Google Search Console, previously known by the term Google Webmaster Tools is one of the most widely used free SEO tools. However, most people utilize it mainly for vanity metrics, such as checking if impressions or clicks have increased. Others use it to check out average ranking positions. Nevertheless, these things as standalone metrics do not provide much value. In this blog, we will talk about how to use Google Search Console to actually improve SEO for your website.
Tip #1: Improve CTR
Yes, you need to work on the clickthrough rate for keywords that are underperforming. What’s an underperforming keyword? Simply put, keywords that do not rank your pages in positions 1 and 2. In case the keyword your page ranked for had 1,000 as the search volume, then being in position 7 would generate around 21 search visits every month. On the other hand, in position 2, 155 monthly search visits are what you will get. So, it is more than 7x the search traffic.
To figure out these underperforming keywords, you need to go to the "Search results" report under Performance. While you do so, make sure that you have clicked on the average CTR and average position boxes. Then, you need to scroll down to the table and set a positions filter to display pages that have an average ranking position of less than 8.1. What’s the reason behind this? Well, it's easier to move to the top 2 from position 8 as you will get more exposure. Now, Google Search Console has one limitation. They won't let you fix a position's range.
Tip #2: Find and analyze pages having high keyword rankings
As we are talking about clickthrough rates, our next tip is about finding and analyzing pages with high keyword rankings, but showing low CTR. Therefore, it means not every single keyword that ranks in position 1 is going to get a 30 percent CTR. In this regard, what we need to do is figure out which keywords have subpar CTRs. Once we find that, we should analyze the reason behind it and see if there's a method to get more clicks and traffic to our pages.
Tip #3: Check for sitemap errors, exclusions, and warnings
Sitemaps are files that help search engines figure out which pages are vital on your website. They help crawlers crawl your website more efficiently. In case your sitemaps have any issues, it can confuse the crawlers, resulting in a waste of time and resources on their end. To identify the issues, go to the Sitemaps report. You will find an icon right beside the sitemap; click on it. You'll find a few tabs displaying the number of errors, valid URLs, warnings, and excluded ones.
Tip #4: Find pages that require internal links
Let's say that you are pushing out a new post on the best cat treats. In case you already have relevant pages related to cat food and another one on cat nutrition, it would sound logical to add internal links from these pages, which would point to your new post. Let’s also assume that you have built some link authority related to these pages. In that case, there is a possibility that your new page will get indexed faster. This way, it will be ranked higher.
Limitations of Google Search Console
No doubt, the Search Console is a powerful and accurate tool. However, there are three limiting factors. First of all, it cannot dig deeper into technical issues on your website. The second one is related to keyword volume data. The third and maybe the biggest downside is that you only have data for your site.
If you are new to SEO, Search Console will be the best tool to start. You will get some great insights on your website without paying anything. One should also keep in mind that SEO is not a one-person game. It takes a good amount of time and consistent effort to see results. With the help of Google Search Console, you can fine-tune your website’s SEO more effectively. So, try it out and see the results yourself!