Google Search Console is free to use, and one of the best tools for SEO. Previously called Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console offers a lot of insights into SEO if you know where to look. Since you are working to rank as high as possible in Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), it’s clear that top SEO Best Practices is finding out what Google indicates needs improvement. Here are four actions you can take to improve your SEO using Google Search Console.
1. Improve Rank for Underperforming Keywords
Here’s how Google describes its Search Console:
Search Console tools and reports help you measure your site’s Search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results
After all, who is better to ask what you can improve on your website so you can “shine in Google Search results”? Google, of course.
Underperforming keywords are those keywords that you rank below #1 or #2 in SERPs. Most people click on the top one or two listings on a SERP, so ranking below #2 means that you are losing a lot of traffic.
Why is ranking on Google so important? “In September 2021, online search engine Bing accounted for nearly 7 percent of the global search market, while market leader Google had a market share of 86.64 percent.”
Since Google is getting over 85% of search traffic, where your site ranks is crucial. While traffic varies depending on the keyword and topic, moving up to #2 would make a huge difference.
So, if your webpage is ranked organically on the first or second page for your keyword, but not in position #1 or #2, then it is underperforming. The closer you get to #1, the more traffic your page will get. If you rank at #8, you will get about 1.8% of traffic on average. If you move your rank to #2, then you will get 14% on average. That’s a real jump in traffic for moving up just six positions.
There are other variables that will change traffic levels. While you may be listed at #1 organically, other things can be inserted above your organic listing on the SERP. These include paid ads, videos, featured snippets, and brand listings.
In most cases, if you’re competing with a major brand for keywords about their products, the brand will get the first ranking. These are things that you can’t change, so an SEO Best Practice is to focus on the keywords that don’t have a lot of competition.
How Can Google Search Console Help with Keyword Ranking?
To find underperforming keywords on Search Console, SEO best practices would be to:
- Go to the “Search Results” report. Then toggle the average CTR and position data.
- Scroll to the “Queries Report,” and set the average ranking position filter to below 8.1.
- Sort the results by average position in descending order.
- Browse the list for underperforming keywords that you’re already ranked for in positions 3–8 and get some traffic from.
Once you’ve identified a keyword you want to work on, take a look at which page is ranking for that keyword.
- Click on the keyword and go to the “Pages” tab.
- Determine if the page can be more optimized for the keyword.
- Remember to consider what pages you are competing with on Google.
2. Fix Sitemap Issues
It’s important that Google sees your pages the way you want them presented. One way is to reduce sitemap issues that the Search Console highlights.
Sitemaps are created by your site’s SEO plugin, like Yoast. It’s SEO best practice to install a SEO plug-in to identify which pages require on-page optimization. The sitemap should update when your site updates, but sometimes errors occur and Google needs you to correct them. If you don’t, Google will continue to have problems crawling your site.
Check for issues with your sitemaps:
- Head to the “Sitemaps” report, click on the icon next to a sitemap, then click the “See Index Coverage” button.
- The chart will show the number of errors, warnings, valid URLs, and excluded ones.
- Click on errors to see the URL that is causing the problem and why.
3. Check Which Content Gets the Most Backlinks
Google looks for backlinks to your site, and where they come from. Backlinks are a factor in ranking in SERPs. You can learn which content on your site is currently getting backlinks. To do so,
- Go to the “Links” report.
- Click “More” on the “Top Linked Pages” report under the “External Links” subheader.
- Sort the results by “Linking Sites” in descending order to see which pages get the most backlinks.
- Look for patterns in the type of content getting more links.
- Once you find a pattern, you can create additional content that fits the pattern.
4. Find Pages that Need More Internal Links
When you are creating content, you should look for older content that you can link to your new content. This content should be related to the topic of the new content that makes sense to link together. Internal links can help your page get ranked faster, and may also give the new page a boost in ranking.
However, if you have pages that don’t have many links to them, they may be forgotten posts that have little SEO value. You should consider deleting them. To find those low traffic pages with few links,
- Go to the “Links” report in Google Search Console.
- Click “More” under the “Top Linked Pages” report under the “Internal Links” subheader.
- Sort the list by “Internal Links” in ascending order to see “forgotten” pages.
- Then look at each URL that qualifies.
If you decide to delete a page, check which internal pages are linked to it.
- Click the URL in the “Top Linked Pages” report to see which pages have internal links.
- Check how much traffic they have by going to the “Search Results” report, filter for the URL.
- Check the total number of clicks.
If your page is worth keeping, then you can easily add related internal links to it. To do this,
- Search on Google for site:xxx.com/” “keyword you’re looking for” to result in all the pages on your site that mention your keyword.
- For example, you can Google site:l7advertising.com/ “content” to find results on the site L7advertising.com that mention the word “content.”
- Then add internal links from pages that fit your topic.
Learning More about Your SEO Best Practices
SEO can be tricky and complicated, especially if you are new to the concept. The essence of SEO is understanding how people who buy your products or services search for them on Google. With that knowledge, you can optimize your site for the best SEO performance. To learn more about SEO and drive qualified leads to your website, contact us for a custom SEO strategy for your business.