Category Archives: Google Search Console

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Small Business Guide to the Google Universe

Small Business Guide to the Google Universe 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 Google for small businesses.

While Google has a lot of different products and services, to me, the following are what truly make up Google’s Small Business Universe for marketers and small business owners:

These are all great tools to help you grow your small business, so I thought I’d dive into each of them to give you a better understanding of how to use them and how they can benefit you.

Google My Business

This tool is critical for local businesses. This is one of the top ways, if not the way, businesses are getting found in their local community, which is why I spend so much time talking and writing about this topic.

Google My Business

Google My Business and the 3-Pack (above) show up when a person does a search for a term that is clearly for a local business. Getting your business to show up in the maps listing, as seen above, is extremely important and a good goal to achieve for local businesses today. There are a lot of factors that go into this, but the first one to focus on is ensuring your Google My Business listing is accurate and well-optimized. To optimize the listing:

  • Claim the listing
  • Make sure you don’t have any duplicate listings (this is rather common with the various iterations this tool went through)
  • Select a specific category for your business (avoid being too general)
  • Ensure your name, address, and phone number (NAP) match the NAP on your website
  • Add images and videos
  • Put efforts together to help your business increase positive reviews on the listing (reviews are a huge ranking factor)

In addition to the tactics above, there are some things you can do on an ongoing basis to increase your chances of being found in the 3-Pack.

Google Posts

  • Respond to all reviews (both positive and negative) – Be sure to turn on notifications so that you are alerted when a new review has been posted so that you can respond promptly.
  • Use Google Posts – This is one of the newer features within the Google My Business listing and typically speaking, if Google really starts to pay attention to something, I’d recommend you spend time on it as well as it could imply that it will influence search rankings. This is one of those things. This new feature allows you to essentially showcase mini blog posts within the Google My Business listing that can be educational or promotional. It’s another area to really showcase your business.
  • Another thing to check frequently is making sure nobody is suggesting inaccurate edits to your listing, which people have the ability to do by clicking the Suggest an Edit feature in the public listing.
  • With the new messaging feature on mobile devices, people can actually text you now from the Google My Business listing (your number will never show publicly). This can be a great tool for businesses who are appointment-focused or need to respond to messages quickly.
  • You have the ability to set up your website as a tracking URL (UTM code) in the edit screen of your listing (it will still show as your URL when it’s public-facing). This allows you to clearly see where your marketing efforts are having an impact, where people are coming from, and so on. If you don’t create a tracking URL, and just put in your web address, all of that traffic in Google Analytics will say it came from Direct traffic and won’t segment out that it was from your listing, which I think is important information to have. By adding the UTM code, it will filter under the Organic traffic bucket, which is where it really belongs.

Google Search Console

This is another free tool that has actually been around for a while (formerly Webmaster Tools) and is one of the most important tools for you to use for your SEO efforts. Google has spent a lot of time in recent years to improve it which to me, is a sign it’s not going away anytime soon and is a significant tool for you to use.

This tool is your best source of data about where your traffic is coming from, how pages are ranking, and what people are searching for that actually lead them to your website (we used to be able to get that information in Google Analytics but are no longer able to).

They are currently in the process of releasing a new version of the tool, so right now you’ll spend a bit of time going back and forth between the old version and new, which isn’t a huge deal with how it’s set up, but it’s something to be aware of.

To set everything up, go to Google Search Console and:

  • Claim and verify your website (I’d recommend choosing the Google Analytics option in the instructions to do this)
  • Add your sitemap (if you use WordPress, the Yoast SEO plugin is a great tool to submit a sitemap)
  • Check your messages – This is where Google will communicate with you about your website and any issues you’re experiencing (it may take a couple of days for the messages to populate). Google will actually be able to point out page crawl errors, HTML improvements, penalties, and if you’ve been hacked. It will also tell you how to fix all of these issues.
  • Integrate Google Search Console with Google Analytics (this will help you track goals and conversions). In Google Analytics, click Admin and then Property settings, you’ll see Search Console and it will give you the ability to add a Search Console.
  • Wait a few days (depending on your site, it may take some time for Google to crawl your site and gather the information needed).

