Google Search Console is a must if you want to understand how your content performs as well as whether it’s properly optimized for Google.
This is a free tool designed by Google to help its business users ensure that their websites are well-optimized for search, easily discoverable, and visible to a relevant audience. It’s safe to say that it’s of critical importance for effective SEO efforts as it provides a lot of information that can help you pick the right keywords, increase your Google rankings, find out how often searchers click on your result in particular queries and identify how many websites link to your content.
Google search console is absolutely crucial in your content marketing efforts. Related: why content marketing matters.
Apart from this, Google Search Console will offer you valuable insight into technical SEO details, meaning that you’ll be able to find out which pages on your website Google can’t access and crawl, as well as whether you have been penalized for not complying with Google’s quality guidelines, among many other things.
As we already know that SEO and content go hand in hand, it’s obvious that Google Search Console is essential for assessing your existing content and understanding how to improve it in order to rank better.
Besides that, you can also get new content ideas in the process, so here’s how you can leverage it for this purpose.
Find Out How Searchers Interact With Your Results
We’ve already mentioned that you can keep track of this metric with the help of Google Search Console.
It’s crucial because you can see which results they’re attracted to the most, and this stat will point you in the right direction in terms of coming up with the topics relevant to your target audience.
Clicking on the Performance tab will show you four metrics:
- Total clicks. This refers to the total number of times someone clicked on your search result within a certain timeframe.
- Total impressions. This shows the total number of times someone saw your results in search within a certain timeframe.
- Average click-through rate. This refers to the number of total clicks divided by the number of total impressions.
- Average position. This metric shows how you rank in search for specific keywords, and it’s the sum of all your positions divided by the total number of impressions.
By analyzing these metrics, you can have a pretty good idea about the popularity of certain topics among your target audience. For example, you might find out that although a certain topic, although seemingly relevant to your audience, doesn’t actually appeal to them – and the low values of your average CTR will unequivocally testify about this.
In other words, your Performance report will tell you the average CTR and position of your pages, as well as the number of impressions for them. The trick is to identify pages with a high number of impressions and a CTR of 1% or less.
These are the pages that are frequently shown in search results but fail to drive any significant traffic. After you’ve identified such a page, click the New tab above the list, select Page from a dropdown menu, paste the page’s URL, and click Apply. Then, select Queries, sort them by Impressions and set the number of rows at the bottom of the table to the highest value.
Now you can see a number of different queries that Google associates this particular page with. This means that this page will pop up among the results every time someone runs one of those queries, that is, types these words and phrases in the search bar.
Analyze these queries as they’re a great source of ideas for your next blog post. They will show you what people are searching for, so build your content pieces around the queries that are relevant to your overall content strategy, and cover these topics in detail.
Just make sure that your future blog post topics are different enough from your existing ones in order to prevent keyword cannibalization. This phenomenon occurs when several of your pages compete for the same keyword or key phrase in Google.
Based on this, you can learn more about your audience, their needs, and search intent, all of which will allow you to come up with new content ideas that will answer their questions and provide solutions to their problems through new, better-tailored content.
Find Ranking Opportunities
While it’s great to tap into a huge pool of new content ideas and explore it, you shouldn’t neglect your existing content as a source of ranking opportunities.
The odds are that you have a number of underperforming pages that fail to bring you traffic. Although you should optimize all of them, it’s best to focus on the ones that have the potential to get to the top of the SERPs quickly and without too much effort. We’re talking about the pages that are positioned between spots 7 and 15 and that are low-hanging fruit in terms of adjustments and optimization.
With the help of GSC, it’s possible to easily identify them by going to Search Traffic – Search Analytics and clicking on Pages and Positions. This way, you’ll get a list of pages based on their average search position. The top 6 results garner the most clicks, which is why you should focus on the ones just below this benchmark.
Positions between 7 and 15 are still near the top, meaning that you can quickly improve them. There’s a number of easy fixes that will result in improving the rankings of these pages.
For example, make sure that your content is relevant to what people are searching for. Sometimes it’s enough to optimize your meta tags and descriptions, as well as add more content, internal links, and images.
Once you’re done, it’s important to prompt Google to recrawl the URLs of your optimized pages, as that’s how these improvements will be visible and make an impact on your rankings.
Improve Your CTR
We already discussed how using the average CTR can help you identify searcher intent better and find more content ideas.
However, you can use this metric to improve your rankings and engage your audience better. Relevant and well-optimized content is what will get visitors to stick around and explore your website. As a result, Google will get a signal that your content is relevant for a particular search query, and relevance is one of the most important ranking factors, which means that you’ll be awarded better rankings.
