Understanding Google Search Console metrics and what they really mean

Wed, 26/08/2020 - 16:04

Google Search Console helps to monitor, maintain and troubleshoot a website’s visibility within Google search engine results. It helps agency and internal marketing teams to understand how Google is interacting with a website, and what can be done to make it more compliant with Google’s best practices. 

Google Search Console can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, many marketing teams often confuse certain metrics reported on in Google Search Console. 

Topics we are going to cover:

  • Domain VS web address level verification
  • Important metrics in Google Search Console
  • What you can use Google Search Console for

Domain versus web address verification:

A website must be verified within Google Search Console to show that you have the permission to view the domain’s search index data. Note that verifying a website in Search Console does not increase your website’s rankings, it’s only there to provide more information to you. 

When you add a website to Google Search Console, you get two options. You can add the whole domain and verify the account through updating the website’s DNS records, or you can add a URL and verify the site through Google Tag Manager or by adding an HTML tag to the source code of the website. 

The best option to go for is the domain name verification by updating the DNS records. This is more effort than the second option, but worth it. You will get a lot more data reported back to you within Google Search Console if you use this method. And as a marketer, more data and information is what you want. 

Important metrics to take note of:

  • Clicks
  • Impressions
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Average position

Clicks

This metric is pretty straightforward. It tells you what the total clicks were to the website for a selected time period. You can drill down further by adding filters like “mobile” or exclude branded keywords. This that affect the total clicks include: 

  • Search volume and ranking position of the particular search query.
  • Brand awareness and brand search volume (if it’s a branded keyword).
  • The position the web page is ranking in. The higher it ranks for the keyword, the more visible it is, and the more clicks you will get. 
  • Optimised meta title and description. The more enticing the webpage’s meta title and description is, the more users’ attention will be drawn to it, which results in more clicks to the website.
  • Presence of paid search ads. Depending on the audience, some people cannot tell the difference between a paid search ad or an organic search result and will click on either-or. 

Pro tip: consider the keyword you are looking at. Google Search Console gathers all keywords that people type in before they land on your website. Not all the keywords in GSC are that relevant to the website. Do not worry if you aren’t getting a lot of clicks for a keyword that is not specific to the website/business. It’s better to review specific selected keywords’ performance.

Impressions

The impressions refer to the total amount of times that a website’s pages have been displayed in organic search results. At this level, it does not refer to traffic to your website. 

Items that influence impressions are:

  • Branded or non-branded search volume for particular topics and queries.
  • How well a web page is optimised for particular search queries.
  • How relevant Google finds the website and its pages to the search query.
  • The location of the searcher (country).

Pro tip: split branded and non-branded keywords using the built-in filter option to get a better understanding of the web page impressions and what can be done to improve it. 

Average position: 

This reports on the average ranking position for search queries associated with the website. Note: all queries that have led to people clicking to your website are recorded in Google Search Console, even if it is less relevant to what is offered. This should not be confused with your SEO campaign keywords. For irrelevant keywords, you would want your average ranking position to go down because if it doesn’t, it will result in a higher bounce rate when people don’t find what they are looking for on the website. 

For keywords that are relevant, you want to move up in average position. Items that affect this are:

  • Are you doing onsite optimisation for the keywords that you want to rank for?
  • Are you creating onsite website content to show expertise and to contextually show Google that it should associate certain keywords with the website? 
  • Overall SEO optimisation such as site speed, technical, offsite and onsite SEO signals pointing to the particular webpage affects where it ranks within search engine results. 

Pro tip: if you want to rank web pages higher in search engine results, you cannot only produce good content OR only do some SEO. A website needs to follow search engine best practices, provide contextual and expertise signals to search engines and provide users with an amazing experience in order to get better webpage rankings. There are over 200 ranking factors for Google alone, and different combinations are necessary based on industry and current website optimisation status. 

Click-through rate (CTR): 

This is impressions divided by clicks. 

What you can use Google Search Console for:

  • Identify keywords with the highest click-through rate.
  • Monitor website impressions.
  • Filter between branded and non-branded search queries.
  • Compare website page impressions between mobile and desktop devices.
  • See how the site is appearing across Google’s organic traffic surfaces such as web, images, video and more.
  • Review and identify indexation statuses and potential issues of website pages.
  • Identify any mobile usability issues.
  • Find a list of all the backlinks that are pointing to the website.
  • Test how Google reviews and renders a URL.

It is clear that there is a plethora of useful information and tools within Google Search Console that any technical marketer, webmaster or technical SEO specialist can use to inform their decision making processes. 

Data, however, means nothing if you don’t have a good understanding of it or how it is collected and calculated in the first place. For more information on Google Search Console metrics, refer to Google’s Performance Report documentation and Google’s advanced guide on understanding search engine results

If you want to improve the rankings for your website or want to know what your website is currently doing well in and what it isn’t, enquire about Rogerwilco’s SEO services. We offer consulting, SEO audits, keyword research and SEO website optimisation. Additionally to our performance marketing services, we also offer content marketing, content consulting and copywriting services that can help your website to build authority. 

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