This tool is also a great place to track the performance of your content and pages. You can:

  • Find keyword search rankings
  • Compare performance over time
  • Check out click through rate
  • Spot ranking opportunities
  • Find conversion opportunities

Google Ads

Google has recently changed the name from Google AdWords to Google Ads, and I think there are a couple of reasons why:

  • It’s more comprehensive than it used to be (it’s so much more than keywords now)
  • Advertising is now more about intent
  • Machine learning behavior and bots will dictate how advertising rolls out

How to Link Google Ads to Google Analytics

Link Google Ads and Analytics

The screenshot above is located in Google Analytics. Click Admin and scroll over to Property, where you’ll see AdWords linking (you can do this from Google Ads as well). I recommend integrating these tools because you want to know where your traffic is coming from and if it’s converting. It’s a great way to track your goals and get granular with your marketing.

New features in Google Ads

  • Local Ads (new campaign type)
    • Access by going to New Campaign
    • Local Campaign is focused on small local business and make it as easy as possible to run a campaign across various properties in the Google Universe
    • As a side note, see where it makes sense because it’ll be an easy way to spend all of your money at once.
  • Responsive Search Ad (new ad type)
    • Google does A/B testing for you and you’re able to input up to 15 headlines, 300 characters and 4 descriptions in the pool where they’ll mix up all the combinations (including extensions) and test on your behalf (leading to roughly 40K+ possible combinations) so that you know the ads give you the greatest opportunity for click-through rates.
    • These ads will essentially take over page one of Google (which is great for advertisers) and is something marketers should pay attention to.
    • These ads are currently in beta and aren’t showing up for everybody just yet (best practices aren’t currently in place in this beta phase either)
  • Local Service Ads from Google
    • This feature has been around for awhile but it is something that has been expanding rapidly. It is focused on a handful of home service businesses and if you’re one of these businesses, you need to be paying attention to these placements because they are dominating page one.
    • Reviews, proximity, responsiveness and how well your ad profile is optimized will contribute to your prominence in this space.
    • These ads are set up as cost per lead based on search term.
    • You have the ability to do search term and geotargeting.

To sign up for Local Service Ads:

  • Go to google.com/adwords/local-services-ads
  • Download the app
  • Create a profile
  • Get Google Guaranteed (employee background checks)
  • Set a monthly budget in Google Ads
  • Respond quickly
  • Focus on reviews

Local Service Ads

If I had to name a few key takeaways from this post, they would be:

  • Google My Business is a must for local businesses.
  • Google Search Console provides the best SEO data.
  • It’s important to connect Google Ads, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.
  • You must pay attention to ads.

There you have it! Have you started to explore these areas of Google? If not, I highly recommend doing so.

Need more tips on search engine optimization? Check out our entire Guide to SEO.

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.

Opportunites

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?

How would you like us to set your Google Search Console up for you?

Check out our Total Online Presence Audit service where we’ll review your website, content, SEO, reputation, competitive landscape and Google Analytics and Google Search Console – oh, and we’ll also give you a rundown of your highest priority fixes and opportunities – how’s that for getting some peace of mind? – Check out the Audit here.

A Comprehensive Guide on How and Why to Use Google Search Console

A Comprehensive Guide on How and Why to Use Google Search Console written by John Jantsch read more at Duct Tape Marketing

We do strange things for love, and when you love your business you find yourself making all sorts of little weird changes to your website to boost that Google Search ranking slightly higher. The thing is, in a world where search results are customized for each individual user, it’s sometimes tricky to tell whether or not your efforts are really paying off. Luckily, Google provides you with a powerful tool you can use to take a look at your rankings, track keyword performance, and spot content that has the best chance of making it to page one. It’s called the Google Search Console.

If you’re dipping your toe in the deep SEO waters, we’ve got you covered with this comprehensive guide on how to use the Google Search Console, plus what it can tell you about your website.

Getting Started with Google Search Console

The first step towards accessing the powerful tools at your disposal through Google Search Console is to verify your domain. Basically, Google wants to make sure that you are indeed the owner of your website. There are a few ways to do it, so just go through the steps and you’ll be up and running in no time.

The next step is to dig into what properties you list using “Add Property,” and how you organize them. It might seem granular, but it’s worth it to go through and list any and all versions of your domain: http://yourdomain.com, http://www.yourdomain.com, https://yourdomain.com, and https://www.yourdomain.com. If you have any subdomains that you want to be able to play around with, you also should add those here (and any variations), so things like http://blog.yourdomain.com for your blog, or http://www.yourdomain.com/es if you have a Spanish-language version of your site, for example.

