Monthly Archives: June 2018

Weekend Favs June 30

Weekend Favs June 30 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • – aims to provide clear audience insights to the web’s best publishers through an intuitive analytics platform.
  • Grow By Facebook – Grow by Facebook’s ambition is to help business leaders keep ahead by creating and curating insightful content and experiences.
  • Javelin – All-in-one lean startup and customer development software.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Keys to Business Growth for Professional Services

Keys to Business Growth for Professional Services written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Sure, people in professional services need to be good at what they do, but their audience hopes that’s a given. Sometimes even the best of the best have a hard time growing their business because they are so focused on the services they provide, they just don’t dedicate time to the growth of their company (or simply don’t know where to start to do that).

Whether you’re in accounting, law, tech consulting, or provide and other professional service, the advice below still applies if you want to separate yourself from the competition and grow your business.

Common traits I hear from my professional service-based clients include:

  • Business to-date is primarily from referrals and word of mouth
  • They’re successful to an extent but could be more successful with the right strategy in place
  • Scaling is intimidating and it’s unclear how to do it effectively

To take control of your growth efforts, take some of my advice below.

Identify your ideal client

This notion goes above and beyond simply identifying and understanding your target audience. While that’s important, it’s equally important to understand the types of clients you want to work with. This will make both your life and your client’s life easier. Ask yourself the following:

  • Who needs the services you provide?
  • Who can you deliver the greatest value to?
  • Who do you enjoy working with?

Think about your best clients today and what makes them ideal for you so that you can apply it to attracting new clients moving forward. Take the following into consideration when developing these ideal clients:

  • What are the must-haves to be a client (this will help you narrow down your list)?
  • What attributes are you looking for in a client (not required, but preferred)?
  • What makes them ideal?
  • What behaviors signal that they are the right fit for you?

Once you can answer these questions, put the list together and keep it nearby to help qualify prospects moving forward. This will help to ensure you don’t waste time spinning your wheels on the wrong candidates.

Develop a promise

Once you have your ideal client in mind, it’s important that you create a clear promise for them that can help you articulate you understand their wants and needs and that you are the right business to help them.

What’s tough about professional services is that they’re intangible, which is what makes your promise (and that you live up to your promise) so important. The promise needs to reinforce that you can help them reach their goals.

In addition to your promise, make your distinct point of view and point of differentiation from your competitors clear. This will help to separate you from the rest of the crowd.

I have a friend that owns an SEO firm and he basically says, “All you need to know about SEO is that we make the phone ring.” He doesn’t dive into how his business works, or SEO jargon, he gets to the root of what his clients care about and how he’ll help to get them what they want. See how that works?

Focus on problems, not solutions

What I’m essentially saying here, is focus on what your ideal clients are experiencing, not your services. People don’t really care about what you sell. All they care about are that their problems are solved and that you can help them solve them.

How to figure out your client’s problems

It’s important that you solve these problems early on in the customer journey. You need to get very good at understanding your ideal client’s intent because that’s where the data is that you’re looking for. To do this:

  • Master keyword research
  • Use online tools (like Answer the Public)
  • Look at your reviews
  • Read past emails
  • Ask your team who interacts with your clients what problems they’ve picked up on through conversations

You can even reach out to current clients to get the information you’re looking for. Here’s a list of questions that may be useful to ask them:

  • What are their goals and dreams?
  • How do they gather information to solve their problems?
  • What are some things that are important to them?
  • Do you know what the biggest unmet need is in your marketplace?
  • What is the biggest pain point your customer experiences?
  • How hard have you worked to try to solve their problems in the past?
  • Why is the problem so hard for them to solve?
  • Who else is trying to solve the problem and how are they approaching it?
  • What does success look like to them?
  • What might hold them back from buying a product or service?
  • How do they come to a purchase decision?

Solving the problem

Once you have all the information mentioned above, you can actually start to solve their problems.

