Marketing

23 Ways to Use Google Search Console to Grow Search Traffic

We asked SEO experts about their favorite ways to use Search Console. Here is what they said.

Kevin Kononenko on March 12, 2018 • 18 minute read

Have you ever wondered, “What does Google see when it crawls all the pages on my domain?”

Well, that is why Google created Google Search Console. Google’s goal is to give its search engine users the most relevant content for every query. They want to ensure the most helpful piece of content appears as the first result, when possible.

In order to support that goal, they need to make sure content creators optimize their content so that it can be discovered by searchers with a problem.

That’s where Search Console comes in. It will not give you specific ideas, like:

“Include this keyword in the title, and your page will jump from position 5 to position 3.”

But, it can show you the ways that Google’s users are finding your content, and how often they click on it. And it can reveal broken links that are harming the user experience. It can even tell you if your pages are optimized for mobile screens!

Each feature requires some SEO knowledge, of course. So, we surveyed SEO experts from the Databox Partner Program and beyond to learn how they actually use these features on a day-to-day basis.

Sure, all these marketers probably subscribe to other SEO tools as well, but Search Console is an important compliment because it provides data directly from Google.


Search Console Tactics


 

Internal Links

Topic clusters have been a growing trend in SEO over the last 5 years. You likely already have a wealth of content on your domain, so you will need to adjust your internal links in order to build your authority on a specific topic. This is a much faster way to grow organic traffic than developing new clusters from scratch.

Brian Schofield
Trailblaze Marketing

Tactic: We leverage Google Search Console consistently for internal link building. By linking from pages with authority to pages you want to push up in rankings, you’ll see almost immediate results. This is also a great tactic for getting onto page one of Google, or within positions 1-3.

Simply go to your pages in Search Console and look for pages ranking in the #4 and #9 position. Now, find high authority pages on your site by sorting your pages by impressions and clicks. Generally, these are your most well-regarded pages in the eyes of Google. Pair this with a metric like page authority and you have the highest authority pages worth linking from.

You can also use advanced search operators to find pages on your site that mention the keyword your looking to push up in rankings. Type in site:www.trailblaze.marketing followed by the keyword you’re looking to rank (i.e. Site:www.trailblaze.marketing digital marketing agency). Find where the keyword is mentioned and replace it with an internal link!

 

 

Martin Woods
Indigoextra.com

Tactic: Most people think about using Google Search Console for identifying and optimizing the most visited pages, and it’s a very useful tool for this. However, it’s also useful to identify those pages that nobody visits anymore.

To do this, follow the steps below:

  1. Choose your website.
  2. Click Search Analytics under Search Traffic
  3. Select ‘Pages’
  4. Tick Clicks, Impressions, CTR and Position to show all information
  5. In the results click Impressions once or twice to sort by impressions, showing the pages with the least impressions first.

This is a useful way to identify pages that you can delete and 301 redirect to a more relevant or up-to-date section of your website. Studies have shown that if you delete pages with very little or no traffic and 301 redirect them to better pages, Google will value the more relevant pages more and overall this increases the traffic to your site as a whole substantially.

 

Keyword Optimization

After you have plenty of content on your domain, you probably want to review your existing pages and see if you have a chance to improve rankings on specific keywords. Unless you are some sort of SEO wizard, you probably did not pick the perfect keywords the first time! Fortunately, if you make a few changes in the title, meta description or H1 elements, you can see a quick jump in your ranking.

Michael Pozdnev
IWANNABEABLOGGER

Tactic: I love Google Search Console because it helps to improve not only the worst pages but the best too.

I’ll tell you the easiest and fastest way to get more search traffic in just 1 minute.

Go to Search Analytics and click the checkboxes for Impressions, CTR, Positions. Then sort your data by Impressions. Find the phrase that has the most impressions and is ranked at the 3-7 position. Just add this phrase (or part of it) either to the Title tag or H1 tag of your page. In order not to change the meaning of an existing header, you can insert your keyword into the brackets.

 

Brittany Laeger
StoryTeller Media + Communications

Tactic: Pay attention to your CTR on the queries and pages that you already rank for. If you are getting visibility, but no one is clicking through to your page or article, simply spend a few minutes looking at how you can optimize your title, meta description or URL to entice people to click through.