If this is starting to look like a lot of domains to handle, you’re right, and Google has made a tool to help you. If you click “Create a Set” you can group your domains into “Property Sets.” This can help you segment off particular areas of your website to see how they’re performing as a group, like all your inventory listings, for example.

Digging Into the Search Analytics Report

Since the main reason we’re here is to find out what’s going on with search and our website, let’s get down to brass tacks and crack open the Search Analytics Report. Immediately, you’ll notice there are a bunch of different ways to view this data. Google presents you with filters for Clicks, Impressions, CTR, and Position, and then you can separate the data out further with an array of options to view by queries, pages, countries, devices, search type, and time range. It’s important to note that Search Console only shows the last 90 days of searches, so it’s all about recent trends.

So, that’s a lot of options, but what can all this data tell you? The great thing about Google Search Console is that it shows you the actual search queries that lead someone to click through onto your site. That means you can see what’s working, and what’s not.

Understanding the Numbers

You also have a few different stats you need to understand. “Clicks” shows the number of clicks to your website per search query, but keep in mind it doesn’t account for everything— you’ll quickly notice your clicks per query don’t add up to the total clicks number it gives you.

“Impressions” is the number of times your website came up on Google results. This might include a lot of times when you came up for a weird search query (like if someone is looking for a client you have listed on your website) or showed up on the 8th page, which might as well be not at all. Still, you should understand these numbers as your site’s potential to broaden its reach.

There’s also “CTR”: click-through rate. This number tells you what percentage of impressions resulted in a click through. Remember, there are a ton of different ways that your website can make an impression without necessarily being relevant, so a low number isn’t necessarily that bad.

Finally, there’s “Position.” This number shows you where your website appears in an average user’s search engine results page (SERP). We’re talking about organic results, so shopping, images, videos, etc., but not AdWords. There are 10 results per page, so any number below 10 means you’re on the front page and doing pretty well.

Putting the Data to Use

The first thing you want to do with all this information is take a look at how customers are actually finding your website. Using the Search Query Report, you can find out what people are searching that gets you on a SERP, and then use that data to make a plan for how to do that better.

You might be surprised by how you’re popping up on the radar. Use these search terms to guide content generation that will help you perform stronger in the future. Maybe consider reworking the titling of key pages so that they index stronger and score a higher position. We all have a lot more to do than sit around and think up content all day, so working backwards is hugely helpful because it lets your prospects tell you what they want to see.

Targeting Search Queries

The Search Console also helps you sort through search terms to figure out which have high CTR and which have room for improvement. Some terms are just going to be irrelevant, but anything with an unusually high CTR is a promising possibility for generating traffic and business. Terms with low CTR probably need some help, either because the listing is bad or the term is competitive.

Figure out what queries you’re interested in, and then crack open a fresh incognito tab (so you get a more average Google experience) and search these terms. Look at your listing and see what’s going on. How does it read? How do the other listings on the page look? What can you do to stand out? Finally, what does Google think the searcher is looking for based on what’s on the SERP?

Taking a Look at Landing Pages

One of the most powerful things that you can do in Search Console is to break out queries by landing page. This helps you look at specific parts of your website to see how people are finding them and how you can give them a boost. If the terms don’t seem all that relevant but have a high CTR, then you may have discovered a new angle to optimize for. If on the other hand, the terms are general, then you need to do some work on how to land it more firmly in a niche or work your SEO tactics to help give it a boost.

Use Google Search Console Reports

Search Console also gives you a series of reports that can help you to catch obvious errors in your site that will help it perform better. Browse through Search Appearance HTML Improvements to help you sort out your tags and meta descriptions. In Search Traffic, there are Manual Actions, which tells you if you’re doing something that’s against Google’s rules and might be negatively impacting your presence. There’s also Mobile Usability, which lets you know which pages might have issues on mobile like clickable elements being placed too close together. Finally, there are some options under Crawl that are helpful. Use Crawl Errors and Site Map to help you understand if your site is speaking robot effectively.

Hit the Road Running

There’s a lot to take in, and the data is constantly updating since it tracks the last 90 days of search performance, but Google Search Console is a powerful tool you should be using to help you improve your search performance and make the tweaks you need. Looking at the right data can help you understand how prospects are finding you, where you need to do better or make more content, and how to get started. Take advantage of the robust dashboard and check in with Search Console whenever you’re looking at ways to make your website perform at its peak.

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