  • Start by refocusing your messaging and match your message to your ideal client so that it resonates with them quickly.
  • Take some time and break down every solution you sell, every benefit you attribute to what you do, and map it back to a handful of “trigger phrases.”
  • Develop an attention-grabbing headline to put on your website (think back to your promise with this one).
  • Through content, show them that you are experts in the field that will help to make their pain points go away. Providing actionable advice can go a long way.
  • Be responsive to comments, emails, and social media in an effort to build trust and establish a connection.

Provide an excellent customer experience

So many people are focused on the changes in marketing and all the new things we have to master and pay attention to.

The fact is the most significant driver of change today isn’t the way marketing is changing, it’s the way buying is changing.

With clients now in charge of their buying journey, the most important marketing element still left in our control is the customer experience.

While they are in charge of their journey, it’s your job to influence it, and in my opinion, this starts with your website.

Your website today is the jumping in point of the customer journey. Its job is to lead and guide prospects into a journey of awareness, trust, knowledge, insight, and conversion. All your ideal client wants is is a frictionless path to the information or action they’ve gone there to find. Website design should be renamed customer experience design.

Additionally, when it comes to the customer experience, the most tenuous point of the relationship is the beginning. Once a person becomes a client, you must look at their first 90 days as a trial period where your entire goal is to construct the type of experience that can only turn them into a raving fan (and great referral source down the road!).

At the end of the day, businesses that deliver the best customer experience do so because they care about helping the people they serve.

There are many other important factors that lead to a successful business, but nailing the points mentioned above is a great start. What have you found to be helpful in growing your business?

Transcript of A Guide to Content Strategy and Brand Storytelling

Transcript of A Guide to Content Strategy and Brand Storytelling written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Back to Podcast


John Jantsch: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Duct Tape Marketing podcast. This is John Jansen. My guest today is Kyle Gray. He is the founder of The Story Engine. That’s He’s also the author of the book by the same name, The Story Engine, an entrepreneur’s guide to content strategy and brand story telling without spending all day writing and it just came out in audio book. And so, Kyle, thanks for joining us.

Kyle Gray: Thank you so much for having me, John. I’m really excited to be here.

John Jantsch: So, we have been, I have been personally at least and I know other marketers have been talking about story as a way to connect. I will tell you a little anecdote. I remember telling business owners that 20 years ago and having them kind of bristle at that idea. Nobody wants to hear my story. They just want to know what our product does and it’s funny how it’s kind of become a central part of marketing today, hasn’t it?

Kyle Gray: Definitely. Yeah, if you were 20 years ago. I still think it’s as essential as it’s always been. It’s nothing new. It’s the most ancient form of communication. It’s how we are wired to understand the world around us, how we relate to other people and how we build trust really, so yeah. Some people might have said you were ahead of your time, but I think that this is the most ancient and practical of tool sets for anyone. Whether you’re growing a business or whether you’re just trying to relate to anybody you’re working with, friends, and family.

John Jantsch: Yeah and it’s funny though because I think there definitely were people that were doing it and they were doing it well, but it was still sort of seen as a fringe thing. Business was business and especially if you were trying to bring in a personal story and in fact, you and I were talking kind of off the air before we got started. Not only have you been doing this and teaching people this, but you’ve really found it as a way to express your personal story. Do you want to share that?

Kyle Gray: Absolutely, so one of the things I want to say right out the bat and maybe to a point of what you were saying is I think a lot of people have this impression of story telling as kind of this “woo woo” kind of thing and don’t see it as a practical or powerful tool and it’s really just the opposite. What I love about story telling is it’s the fastest way, if done well, to really create a connection with your audience, to create a human connection. There’s a big shortage out there of trust and of respect out there. Everybody can claim to be whatever they want online and through your story and being able to create something through who you are, why you’re doing it, and how you do it differently than anyone else can be one of the best ways to really connect with people who are ready to buy your product and need your help. And so, I’ll explain how I came across this myself.

