If we were to take a quick poll around the Blue Compass office and ask what everyone’s favorite SEO tool was, there’s no question at least half the office would answer: Google Search Console.
Over Moz, SEMrush or BrightEdge, Search Console is an under appreciated Google tool we use almost daily at Blue Compass. If you’re looking to boost your SEO and organic traffic, it is the place to start.
What makes this tool so special? First, let’s get started with some background.
What is Google Search Console?
Once called Google’s Webmaster Tools, Search Console was given its new name May 2015 to take on a more defined role as the center for everything and anything organic. The free tool is the easiest way to understand how users are reaching your site via Google.
If you’re already an avid user of Google Analytics (GA), you’re probably wondering why Search Console is even necessary. After all, GA does a great job at lining out campaigns and tracking information.
But Search Console doesn’t just track organic data. It has specific tools that affect your organic performance, and these tools review a variety of organic ranking factors such as:
- Crawl Errors
- Structured Data
- AMP Pages
- International Targeting
These are just a few of the tools that make up the Search Console ensemble — it’s easy to see why this is such a powerful tool.
Why are we such a fan of Search Console?
Aside from the reasons previously listed, we also see Search Console as the most proactive approach we can take toward our (and our clients) relationship with Google.
If there’s a problem with a site page, Google notifies you.
If an hreflang tag is broken, Google notifies you.
If your robots.txt isn’t working, Google notifies you.
Are you starting to sense the theme? Search Console is your first line of defense when reviewing site performance. Search Console is the one place where you can find out how Google is crawling your site and if there are any problems.
Other than error notification, we absolutely love the performance results section (also the search analytics section) in Search Console. Here you can view the queries people search before clicking through to your site.
Diving down further, you can take a specific page on your site and see what queries are leading to it (plus all of the other parameters we already mentioned).
That’s right, you can actually see which keywords are bringing people to your site! You can then couple these insights with different parameters, like clicks, impressions, position or CTR for that specific query.
In this instance, you can see some of the keywords we rank for from a blog about Google My Business. These insights allow us to dive into pages on our site and determine what keywords we should/can target. If we take a keyword like “google local SEO” and see it only ranks on the fifth page of Google, we can look at ways to better revolve copy around that keyword.
Search Console is the tool to use if you’re interested in increasing your organic traffic and getting useful insights to take action upon.
Not sold yet?
Well, the new Search Console is even more powerful, boasting serious improvements from the previous version.
Introducing the Search Console Beta
We first heard of a new Search Console mid-2017 and started to see some initial beta testing December 2017. At the beginning of 2018, the official word came down from Google and the new Search Console was confirmed.
If you haven’t seen the new version yet, it shares a resemblance to some of the newer branding we’ve seen from Google. Rounded corners and cool colors draw away from the bright Google branding we’ve seen in the past, but it’s what’s inside the new skin that has us really excited.
The New Google Webmaster Tools
The first update to catch our attention was the announcement of 16 months of data — a major improvement over the 3 months available in the last version. This backlog of data makes trend analysis and quarterly comparison a much simpler task.
Indexing coverage was the next big change we noticed. If you’ve ever worked in validating crawl errors or indexing issues, you know it can be a pain at times. The new version is largely working to solve some of these pains by offering more than a simple “fix” button like the old version.
Indexing issues will now come with a warning and an actual reason behind the issue. A diagnostic tool will actually help you diagnose the issue and a share button makes it easy to forward problems that may be above the marketing mind (let’s take a second and thank all of the developers at Blue Compass!).
Finally, the last addition we’ve seen is improved AMP and Job Postings functionality. Like index coverage, new reports show the exact reason and issues behind any problem that occurs in your AMP or Job Postings.
A lot of these features are built with quick, responsive feedback in mind — you should no longer have to wait hours (or sometimes days) to fix Search Console errors. Other than being an awesome tool, the update has reinforced Google’s continued investment in ways to make it’s organic functionality better for businesses, and in turn, the users.
Taking Advantage of Google Search Console Information
Google is offering us an easy way to make a website better. The more we adhere to Google’s standards the closer we are to creating the web experience that best benefits users — similar to things like RankBrain or Pigeon.
As we see Google transition more and more of the old Search Console into the new version, you can bet the reporting and insights gained will be better for those of us trying to create a great web experience.
If you choose to capitalize on what Google is offering with Search Console your site will be running at top shape in no time.
How to Best Utilize the New Google Search Console
If you’re wondering where to start, trend analysis is the quickest way to see how your marketing actions are affecting your site in the long-term. SEO takes time — content pieces need traction, and RankBrain needs time to understand user-behavior metrics.
If you’re tracking trends, check in on Search Console at least once a month to see how articles are performing and what keywords are leading users to them.
Speaking of checking in frequently, one of the practices we utilize at Blue Compass involves regular Search Console maintenance for clients (and ourselves). This is the process of checking through every piece of Search Console. We track performance of pages, errors and indexed pages to ensure any changes we’ve made in the past month are picked up by Google.
When you take maintenance of each aspect involved in Search Console seriously, you’ll be surprised at how many insights you catch.
Fixing errors and validating corrections is the final place to hone in on with the new Search Console. The new system does a great job at easily displaying errors and giving you direction on how to fix the error.
For example, here are the three errors we found on our site after switching over to the new Search Console. Clicking on the table below this graph lets you open up each error (we’re in the process of validating these currently).
The less errors your site has, the more favorably Google will view it. Stay on top of your errors and keep your site as SEO-compliant as possible to ensure Google gives you as much love as possible.
Have Proactive SEO With Google Search Console Information
Search Console gives you the possibility to be proactive with your SEO, not reactive. All the information you need for an optimized site is at your fingertips — how you use it will determine if your site is, or isn’t, in good favor with Google.
If you’re looking to boost your SEO and get the best results with the new Google Search Console, feel free to reach out! Our team of Des Moines SEO experts are your SEO guide to Google - they know the ins and outs required to get the best results for your site.
For more information, you can check out our SEO services to see how we can help your business.