Learn how to set up and use Search Console to power up your SEO campaigns.
If you’ve been involved in SEO for even a little while, it is likely you have heard of Google Search Console (formerly known as Webmaster Tools). For those who are uninitiated, Search Console is different than Google Analytics; although you can connect the two. Search Console is a dashboard that gives you an in-depth ‘under the hood’ look at your website, as Google sees it. By checking Search Console periodically, you can sometimes find errors that can keep you from ranking well in Google. You can also discover barriers to a good user experience. It’s important to fix these, as they can cause people to either not be able to access, or to bounce from your website.
Search Console offers a treasure trove of information, which can appear a little overwhelming at first. In this two part series we’ll talk about how to set up Search Console, then we’ll show you how to use it to improve your website; leading to potentially higher rankings, more site visits, and more conversions.
How to Set Up Search Console
First, it’s important to check if you already have a Search Console account. Perhaps someone on your team has already established one for your website. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your team, and if so, get yourself added (via your gmail) to it. If there is no account set up yet, here is how to do that:
1) Add your property to Search Console.
Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/verification/home?hl=en and add your URL.
2) Choose how you’d like to verify your site. Often webmasters add a snippet of verification code to the <head> of the home page. It looks like this (example):
<meta name=”google-site-verification” content=”ABC_999_88833333″>
3) Specify your preferred domain (www or non-www). Otherwise, Google may see your site as two separate websites; this can dilute your SEO efforts and hurt rankings and ultimately, conversions.
4) Submit your sitemap to Google (in this format: yourdomain.com/sitemap.xml) via Search Console. There is a field in Search Console to do this; first select your site, then Add Sitemap. Then type in sitemap.xml after your site URL.
5) What about reporting? How long until you can see data in your dashboard? Data collection starts immediately.
6) Big news! This year Google rolled out the ability to review 16 months of Search Console data, which is a boon to marketers, as 90 days was the maximum, previously. With a much larger data set that one can use for comparisons, Search Console becomes even more useful.
The next thing you’ll want to do is connect your Google Analytics to Search Console.
Follow these instructions: https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/1308621?hl=en
Now you can simultaneously access your Impressions, Clicks, CTR and Average Position stats from Search Console alongside your Bounce Rate, Pages per Session, Conversion Rate, etc. stats from Google Analytics, and much more. It’s handy to have all this data together, so you can view it simultaneously.
Bonus Tip: The ‘new Search Console’ includes a lot of awesome preset comparison tools; so you can compare various data to the previous period, and year over year, and set custom comparisons.
Get the ‘Straight from Google’ Setup Instructions
And if you want an in-depth Google tutorial on Search Console setup, you can get full instructions here:
Digging Into the Data, Part 1: Queries Reports
Awesome! Now that you have all of that set up, it’s time to get into what to do with the data! We’ll get you started with some amazing keyword data now, and next time, we’ll delve into analyzing error reports and more Search Console insights!
Let’s start with some keyword data and see how Search Console can help us focus on what phrases are bringing people to a website. You will find this under Search Analytics:
As you can see, we can review the top keywords that drive traffic to the site (we’ve changed the company name in this report view, to protect the client’s privacy). This is the unfiltered report that shows key phrase, search volume, CPC, competition and clicks. You can use this information in a variety of ways.
For organic optimization of your website, you’ll want to pay attention to highly relevant, highly searched phrases, with an eye on lower search volume phrases that may have very specific user intent (long-tail phrases). You can install some of these phrases in your on-page copy and in your HTML titles and meta descriptions, where warranted; and so that they read naturally.
In our unfiltered report above, we chose to view it via queries and clicks. You can review the data in many other ways by clicking the radio buttons and check marks next to the report view options; for example, you can create a report to show branded phrases or unbranded.
You can also compare against many other factors, including impressions and positions:
You can also elect to see your data by pages, devices and more. Next time we’ll dig into the nitty gritty of finding error messages in Search Console, and how you can use this information to help you repair problems on your website.
Maximize Search Console Insights with Help from Engine-ius Marketing
Your competitors are making use of Search Console; and so should you. When it comes to developing a solid SEO campaign, you need all the data you can get to make smart decisions. Search Console offers a rich data set – don’t miss out on all the insights!
Need assistance setting up Search Console? Let the experts at Engine-ius Marketing do it for you! We know how to use the report data to improve your SEO campaigns.