As a small business owner you’re probably already familiar with Google Analytics. It gives you insightful information about your site and its visitors’ behavior such as which pages get the highest traffic, how much time they’re spending on your site on average, and what its bounce rate is.
However, before you can begin monitoring these key metrics, you’ll need to configure Google Search Console to make sure your website is being crawled and indexed properly.
In this post, we’ll cover the basics of Google Search Console and walk you through a step by step process of how to use it to grow your site’s traffic. But before we begin, let’s quickly take a look at why you should use Google Search Console in the first place.
Why You Should Use Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a free, SEO tool that allows you to monitor your search traffic, the keywords you’re ranking for, impressions for keywords or pages, and any errors that you might have on your website.
Get the data, tools, and diagnostics needed to create and maintain Google-friendly websites and mobile apps. – Google Search Console
In addition to this, you can also get some useful information about how people find your site and identify the areas you can work on to improve your site’s ranking and optimize its click through rates. Google Search Console generates reports about your web page’s current ranking, backlinks, errors affecting SEO, and more.
Now that you have a better understanding of the benefits Google Search Console has to offer, let’s jump into the tutorial.
How to Get Started With Google Search Console
In this section, we’ll show you how you can get started with Google Search Console and use it to help you grow your site traffic.
Step 1: Connect Your Site to Google Search Console
To get started, login to your Google account and head over to Google Search Console. On the Home screen, you’ll be prompted to enter the URL of the website you want to link.
Once you’ve typed in your website’s URL, click on the Add a Property button to continue. Next, you’ll have to verify that you’re the owner of the website by adding a code snippet to your site’s header. And once that’s done, your website will be connected to Google Search Console.
Step 2: Review Your Site's Search Analytics
From the Search Console Dashboard, navigate to Search Traffic > Search Analytics. In the Search Analytics screen, you’ll find options for viewing different kinds of reports to analyze your site’s performance on Google Search.
Make sure the Clicks, Impressions, and CTR boxes are ticked and the radio button for Pages is checked. Next, sort the Impressions column by descending order. You’ll notice that the click through rate (CTR) will automatically be sorted based on the Impressions.
Go through the list of results and identify the CTRs that are below average. For instance, if your average CTR is 5% then you should be looking for pages that are receiving impressions but aren’t generating clicks. This means that even though Google is giving you credit for that page, you’re not getting traffic on it for some reason. It could be because you don’t have engaging, relevant titles or strong meta descriptions.
For instance, if a particular page is getting hundreds of impressions but only a few clicks then you can optimize its title and/or meta description to improve the chances of increasing its CTR. It’s also a good idea to check back in a few days (or weeks) to see what kind of an effect it had on the CTR.
Step 3: Make Sure You're Using Structured Data
If you’re not using structured data and rich cards on your website then you’re missing out on a huge chunk of traffic. To make sure you’re using structured data, head over to Search Appearance > Structured Data from the Google Search Console Dashboard.
The Structured Data screen will show you how many items have structured data, if there are any errors and which structured data types have those errors. Once you’ve identified all the errors, you can view a detailed breakdown of each one and begin fixing the markup on your website.
You can also navigate to the Rich Cards screen to fix any errors that you may have with your rich cards. All you have to do is click on the Get started with Rich Cards button.
By making sure your structured data and rich cards are error-free, you have a better chance of getting more traffic to your website because Google will highlight your site’s page in the search engine results.
Step 4: Check for Crawl Errors
Crawl errors such as broken links and missing pages can negatively impact your site’s SEO. If you have a ton of content on your site then chances are that you have a few errors, too. To find out exactly where these crawl errors are, navigate to Crawl > Crawl Errors from the dashboard.
The results will be split up into two sections: Site Errors and URL Errors. Site Errors will help you find any high-priority errors with your website as a whole such as server issues or missing files. On the other hand, if you have any errors that affect a single web page on your site such as Soft 404 or Not found errors then they’ll show up in the URL Errors screen.
Next, you can also monitor the time spent downloading a page by heading over to Crawl > Crawl Stats. From the Crawl Stats screen, scroll down to the Time spent downloading a page (in milliseconds) section and make sure that it isn’t getting higher and higher over time. Since Google takes page speed into account in web search ranking, you might want to consider taking the necessary steps to decrease your page’s load times.
Investing some time into configuring and optimizing Google Search Console for your website can help you grow your site’s traffic and increase conversion rates. In addition to this, you’ll also be improving your site’s chances of getting ranked higher in search engine result pages.
Let’s quickly cover the main steps you need to follow to get started with Google Search Console:
- Connect your website to Google Search Console to get started.
- Review your website’s Search Analytics to improve click through rates.
- Make sure you’re using structured data and rich cards and that they are error-free.
- Check for crawl errors and fix any broken links or missing files on your website.
Do you have any questions about how to use Google Search Console? Let us know by commenting below!