For beginners, SEO can be seen as one of those elaborate marketing topics where you can find yourself asking “where do I start?”.
Yes, SEO can be a tricky subject and it’s easy to be hit with a vast supply of tools and theories. Hit by ‘paralysis by analysis’, it can be difficult to figure out where to take your first step towards an SEO education. But it doesn’t have to be like that. There are plenty of simple ways to get your SEO going.
So, to assist SEO newcomers, we’ve designed a brief introduction to Google Search Console, outlining the benefits of the tool and hopefully encouraging you to have a go!
In this article, we cover:
- What is Google Search Console
- #1: Find new keywords to use for your website.
- #2: Discover issues with your websites by submitting your sitemap.
- #3: Treat mobile optimisation with the same importance as desktop.
- #4: Link with Google Analytics for more data on keywords.
- #5: It’s free.
What is Google Search Console?
In 2001, Google launched a resource page for webmasters, named Google Webmaster Tools. Over the course of time, Google has removed and tested new features as well as trialling different design layouts – updating the ways in which we should approach SEO.
Today, we now have what is known as Google Search Console (or GSC for the abbreviation enthusiasts). Although under a different name, the goal of the tool has never swayed: help website owners improve the discoverability of their website.
So, we thought we’d outline a few of the benefits of GSC, how to utilise it to improve your website’s SEO performance and encourage you to learn the basics first. Also, we touch upon the hyperbole of fringe SEO and the marketing of “the next big thing in SEO”.
One thing to note is that, you do not need to use Google Search Console for SEO. Yet, the data from it is useful to improve your websites current performance.
1. Find new keywords to use for your website
Did you know that pages on your website could be appearing for keywords that you’re unaware of?
With Google Search Console, Google has some ideas for terms that a webpage could be ranking for. In some cases, the keywords may not relate to the content on the page, suggesting that the content on your site is not clear enough and needs revising. If you are receiving traffic and clicks for a keyword that is not relevant for the page, why optimise for it? That would lead to a negative user experience and devalue a page in the eyes of a Search Engine crawler.
Looking into the high rate of impressions vs. the number of clicks is a good indicator of finding new keywords. New keywords provide you with the opportunity to take control of this information and revise your content. Do this, and over the course of time you may find an increase in your search engine ranking and an influx of traffic to the webpage (a key part of on-page SEO).
Try it. Add your new keyword in the H1 or Title Tag, or throughout the page content itself and keep an eye on your results.
So, how might we apply this?
Scenario: E-commerce Bathroom Supply Website
You own a website called genericbathroomsupplies.com, selling a wide range of bathroom products.
Products are showing up two or more times, due to stock mismanagement on the back-end of the website. Slight variations in the product name, has led to duplicate content issues.
This makes it harder to report on sold stock. Furthermore, where do you add new stock – on which version of the product page?
If you have this issue, how do you start tackling it?
- You could use Google Search Console to find the search terms that your pages appear for.
- It could move away from the exact product name to another keyword related term.
- Add the relevant keywords as a title tag, H1 and in your product description.
- Make sure to merge the multiple product pages into one with the help of your webmaster. Setting up 301s in the process.
Implementing these changes can result in an increase of sales for genericbathroomsupplies.com.
Why? It’s easier for the user and search engine bots to find the product page – matching up what the users are searching for.
*Remember, this does not mean that you should always change your keywords of choice based on GSC. The keyword has to be contextual to what is shown on the webpage.
2. Discover issues with your websites by submitting your sitemap
What is a sitemap?
A sitemap is a “map” of your website that serves as a guide for Search Engine bots to crawl it in the form of an XML file. Search Engine bots can then adhere to directives in how to crawl the website.
Comparing the submitted sitemap to how Googlebot crawls it simply allows you to benchmark any site issues.
What is Googlebot?
Googlebot refers to two specific web crawlers that can scan your website:
- “Googlebot Desktop” scans your site with the human experience from a desktop.
- “Googlebot Smartphone” scans your site with the human experience from a smartphone.
Whilst having a human experience in mind Googlebot’s have to make other considerations, such as how it reads certain sections, including code that it may not be able to fully understand.
Why you should submit a sitemap
While it’s not necessary to submit a sitemap on GSC, by doing so, you can receive valuable feedback.
Put simply, Googlebot does not have the same experience in viewing a website as a human would. By discovering how Search Engines understand your webpages, you can improve them. In turn, finding solutions improves the performance of your website from the perspective of real-life users.
The best thing about this? It’s so easy to do. Just submit your sitemap.
Sit back and check after a few days have passed and you can go through the data and identify and fix any issues found.
3. Treat mobile optimisation with the same importance as desktop
For the longest time “Googlebot Desktop” was the crawler for websites. Mobile sites took a backseat, until the trend of Mobile users grew.
Since 2018, a “Mobile-first indexing” has taken place with “Googlebot Smartphone” taking over the crawls.
This feature gives us a huge number of benefits. The data we now receive in the “Mobile Usability” section of Search Console highlights any issues a mobile user would have with browsing your site on their phone.
SEO should also take into account the ease of web-accessibility. Should you find issues with mobile usability, we recommend booking in time with your web designer or webmaster to resolve them.
Check out some examples of issues that mobile users may have with your website:
4. Link with Google Analytics for more data on keywords
Did you know that it’s possible to pair Google Search Console with Google Analytics? Linking the two together can help you understand your data even further.
Remember when we mentioned finding keywords back in the first section? Have you found any yet – if so, great! By linking to Google Analytics, you can see the search console data in the context of site analytics.
This makes it possible to add your data to your dashboard for reporting purposes. For more optimisation, you can even combine it with Google Datastudio to scale your reporting.
While Google Search Console currently holds data for 16 months, Google Analytics can hold it for much longer. An added benefit is giving other users access to the data, without access to Google Search Console itself.
5. It’s free
We thought we’d leave this one until last but the best part about Google Search Console is that it’s a free to use tool.
As you can imagine, the SAAS market for Digital Marketing Tools is gigantic, with a variety of different options and most of them ‘pay to play’. With these, most of them tiered, with better benefits increasing alongside the subscription cost.
Google Search Console is different. With it being a free to use and still used widely by professionals, you don’t just need to take our word for how useful it can be. For beginners and those with a small budget, this helps to level the playing field, but only if you know how to make use of it.
Time to get started
The use of Google Search Console is undervalued by some. For beginners, it’s one of the better tools you can use to nurture your skillset. Taking the time to learn how it works will save you time from using tools that cost more, but offer so much less.
We’ve only scratched the surface with the points made above. There’s still a lot more to learn about GSC.
Be sure to give it a go – we promise it’s worth it!
We’re hoping this will help out any aspiring SEO specialists out there. In the meantime, if you’d like more information on Google Search Console or help with SEO in general, please get in touch by tweeting us here, or contacting us directly!