It wasn’t just a couple years back where I discovered I had an auto immune disease called Hashimoto’s and for me, that’s a thyroid disease and what that meant is I would be fatigued a lot during the day. I would find myself in these kind of like negative mental loops over and over again and no matter how many Tony Robin’s books I read, I couldn’t get out of these negative mind states and also, I love being outdoors. I’m a big rock climber. I love to ski. I love to hike in the mountains and a couple years back, I couldn’t hike more than a quarter mile without serious knee pain just taking me down and this wasn’t quite the basic just getting older kind of stuff. And so, I started doing a lot of research on how to figure this out for myself and meanwhile, I was trying to do my best work I could.

I was working for a start up called WP Curve, helping them grow to about seven figures in annual recurring revenue through content marketing, through telling their story and just creating useful, helpful content on their website, which was their main and pretty much only engine for growth, but I was still kind of in a dark part of my own story trying to figure out all this health and I was reading all the books. What is this disease? How do people feel when they have it? How do you manage it? What do you do? And I was starting to study a lot and also, working on building out my skills for my business.

Until a twist of fate actually found me at a lunch table across the person and she introduced herself, “Hey, my name is Dr. Grace. I overcome auto immune diseases through the gut.” And when she said this, my eyes widened and like parts of my story telling and copyrighting and marketing brain all of a sudden were starting to connect with all these things with health and I was like, “Oh, really? So your patients must feel like this, experience that. They feel like they have this problem, but it’s really that.” And then, her eyes started getting as wide as mine. She’s like, “You need to come work for me. We need to work together.” And so, we worked out a deal where I would do copyrighting and help her share her story online and sell more of her products to reach more of her patients in exchange for her walking me through this Hashimoto’s protocol.

And so, within a few months, I had never felt better. I had never felt stronger in my life. She worked a lot with probiotics and nutritional health, as well as to kind of restore my health via my gut and a lot of these kind of negative mindset things. The stress I would feel when I woke up in the morning, which for a long time, I was telling myself a story of like, “Oh well, you’re just not a very good entrepreneur. You’re not going to make it.” That’s why I thought I was stressed in the morning, but it turns out that my biology wasn’t quite right. And so, once I figured that out, I could change my own story and see the world a little bit differently. And so, she gave me that power to really change my life and also, through that process and through having and struggling with this sickness for a long time.

I immediately understood her value and so, I still work with different start ups and entrepreneurs and high end coaches, but I find that I make the best impact around health and wellness coaches and doctors who are working a little bit outside of kind of the normal fields of medicine. And so, that’s kind of how I discovered my own unique value through my own journey and through that I came up with just a process that I think makes marketing really scalable, really powerful, and really simple for everyone.

John Jantsch: Yeah, so that story and imagine the health and wellness practitioner or coach. Obviously that story is not only a key part about who you are, but it also helps, I believe at least, it helps illustrate the value that you would bring to them. And so, that kind of shows you the power of what was a personal struggle for you, but then turned into really a value driver for them.

Kyle Gray: Exactly right and so, what that really means is it combined a couple of different elements that your audience, your listeners can use, so there’s three different elements that happened within that story that we can break down. One is I communicated that I was ordinary. I was somebody that like many people, I had a problem and I was suffering from it. I didn’t know what to do, but it also communicated that you’re extraordinary, that you’re different, that you are an authority for a reason and not only am I a marketer, but I’ve gone down this journey of health and I know that their specific value very precisely because I’ve experienced it. So I can tell their story better than the average Joe funnel builder out there and then, it showed my reason why because I have suffered from this.

I have seen this and I’ve had a couple of friends who have suffered from similar issues, where I’m seeing a lot of health problems crop up these days that aren’t necessarily very obvious and straight forward, but it’s a bunch of disparate problems and I really care about solving these things because I think I’ve seen the pain and distraction and value that it can reduce from my own life personally and I want to help other people get these solutions faster and easier because I’ve seen what it’s like when you don’t know where to go next and you’re just stuck being frustrated, trying to look through blog post after blog post. A lot of which are misleading or just heightened marketing trying to prey on desperate people who want to fix themselves.

