Google Search Console (GSC), Google Analytics (GA) and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
In the world of digital marketing the terms Google Search Control, GA and SEO are commonly used. These tools are closely interlinked with digital marketing and play an important role in enhancing digital marketing campaigns. Equipped with its own functions and purposes, each one possesses unique selling points and benefits that are set to revolutionise and transform digital marketing for the better. As such, let’s take a look at each of these digital marketing tools and explore their role in the digital marketing landscape.
Does the term Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) sound familiar to you? If so, then you might already have an idea of what Google Search Control is. In May 2015, GWT saw a name change to GSC to be more inclusive of its diverse group of users. GSC has become a valuable resource not just for webmasters, but also for marketing specialists, SEO specialists, designers, business owners, and app developers. Anyone with a website can use Google Search Control to monitor how Google views their site and optimise its organic presence. You can learn how many people visit your site and how they found it, whether they are more likely to visit it via mobile devices or desktop computers, which pages on your site are most popular and so much more. With a deeper insight to your site performance, optimising it for SEO becomes more effective as you can see what works, what doesn’t and make adjustments accordingly.
Comparing GSC and GA
Google Analytics (GA) is a free web analytics tool that lets you analyse the traffic to your website. As far as analytics platforms go, GA can be considered to be one of the best. A set of GA tracking code will be implemented on your website. When users visit your website, the code records various activities of those users as well as their attributes including age, gender, interests and more. This enables more effective analysis as it helps you figure out who your core audiences are on the Internet. With this information, crafting relevant and specific content, one of key essentials of digital marketing becomes effortless.
Google Search Control and GA are vastly different, serving different data based on different purposes. While GA is designed to provide insight on how users interact with your website, GSC provides data regarding your website’s online visibility, organic reach, and technical optimisation. Despite the fact that these platforms are independent of one another, they work wonders for your SEO and digital marketing when used in combination. As the data provided by Google Search Control complements the data presented by GA, you get a comprehensive overview of your users’ journey through your site.
The Relationship Between GSC and SEO
When it comes to improving your website’s ranking on Google search engine, GSC is the perfect companion, proving to be especially useful when running a full SEO audit. As Google Search Control allows you to monitor your website traffic, optimise your ranking, and help you make more informed decisions regarding your site’s search results, you can better understand your current SEO performance and enhance it. In conjunction with other Google tools like Analytics, Google Trends, and Google Adwords, the information from Google Search Control can be used to influence technical decisions for the website and perform sophisticated marketing analysis. This helps you better find new opportunities to grow your website traffic. With a better understanding of how GSC impacts SEO, the next step is to explore deeper into the various features and functions of GSC and leverage them to enhance SEO. But first, you need to have your Google Search Control set up and ready to go!
Setting up your GSC
Setting up your Google Search Control can be a very technical process and each step needs to be executed properly to avoid any hiccups along the way. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to create your Google Search Control account so that it is up and running in the quickest, seamless and most efficient way possible.
Signing in to GSC
Firstly, you need a Google account to sign in to GSC. For those without one, creating an account is completely free and easy to do! Alternatively, should you already own GA, Google Adwords or Gmail, you can use the same log in to create your Google Search Control.
Entering your Website’s Domain
Secondly, after you are signed in, you have the choice of deciding between domain or URL prefix for your property type. Before that, let’s explore what domain property and URL prefix property is.
Domain Property: Allows Google to track all URLs across your website, from www., HTTPS, HTTP, FTP and more subdomains.
URL Prefix Property: Tracks only the specific URL that you enter. Related subdomains from the same site will not be tracked.
Domain would be the recommended option as this will allow you to track SEO performance and issues across your entire property, making SEO optimisation much easier. After selecting domain, simply enter your site’s root-domain in the entry field and click ‘continue’.
Verifying your Website
Thirdly, comes the need to verify your website. This consists of a few steps so follow closely! For your domain property, you will require your domain name service provider (DNS) provider, which can be found in the dropdown.
Then, click on the ‘Copy’ button to copy the TXT record provided by Google.
Click on “Full Details” and select your website’s domain, it will lead you to Google support website and detailed instructions relevant to your provider will be displayed. Follow through to finish the verification process.
With that, your website is now verified with Google Search Control! This setup can be integrated with your Shopify for Shopify SEO or WordPress websites as well.
Tips and Tricks to Improve your Website’s SEO with GSC
Now that your Google Search Control is all set up, it is time to leverage its different features and functions to maximise your SEO performance. Having a GSC account without knowledge of how to get the best use out of it will not enhance your SEO. As such, here are some tips and tricks you can adopt with your GSC to ensure that your website is optimised in the best way possible.
