Organic search traffic from search engines like Google and Bing are an important and necessary source of users finding your website and becoming customers. To understand how users come across your website and what drives valuable traffic from search engines, you need to monitor your search performance. There are several paid tools designed to help you make the most of your organic traffic data, but the most important tool you need is Google Search Console.
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free and comprehensive measurement tool. It provides you with rich, first-party data on your website’s performance on Google. If you know what to look for, you can use GSC’s search data to inform your content marketing strategy from ideation to creation and publication. Here are some ways in which you can use GSC data to take actionable steps to improve your SEO and content strategy.
Inform Your Content Marketing
Content marketing is a great way to promote your website because the benefits of SEO last and compound. If your business is blogging, and we recommend that you are, your website needs to be set up with GSC for its indexing capabilities as well as the data it provides. GSC can show you what queries and keywords are bringing you organic traffic, which of your pages are your most popular, and where you are receiving backlinks from. All this information can help you optimize your site with high-quality content.
As part of a thorough content marketing strategy, you should use GSC to find queries that drive high-quality traffic to your website, but it can also reveal gaps in your content that you can then build new content around. Another useful trick is to find long-tail keywords with high impression volumes and update your content to drive hyper-relevant traffic to blog pages relevant to the long-tail keywords.
If you have a blog that covers multiple categories, you can filter search results by page category to see which categories are performing best and bringing you in the most traffic. You might also discover that a category important for domain relevant traffic is performing poorly and needs to be improved with better content.
Google Search Traffic
Search results will show you which queries drive traffic to your site. The metrics to pay attention to are impressions, clicks, and click-through rate (CTR). This tool is great for showing the visibility of your content and your website on Search and can be used to increase your website traffic by improving the CTR of pages with high visibility.
Start by identifying pages that have high impressions but low clicks and a low click-through rate. You can use this information to improve CTR by optimizing titles to make them more clickable, optimizing descriptions to make them more relevant, or optimizing URLs to include more relevant keywords. And as you optimize your meta descriptions, revisit your content and follow our best practices for keeping your content fresh.
Google Search Appearance
Google Search isn’t just ten blue links anymore; there are multiple placements and widgets to rank your website and content. You should familiarize yourself with what is available and desirable for your type of business, and track changes in your GSC data when you improve your content.
For example, is your business being listed in featured snippets or map packs? You can add schema markup to your webpages to improve the likelihood that you’ll be listed in these assets, then see where and how you can rank for rich results with valid markup. You can have reviews appear under your services, or point to your Google Maps and logo in your schema to improve your appearance in Google products.
Index and Audit Your URLs
A more technical aspect of your content marketing strategy is making sure that your website is indexed properly and without errors. Google’s Coverage report will flag errors in your page validity such as broken redirects, duplicate content, or that your content is blocked by robots. Having great, relevant content on your website is important, but you have to ensure the technical aspects of your website are healthy so that your content ranks.
You should be monitoring your page experience as improvements in those metrics should help improve your search engine traffic. You can also use the URL Inspection tool to analyze specific live URLs on your website against the version Google has stored in it’s index. It will also flag any errors in coverage and other valuable page insights.
On GSC, you can (and should) submit the XML sitemap of your website to help Google catalogue your web pages. Google needs to know your website exists. You can also test live URLs to see if a page has been crawled using the Page Inspection tool, then if a page hasn’t been indexed, you can submit a page for indexing rather than wait for Google to crawl your site again.
Track Your Website’s Usability
Content exists to be consumed, and you need to ensure that you meet your users where they’re at. A website built with responsive design will show your web pages differently depending on the device of the user, but GSC will also flag usability issues using Core Web Vitals.
Google predominantly runs mobile-first indexing, which means that it crawls the mobile version of your content for indexing and ranking, so it’s important to pay attention to the mobile performance of your website. GSC’s Enhancements tool will also allow you to measure Mobile Usability and whether there are any errors in your AMP pages.