Take a few minutes to look at the other pages that are ranking around you. Ask these questions:

  • Does my content match the searcher intent?
  • Could my title better convey the quality of the content?
  • Are the other pieces of content simply better than mine?
  • How can I better anticipate and answer the questions of each reader?

 

Parker Short
Jaxzen Marketing Strategies

Tactic: It is still super critical to understand the keywords where you have high-ranking pages, so much so that you’re going to want to identify your top ten pages (sometimes more) that get organic traffic and filter on what their top keywords are.

Look to see what terms each page ranks on that are #2-10 in search results and focus on those. Take those terms (if they’re relevant) and try to work them in naturally into the copy on that page. This is a great way to optimize historical blog posts that maybe pull in some organic traffic, but are underperforming compared to the high quality of the content.


Track all your key Google Search Console Metrics in real-time with the Search Console Basics dashboard.


 

Daryl Burrows
Six & Flow

Tactic: Keyword data has been expanded recently, and has become one of our most used features. It reaches back much further in time. We find this particularly useful when tracking and assessing YoY Brand and Non-brand term performance, which leads us to a more accurate data set rather than being assumptive based on destination.

 

Jennifer Schulman
Fortune Web Marketing

Tactic: Looking at overall ranking for keywords and landing pages based on on-site adjustments and how the data changes based on the optimizations. For example, schema markup implementations and how they improve rank after they are implemented.

Also, identifying errors greatly help us improve the usability for certain sites when they go down. These sites may experience many 404 errors, broken images etc.

 

Ian Evenstar
UNINCORPORATED

Tactic: To get the most out of Search Console’s robust feature set, we suggest analyzing your Search Traffic data every quarter.

The Search Analytics tool allows you to see your page rank position, average CTR, total number of clicks, and total impressions filtered by query, page, device, or country for the last 90 days.

Analyzing this data is incredibly helpful for:

  • Measuring your keyword topic cluster performance, or how well your content themes are performing
  • Find “unicorn” content (CTRs above 10% + rankings on the 1st or 2nd page) to expand upon your blog topics
  • Determine pages that are missing from your website
  • Identify your most valuable branded and non-branded keywords
  • Find pages with high impressions and low CTRs that rank on the 1st page so you can update page titles, meta descriptions, or add schema markup to improve click-through rates
  • Find pages with high impressions and low CTR that rank on the 2nd page to find additional content topics that will increase your topical authority on the subject matter
  • Drill down into the queries for specific landing pages to discover new or irrelevant keywords that your page is ranking for
  • Drill down into the queries for specific landing pages to discover new Ad Group keywords and keyword themes

 

Danny Florian
KIT | PPC Management Agency

Tactic: Google Search Console can be a gold mine of keyword ideas, ad copy suggestions and best landing pages to use when it comes to your Google AdWords Campaigns!

If you go to “Search Traffic > Search Analytics” in Google Search Console. “Queries” and “Clicks” should be selected as filters by default. When I am looking for keyword ideas I like to also select “Impressions” and set the date range to 90 Days.

You can sort by Impressions by clicking on the column heading and boom, you have search queries with the most impressions. Now you have more keyword ideas for your AdWords campaign.

Pro Tip: Select “CTR” and “Position” filters then sort by position to view the search terms your pages rank highest for. By using this landing page and keyword combo, you will have a higher chance of increasing your quality score for your ad group. Higher quality score means lower cost per click and higher position!

 

Dennis Seymour
LeapFroggr

Tactic: The first thing I’d like to look at is the Search Appearance part. I want to see what keywords are already ranking and how far away it is from page 1. Without looking further into analytics, this will already give you an idea of what you can already improve and within 2 weeks, you will probably have traffic coming in that the site wasn’t getting initially. A simple tweak to the meta details and content can bring you from Page 2 to number 1-3 of page 1. Sometimes, it’s just that simple, especially with Google Search Console.

 

Thorstein Nordby
Nettly

Tactic: Many still don’t know this, but click-through-rate (CTR) has become a very important ranking factor.

Google themselves wrote about how CTR data had proven to be a critical resource for improving search ranking quality in this research report.

This gives you a great opportunity to get more traffic WITHOUT creating more content, getting more backlinks or spending time getting shares.

Google will use CTR as a way to determine rankings.

If your result gets little or no clicks, your rankings will drop. Google will interpret your result as less relevant.

However, if your result gets a lot of clicks, your rankings will increase!