Identify Keywords to Update Blog Articles
As we are well aware, keyword research and the use of relevant keywords in content such as blog articles play an integral role in SEO performance. If you are unsure of selecting the right keywords or knowing which ones are most relevant to your audience, this is where Google Search Control comes in handy. GSC can increase your search traffic as a result of its Search Analytics feature that displays popular keyword searches on your website pages. Do this using the following steps below.
Step 1: Log into your GSC and click on ‘Performance’.
Step 2: Click on ‘Pages’ and scroll down. You will see a display of a list of pages that are driving traffic to your website, from the most to least popular. Click on the page that you wish to improve search traffic for. You will get traffic analytics that are specific to that page.
Step 3: Click ‘Queries’ to showcase a list of keywords that drive search traffic to that page. Take note of the keywords with high search impression count but low clicks.
Now that you have your keywords, reassess your existing blog articles or webpage and integrate those keywords within the content. Ensure to update your content and use those keywords naturally. Be careful not to stuff keywords just for the sake of increasing your ranking as Google can detect keyword stuffing and will penalise you for it. Beyond implementing those keywords into your content, remember to also insert them in your title tag and meta description, allowing Google to detect your primary keyword focus. This will be further elaborated in the next section of this article.
Submit your newly updated content within Google Search Control. This will inform Google to crawl the page and update the search results. By leveraging this pro tip, you are likely to see an increase in search traffic after one or two weeks.
Improve Title Tag and Meta Description
Good title tags and meta descriptions can improve your click-through rate (CTR) tremendously. Title tags play a crucial role in SEO because they provide context for users as well as search engines. A user’s first impression is based on the title tag that appears near the top of the search engine results page (SERP). In order to compete against other websites in the SERP and provide users with what they are searching for, title tag optimisation is necessary. In addition, your title tags can help build your brand or provide you with more visibility in the SERP through brand recognition. This then begets the question: How exactly can you improve your title tag?
For starters, craft attractive headlines that will make readers curious and want to click into your site. Elements including numbers for listicles or thought provoking topics can help you gain greater traction. As mentioned above, include keywords into your title tag as it provides readers with immediate understanding if your content is what they are looking for. Ideally, your title tag should be 50 to 60 characters long with a maximum of 70.
On the other hand, meta descriptions appear underneath your title tag on the SERP and contain information about the page. The purpose of this section is to provide users with a short summary of the content on your page so that they know if the page answers their queries. When it comes to SEO management, meta descriptions are a valuable tool for users and search engines alike. Clicks on your site can be positively impacted by a quality description. Consequently, this will boost your rankings in the SERP, as well as your traffic and engagement.
When optimising your meta description, ask yourself ‘how can I differentiate myself from competitors on SERPs?’ ‘What can I create that will make users more drawn to my description as compared to others?’ Keeping this in mind places you in the right direction in crafting a relevant yet compelling meta description. In addition, ensure that your meta description does not exceed 155 characters to avoid it being cut off by Google and end your meta description off with a call to action to increase persuasion and enhance engagement with audiences.
For easy editing of your title tag and meta description in Google Search Control, you can consider integrating the Yoast SEO plug-in. Simply navigate to the Meta Box at the end of each page and modify tags and descriptions in your snipped editor.
Improve Internal Linking
There is no denying that links impact your SEO performance drastically. Having a multitude of backlinks indicates to search engines that your content is credible, valuable and high-quality enough to warrant many external sites to link back to yours. Links within your website provide structure to your content, connecting each piece together to show Google what your site is about. Interlinking your content will create a topic cluster, giving them more authority, credibility and thus, increasing their search engine rankings and traffic. Moreover, linking to internal web pages keeps users on your site longer and reduces bounce rates as they explore the different content within your website.
Topic clusters are interlinked web pages containing a blog post or content related to the ‘pillar content’. Pillar content contains information that can provide users with exactly what they are looking for on search engines. Enhancing your pillar content, lets you share valuable information with your website visitors, allowing you to improve your SEO rankings as a result. Topic clusters make your pillar content more recognisable on search engines. By strengthening your pillar content with a variety of quality information, your website possesses thought leadership perception. This gives them the authority and credibility required to increase traffic and rank higher.
As Google Search Control provides insight into all pages with internal and external links, you can leverage it to improve your internal linking. First, sort pages with few internal links by clicking on the top internally linked pages and then sorting from least to most. Simply identify each page with few links and edit it to add more internal links where appropriate.
One way for you to add internal links easily and effectively is to use GSC to sort pages with the most links. These pages are of high authority. By interlinking them to pages with less links, you can boost link juice and improve the value of the pages that lack internal links.