When your CTR and engagement are aligned, that is, when searchers who click on your result decide to stay on the page and read your content, you’re safe from the pogo-sticking effect. Pogo-sticking happens when searchers click on a particular result only to bounce off immediately after visiting it and learning that it’s not relevant and valuable. The difference between bounce rate and pogo-sticking lies in the fact that the former isn’t always a bad thing – a searcher might easily and quickly find the answer to their question and bounce off. On the other hand, with pogo-sticking, a searcher will quickly bounce off and click on another search result, which indicates that they aren’t satisfied with the content on that particular page.
Needless to say, Google takes notice and demotes pages with a pogo-sticking problem.
Google Search Console allows you to see your CTR for every single page of your website and compare them. Go to Search Traffic – Search Analysis and select Pages and CTR. This way, you’ll get the average CTR of your entire website, as well as the CTRs of individual pages, so that you can check which ones are performing best and which could do with some improvements.
Here are a couple of things that you can tweak.
1. Title Optimization
Your titles have to be catchy, while the most important information should be placed at the beginning, rather than in the middle or the end of the title. This way, your potential visitors will immediately identify that your content is of interest to them and decide to click.
There’s another reason why this is such an important trick – more than 50% of the website traffic comes from mobile devices. Thanks to their smaller screens, the title might not display in its entirety, which illustrates the importance of this approach for giving your audience the most important information first.
Other ways you can improve your CTR include:
- Using numbers in your titles
- Including how, why, or what
- Creating urgency
- Crafting simple and descriptive titles.
2. Optimize Meta Descriptions
Meta descriptions are snippets that are approximately 155 characters long, and they’re shown below the title on the search results page. Their role is summing up what the page is about, provide context, and help searchers decide what to click on.
30% of websites have duplicate meta descriptions, while 25% don’t have meta descriptions at all. Make sure to condense what your pages are about and offer their most relevant summary in your meta descriptions, as that will significantly improve your CTR, as well as your overall SEO.
3. Polish Your URLs
Believe it or not, but people also check out URLs appearing below titles, and if they can read and understand them, they’re more likely to click on your results.
To optimize your URLs, use relevant keywords instead of incomprehensible strings of numbers.
These fairly simple hacks will help you adjust content and make it more discoverable and clickable.
Identify the Content Types and Topics That Get the Most Backlinks
When talking about quality content, it’s worth mentioning that Google uses the number of backlinks you get for assessment. The more links point to your content, the better. And not just any backlinks – only those from trustworthy and credible sources count, while those from inferior websites can even hurt your reputation.
In order to produce content that you can later use for link building, you should know what kinds of content types and topics those authority websites you want to target prefer.
The best way to find this out is by relying on the content you already have.
Go to the Links report, and click More on the Top linked pages report under External links. By sorting your report by Linking sites, in descending order, you’ll be able to see which pages have the most backlinks coming from unique websites. Analyze these results to figure out what kind of content types attracts backlinks – research studies, how-to guides, infographics, or something else.
Based on these findings, you can specifically focus your attention on the content types that you’ll use for your link building purposes. Similarly, try to find a pattern when it comes to the topics that receive the most backlinks.
Update the Pages That Are Losing Organic Traffic
Creating new content is an important tactic, but it’s very challenging in terms of time and resources.
Instead of mainly focusing on churning out a couple of new pieces of content every week, it’s much better and practical to update your existing ones.
The thing is that your pages can’t generate organic traffic forever simply because the content on them becomes outdated as time goes by, and their rankings naturally drop.
Google Search Console will help you spot when this starts to happen so that you can do something about diminishing traffic.
Go to the Search results report, select Compare within the Date range tab, and pick Compare last 6 months to the previous period. For this particular purpose, we need only clicks, so click on the Impressions data to toggle it off.
Clicking on Pages and sorting your report by Difference in ascending order will show you the pages that suffered the biggest drops in traffic.
Start analyzing these pages, and click on their URLs one by one, switching to the Queries report and sorting them by Difference. This way, you’ll identify which queries are bringing you less traffic. These findings will point you in the right direction when it comes to which particular content pieces need to be updated.
Add new content to these and update stats or research data to make them more relevant. All this will take you significantly less time than researching for and creating a new blog post from scratch, and you can increase your traffic very quickly.
Google Search Console is a powerful tool that you can use to keep track of your SEO efforts, improve them, as well as get content ideas. Don’t forget about your existing content as it’s equally important as producing new pieces, so make sure to update and refresh it regularly based on Google Search Console analytics.