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Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to view keywords and phrases that your website appears for in search engine results.
What does this mean?
Well, if someone searches “sneakers,” and your site shows up on the first page of google’s search results, then this means they are likely to click on your link! Sounds useful right? So…
This post will give you an overview of what Google Search Console is used for and how it can help improve the visibility of your website.
What is the Google Search Console?
The Google Search Console (GSC) was created to allow website owners to see how Google perceives their website. You can use this information to improve your site’s content, structure, and optimisation in order to increase traffic from relevant searches.
But ultimately, the main purpose of the google search console is tracking organic (non-paid) visits to a website.
Google tracks these visits by noting each time a user sees you in a result or clicks through to see more pages on your site using its “crawl” feature which uses bots that scan all web pages for links and various other factors including keywords. This helps you determine what people are looking for when they find your website online so that your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) can be improved.
In addition, click data allows publishers to understand which pages are performing well in the search, and also see your top keywords. These analytics reports can provide you with information like the average position for each page on your website (like how high up it is when listed), keyword data, the number of impressions per time period etc.
While the GSC has evolved over time, the basic promise, providing vital metrics for helping marketers and businesses improve their SEO performance, has remained the same.
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Getting started with Google Search Console
But how do you use Google Search Console to increase traffic? Getting started with the GSC is remarkably easy and can be accomplished in just a few steps…
- Verify site ownership: Your first step in using the GSC is to verify your site ownership. There are multiple ways to accomplish this, such as adding an HTML tag, Google Analytics tracking code, or selecting your Domain name provider from the list on the verification wizard, which can be found here.
- Assess if Google can find and read your pages: The GSC will give you access to the Index Coverage Report and Crawl Stats Report. With the Index Coverage report, you can review how often Google has indexed your pages and if there are any errors preventing them from being crawled
- Check your site for mobile optimisation: Mobile device optimisation is key to reaching the largest audience possible and the Mobile Usability Report helps to do just that.
- Submit a sitemap to the GSC: While Google is able to discover the pages of your website without a sitemap, submitting a sitemap to the GSC might help to hasten discovery and help to solve any issues highlighted by the Index Coverage Report.
Google Search Console and Site Health
One of the most important uses of the Google Search Console is to make sure that errors are not damaging your sites Google ranking, also known as your ‘site health’. There are a number of reports available in the GSC that can be used to monitor site health, such as:
Index Coverage Reports
Index Coverage Reports allow website owners to monitor the number of pages indexed by Google across all your managed properties. These reports can be broken down into a number of sections:
- Errors: Any pages that are causing an error.
- Valid with warnings: These are pages that may be indexed by Google but aren’t completely free from error, such as thin content.
- Valid: These are pages that have been indexed by Google and meet the guidelines for a good quality page.
- Excluded: Pages that are intentionally not indexed and won’t be included in search results.
The sitemap reports produced by the GSC help you to monitor the status of your sitemap files and their submissions. You can view information about:
- How often Google crawls your website’s sitemaps
- Which pages are missing from a sitemap
- Which pages are in the sitemap, but redirect to another page
- Which pages are in the sitemap, but don’t work
- URLs included in each sitemap file
- Status codes for submitted URLs
- The last time a crawl was performed on that URL, or whether it is exempt from crawling
- Which URLs have been followed and which were not
- URLs with 200, 301, 302 or 410 status codes
- Error pages for URLs included in the sitemap file
Manual Actions Report
The Manual Actions Report contained in the GSC shows Google’s latest manual action taken against your site.
Manal actions are penalties issued by Google when a human reviewer has determined that pages on the site are not compliant with Google’s webmaster quality guidelines. This can be for issues such as thin content, cloaking or deceptive redirecting, etc.
The GSC Removals Tool does exactly what you’d expect it to, it allows webmasters to prevent pages on their website from appearing in Google Searches through two options:
- Hide the URL from Google Search results for about six months and clear the cached copy of the page.
- Clear cache URL clears the cached page and wipes out the page description snippet in the search results until the page is crawled again.
Mobile Usability Report
The Mobile Usability Report is a fantastic little feature that allows site owners to see how their website looks on mobile devices.
It analyses your entire website and then gives you what percentage of pages had errors, issues or mistakes that compromised their ability to display properly on mobile devices.
Google Search Console and Traffic
Easily one of the most important resources contained within the Google Search Console is the Performance Report.
This report shows you exactly how your website is performing in Google Search. It will show the average position of your site as well as any relevant keywords that they are ranking for and their estimated traffic levels from those organic search results.
Some of the details found in the Performance Report include:
- Clicks: The number of clicks a listing receives from an organic search result.
- Impressions: The number of times your site is shown as an organic search result.
- CTR: Click-through-rate, the average percentage of impressions out of all available listings that result in a click.
- Avg Position: The average position of your site when it appears on the SERP, calculated from clicks and CTR for all keywords you have targeted or been found for so far this month.
- Search Volume: The number of times people are estimated to search for a given keyword, typically per month according to Google.
By providing these in-depth insights into organic performance, this report can help generate content ideas, refine audience personas and spot missed opportunities in the context of content marketing.
How the GSC can optimise your content marketing and marketing strategies
While this is just a short guide to the GSC and does cover all its functionality, it should be immediately obvious by the number of incredibly useful metrics the console provides, and how it can be used by marketers and website owners in their marketing efforts.
Alongside your SEO, the GSC can be used to help improve your content marketing for optimal B2B SaaS lead generation.
It can be used to not only boost organic performance but also organic visibility by improving on-site engagement. Capturing valuable visitor data via customisable click tracking links that you can use to track the paths visitors take through a website, making it a vital tool for improving on-site user experience.
This data can be used to gain a better understanding of the pages that visitors view and explore before converting, allowing marketers and website owners to optimise their content for a better conversion rate. But… if you don’t have the capacity to manage all this in-house, get in touch! We at Gripped can help, get in touch to get your free growth audit…