In today's world where communication has been digitally transformed, marketers are spoilt for choice in terms of the platforms they can use to push their messages out. And while Social Media marketing is the new black for digital marketers, they can never replace your own website. It is thus extremely important to optimise the way your website appears on the search engine result pages (SERPs). There is a powerful free tool to do this - Google Search Console. Every webmaster has access to it. Yet, it is often overlooked.
The Google Search Console is one of the best tools for monitoring and optimising the way your website appears on SERPs.
The Google Search Console is Google’s solution for webmasters to check on the health and visibility of their websites. The platform recently went through a revamp, changing portions of its interface. Here is an update of some the main functionalities of the tool:
1. Submit your sitemap
Sitemaps are critical for your search engine optimisation (SEO) efforts. It makes it easier for Google to find all your web pages and rank them.
2. Review your web page performance
Through Google Search Console, you are able to check on the performance of your web pages on the Google search engine, and glean insights on the clicks and search impressions you are garnering for your web pages for any keyword at any time. You are also able to find out what are the keywords that are directing traffic to your web pages. This data can be filtered between the date, query (keywords), page, country, device or search appearance.
3. Track your internal and external links
Another key aspect of SEO is internal and external links. The former reveals to Google the relationship between the various pages of your website. It connects your content and establishes the structure of your website. External links (aka backlinks) are also critical for SEO because it determines how authoritative and reputable your website is. Having good external links from other reputable and relevant websites can boost your organic ranking significantly.
4. Monitor your site errors & index status
Not everyone is tech-savvy. Errors that occur on the technical side of websites are overlooked by most people. This is where Google Search Console's coverage tool comes in handy. The tool immediately notifies you when it spots an error, allowing you to take remedial actions in a timely fashion. This section also shows you the number of valid pages that have been indexed by Google.
These insights gleaned from Google Search Console can be used to optimise your website and keep it in good health. In the following sections, we will dive deeper into using Google Search Console to improve the visibility of your website on search engines and how it can be used as a way to measure a marketing campaign’s performance.
Using Google Search Console for search optimisation
The Google Search Console gives you data on the performance of your website and web pages on the SERP: number of clicks, number of impressions and average click-through rate (CTR).
When using Google Search Console as a tool to aid in search optimisation, you will want to first look at the keywords that are generating the most clicks and impressions for the particular page.
Ask yourself these questions:
● Are the keywords representative of the content on the page? If they’re not, this could result in a high bounce rate.
● Are the keywords representative of the kind of audience you’re looking to reach out to?
● Are the keywords representative of the audience in the customer journey stage that you’re targeting?
If you find that the keywords that are leading people to your website are optimal, you should then shift your attention to the number of impressions, and the CTR.
Again, looking through the keywords with the most impressions, ask yourself:
● How’s the CTR? Can i improve the CTR by tweaking the heading, meta description or other elements?
● Are the keywords I want to rank for the page the most getting the most impressions?
Using Google Search Console to measure campaign performance
While the data provided for Google Search Console is mainly designed for search optimisation, we can also use it to measure campaign performance (particularly for awareness campaigns). There are a few ways you can set up your campaign for easy measurement by the Google Search Console.
Use hashtags for your campaign
A successful campaign that uses an easy to remember hashtag will likely result in an increase in search queries for the hashtag itself.
By using Google Search Console’s in-built filters, you’d be able to firstly, include the hashtag and isolate all search queries that are closely related to it.
Secondly, you are able to see the proportion of search traffic that is directly attributed to the campaign via Google Search Console, above and beyond the direct tracking mechanisms from your UTM tags.
Compare search performance by pages before and after marketing campaigns
By comparing the change in search traffic and search terms, you are able to measure and qualify the indirect impact a marketing campaign have had on the visibility of your website on search engines.
For example, if the number of impressions of the pages related to the campaign increased significantly after the execution of the campaign, we can be attributed that to the success of the campaign.
If the type of keywords that are leading searchers to the page changed after the campaign, that could also yield insights on the success and the qualitative impact of the campaign on the pages.
Google Search Console: Underused and overlooked
Google Search Console is a powerful free tool that gives marketers a means to better presenting their websites on SERP. Other than yielding actionable insights for marketers to optimise their website upon, you are also able to troubleshoot specific pages directly on the tool. In doing so, you provide your visitors with a delightful experience browsing your website.