and potential opportunities to capitalize on. To do all of that, you need to leverage the web’s existing tools. Google Analytics for Paid Ads for instance is absolutely necessary to getting a good ROI. When it comes to organic search, Google has a tool for that too – Google Search Console.
This time on the Helix House blog, we’re going to give you a brief rundown of Search Console, how it works, and how you can get started using it – today!
Google Search Console, formerly Google Webmaster’s Tools, is a toolkit designed by Google to track a website’s SEO performance. Using it can give you insights like crawl errors, organic keyword rankings and impressions, mobile site performance, and more – all of which contribute to the overall performance of your website and the performance of your business.
When your website generates the right traffic, your business thrives.
Even without Search Console, Google is already indexing and tracking some data on your website. It’s a part of the complex machinery and algorithms that make Google Search function like it does. Search Console makes that data available to the website’s owners, so you can work with it. It’s opening up the hood and showing what’s there.
When website owner’s have the data and tools they need to see how their site is performing, they can fine tune the site to deliver a better experience and better content. Google then gets to deliver better results for users queries. It’s a win/win.
What can Google Search Console help you accomplish? A lot.
And a whole bunch more. Seriously.
Alright, let’s get into what Google Search Console looks like:
By default, you’ll start at the Overview. Here you’ll get some basic ideas of Performance and Coverage as well as potential Enhancements. This is a very basic overview of information, showing you the total clicks your site is getting over a set time frame, in this case, it’s the last 3 months.
Along the left-hand side, you’ll see a whole host of potential options and metrics to look at. Let’s select Performance.
To the top right we have a more in-depth look at our website’s performance. It shows us the total number of clicks over the last three months and the total number of impressions. Down below we can find more dialed-in info about what is driving those clicks and impressions.
Here we see the Queries tab, showing us the search terms that send people your way. It looks like over the last 3 months we’ve gotten a lot of clicks from terms related to a fun blog we put up about books successful people read. Seeing we get frequent traffic there, it might be time we take a look at that and update it!
Next, let’s look at the Page tab and see what pages get the most heat.
Sure enough, that blog is getting the most clicks.
Our homepage has a fair amount — at almost 200 clicks — but with a whopping 30k impressions, that seems low. Those numbers give us some ideas about what to do next.
The number one thing to do in this situation is to take an audit of your Page Titles and Meta Descriptions. Make sure these are accurate and capture the searcher’s interest. Entice them into clicking on your link. That’s free traffic, and as your clicks go higher, it will raise your rankings as an added bonus!
That’s a great go-to tip for starting your work with Search Console, and it’s easy to implement across your entire website.
While Titles and Metas might be the first and most likely answer, the truth is there are a lot of things that could be causing low clicks on high impressions. Having that data doesn’t always give the immediate answer, but knowing there is a problem is the first step to solving it!
This is just one page’s worth of data that is aggregated in Search Console. Each tab comes with more metrics and ways to compare them. Seeing these hard numbers gives clear notes about opportunity, it’s up analysts to interpret that data and make it actionable!
That’s a very basic rundown of Google Search Console and what kind of data is available. You might be sitting there wondering “Where’s the rest of it, show me more data!” We get it, we totally understand that thirst for info. But here’s the thing. Google Search Console is so easy to set up, you can start getting your own data right now and make strides to improving your website’s performance. So why delay?
Ready to dip your toes into the Search Console waters? Here’s a quick rundown of how to get started.
First, make sure you are signed into the gmail account associated with your business.
Head to Search Console site.
Now, you need to select the property type. Depending on which option you choose will require certain verification methods. For now, we’ll stick to the URL prefix option.
Below URL prefix, enter the URL for your site, select Continue.
Next, you’ll get a window asking you which way you’d like to verify your website. There are a few options here. You can add an HTML file to your website, or using an HTML tag, Google Analytics, DNS provider, or using Google Tag manager. If you already have Google Analytics set up for your site, that will be the easiest.
Once you’ve verified that you own the website and are authorized this data, Google will start gathering initial data points. You can then add a sitemap to give Google a map to how to read and index your site. With these things set up, you’re ready to start acquiring and analyzing your website like a pro!
While you’re diving into the data, you’re likely going to hit some terms you don’t quite understand. Come back here and reference this handy vocab sheet to know what you’re looking at!
A query is the search term that a user typed in to Google to find your site.
Whenever your site’s URL shows up on a search result page, it counts as an impression. The user may not have clicked on the link to engage with it, but they had the potential to.
A click is when the user selects your URL from that result page, moving from the Google results pages to your site. That is a click.
Note: This doesn’t count paid Google results, meaning ads. Those will show up in Analytics.
CTR is short for click-through rate. This is the rate at which users click onto your URLs when they show up in impressions. It’s a simple formula, we’ll make it simpler by using 100 as an example. 100 impressions and 25 clicks? The CTR would 25%
With all this you’re ready to use Google Search Console to turbocharge your site and deliver the best possible experience to your users! Having the data is the first piece of the puzzle, knowing how to interpret it to take the next steps is the second and maybe more critical one. That’s why Helix House has SEO specialists working on every account. Trained to take all the data in and synthesize it into actionable intel, our SEO team finds the opportunities that are ripe for harvest, with a bit of work and elbow grease.