John Jantsch: So one of the things that I think people struggle with a little bit is that in some ways that’s your core story in a big sense, but a lot of business owners. Maybe they have that core story of why they do what they do, but they need what I would call the little stories too that sort of help connect and make points and simplify things and build trust, so how do you go about kind of combining those two things? Because not everybody has personal tragedy or some big aha moment that becomes their story, so how do you develop a story that is going to serve your why as you said, but then realize that there’s power in stories on helping people understand your products and services as well?

Kyle Gray: Absolutely and you don’t need to have a story of personal tragedy. It can be a story that’s as simple as hanging out with your father when you were a kid and maybe a funny thing happened. That can be equally, as powerful if they’re applied in the right way. And so, what you really want to understand when figuring out your story is actually you’ve got to think about your audience first. You’ve got to imagine them as the hero in the story because even if you’re telling your own story, your listeners are going to experience it through your shoes, so you want to guide them down a path that is the path that they need to hear to solve their problem. So a lot of people when doing kind of audience research, customer research, they’re going to come up with like core demographic things like they live in San Diego, California. They make $80,000 a year. They have one kid and two dogs and they read these magazines, which are great. That all makes sense and that’s all very necessary, but most of us just feel like, “Okay. Good. We’ve got our demographics down.”

And stop there, but what a lot of people miss is where are they in the buyers journey or what mindset are they in. For example, if we call it back to my own journey, there was a time where I didn’t know anything about my health. And so, I was like, “I’m fine. I’m good. I can eat whatever food I want. I can do whatever I need because I’m okay.” But really, I was suffering, but I didn’t realize it. So is your audience in that state or are they in the state where a few years later where I was like, “I’ve tried everything. I’ve sunk thousands and thousands of dollars into different people and I feel like I’ve gotten ripped off every time. How can I trust one more person?”

Which is a very different level of knowledge, which I need to hear a very different message than to the person who maybe I am right now. Where I say, “Okay. Well, I’m well sophisticated and educated in this kind of stuff and I know what I’m looking for and I know the language. And so, I can shop a little bit better.” So you need to understand where your audience is at each of those points and create messages and stories that will specifically relate to those. And so, I’m a big fan. I’ve developed an infographic on my site that I call The Crossroads Method, which actually takes the buyers journey and aligns it with the hero’s journey. Kind of a classic story telling framework, so it takes every little section of the hero’s journey and then, aligns it with a key question that your buyer is asking and needs to be answered. That’s something that can help you come up with those little micro stories to string together and always have just the right story for every kind of mindset or state of being that your audience or potential customers are in.

John Jantsch: So I know you mentioned infographic and I see more and more great examples of people using visual story telling or at least visual branding around stories. How important do you think that aspect is when it comes to trying to make a point?

Kyle Gray: I think it’s crucial. A lot of what I’ve done, I’ve been a writer for a long time, but a lot of the content on my site, I’ve always striven to have. I just have a laptop, but I have a rule when we’re publishing where I want to be scrolling and I never want to see just text in the column. I always want to see visual support because it just helps you process things so much faster. I know it’s a cliché, but a picture really is worth a thousand words if you position it right. It can add subtle emotions.

They can usually explain a concept a lot better and they just break up, whether you’re using a lot of text or whether you’re on social media or whether you’re using video, I just think visual content can help drive your point home a lot faster and it can drive it home on a different level, then just written content. It processes differently and activates more areas of the brain. And so, I think visual content, whether you’re a writer, whether you’re a podcaster, and especially I mean, obviously if you’re doing video, you need to incorporate good visuals to tell your story.

John Jantsch: Yeah and I think it’s a challenge because a lot of times people will listen to something like this or they’ll read an article and everybody is saying, “Oh, no. Visual, visual. Everybody just scans. Nobody reads.” And I think you can get caught in the trap of believing that, but I think that you also need to appreciate that a lot of what people scan is because they won’t give you the time until they trust you or they don’t think, “Oh, this is going to be valuable for me to sit down and read these 3,000 words.”