It is quite easy to identify which keywords and terms you are ranked for, but for which you are not getting clicks by using Google Search Console:

  1. Log into Google Search Console
  2. Press the Search Traffic tab
  3. Select “Search Analytics”
  4. Make sure that “Clicks”, “Impressions”, “CTR” and “Position” is checked off.

You will now get a list of the keywords your website is ranking for. You want to identify keywords and phrases where you get a lot of impressions, but not a lot of clicks.

You can now go back to posts that rank for these terms to improve the page title and meta description.

Here you’ll need some copywriting skills.

Brian Dean from Backlinko recommends looking at Adwords ads, as these ads have a singular goal of getting clicks.

You can use the same words for your own search results. Brian Dean also recommends using power words like “Today”, “Fast”, “Step-by-Step” to make more people click.

Adhip Ray
WinSavvy

Tactic: Google Search Console offers a very easy method for you to find out why your website is not getting the amount of traffic it deserves and to correct it easily.

Often, I visit the Google Search Console to find pages which receive a high number of impressions but low clicks for certain keywords. To do that, first open the Search Console, then head over to “search traffic” and then to “search analytics”. Click on the “Clicks”, “Impressions” and “CTR” tabs and then select the queries tab below it.

Search for pages which have low clicks and high impressions for particular keywords. Google for those keywords from a different device or a VPN to get best results and see how the results from your web pages look when searched for in Google.

If you follow the steps listed out so far, you will find how those pages look when searched by the particular keywords. Maybe the problem lies with the title tag or with the meta-description. Try to craft a title tag which is attractive, makes the readers curious and has numbers and parentheses to attract a greater audience. Also, your meta-description must answer the question, “Why should the viewers click on your page and not the others listed on Google Search?”

 

Andy Crestodina
Orbit Media Studios

Tactic: Search Console is the best source of information about the rankings of any page. Whether you get this data from the reports integrated into Analytics or directly from GSC, it has killer SEO insights.

The key is to find a page that ranks, see how high it’s ranking and for what phrases, then optimize it to better rank for that phrase. This is the fastest way to increase search traffic.

 

Phil Wiseman
Analytics That Profit

Tactic: Step one is to connect Search Console with Google Analytics. This provides a wealth of information. We particularly like the information provided under Queries. This allows you to quickly identify where your content is lacking, High Monthly Search Volume and low CTR and/or low Average Position pinpoints where to focus your improvement efforts.

 

Adam Connell
Velocity6 Media

Tactic: I’m a big fan of the Search Analytics dashboard within Google Search Console.

My favorite way to use this dashboard is to find the search queries where we rank on page 2 or the bottom of page 1.

To get this information, you’ll need to click the ‘Position’ tick box at the top of the graph.

The keywords that have high impressions but are towards the bottom of page one, especially, are prime keywords to focus on.

This information means I avoid wasting time chasing keywords that won’t yield traffic, and shows me those that actually have the potential to generate serious traffic.

 

Paul Schmidt
SmartBug Media

Tactic: Export up to 1000 of the queries you are showing up for within search. This data from GSC will give you impressions, clicks, CTR and position. After exporting this data, categorize your queries by topic/category to understand the groupings of keywords that your brand is showing up for. This data will show you the areas where you need to devote more time to get more impressions/clicks within organic search and topics to increase your clickthrough (assuming you generate a lot of impressions but few clicks).

Sam Makwana
Traffic Radius

Tactic: The Click Through Rate, obtained from Search Analytics, gives us a clear idea about how well a particular SEO project is performing with reference to each targeted keyword.

This in turn helps us to determine the keywords that need more attention than others. Once you know which keywords are performing well, you are able to use internal linking to effectively pass the link juice from pages that get the most CTR to desired pages.

Another advantage is that you will be able to pinpoint any negative keywords that the site could be ranking for, and with appropriate corrective measures, you will be able to decrease the bounce rate.

 

Page Metadata

You can manipulate the way that Google crawls your page in a number of ways. Sometimes, developers will add canonical or no-index tags in order to prevent a page from being crawled. But, they may forget to later remove that tag. Fortunately, Search Console will automatically inform you about this, so you don’t need to inspect the HTML of each page.

John Hodge
Primitive Social

Tactic: Not all SEOs are experienced with web development, and sometimes even code confident SEOs simply don’t have access to website code. With the Data Highlighter in Google Search Console, we can still customize a site’s appearance on search result pages. This makes pages stand out, imrpoves ranking, and gives more context to Google about your website content.

