How to Use Google Search Console
How can the Search Console help you, the business owner?
The free tool through which Google tells you where you are ranking on the search engine.
While Google Analytics tells you what people do once they find your site, Search Console tells you how they found it in the first place. Considering how much time and effort is put into increasing the organic rank of a website, it is unfortunate that so few business owners are familiar with the the very tool that Google has made available to track the progress of these efforts. It is a free, underutilized tool that few people outside of the digital marketing space use. Adwords and Analytics are ubiquitous tools that you are probably already familiar with, so now it’s time to learn to use the Search Console. This blog post and accompanying videos will walk you through the basics.
How to track the progress of your SEO campaign
HOW OFTEN DO YOU SHOW UP FOR A KEYWORD SEARCH?
It is a tall order to expect to start off a new campaign or launch a new website and start outranking the competition out of the gate. For this reason, you should start off by tracking your number of impressions. Impressions are the number of time that your website popped up as a result for a query. It is important to track this because if you are not even popping up at all for a specific term, how do you expect to ever get clicks for it? Impressions are closely tracked to tell how often you are ranking for a specific keyword or phrase. If you are at the stage of your SEO plan where you simply want to see if you are popping up in the results, impression are what you should be paying attention to.
This is how you use impressions to track progress:
WHAT POSITION ARE YOU FOR A SPECIFIC KEYWORD?
Do not expect to get any traffic for a query until you are ranking in positions 1-5. A miniscule number of internet users scroll down to 6-10 and page 2 to find what they are searching for, so until you reach there, don’t expect any clicks. If you are a roofing company in Bordentown, NJ, you know that you want to rank for “roofing companies in south jersey”—the Search Console will tell you how to track that:
WHO IS LINKING TO YOUR WEBSITE?
Now that we know where we are ranking in the search engine results, we probably want to do something to increase our rank for a specific keyword. As we are writing content, reaching out to online communities, websites, and blogs whose audiences will find our content to be valuable, we want to know which of these new links are being indexed by Google. While there are much better tools out there to track your new links, like Majestic and Ahrefs, neither of these will give you any information on whether Google has actually found them. Here is how you see where you are getting links:
Search Console will not give you an exhaustive list of every link that it finds for your website, but it will give you a “sample” that you can use to keep tabs on whether your outreach efforts are being noticed by the search engine. If you’ve been working to pump out articles for a certain publication that isn’t being indexed by the crawlers, your efforts could be better spent working on something else.
Follow the trends
Do not expect to overtake established websites in a matter of a month or two (insert an axiom about SEO being a marathon and not a sprint here). What you want to see is progress:
- How many new keywords are you ranking for?
- By how much has your number of impressions increased over the last 90 days?
- How many keywords are you ranking for in the top 1-5?
By tracking trends, you know whether your SEO efforts are having an impact or not, allowing you to adjust accordingly. It also frees you up from the spin that your SEO provider may be giving you; there are many ways to present numbers, and if you understand the different ways that SEO can be measured, you are better able to interpret the numbers being provided yourself.