But I think you need both because once you do build that trust, you can go so much deeper and you can put so much more emotion into a book. I mean, I love reading a great 500 page book, but I won’t commit that kind of time unless I really like the author or I really like the book and I think that that’s true about a lot of the writing that we do on the web today. I think a lot of people underestimate that people will still read, if you give them a reason to trust you and give them a great experience when they do read.

Kyle Gray: Absolutely. I think that’s enough. Your visuals, like you were just saying to your point, buy the trust. Especially when you’re thinking of the featured image for your article, if you’ve written an article. That what’s going to be shared on social media and across a lot of places and it will usually be the first thing they see at the top of the page or looking through your archives, so that needs to be compelling and emotive and bring them in or capture their attention enough so that they do trust your text because yeah. Attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, but it’s also true. I think when you do have their trust, when you do have their attention and a captive audience that they will read your content and I think the trends I’m seeing for written content are actually go longer and more detailed and more powerful. That’s what Google is looking for and Google is just trying to be as human as possible. They’re just trying to give people what they really want, so whatever they’re doing, they’re just trying to create better human experiences, so that’s what people want.

John Jantsch: Well, I know in analyzing my content, which there are lots of tools to do this now, that by far and away I mean, like not even close. My most shared content is typically over 3,000 words.

Kyle Gray: Absolutely, easily. Yeah. Yeah. I think these days, your post has to be at least 2,000 words and maybe I’m just in habit from doing it for so long, but I just feel like I can’t even get out a proper thought in less than that amount. At least as far as like a good blog post of course, if we’re trying to do a sales page. It depends on the different purposes of your content. For example, if you want like a lead magnet, something that’s really short, something that you’re communicating high value. You want to give them a quick whim. I think a lead magnet is not an 80 page ebook of one hour webinar or anything like that. It’s a nice one page pdf that’s laser focused on a problem and then, again, you get them that quick whim, you build up that trust, and they’re going to be more willing to listen to your full interviews or read your full articles.

John Jantsch: So Kyle, where can people find out more about you and The Story Engine?

Kyle Gray: You can check out all of my content, what I’m up to at We’ve got a lot of great stuff. I’ll make sure to share the link to the cross roads infographic I mentioned on this page. You can also check out my book on Amazon. It’s available in Kindle paperback and brand new on audio book and I narrate it myself, so if you enjoy my radio voice here, you’ll enjoy that there, but yeah. I’ve got lots of different articles on story telling and yeah. I’m excited to see and hear from anybody who is interested there.

John Jantsch: Yeah and of course, we’ll have the links in the show notes at Duct Tape Marketing, as well, so Kyle, thanks for joining us and hopefully we’ll see you out there on the road.

Kyle Gray: Thanks, John.

Weekend Favs June 23

Weekend Favs June 23 written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you to check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from an online source or one that I took out there on the road.

  • Cinamaker – Portable multi-camera live stream studio. Shoot, record, and edit in real-time with smartphones, digital cameras, and your tablet.
  • Really Good Chatbots – Helping others building chatbots find inspiration.
  • Brizy – The effortless way to build WordPress websites visually.

These are my weekend favs, I would love to hear about some of yours – Tweet me @ducttape

Voice Search: What Small Business Owner’s and Marketers Need to Know

Voice Search: What Small Business Owner’s and Marketers Need to Know written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

Marketing Podcast with John Jantsch About Voice Search

An increasing number of people are turning to search devices, but not necessarily search engines per se. We have laptops and our phones, and then, of course, we’ve got these Alexa and Google Home devices. These are how people are actually now executing searches. Not all of it is direction-based (“Google, find a salon nearby). A lot of it is going to be assistant-based. It’s going to be playing our music. It’s going be turning our lights off. The sky’s the limit.

As marketers, we need to start embracing this idea of search using voice. Research says 50% of searches will be voice-based by 2020.