Using the data highlighter makes it easy to tag different pieces of content on a website without adding structured data to your site code. Also, it’s super easy. All you do is select the item you’ll be highlighting for (software, reviews, restaurants, among others), enter the URL of the page and start highlighting. When you highlight a piece of content you can then specify more information about it, like if it’s a picture, an official URL, a download URL, and several others.

Google ranks items based on contextual cues and using the data highlighter is an efficient way to improve the context of your website content.

 

Alisa Nemova
SEO with Love

Tactic: The new Search Console interface takes a bit of time to get used to, however, its updated “Index coverage” tool is absolutely stunning.

Now it not only shows which pages were not indexed but also explains the reasons. This allows to pick up any mistakes in a set-up very quickly. We are now able to see whether pages been excluded due to canonicals, no-index tag, robots.txt or just were not crawled yet.

For example, the new Search Console helped me to notice a developer’s mistake on one of the websites I was working with – the website started losing rankings for no reason. Apparently, a significant number of pages were “no-indexed” by a mistake. Since that’s a very rare mistake, it would have taken me longer to spot it if that wasn’t for a new Search Console!

 

Jonathan Stanis
Weidert Group

Tactic: Set up Google Search Console as soon as possible when your website launches and monitor its errors. This will help you determine any critical issues you may be having with a website.

Sometimes you can ignore the issues GSC informs you about, such as asking you to include job posting information on a careers page that currently has no positions open. Other times, it will inform you of a critical mistake, such as forgetting to remove a no- index tag on a website once it is launched.

Jason Acidre
Kaiserthesage

Tactic: For large websites, I’d say to pay attention to the actual # of pages from your site that you’ve submitted via XML sitemap, and compare them with the actual # of pages from your site that has been indexed by Google (including the ones excluded by Google).

This is one of the most important steps to take in order to determine if your site has crawling, indexing, and content duplication issues. The new Search Console has made detection so much easier, as they display all the areas of the site wherein they’re having difficulties in accessing/understanding (errors & warnings).

User Experience

Google wants to make sure that when searchers click into your site, they actually enjoy their experience and feel that their question has been answered. So, they use “user experience” as a ranking factor. Search Console tries to give you some hints about how to improve your site’s experience, with benchmarks on font size, page loading time and mobile responsiveness. And, it will find 404 errors that indicate broken links.

Mike SchiemerMike Schiemer
Profit Power Podcast

Tactic: I always check all 2,300+ of my blog posts and web pages to make sure that they are mobile-friendly. Google checks to make sure that the pages are:

  • Responsive
  • Quick to load
  • Elements fit the page
  • Font isn’t too small among many other factors.

Google Search Console provides you the specific pages with issues, what needs correcting, and the ability to resubmit individual pages for indexing after the corrections are made. This ensures that my web pages are providing a better mobile experience for visitors and that they end up ranking higher in mobile search.

 

Andrew Vinas
Organik SEO

Tactic: No one likes clicking through on a website only to be greeted with a 404 error. The Crawl Errors report in Google Search Console will let you know exactly how many broken links are on your site at a given time – including where they are and which pages are linking to them!

Generally, 404 errors are usually a result of old or broken links which have previously been indexed by Google. But with this feature, you can easily find URLs related to your domain that are populating a 404 page!

Unlike most sophisticated analytics tools, the best feature about Google Search Console is it’s absolutely free! Simply follow the instructions to verify your site, and you’ll be viewing valuable search statistics in no time.

Create a Full SEO Strategy

All of the tactics above will help you make smarter decisions with Google Search Console. But, you still need a full SEO strategy to make sure you are not being held back by one specific mistake.

We compiled a massive guide alongside 65 SEO experts to show every part of your domain that you can improve. You can check out the full SEO strategy guide here.

And, if you use other tools to track your organic traffic like SEMrush, Moz and Google Analytics, you can create a free Databox account to track all your SEO data in one place.

About the author
Kevin Kononenko Growth Marketer @ Databox. Making it easy for marketers to tell the story of their success. Everton FC supporter. Startup guy.
  • Cheers to Google Search Console getting some recognition! This is typically one of the most undervalued tools in the free tool arsenal.

    • Kevin Kononenko

      Agreed, DJ!

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