Are you using Google Search Console for your business? If not, now is the time to verify your domain so that you can dive into the mountains of useful data available to you through Console’s reports.
Because there is a lot of valuable data to sort through, it can be difficult to know where to start if you’re new to the platform. Don’t worry, I’m here to walk you through all the most important reports, filters, and numbers to pay attention to.
Search Analytics Report
You should get things started with the Search Analytics Report. This will give you valuable information about how your site performs in Google searches. You can slice and dice this data in a number of different ways, but these are the most important elements to consider.
Impressions measures how many times your site came up in a search result. Now, there are no qualifiers on this number—Google will count any appearance as an impression, even if your site was on the tenth page of SERPs and likely wasn’t actually seen by the searcher.
Still, this number can give you a general sense of how broad an audience your site is reaching, and it can help you set realistic goals as you try to get noticed by more people.
Clicks represent the number of times someone clicked on your website from the Google SERPs. This number can be a bit of a misnomer because Google doesn’t tell you about all of your clicks—they’re vague about why this is, but cite some privacy concerns. However, like with impressions, clicks can give you a general sense of interest in your website coming through search results.
Click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions. This number can help give you a sense of how relevant your pages are for certain search terms. A high CTR means that the title and description for your page are grabbing the attention of searchers. But don’t stress if you have a low CTR; because some impressions are for searches where you were on page 10 of results, this number is not always indicative of a poorly optimized meta description.
Position is all about where your page ranks in search results. Each page of Google’s organic results has 10 links, so if your position number is 10 or lower, that means your website is displaying on the first page of search results.
Search Query Report
The Search Analytics Report can help you understand how your site stacks up against competitors on results pages. The Search Query Report, on the other hand, helps you see how people are finding your site in the first place.
This report is valuable because it tells you the real-world terms, questions, and phrases that your pages are ranking for. Sometimes there are some real surprises in here, and knowing what customers are actually keying into Google can help you refine your SEO and even tweak your products and services to better address their real needs.
Go Landing Page by Landing Page
One of the major benefits of Google Search Console is that it allows you to break all of this data out by individual landing pages. You can see what search terms are ranking for each individual page, which is hugely valuable.
If you have a low CTR for a given page, it might mean a few things. Either your title and meta description aren’t compelling, your SEO is off and you’re ranking for a term that doesn’t really make sense for the query, or the term is general (and therefore competitive) and you need to find a better way to stand out.
On the flip side, a high CTR can tell you that you’ve struck gold. Maybe this isn’t a term you thought would speak to customers, but something about it is obviously resonating and getting results. Once you see the term that the landing page is ranking for, what else can you do to make the content on that page even more relevant to that search term? And are there ways to tailor other pages on your website to speak more directly to the intent behind this term?
Find and Fix Errors
The mobile usability and crawl reports on Google Search Console are also helpful for identifying issues with your website and making it more user-friendly.
Mobile usability allows you to see which pages on your site don’t perform well on mobile. Maybe elements are jumbled or the type is too small; whatever the case, the site is not well suited to smaller devices. Once you know that, you can make a fix (which is important, because the majority of searches today start on mobile devices).
The crawl report allows you to understand what Google sees when it crawls your website. Google crawls websites to learn what the site is about, and the information that they find on their crawl affects how you rank in their results. If your site is difficult to crawl, you could be falling behind on rankings even if your website content looks great to the human eye. Use this report to make your site as appealing as possible to the Google computers that are indexing websites to give your site the best shot at ranking well.
Google Search Console is one of the most powerful tools available to small business owners. Unfortunately, some are unaware of its benefits or are intimidated by the wealth of data it provides. However, when you know which reports to run and which numbers to look out for, it can completely transform your approach to SEO and marketing.
If you liked this post, check out our Small Business Guide to SEO.