So are we in “panic mode” time? I don’t know if that’s the case, but we certainly are at “pay attention mode” time, even for the smallest of businesses.

In fact, for local businesses, this is coming faster than you might have realized or understood, and it may be more important for these businesses to pay attention to voice search more than any other business now. According to Search Engine Watch, mobile voice-related searches are three times more likely to be locally-based than text.

Yes, a lot of those searches have to do with looking for directions or trying to find a good place to do “X”. They’re not necessarily doing full-on research, say to hire an attorney or to hire a plumber necessarily, but a lot of transaction-based searches and location-based searches are happening through voice search in the local market.

According to Bright Local, 53% of people use voice search to find information on local businesses. Many say they use voice search daily (particularly on a smart speaker).

Smart speakers have clearly taken off in the past couple of years, with Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa dominating the marketplace. Google has really moved into the spotlight with their speakers this year because it’s so tightly integrated into search to begin with.

How people use voice search for local businesses

So, what are the things people search for? How do they use voice search for local businesses today? Making restaurant reservations receive the highest use, by far. Additionally, people are using it to find sales and offers from local businesses, as well as to find out which products a local business has in stock. In a nutshell, it consists of a lot of very product transaction-based searches.

What local businesses should do about voice search

Google My Business

If you’re a local business, you need to get really good at some of the things that Google has been telling us about for search anyway, such as optimizing your Google My Business listing. It’s now just become more important so you must embrace it and optimize it. Google is clearly showing signs that they’re not kidding this time. They are investing a lot of time and energy into Google My Business and continue to add features, which I think businesses need to be paying attention to. I’d recommend taking advantage of every new feature they offer, including Google Posts, Messaging, the new description, and product and service offerings. Don’t forget to add photos and videos as well.

Bottom line? Make sure the listing is claimed, accurate, and complete.

Featured Snippet

Have you ever done a search for something and see a full description at the top of the page? This is what people are starting to call position zero or the featured snippet.

position zero

What I believe Google is trying to do is get you to stay on the page. Why ever leave the search results if they can give you most of the answer they think you’re after? The featured snippet is what around 70% of voice searches bring up today. Google Maps results are also big for voice search results.

To get this coveted spot, start doing some brainstorming. Find some low intent terms that don’ have a featured snippet today and write an answer-based or list-based blog post that clearly gets at the intent of what those low intent search terms might be. You might want to take a look at Answer the Public to find questions or related phrases. A lot of times you can create content that more specifically addresses the search term or at least what the intent of a search term is.

Site speed and security

This has never been more important. If your site doesn’t load, you’re never going to show up in voice search results because that’s a bad experience.

According to my friend Brian Dean from Backlinko, 70.4% of Google Home result pages were secured with an HTTPS or SSL certificate. We need to all go to HTTPS, or have secure websites. At some point in 2018, you’re going to start seeing search results that indicate that a site is not secure.

As you can see, reputation matters more than ever. There’s a lot of indication that search results are not going to show up for companies with low ratings for voice search. Local media mentions are probably underrated, so make sure you pay attention to them and social signals as well (even though Google denies it, I believe that it does in fact matter). 

Google Assistant

Google Assistant, which is really part of the Google Home piece, is really going to start doing things. They have a new tool that they’ve announced that’s been getting a lot of hype called Duplex, where you can say, “Hey Google, find me a hairdresser near me and make me an appointment for 2:00 on next Wednesday,” and it is actually going to make the phone call and interact in an artificial intelligence-way with whoever answers the phone.

You’re going to see more of that coming and for a lot of businesses, particularly appointment-based businesses like restaurants and hair salons, the staff are going to need to get those phone calls and it clearly is going to sound like Google. They’re going to need to understand what it is and how to respond to it. 

You’re also going to start seeing smart displays. Televisions today are going to have built-in Google Assistant available more and more where somebody can just be sitting there and tell Google to order them a pizza right from their television without getting up.

