The world of SEO is full of tools that can help you optimize your site. The trick is understanding which tools should be used for different situations, and how they can best help you. Google Search Console(GSC) is an amazing tool that is underutilized by the SEO community. I like to think this is because people are just unaware of everything you can do with it. Let’s discuss 5 ways Google Search Console can help improve your SEO. 

About Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a free tool that allows you to manage your site’s appearance in search results. There are many ways you can improve your presence in Google search.

There are many unique tools within GSC, each with a special function. Google breaks their tools down into various categories including Index, Enhancements, Security & Manual Actions, and Legacy Tools & Reports. There are also additional tools such as Overview, Performance, URL Inspection, and Links. I’ve selected 5 ways to utilize these tools that I believe are crucial to successful SEO optimization.

Performance

This tool can be used to review queries your site ranks for, your top pages, and even countries you show up in the results for. This tool can do so many things to help your SEO if you know how to use it properly. What are some methods to use this tool?

Queries

Queries are search terms that your website shows up for in search results. Understanding what you’re ranking for and how you’re ranking can help you identify opportunities for better optimization. The performance tool allows you to view total clicks, total impressions, average CTR, and the average position. You can choose to view a couple of these types of data or all of them. Google Search Console really allows you to personalize the report. You also have control over the search type and the date range. Web, Image, Video, and News are all search types you can set as a filter to view data.

A google search image chart showing tital clicks, total impressions, avg CTR, and avg position

Let’s look at queries for the last 3 months for the web, and let’s review clicks, impressions, CTR, and position. Once you’ve pulled up this data, you can sort by impressions to view which terms have the most impressions. From there, you can look through the position column to identify which terms have a high number of impressions but a low position in search results.

A google search console performance report on search results

In the example above, “Landscape Lighting” has over 1,000 impressions but a position of 76.8. This means there is opportunity here. You can target this keyword in your website and enhance content around this keyword to improve your CTR. The CTR currently is at 0.8%. You want to strive for 2% or above.

Pages

Similar to queries, you can use Google Search Console to view your top ranking pages in Google search. You can select a specific page URL and create a filter with it. By copying the URL and going to the top of the report, you’ll find a + NEW button. A drop down will appear with Query, Page, Country, and Device as options. Select Page. Choose “Exact URL” and paste your URL. Then, you can select the Date dropdown and click “Compare.” This will allow you to compare a current period with a previous period; for example, the last 3 months with the previous period. This will then show you a graph that compares total clicks, total impressions, average CTR, and average position with the previous period.

A google search console report comparing last 3 months to the previous period

This allows you to see where you have improved or if your rankings for that page have decreased. You can identify what you were doing in your SEO strategy over that period that could have affected your rankings.

So, say we had been writing new content for this specific URL over the last 3 months. Compared to the previous period, we can see that the new content has allowed us to gain more clicks and more impressions, and has doubled our CTR, and moved our position up nearly 20 positions. By filtering the rows themselves, you can set a filter of “smaller than 0” to see which pages are doing worse this period compared to last period, and then work to identify what changes you made that could have yielded this result. You can also use this for queries to identify what terms were doing better in the previous period vs the current period. 

Index

This set of tools compiles data that is used by the Google search engine across all the websites it can find. The tools included in this category are Coverage, Sitemaps, and Removals. 

Sitemaps

A sitemap is used to chronicle every page of your website. Its organization can help search engines crawl your site and index the pages. Sitemaps are also used by users to find pages they are looking for based on content. The user sitemap should be in HTML format rather than XML which is for crawlers. 

The sitemap tool on Google Search Console allows you to submit and monitor your sitemap. Once you’ve submitted a sitemap, you can see how many pages are on your site, or at least, how many are being indexed. To submit a sitemap, all you have to do is go into the Sitemaps tool under Index. From there, there is a box at the top of the page that says “Add a new sitemap.” You can enter your website URL followed by sitemap_index.xml or whatever your sitemap URL is. After you’ve added it, you’re ready to start tracking your sitemap.

A place to add new sitemaps and view submitted sitemaps in google search console

An organized sitemap can help crawlers better understand your website and the content you’re offering. They are important to SEO because the easier your site is to crawl, the more traffic you will be able to bring in and your search result rankings will grow. 

Google Search Console is full of tools that can help you optimize your site and grow your rankings. The tools are really user friendly and straightforward. If you are implementing an SEO strategy, you should utilize all that GSC has to offer. It works wonderfully in tandem with other SEO tools in the industry. 

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