One of the main goals of digital marketing is to increase the amount of traffic coming to your website and this can be achieved in numerous ways. The great thing about online marketing is that you have so many channels and tools that you can explore and utilise in order to maximise your traffic.
Amongst these useful tools is Google Search Console, one of the most versatile SEO tools available and it’s free! Many people tend to use Google Search console as an analytics platform for viewing their website metrics such as the total clicks, total impressions, and average positions. However, it’s actually capable of much more than just that.
Did you know, 90% of web pages do not receive any organic traffic from Google? If your website isn’t receiving much organic traffic and you haven’t tried utilising Google Search Console yet, you may be missing out on a valuable tool.
In this article, we explain what Google Search Console is and how you can use this tool to increase your website traffic.
What is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console is a web service created by Google which enables you to measure your website’s performance. Up until May 2015, this tool was called ‘Google Webmaster Tools’. Since then, Google has introduced the new version of ‘Search Console’ which brought along new updates to the tool, including new features, functionalities, user interface tweaks, and it also removed old deprecated features which helped to streamline the tool.
Key Features of Google Search Console:
- Measure your website’s traffic and performance.
- View your website’s coverage and indexation status.
- Check your website’s mobile performance and speed.
- Identify any potential security issues.
- Analyse your external and internal links.
Now that we’re more familiar with Google Search Console, how do we use this tool to increase website traffic?
If you haven’t set up Google Search Console yet, read our easy guide here which will walk you through the setup process.
Making Use of Google Search Console
If you’re new to Google Search Console and don’t know how to effectively use this tool, we’ll be going through some of the main checklist items that will be beneficial for your website and its performance.
Analysing your Keywords
One of the most useful features of Google Search Console is its ability to provide performance data for your website. This includes data about how many clicks your website gets, which pages get the most clicks, which visiting countries are the most popular sources, which devices people visit your website on, and many more. You can view performance data by clicking on the ‘Performance’ tab on the top left of the page.
While it’s useful to see how many clicks and impressions your website gets, it’s equally as important to analyse your keywords to see where you can improve your SEO. Search Console shows data on click-through rates and the average ranking position of each page.
To see this information, we’ll need to add a couple of extra columns to the Performance page by clicking on the ‘Average CTR’ and ‘Average Position’ boxes at the top.
You should now see the ‘CTR’ and ‘Position’ columns appear further down the page. With this information, we’ll be able to see the rankings of each keyword and also the performance in terms of click-throughs. What we want to do with this data now is to see which keywords are receiving high volumes of impressions but are ranking low. To do this, click on the ‘Impressions’ column to sort highest impressions to low.
You should now see all of the keywords with the highest impressions and on the right, you’ll also see the ‘Position’ of each keyword.
On Google, most of the clicks tend to go towards to top 3 search results and if you’re not ranking highly for your target terms, then you could be missing out on a significant amount of traffic. Whilst it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to rank at the top of Google for all of these high impression keywords, you can select a few of the main relevant keywords to focus on. The impressions tell us that we’re being seen for these keywords, but we want to boost our visibility by increasing the ranking of these keywords.
As the rankings for these high impression keywords increase, we would also expect the click-through rate to increase as more people are seeing our website.
To make things easier, you may wish to start off by skimming through the list and finding keywords that you are ranking just outside of Page 1 (Positions 10 and higher) for. As you are just outside of Page 1 for these keywords, you may find you’ll see quicker results by optimising the relevant pages for these quick win terms.
To see which pages a particular keyword is ranking for, click on the keyword and then click on the ‘Pages’ column.
With this information, you’ll be able to identify which pages you can improve on and which keywords you should focus on optimising for.
Checking for Indexation Issues
Another important checklist item on Google Search Console is to check your website’s indexation. If all of your website pages have been ‘indexed’ by Google, this means that Google’s crawler bots have successfully found your website and they have indexed information from your website. This is an automatic process and Google will automatically detect and update pages for its index. If your website hasn’t been indexed by Google then this could mean that there is something blocking crawlers from finding your website which means people are also unlikely to find your website on search engines.
To see your indexation status, click on ‘Coverage’ on the left column.
What you need to look for in the ‘Coverage’ section are the pages that are classed as ‘Valid’, ‘Valid with warnings’, ‘Error’, and ‘Excluded’.
- Valid means that a web page has been successfully crawled and indexed.
- Valid with warning means that the web page has been crawled and indexed, but an issue has been found.
- Error means that the web page couldn’t be indexed.
- Excluded means that the web page wasn’t indexed because it had identified something that signals the page shouldn’t be indexed.
Valid URLs are good as this means that Google has successfully found and indexed these pages. However, if you see that there are ‘Errors’, Valid with warning’, or ‘Excluded’, then these are the pages you should have a look at. You can click into these errors and search console will show you all of the affected pages for you to have a look at.
You may see various status types as shown in the image below and it can be quite difficult to understand what the error message means and how you can resolve the page.
To learn more about what these status reasons mean, Google has explained all of these status types here.
It’s important to note that page indexing can take a few days for Google to process and it isn’t an immediate thing. Once you have resolved these indexation issues, it may take a few days for the errors to resolve in Search Console.
Ensuring your Pages are Mobile Friendly
Google has placed a greater emphasis on websites needing to be mobile friendly as most people tend to use their phones and tablets to browse the internet these days. It’s now also one of the ranking factors that Google considers as part of its algorithm when ranking websites. If users have a bad mobile experience on your website, they are less likely to return which means less traffic.
One of the useful features that Search Console offers is the ability to check if your website has any issues with mobile usability.
To see this section, click on ‘Mobile Usability’ on the left column.
Search Console breaks down the information into two sections, one section for ‘Error’ issues and one for ‘Valid’ pages. Valid means that these web pages have little to no issues with mobile usability. Error means that there is an important issue to address on these web pages.
The most common types of errors are:
- Text too small to read
- Clickable elements too close together
- Content wider than screen
If you see any other errors and you’re unsure about what they mean and how you can go about resolving these, you can learn more information here.
If you see any of these errors, you can click on the error and it will display a list of pages that are affected by this. You can then navigate to your pages and make any amendments necessary.
Once you’re happy that these usability issues have been addressed, you can go back to search console and click ‘Validate Fix’. This will begin a validation test and Search Console will send you an update email once these changes have been validated.
Google Search Console offers many more useful features other than the ones that we’ve covered above. It’s also important to periodically check on Search Console for these issues so that you can stay on top of your website’s performance.
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