As I said, this is not panic time. This is the time to start preparing. Be realistic about it and see if voice search applies to your business at this point. You’re not going to go out there and dominate for voice search in a competitive industry, but I will tell you one thing: Even if you think that they are evil, pure evil, you need to get one of these smart speakers like an Alexa, or a Google Home so that you can understand a little bit about how they work, and what kind of search results they return. 

What is your business currently doing for voice search?

Your Guide to – the NEW – Google Search Console

Your Guide to – the NEW – Google Search Console written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

The video above is a replay of a recent live webinar I conducted. Combined with the text below you should have a pretty good feel for how to use the new Google Search Console.

There is a tremendous amount of interest in Google tools, especially for small business owners because these are important tools and they change a lot, making them difficult to stay on top of.

One of the tools that deserve a lot of attention these days is Google Search Console, so I thought I’d cover some of the basics here to help get you started.

Google’s Small Business Universe

Google Small Business

Before I dive into Google Search Console, I want you to be aware of the other essential tools Google offers to small businesses:

Google My Business: This tool is especially important for local businesses. Google seems to be putting a lot of energy into making improvements in this space, which, to me, is a sign that this tool isn’t going away. If you’re a local business and haven’t gotten started with this yet, I suggest you begin here.

Google AnalyticsThis is a free tool that allows businesses to understand their traffic and other relevant data.

Google Search ConsolePartnering Google Analytics with the Google Search Console is how you get the most complete picture of what’s going on in terms of people finding your website, clicking on search results, and so on.

Google AdWords: For a lot of small business owners, paid search is the way they generate leads and customers.

These elements all have the ability to be integrated with one another and you should take advantage of this to get a full picture.

A tour of Google Search Console

If you’re relatively familiar with Google tools, you may remember Webmaster Tools. Google Search Console has replaced that (in fact, if you type in “Webmaster Tools,” you’ll get directed to Google Search Console).

In addition, there is also now a new version of Google Search Console but you can still get access to the older version. You’ll find that you’ll jump back and forth between new and old because there are elements in each that are better than the other version.

Dashboard: Old Version

previous search console

In my opinion, the dashboard serves as the landing place when you log in but it doesn’t really provide any valuable or actionable information. The menu on the left side of the page is where you want to focus your time.

Messages: If you have any messages, this is the area where Google will let you know. In my opinion, this is reason enough to have a Google Search Console account. If there is something wrong with your website (including it being hacked), Google will let you know here.

Search Appearance: The sections under Search Appearance include Structured Data, Rich Cards, Data Highlighter, HTML Improvements, and Accelerated Mobile Pages. I personally love HTML Improvements because it will show you the pages Google looks at that let you know if you have duplicate or missing title tags, or that the tags are too long or too short, and so on. It shows you actionable steps you can take to improve your site pages.

Search Traffic: Within this category, there is a tool called Search Analytics that will show you just that, metrics that give you insight into how your site’s performing with traffic, including clicks, impressions, and CTR. It will also give you keyword rankings for terms you’re going for. It’ll essentially show you what’s sending traffic to your site. I look here for opportunities of where to start for places I could rank.

Search Traffic also includes an area called Manual Actions where Google will show you why they may be penalizing your site for various reasons and how you can take action to fix them. Mobile Usability under the same section will show you what’s wrong with your site from a mobile standpoint.

Google Index: This is where you can see what pages Google has indexed (as the name implies).

Crawl: Here, you can see how Google actually sees your pages. This becomes important when you’re trying to see why pages aren’t ranking. This can also show you 404 pages that need to be cleaned up.

Dashboard: New Version

updated google search console

As you can see, there aren’t nearly as many tabs on the left-hand side in this version. It only includes Performance and Index Coverage. They’re useful, but as I mentioned, this tool really becomes useful when you dive deeper, which is why it’s important to jump back and forth between each of the versions.

The Performance Report in the new version, however, has a lot more information than the previous version and I believe it’s the best feature of the new one. You have the ability to look at the past 16 months of data, which can be very useful when identifying trends and patterns.

