What’s the first thing you do after launching a new website?
You set up Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC).
These two Google tools feed on each other.
While Google Analytics is user-oriented (providing data on those visiting and interacting with your website), Google Search Console (GSC) is search-engine focused (providing site owners with the tools and insights to improve their online visibility and presence in the SERPs).
What’s Google Search Console (GSC)?
Google Search Console is a free tool offered by Google for measuring your website traffic, checking keyword performance, and correcting website problems as they occur.
You can use the tool to monitor your website’s performance in the SERPs and adjust it in Google’s index.
What’s more? You can use the tool to improve your content strategy.
Use Google Search Console to Find Out How Searchers Interact with Your Results
As we’ve already mentioned, you can use Google Search Console to determine how users interact with your search results.
You want to use this metric to determine which content or web pages they’re attracted to the most. That should give you an idea of what direction to take with your content, especially in coming up with relevant topic ideas for your target audience.
You can begin by clicking on the performance tab. Here, you’ll find four critical metrics to analyse: Total Clicks, Total Impressions, Average CTR, and Average Position
Total Clicks: “Total Clicks” measures the number of times users clicked on your search results within the specified timeframe (7 days, 28 days, three months, etc.). How Google counts this metric depends on the type of search results.
Total Impressions: Total Impressions refer to the number of times users saw your results on Google search within the specified timeframe. Google calculates this differently for images and other search results depending on whether the results were scrolled into view.
Average Click Through Rate: A CTR is the percentage number of impressions that yielded clicks.
It’s calculated as:
In our case:
56/599*100 = 9.348914
A high click-through rate shows that your meta description is well-optimized and that online users find your results relevant.
Average Position: Google ranks sites according to positions. The highest-ranking site is considered position one.
Your position determines where you appear in the SERPs.
The position metric will show you where you rank for specific keywords.
You can find each page’s position by scrolling down to the table below the performance metric.
Google calculates the “average position” by summing up the total positions and diving it by the total number of keywords.
The lower the average position, the more your website performs better.
Web owners habitually gloss over these four metrics, but they could be a game changer when well-utilised.
How to Use the Four Performance Metrics
How to Use the Average Click-Through Rate
For starters, you can use the metrics to determine the popularity of specific topics. For example, you may find that a seemingly relevant topic doesn’t actually appeal to your target audience. That’s usually demonstrated by the low values of your Average CTR.
In other words, a high average CTR indicates relevancy, while a low one indicates a lack of it.
The idea is to single out all pages with a high number of impressions but low CTR (less than 1%). That means these pages are shown frequently in the search results, but, for some reason, users aren’t clicking on them to visit your website.
Once you’ve identified such a page, copy its links. Next, click “+ New” next to the four metrics and select “Page.”
Paste the link you copied and click apply.
Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on queries to see a list of all Google queries associated with the page.
You want to sort these queries by impressions and increase the number of rows to 100 or more. You can do this by clicking on the downward-facing triangle icon at the bottom of the page. Note that you’re allowed to expand the list up to 500 queries.
Do this to expand the query list and avoid clicking on the next page.
Here, you’ll be provided with a list of all the queries that Google associates with that page. That means the page will pop up whenever someone runs any of those queries in the Google search bar.
At this point, you want to analyse all these queries to determine what people are actually looking for.
You want to build your content pieces around these queries, covering the topics in detail.
But be careful not to write the same thing over and over. To avoid keyword cannibalisation, you must ensure every new blog post you produce differs from existing ones. You don’t want to see your pages competing for the same keyword phrases on Google.
Based on these queries, you can learn much about your audience, their search intent, and, most importantly, their needs. Use the queries to come up with topic ideas that answer your audience’s questions, providing them with a solution to their problems.
Finding Ranking Opportunities
You can also use Google Search Console to trawl your site and identify the ranking opportunities you might have missed.
The chances are good that you have many underperforming pages on your websites. While optimising them all is good, we suggest you start with those with the greatest potential to rank at the top of the SERPs quickly and with little effort.
You can start with the pages positioned between spots 7 and 20. These are usually low-hanging fruits and can be propelled to the top of search engines with little adjustment and optimisation.
And yes, GSC can help you with that.
First, use GSC to identify these pages. You can identify the pages by clicking on “Search Appearance,” “Pages,” and “Positions.”
Again, go to the “performance” tab on the left-hand side menu and scroll down to the performance table (below the graph).