Optimise Site for Mobile
Mobile search has grown rapidly and will only continue to see a surge in the following years to come. This is no surprise considering the convenience and accessibility it brings. Smartphones have become so ingrained into our lives that we might find it difficult not to use them. Information, entertainment, and connecting to friends and family are now all at our fingertips with our smartphones. In fact, 70% of all media time is spent on the smartphone and the average Internet user checks their phone about 58 times daily. In 2018 mobile search amounted to 52.2% of all internet traffic and is continuing to grow. These statistics convey the prominence of smartphones, our dependence on them and the need to consider mobile optimisation for SEO marketing in Singapore.
As such, Google also prioritises mobile traffic and has integrated a mobile first-index that ranks websites based on their mobile versions. You can use your Google Search Control account to check the mobile-friendliness of your website via the Mobile Usability Report. Investigate errors and fix them to ensure that the pages are properly indexed. The following are some of the common errors seen in the Mobile Usability report and how they can be fixed.
Error: Unable to fit content into mobile screen.
Fix: Eliminate horizontal scrolling completely and only maximise vertical scrolling so that content can be seen in its entirety.
Error: The elements that can be clicked are too close together.
Fix: Ensure links and buttons are spaced far apart enough to avoid users experiencing constant ‘mis-tapping’.
Error: Unconfigured Viewport.
Fix: Ensure you use the meta viewport tag to adjust the dimensions of your pages according to the visitor’s device.
Apart from the Mobile Usability report, the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) report in Google Search Control can also help optimise your site for mobile. AMP are lightweight pages designed to give mobile users a lightning-fast experience. The AMP report detects implementation issues that impact your AMP pages including URL not found (404) and blocked by robots.txt errors. Firstly in your GSC AMP report, filter out warnings and focus on errors first. Issues are sorted by severity, validation state, and number of affected pages by default. Google recommends fixing your AMP pages in this defaulted order. Fix errors caused by a common cause before fixing errors specific to each page.
Fix Technical Issues
Technical issues and web pages that are not properly indexed are a major detriment to your SEO performance. With GSC, you can troubleshoot technical issues to ensure that your pages are properly indexed and search engine friendly. If a problem is detected on your site, Google Search Console will send you an email and you will be able to notify Google after fixing it.
One of the most common technical issues websites face are crawl issues – unspecified crawling error for the AMP page. Web crawlers or search engine bots download and index content from all over the Web. It learns what webpages are about, so that when information is needed it can be retrieved. Crawl issues can be rectified using URL Parameters. To do this, click ‘URL Parameters’, then ‘add parameter’.
You can categorise your parameters by colour and inform Google not to crawl any URLs with that colour. Repeat this for all parameters that you do not want Google to crawl. For those who are new to SEO, it is best to engage an SEO company in Singapore to ensure the correct implementation of this.
Apart from crawl issues, you may face different types of errors when submitting sitemaps in Google Search Control. To check your sitemap status, click on ‘sitemaps’ and check your ‘status’ column. In the GSC landscape, the terms ‘couldn’t fetch’ and ‘error’ are some of the most prevalent issues when it comes to sitemaps.
You can address such issues by removing and resubmitting your sitemap. In the status column, click on the sitemap that shows error. Next, click the three dots on the top right and remove sitemap.
Once your sitemap has been removed, resubmit your sitemap by heading to the ‘sitemaps’ section again. Alternatively, you may also try clearing your cache. Corrupted cache can block Googlebot and lead to 403 error. If your site uses a caching plugin, clear the entire cache on the plugin’s settings page. After deleting all cached content, check how the crawled page appears to the Googlebot using URL inspection or Google Search Control’s mobile-friendly tool. Try submitting your sitemap again if everything looks good.
Last but not least, there lies the common potentiality of your webpage getting blocked by robots.txt.
If you want your page indexed, simply unblock it from the robots.txt. If you don’t, you need to remove the page using the URL removal tool. GSC’s URL Removal Tool lets you easily delete pages from its index. In the Google Search Control sidebar, expand the ‘Index’ tab, then click ‘Removals’. Next, insert the URL you wish to remove and there you have it!
Above are just some of the many ways you can leverage GSC to enhance your site’s SEO. The many tools and features available translates to more information and insight into the technicalities of your website. This creates the opportunity for you to identify aspects that are currently working and correct the ones that are not, which positively influences your website’s SEO performance.
Ultimately, Google Search Control is an indispensable platform with regards to your website’s SEO. It is not enough to simply have a GSC account, what is more important is your ability to assess and evaluate the different points, draw the correlation to your SEO and maximise that knowledge to your advantage, hence, boosting your SEO game.
However, with that being said, Google Search Control is a comprehensive and highly-technical platform, which may be challenging for first-time users. For novices, it is best to engage a digital marketing company or SEO agency in Singapore. They can support you throughout the GSC process and provide recommendations on how to improve your SEO.
OOm provides digital marketing services and SEO services with SEO packages in Singapore. We are perfectly positioned to help you through your Google Search Control endeavours and enhance your SEO optimisation for effective digital marketing campaigns. Contact us for more information today!