How to set up Google Search Console

Claim and verify

search console verification

You need to verify you are the owner. Not anybody can just set up an account for any site. You need to go through the process to claim you are the owner or have access to the site.

I usually click on Alternate Methods (see image to the right) and select Google Analytics because this seems to be the easiest way to verify if your analytics account is already set up.

Add sitemap (use Yoast SEO plugin)

This gives Google the opportunity to be able to index the pages on your site. If you use WordPress, the Yoast plugin will automatically produce a sitemap for you and gives you a link to submit to Google (there are other tools that do this as well but I tend to go with this one).

Once you have the link, go to Crawl in the old version of Google Search Console and click Sitemaps, which is where you’ll be able to submit it. You may not see the information populated immediately but it will happen over time.

Check messages

Once your account is set up, go look at your messages immediately. It may take a few days for messages to show up, but you’ll want to see them as soon as they do.

Integrate with Google Analytics

This will allow you to see search term performance data within Google Analytics which isn’t there by default.

Wait a few days!

It may take a bit for information and recommendations to populate, so be patient!

Google Search Console performance

Analyzing the performance of your website is one of my favorite components of the Google Search Console.

Find keyword search rankings

You can see actual search terms people are using to find the pages that they land on on your site. Google Search Console is the only place you can get this information.

Compare performance over time (16 months)

As mentioned this is a great way to see trends, but it’s also a great way to see improvement for your business or your client’s business.

Check out click-through rate (CTR)

This ranking factor isn’t talked about very much, but it’s important. Understanding your CTR and ways to improve it can help you get an extra SEO boost. CTR is where I often spot opportunities for ranking and conversion. On page one, aim for at least 5% CTR. You can view CTRs under the Performance tab on the updated version of Google Search Console.

Looking at a combination of search terms, impressions, CTR, and position on Google can help you identify areas of opportunity to rank and convert. To make a CTR better for any given page, look at the metadata, including title and description, for the page.

While the description isn’t technically a ranking factor, it is an ad for the page. See how you can improve it to make the page more enticing. Additionally, see how you can improve the content and on-page elements of that page to make it more clickable. Consider adding internal links to the page as well to increase dwell time which can also help to boost CTR and rank.

To see what search terms are bringing traffic on individual pages, look at Pages within the performance report, click on the page, and then click on Queries to see what search terms are for that page specifically instead of the site as a whole. Whichever term is bringing in the best results, that’s the one you should consider optimizing the page for moving forward.

The Performance report is really where the new version of Google Search Console shines.

Getting more internal and external links

Did you know your internal linking structure is a ranking factor? So, if you have a page that’s ranking, and performing well, but isn’t quite in the top three spots on Google, linking to it from other pages of your website could give you that extra boost to move you into those desired spots.

In the older version of Google Search Console, click Internal Links to gain valuable information as it relates to this ranking factor. You can see how many pages are driving to a particular link and see what areas could use a boost.

If you click on Links to Your Site in the menu, it will show you sites that are linking to your pages from external sites (another ranking factor). This tool will give you insight into areas of opportunity to get additional backlinks to your site.

The pages that already have a lot of backlinks are what I like to refer to as Power Pages because they have a lot of authority. I’ll often try to use those pages to link to other pages of the site that I’m working on to increase rank.


When I’m in the Performance Report, I want to look at pages that are doing well but are underperforming. For example, ask yourself how you can get your results on page two to rank on page one (these are the low-hanging fruit).

I also like to understand what keywords are driving to a page before I make any adjustments.

In addition, taking a look at mobile vs. desktop performance can be very beneficial. If you have a site where mobile traffic is extremely valuable, but CTR on a mobile device is lower than the desktop version, brainstorm ways to optimize for the mobile version.

While many areas of Google Search Console may seem technical, as you can see, there are other areas that can be extremely helpful without going to deep into the technical side of things if you spend some time playing with the tool.

Dive into the Google Search Console monthly and you’ll start to find information that could help drive your marketing efforts moving forward.

Head swimming with all this?

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