Click on PAGES, and you’ll be provided with a complete list of indexed pages on your site and their corresponding number of clicks and impressions.
Click on the three-line triangle to sort out the pages (based on “clicks”). These are the pages with the greatest potential.
Now scroll back up, click “Average Position,” and then go back to the table.
The table will expand to include a fourth column, “Position.”
You want to sort out the pages based on position.
Take note of the pages between positions 7 and 20. These are near the top and have the greatest potential to drive even more traffic. You can quickly improve these pages and get them to the top of the SERPs.
There are several quick fixes that you can do to improve the rankings of these pages. First, you want to ensure the content is relevant to what users are searching for. You also want to optimise their meta tags and descriptions.
You can also add more content and throw in a few internal links.
It’s even better to get a few external links for the page. See if you can find a few guest blogging opportunities for the page.
Once done, you want to prompt Google to recrawl the page.
Go back to “Google Search Console” and click “URL Inspection.” Next, enter the URL of the page you just edited and hit enter. Google will scan the page and tell you if the URL is on Google (of course, it’s on Google).
Click on “Request indexing,” and Google will re-index the page and re-rank you as it should be.
Using Google Search Console to Improve Your CTR
We’ve discussed how the average CTR shown on GSC can help you identify searchers’ intent and generate more content ideas.
However, we didn’t mention that you can also use this metric to improve your page rankings and engage your audience even better.
Here’s the thing: relevant and well-optimised content is what gets visitors to explore your website and stick around for longer.
And when users stick around for longer, the signal Google gets is that your content is relevant for that particular search and, in response, proceeds to rank it higher.
The idea is to align your CTR and engagement. You’ll have a lower bounce rate when users click on your results and stay on your pages for longer.
Users bounce off websites after finding that they’re not relevant and valuable to them. And most of the time, when users bounce off a website, they’ll click on another search result, indicating that they find the other page more relevant and valuable to their search query.
Google takes notice of all these interactions, and that’s how they end up promoting some pages and demoting others.
In other words, Google demotes sites with higher bounce rates and promotes those with lower ones.
GSC allows you to see the CTR of every page on your website. You can even compare them by sorting the pages based on their CTR. We suggest you prioritise websites with the highest CTRs.
How to Optimise Pages with High CTRs in the Google Search Console
Here are some pointers on how to optimise the high CTR pages for a higher rank in the SERPs:
#1. Start by Optimising the Title
Your title must be catchy. That’s the only way you’ll get users to click on it.
The most important information should appear at the beginning of the page, not at the middle or the end.
The idea is to get potential visitors to identify your content as of interest to them so they can immediately click on it.
And that’s not the only reason.
You also want to remember that more than half of website traffics comes from mobile. And since their screens aren’t big enough, they may not display your title in its entirety.
When this happens, you want to ensure they can at least see important messages before everything else gets truncated.
Here are a few ideas on how to improve your CTR through the title:
- Use numbers in the title
- Include how, what, or why in the title
- Create a sense of urgency
- Err on simplicity while still making the title describe
The idea is to summarise the page in the fewest words possible.
#2. Optimise Your Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are the snippets that appear below the title in the search engine results pages. The descriptions have to be 155 characters long or less.
Their role is to summarise what the page is about, provide context, and give the searcher a reason to click on your results.
Here’s the thing:
30% of the websites you see have duplicate meta descriptions, while 25% don’t have one at all. So, just having one gives you a competitive advantage.
Polish Your Website URLs
Users don’t overlook links like some people would love to assume. They check read and even try to understand them before clicking on the results.
You can optimise your links by using relevant keywords instead of incomprehensible strings of numbers and other characters.
Use these simple hacks to adjust your content and make them more clickable and discoverable in the SERPs.
We talk about content quality all the time at MediaOne. But have you ever stopped to think about how Google determines if a piece of content is quality or not?
Backlinks is one way. The more high-quality links you have pointing to your page, the more it will rank. It’s that simple but gets deeper when you dig into it.
And it’s not just backlinks. The links have to be trustworthy and from credible sources.
Google can tell if your content is high-quality enough if high-authority sites link to it. And they can also tell that what you have is a shitty site if the bulk of the websites linking to you are PBNs or inferior websites.
And yes, getting links from low DA websites will only hurt your ranking. Google understands everything that’s going on on the ground. They know how websites fish for links and how to protect their search results from getting contaminated by low-quality results.
