Google Search Console, previously known asGoogle Webmaster Tools is one of the best free SEO tools out there. But most people use it for pure vanity metricslike checking if impressions or clicks increased. Others use it to look at average ranking position. But these things as standalone metrics providevery little value. So today, I’m going to show you how to useGoogle Search Console to actually improve SEO for your website. Stay tuned. [music] What’s up SEOs? Sam Oh here with Ahrefs, the SEO tool thathelps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. So before we dig into the tutorial, I’m going toassume that you’ve already handled the basics like verifying your site and submittingyour sitemap to Google.
If you haven’t done that yet, do it first becauseyou’ll get a lot more value from this video. Let’s get to it. So the first tip is to improve clickthrough ratefor underperforming keywords. So let’s define an underperforming keyword asany page where you don’t rank in positions 1 and 2 for that keyword. And the reason why I’m defining it this way isbecause if you look at this graph of the CTR curve, you’ll notice that anything not in positions 1 or 2gets significantly less search traffic. For example, if your page is ranking in position7, your CTR will be around 2.16%. Now, if you were able to bump that keywordranking to position 2, your clickthrough rate would be around 15.5%.
Now, to put this into perspective, if the keywordyour page ranked for had a search volume of 1,000, then being in position 7 would get you around 21 search visits per month. Whereas in position 2, you’d get 155 monthly searchvisits, which is more than 7x the search traffic. To find these underperforming keywords, goto the “Search results” report under Performance and confirm that you’ve got clicked on the typical CTR and average position boxes in order that they show up inthe table below. Next, scroll down to the table and set a positionsfilters to show pages that have an average ranking position of less than 8.1. Reason being, it’s easier to move from position8 to the top 2 since you’ll get more exposure than the absolute bottom of page 1. Now, one limitation to Search Console is thatthey don’t let you set a positions range. So we’ll just sort the table by position in descendingorder and start skimming through the keywords for queries we may want to optimize our pages for. We’ll also want to look at the number of impressionstoo because there’s likely no point in optimizing for a query with 20 impressions. One that stands out to me is this one, “howto create backlinks.”
So I’ll click on that keyword, then I’ll goto the Pages tab. From here, you’d want to do an individualanalysis of this page, and see if you can further optimize for the keyword since it’svirtually on the same topic. So whether that be on-page work, adding internallinks, or something else, you’d have to assess the best course of action and experiment. But be sure to use some common sense. For example, you’ll see that we rank for”301 redirect SEO.” This keyword doesn’t make sense grammatically, so we wouldn’t throw in typos for the sake of,quote unquote, “optimizing.” Since we’re on the topic of clickthrough rates,the next tip is to find and analyze pages with high keyword rankings, but low CTR. That CTR curve that I showed you before justshows averages. So that means not every single keyword that ranks inposition 1 is going to get a 30 percent clickthrough rate. So what we need to do is find out which keywords havesubpar CTRs, analyze the cause, and see if there’s a way to get more clicks and traffic to our pages. So while we’re still in the Search Resultsreport, let’s change the position filter to show pages that have a ranking position ofless than 3, meaning better than a top 3 ranking.
Next, I’ll sort the table by CTR from lowest to highest. Here’s an interesting one. We’ve gotten around 7,000 impressions forthe keyword “diy seo,” with a CTR of only 2%, while ranking in the Top 3. CTR should be somewhere in the ballpark rangeof 9-15% since I know we’re definitely matching search intent here. So let’s go to Google and search for this keyword. Makes sense now. The featured snippet takes up a ton of realestate, then it’s followed by videos, the people also ask box, and then our page, which is actually the number one organic ranking. So in this case, we could definitely work on tryingto own that featured snippet and we could also create a video tutorial around the topic to try and claim a spot in the video carousel. And if we were able to successfully execute,we’d own the entire “fold” of the SERP. Now, our page on “white hat link building” alsogets around a 2% CTR even though on average, we’ve been ranking in the Top 2 for the past3 months for this keyword. Looking at the SERP, you’ll see that the entire topsection is plastered with ads, then a featured snippet, a people also ask box, and then the organic results,where ours is actually the first blue link result.
In this case, it would come down to your priorities. The ads tell me that there’s commercial intentto this keyword. And if we were to optimize and try and ownthe featured snippet, it may be worth the effort. But on the other hand, since there are a tonof ads for white-hat link building services, which we don’t sell, owning the featured snippetmay not result in a crazy boost in clicks. So, you’ll have some tough decisions to make,but that’s SEO. Tough decisions, some which will be super-profitable,and others that may not have been worth the time. Alright, the next tip is to check for sitemaperrors, warnings, and exclusions. Sitemaps are files that tells search engineswhich pages are important on your site. They also help crawlers crawl your site more efficiently. Now, if you have issues with your sitemap,then you might have a problem since you could be confusing crawlers, leading to wasted timeand resources on their end. To see if you have any issues, go to the Sitemaps report. Then click on the icon beside the sitemapyou want to investigate.
