If you’ve been following along with my blog series, then by now you’ve got a good idea of the quality of your website’s meta information, and probably made some updates. You have also set up your Google Search Console account, and probably Google Analytics as well.
Read the Search Marketing in 2016 Series
How Does a Search Engine Work?
Search Engine Special Features
Introduction to Search Console
Keyword Analysis in Google Search Console
How Does Google See Your Site?
And that means… it’s time. You’ve waited long enough. We’re going to get you set up to see what keywords people are using to find your website! This post will be especially informative if you set up your Search Console account last week (or before), as it can take a little while for that tool to start collecting and giving you data.
Click the Search Traffic tab in the right-hand menu of Google Search Console, and click on Search Analytics. This is going to give you all of the keyword data that Google can provide to you, with a lot of different options for how you want to sort it.
But why doesn’t my number of search clicks match what I see in Google Analytics?
Secure searches and searches that may contain personally identifiable information are automatically filtered in your search console keyword report. This means that you don’t have access to 100% of the search terms used to get to your site; it’s usually closer to 60-70%. Those other terms are lost to the sands of time and privacy policies.
Sorting Your Search Data
Search Console delivers you a lot of information in a lot of different ways. The four ways that you can sort your keyword data are at the very top of the page. Here’s what they mean:
Clicks: The number of times your website’s link was clicked when it showed in a Search Engine’s Results Page (SERP) for the keyword phrase.
When you sort your search analytics data by position, you’ll see your “bread and butter” keywords. The pages displaying for these keywords are the ones that really convert searchers into visitors.
Ask Yourself: What do they have in common? What sets them apart from the other keywords displaying in search results?
Impressions: The number of times your website’s meta information was displayed on a SERP for the keyword phrase.
When you sort your search analytics data by impressions, you’ll get an idea for when you are most seen in searches. If relevant landing pages are being seen by searchers often, but not visited, that tells you that this page’s search display warrants inspection.
Ask yourself: Are these pages relevant to your business? What is turning searchers off about them?
CTR (Or Click-Through-Rate): The percentage of times your link was clicked in searches for a keyword phrase.
When sorting by CTR, you can see your “greatest hits” in search results. The phrases that were just the ticket for what a searcher was looking for.
Ask yourself: Are these keywords highly-converting terms that are going to bring actual customers? Are these high-CTR terms going to pages that could use some content improvements?
Position: The average location of your website’s meta information in a SERP, this is also called “Rank”. You will see a decimal number for many of these results because it represents the average position over the time period defined in your secondary options.
Sorting by Position shows you your most relevant search results. You’ll often find yourself in the top 3 ranking for some pretty out-there search terms. Don’t worry about that unless you’re seeing an alarming search phrase that you’re ranking for.
Ask yourself: Do you have relevant, converting keywords with positions lower than 10? Ranks from 1-3 are especially lucrative, if they are related to your business and company.
Dimensions of Organic Search Data
Search Analytics information is only useful to you if you can understand it, and use that data to form a plan of action. Otherwise, it’s just a bit of ego fluffing. As a Leo, I’m not opposed to a pleasant round of ego inflation, but I’m a bigger fan of bringing in SEO leads by acting on good information, since that pays the bills and my ego doesn’t.
Once you have gazed into the keyword mirror long enough, we’re going to take a nice, deep look at what the numbers show you. One of the easiest ways to do this is switch your view from Queries to Pages.
When working on improving your search marketing, the path to quick wins is to enhance the pages that are already performing well, and bring up lagging pages later on. In the second options bar, select Pages instead of Queries. This shifts your list to provide the search performance of individual pages on your site, rather than the performance of various search queries.
The pages that show here may surprise you! Often, old blog posts may be performing well and bringing in a lot of traffic, but resulting in a high bounce rate, because when people get to your site, the information they’re finding is outdated.
The Pages dimension is the easiest, fastest way to see where you are getting most of your search engine traffic, so that you can edit those pages to create search engine success. Start with pages that are performing well. Make sure they’re up-to-date, modern looking, and they have information about how a visitor can contact you! Don’t do a whole overhaul, though. Remember, that page was ranking for a reason.
Timing Your Decisions
Search engine data is very dynamic. You can gain and lose search positions for a query multiple times a day. Because of this, it’s important that you are making changes and updates on your website with a representative sample of data. In SEO terms, this is at least one month, but 3 months is enough to show you a real trend.
If something looks strange for 2 weeks, don’t freak out. I always tell people in meetings that I check our search analytics almost every day, but I only make decisions looking at data trends of 1 month or longer.
So when you make updates and changes to your website, you won’t truly understand the impact that the changes made for weeks, maybe even months. It all depends on the quantity of search traffic coming in to your website and what you’re recording.
Next, we’re going to talk about deciding what to record, and taking a look at how Google Analytics can interpret your Search Console Data. So if you haven’t done it yet, don’t forget to connect your accounts!
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