To produce content that you’ll later use for link building, you must begin by studying other content to see what topics and content ideas high authority websites love linking to.
While we suggest you also look at the type of content your high-ranking competitors are producing, a better solution will be to start with the content you already have.
Again, GSC can help you with that.
Go to “Link” on the left-hand side menu. You’ll be directed to a page with your link report.
You’ll see the top-linked external pages on your site, top-linking external sites, and internal links.
Google even allows you to export the links to Google sheets, excel spreadsheets, or CSV files.
What you want to do is sort the lists by linking pages. You want to see which pages have the most backlinks.
Next, analyse these pages to see what type of content attracts the most backlinks – how-to guides, research studies, infographics, etc.
It would be best if you started producing more of such content. You also want to find a pattern on the topics that attract the most backlinks. See what type of pages or topics attract the most backlinks.
That should give you an idea of what direction to take with your link-building strategy.
Using Google Search Console to Update the Pages That Are Losing Organic Traffic
Your website thrives on new content.
Publishing new content is like feeding it with new information that could benefit its visitors.
But let’s not forget that it’s not easy. It takes a lot of time and resources to produce a quality piece of content.
That’s why you want to ensure your content marketing efforts never amount to naught. Instead of producing new content pieces every time, updating existing ones will be much more affordable and practical.
One thing you should never forget is that your content can’t generate traffic forever. They’ll become outdated as time goes by. Their ranking will also drop.
Fortunately, GSC will help you take notice of this when it happens so you can do something about it before it costs your website the organic traffic it’s used to.
Again, click on performance on the left-hand side menu. Next, click on “Date” and select the first option “, the most recent date.”
Next, click “Compare” and toggle off to compare your results for the last six months.
For our purpose, we only want to focus on clicks. So, sort out the pages based on the click difference. You should see a list of all the pages that have suffered the greatest drop (in their proper order).
Next, analyse these pages individually, clicking on each URL and switching to their queries report.
See which queries are driving you less traffic. The information you find should inform you on the direction to take regarding what content pieces need to be updated.
We suggest you add more content to these pieces, update their stats, and research to make them more relevant and helpful to the reader.
Updating existing content is relatively easier than churning out a new content piece from scratch. It’s the easiest way to increase your website traffic.
Using GSC to Complete Your Sales Funnel
While using GSC to identify new keyword opportunities, you also want to pay attention to those keywords that complete your sales funnel.
Remember, there are four broad types of keywords:
Navigational: Users key these keywords when searching for a particular website on search engines. For example, when you search for MediaOneMarketing, that’s a navigational keyword. You want search engines to guide you to the website, hence the name.
Informational: Informational keywords are the questions that people query on search engines. Users query these keywords to find information or learn about something they didn’t know.
Investigational: Here’s where prospective buyers prompt search engines for information that may eventually lead to a transaction. Investigation questions can come in the form of reviews, product comparisons, testimonials, feedback, price comparisons, or locations. Here, the buyer has the investigative gear and wants to weigh their options and ensure they make the right choice.
Transactional: Here, the buyer has already decided and is ready to go through with the purchase decision. They know what they want, the price, and the best places to buy it.
Here’s a real-time example of these keywords in action:
Let’s say you’re a paint company.
An example of an informational keyword you can use is “How to match your living room colours.”
An example of an investigational keyword you can use is “What paint brand has the best shine for a living room?”
An example of a transactional keyword you can use is “a paint store near me.”
How to Use GSC to Create Rich Results
Rich results carry extra information in search engine results. Instead of just displaying the title, meta description, and page link, rich results may contain ratings, prices, votes, and other details that may be helpful to the user.
Google allows you to add extra code to your pages to tell their algorithm that that page contains a product, and has a price, rating, description, etc.
The same goes for reviews, how-to guides, FAQs, and more.
If your website has pages that could benefit from rich snippets, Google should be able to pick them and report them to their search console.
And not only will Google Search Console show you which pages have a rich snippet already set up, but they’ll also pick up on any error and alert you when something goes wrong.
To find out more about which pages have been indexed and whether some of the pages have a rich snippet, we suggest you go to the “Overview” tab.
Next, scroll down until you get to the “Enhancements” section.
You can click on any enhancement type to view more data on them. You’ll see the pages showing errors and a complete list of pages on your website with enhancements.
Use the information on this report to identify the pages and products to optimize. The aim is to help search engines pick these pages as rich results.