You’ll see a few tabs showing the number oferrors, warnings, valid URLs and excluded ones. Since we don’t have any errors for our blog,let’s look at the one issue under “Excluded.” And you can see that one page has been excludedbecause of a duplicate submitted URL, which is not canonicalized. If you click on the error, then you’ll seethis URL, on guest blogging. Looking at the HTTP status code for this URL, you’ll see that there’s a 301 redirect to our newer poston guest blogging. The reason why this happened is because theold article is still set as “Published” in WordPress, which means that Yoast, which is the pluginwe’re using is adding it in our sitemap. So I’ll delete this post and the issue should resolve itself the next time Google checks our sitemap for issues. Next up is to find pages that need internallinks or those that need to be pruned. Let’s say that you’re publishing a new poston the best dog treats. If you already have relevant pages on let’ssay, dog food and another one on puppy nutrition, it would make sense to add internal linksfrom these pages, pointing at your new post.
And assuming that you’ve built some link authorityto these pages, there’s a chance that your new page will get indexed faster and rank higher. Now, if certain posts don’t have many or anyinternal links, then there’s a good chance that it’s a forgotten post; meaning it probablydoesn’t get much search traffic or provide much value to your site. So let’s go to the Links report in GoogleSearch Console, where you’ll see a summary of various categories for both external linksand your top linked pages via. internal links. And I’ll click on the “More” link under internal links. Now let’s sort the table by the number ofinternal links pointing at our target pages to find “the forgotten.” One of the pages that pops up is this one with the slug”hire-me-page,” which only has one internal link. And you’ll see that it was published backin October 2015. Now, this page isn’t exactly in-line withwhat we publish today. So I’m sure we’ll be deleting or redirectingit to another relevant page soon. Now, if you find pages that are worth keeping, then it’d be advantageous to either a) add more internal links pointing at them; or b) update the content and add more internal links where appropriate.
For example, if we had an old post on keywordresearch that was out of date, we’d first update our content to make it relevant to today. Then we can go to Google and search for something like: site:yourdomain and then I’ll add “keyword research” to the query. This will show you all pages on your sitethat include your target keyword there. Just visit the pages and add internal linkswhere it makes sense. Now, the main downside to Search Console’sinternal links report is that they don’t show you pages that have zero internal links. These are called orphan pages. Now, assuming there are no external backlinkspointing at these orphan pages, this poses a problem because they can’t be “crawled” by Google, meaning it won’t be indexed and never discovered through search. Now, Search Console is a super-powerful tool,and when it comes to accuracy for your own site, I strongly recommend using it. But there are three huge limiting factorsto your SEO success. First is that it’s extremely limiting when it comes to discovering deeper technical issues on your site. And even if you’re a wiz with Google Sheets, they only allow you to export up to 1,000 rows of data in places like their links reports. The second one is that there’s no keywordvolume data.
Yes, Google has Keyword Planner, but that’sonly somewhat useful if you’re paying for ads. Otherwise, you end up with ranged values like this. And even if you do have search volume numbers, they’re rounded annual averages, which gives yousuper-broad estimations. The third and final downside is the biggestwhen it comes to doing SEO. And it’s that you only have data for your site. SEO isn’t a one-person game. You’re competing against other websites andpages for the top spot. And it’s extremely difficult to do anything meaningfulwithout understanding the competitive landscape for the keywords you’re targeting. So here’s my advice for you. If you’re new to SEO, Search Console is going to be the best place to start. You’ll get a ton of insights on your website for free. But if you want to get any kind of competitiveanalytics on your competitors, then you’ll need third party tools like Ahrefs to help you achieve that. For example, if we enter backlinko.cominto Site Explorer, which isn’t our domain, and go to the organic keywords report, we’ll see that he’s ranking for “youtube tags”and around 44,000 other keywords. Now, I know we don’t rank for this keywordand since Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer provides YouTube keyword data, this might be a topicwe could potentially target in the future.
Now, I’d love to hear how you’re using Search Console to improve your SEO. Let me know in the comments and if you enjoyedthis video, make sure to like share and subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials. So keep grinding away, always be improvingyour SEO and I’ll see you in the next tutorial.