Digital Marketing 101: Introduction to Google Search Console

Digital Marketing 101: Introduction to Google Search Console
August 8, 2016 Joe Vernon

Digital marketing is marketing of a business on a digital medium, mainly the business website because it is the hub of marketing efforts. This hub contains information on products or services and company, landing pages, blogs, and conversion pages. Ideally, pages that guide users through each stage of the marketing funnel and ideally you have a digital marketing dashboard to report each of these steps.

There are many tactics to market a website digitally; SEO, Search Ads, Social, Social Ads, Mobile Marketing, etc. For the first blog post of our “Digital Marketing 101” series, we are going to talk about Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmasters) which is an important tool for SEOs because it provides information on how your website appears on Google and insights about how your audience is searching for your product or service.

Google Search Console & SEO Basics

The SEO Basics include many things like understanding how people interact with Search Engines, growing popularity & links, keyword research, an indexable and user-friendly website, and most importantly, measuring and tracking success. It seems like a lot and it is, but Google Search Console can help an SEO which each of these areas. However, this shouldn’t be the only tool you use in your SEO tool belt, but one of them for sure.

Google Search Console & How People Interact With Search Engines

Google search console provides a report, which may be one of my personal favorites because of all of the information it provides, called “search analytics”. In this report, you are able to find information like search queries, the number of clicks or impressions, and an average position. Be sure to check it regularly though because you are not able to view data beyond 90 days, that is unless you use Unifusion since this data is viewable in our software and stored after 90 days.

Disclaimer, this information may not be 100% accurate, especially if you are looking at an extended period of time. But looking at it in weekly chunks, it is more accurate.

To understand how users interact with search engines from this report, change your date range to a 7 day period, set your dimension to Queries, and enable all metrics (clicks, impressions, CTR, and positions).

google search console's search analytics report

Scroll down to the table and look at the queries and you can see which keyword your audience used when your site appeared. Impressions tell you the number of times your website appeared in the search results, and clicks tell you the number of times it was clicked. Look at the position your site ranked for the keywords that were clicked the most, and look at the position for the keywords that weren’t clicked.

This will allow you to see where users most often click on a search engine. If you are ranking in position 3-5 and still getting a lot of clicks, you may want to look at the page in the search result and see why that one it is getting so many clicks. Is it because of the other results are not relevant? Or perhaps your title tag is way better than the others?

Google Search Console and Growing Popularity and Links

Google Search Console also tells you what sites are linked to you and your most linked content. However, the report here isn’t very impressive because it doesn’t provide you with trends or who isn’t linking to your site anymore. This is why we recommend to at least export this data monthly at least into a Google spreadsheet and store the data. That way, if we notice a decline in links to our website, we can look back and see who linked to us that isn’t anymore and find out why.

Google Search Console and an Indexible and User-Friendly Website

Another feature that Google Search Console provides is the ability to see mobile errors or crawl errors experienced by the Google crawler. The mobile usability report simply tells you if there is an issue that a user may experience on a mobile device, such as links are too close to each other. Mobile usability is an important factor as it has recently become part of the search algorithm.

Google also tells you what pages they are having issues crawling through many reports such as their crawl error reports, sitemaps, and robots.txt. The sitemaps report is one that I am a fan of as it shows how many pages we have submitted, or asked Google to crawl, and how many that they have indexed. If there is a discrepancy, you are able to tell Google to fetch the URL that they haven’t indexed with their “Fetch as Google” tool.

Google Search Console and Tracking & Measuring Results

With the pre-built reports inside of Google Search Console, you can track and measure your results. However, you will need a 3rd party to store some of the historic information. For simplicity sake, we have found that using a Google doc gets the job done as you and enter data each month and report the progress month-over-month. However, a 3rd party software that automatically does this for you might be a better way.

Setting Up Google Search Console

To set up Google Search Console:

  • Create your free Search Console account and login
  • Click on “Add Property”
  • Enter the URL of your website
  • Verify ownership
  • After verifying ownership, in the top right corner of your browser click on the Gear icon dropdown and select Site Settings
  • Set your preferred domain to display www or not (I prefer www)
  • You will need to set up and verify ownership of your URL with a www and without the www. (https://www.unifusion.com & https://unifusion.com)

After you have done this, submit your XML sitemap by going to:

  • Crawl > Sitemaps
  • Click on Add/Test Sitemap
  • Enter the page path to the XML Sitemap and click submit
  • Refresh the page

This is all the setting up that you will need to do for Google Search Console. If your website would benefit from Geo-targeting, you can also set that up by going to Search Traffic > International Targeting > Country.

What other reports or tools have you found useful in Google Search Console? Share it with us on Twitter (@unifusion).