Have you ever wondered what keywords people are typing into Google to find your website?
How high on someone’s search results page do your pages appear? If you’re on page 10, are people going to find you?
Let’s say your page is displayed to the searcher. How many times are they having it displayed versus actually clicking on it?
Google has FREE tools for this
The answers to these, and many more can be found by using a FREE tool provided by Google called Google Search Console. There is another FREE tool provided by Google called Analytics which can connect to Google Search Console so theoretically you only need to use Analytics. It seems like Google is slowly merging the two into one but there are still functions in Search Console that are not in Analytics like submitting site maps, testing your mobile usability and seeing what pages are indexed or not. The best way to describe each is:
- Google Search Console allow you to analyse your rankings from google search results and check the indexing of your site for errors
- Google Analytics allows you to analyse your users and their behaviour on your website
Both are extremely useful tools in understanding how your website is performing and give you insights into how to optimise it to your advantage. We will focus on how to use Google Search Console. We will cover Analytics in another guide, so stay subscribed.
There’s two things that need to be in place before you can use Google Search Console (or Analytics):
- You need to be a verified user for your domain. You can’t view the ranking for just any site as it obviously contains privileged information only for the site owner/administrator. You can read about how to set that up on this Google Support page. If you had your site developed by a web developer, most likely they have set this up. Give them a call and they can give you access.
- A tracking code needs to be added to every page in your site. This is very easy to setup if you use a Content Management System like WordPress and Joomla but can be more cumbersome on other platforms depending on how your site was built. Again, call your developer for assistance or give us a call.
If you want to use these tools, you need to get this tracking code in place ASAP. These statistics only accumulate once the code has been installed.
Once the above two are in place, Google Search Console is a very useful tool that you can use to:
- View the performance of the pages on your site over a date period
- See the keywords that are being used by people to find pages on your site and when. Have a look at the graph below.
- Total Clicks is how many times a user clicked through to your site. How this is counted can depend on the type of search result type. For example, clicks and impressions are not counted if in the search results you click on a link which is another link to Google to refine the search in some way e.g. by viewing the images for that search
- Total Impressions is how many times a user saw a link to your site in search results. This is calculated differently for images and other search result types, depending on whether or not the result was scrolled into view. For most sites, unless you’re analysing image results, an impression is counted even if the user does not scroll down to see your link
- Average Click Through Rate (CTR) is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click. e.g. 100 impressions and 5 clicks = 5% CTR.
- Average position is the average position in search results for your site, using the highest position for your site whenever it appeared in search results. Individual page position is shown in the table below the chart (The Pages column). The ultimate position is Number One, to be on the top of the results page for the keywords people use to find your site’s pages. The calculation of average position is complicated, so just treat it as that, an average. Our goal is to constantly drive the number down as close to one as possible for the keywords that are important for your site.
What keywords are people using to find your site?
Using this tool, you can find out which keywords are working to find your website pages. If you are noticing keywords missing or with a large position number (higher is worse), it’s because Google doesn’t rank your page well for that keyword/s. This is where it’s all about content. You would then consider changing your page to include more use of that keyword and get your page linked to from other sites that are complimentary or better still, rank well for that word.
But don’t blatantly overuse the keyword either. GoogleBot, the name of Google’s robot that crawls the internet indexing your pages is smart and will de-rank you if it sees blatant overuse of the word that does not make sense. Always re-read your copy. Make sure it reads well and makes sense, even with many instances of the use of your keyword.
To give you some examples of the Google Search Console, let’s analyse a camping blog site over a 7-month period that hasn’t had any optimisation done to improve search results. The pages have lots of good content with images and the page titles and descriptions have all been set. Have a look at Figure 1 – Clicks vs Impressions.
The first thing we notice is that impressions and clicks are slowly increasing which is good. The average CTR is 2.5% which is fairly average but could be improved to about 3-4%. The average position is about 30. A rule of thumb is to work on about 10 positions per Google results page, so this would indicate the average is about on the third to fourth page. This site would be competing with thousands of travel blogs and is under one year old so that seems reasonable. It means we have lots of room for improvement once some optimisation is done.
The table is sorted by Clicks. This tells us the keywords that are most being clicked on. The top three queries with clicks are cockatoo lake, fitzroy river camping and cockatoo lake naracoorte. It could be that there are not many pages written about these keywords or that the pages on the site really resonate well with Google. Further investigation would be required to find the reason.
Let’s see the graph sorted by highest impressions to get an idea of what queries are appearing in results and see how many clicks are being made and the relative position. See Figure 2 – Clicks vs Impressions vs Position. If the query being used is relevant to your business and has a high number of impressions, we want to work out how to improve the position.
As this is a camping blog, the query “camping blog” is a very relevant one. It stands out as it has lots of impressions, but no clicks. Its average position is 39.5 indicating that people are not bothering to click through to the fourth result page, or that the page title and description are not compelling enough for people to click on.
By clicking on that row, then on the Pages column we can find out the names of the pages being shown in results. See Figure 3 – Pages with Query “Camping Blog”. We can then analyse and fine tune the wording of title, description and even content to get more click throughs and get the page listed on other camping sites so there are more inbound links.
This is a live site so we will do that and report back in a few months to see how the query “camping blog” is going. Stay subscribed to receive further updates on how our optimisation efforts are going with this site.
There is an Export button (the downwards arrow with a line under it just under the SEARCH APPEARANCE column) which allows you to export the data to Excel or Google Sheets so you can do more analysis, and sort the columns using more than one sort direction.
Hopefully the above has illustrated how valuable this tool is in finding the ranking of your website pages so you can optimise them for better search results. Website optimisation is not a set and forget activity. It needs constant attention. However, if you do this you can improve the ranking of your site over your competition which will produce dividends in the long run.
If you need a hand, we’re happy to help, so please get in contact with us.
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