The Ultimate Guide To Google Search Console And Google Analytics

The Ultimate Guide To Google Search Console And Google Analytics

Google is a universal marketing platform that provides unparalleled analytical tools and search abilities for businesses that want to get ahead. Among the tools it offers are Google Analytics (GA) and Google Search Console (GSC).

When used together, they can help you increase your website's ranking with complementary data. Let’s delve into what GSC and GA are and how you can use them to your site's advantage.

What is Google Search Console?

The GSC home page

Every business owner, SEO specialist, or marketer trying to optimize their site has probably heard about and maybe even used Google Search Console (GSC). If you haven't, you are definitely missing out on the tool's power to help you monitor the health of your website in Google’s index.

GSC, previously known as Google Webmaster Tools, has undergone some significant updates. The initiative was to acknowledge the broader audience that relies on the tool to increase their site's organic traffic. With the metrics they obtain from GSC, they can improve their website's appearance on search results. They would then be able to attract more relevant traffic to their sites.

GSC is a free platform that anyone with a website can leverage to monitor their site's Google views and optimize it for a more robust organic presence. That includes viewing rich search results, mobile site performance, referring domains, and highest-traffic pages and queries.

Unlike Google Analytics, however, the platform only provides information on traffic coming from web searches. It doesn't capture traffic from ads and direct traffic.

While GSC is an incredibly powerful program, its interface requires some practice. You can find guides on how to use the service to help you better navigate the tool. 

What is Google Search Console for?

While you can't use GSC to make changes to your site directly, you can use it to list your website's pages on Google’s index. Doing this shows you which URLs on your site are functional and performing as they should. It also checks for inaccuracies within your domain and suggests fixes for you to implement.

For search engine optimization (SEO) purposes, GSC is an excellent tool for adjusting your strategy. The data you collect from the platform can help you discover new ranking opportunities, boost existing performance, and find out exactly who is coming to your website. Overall, it is an essential tool for any company that relies on its website to generate leads and sales and is looking for new ideas to help improve their site.

Setting up a Google Search Console account for a professional search optimization campaign can go a long way in helping your business grow in the long run.

What is Google Analytics?

The GA logo

Google Analytics provides you with the tools you need to analyze your business data in one spot. With the statistics you collect, you can enhance your SEO efforts. The service forms part of the Google Marketing Platform, and anyone with a Google account can use it.

It also helps you track your website's performance and gain a deeper view of your visitors' interactions with your site. You can:

  • Gauge the success of your marketing activities
  • Identify the top sources of user traffic
  • Check how successful your promotion campaigns are
  • Discover patterns and trends within user engagement
  • Track goal completion, for example, adding products to carts and successful purchases
  • Obtain visitor data like demographics

Most small and medium-sized retail companies rely on Google Analytics to track and analyze various customer behavior analytics. These are useful in driving website traffic, improving marketing campaigns, and improving customer retention.

Google Analytics and GSC

How do Google Search Console and Google Analytics work together? They both allow you to determine how much traffic comes to your website and break it down by URL. They can also segment this information into mobile and desktop activity.

However, Google Analytics is more user-oriented. It provides data about the people who visit and interact with your website. GSC is search-engine focused. It provides you with insights and tools to help you improve your site's visibility and presence in SERPs.

Using Google Search Console to Drive More Traffic to Your Site

An illustration of three people in front of a giant computer screen.

Every time you log into your GSC account, pay attention to the dashboard. It contains metrics that you can take advantage of to increase your site's potential.  Here's how you can maximize the platform's value by transforming the data into decisions that can help you with optimization:

1. Check if Google understands the keywords you're targeting

To increase the number of keywords your website ranks for, ensure you incorporate them in the content you publish. Publishing high-quality content regularly while targeting specific keywords highlights your brand's expertise in the niche.

  1. Choose a relevant keyword to target or the cluster you want your web page to rank for
  2. Optimize the content to make it relevant to the target keyword (and provide real value to the reader)
  3. Publish your content
  4. Check if Google ranks your content for its relevance in a few days and shows it on the search engine results pages (SERPs)

If your content doesn't rank well for the target keywords, it indicates that Google doesn't perceive your content as high quality or relevant to the keyword. You could:

  • Revise the content with a focus on the headings and subheadings to capture the keywords. Enhance the content with semantic richness and topical depth.
  • Check your metadata to ensure you have a meta description, page title, and other SEO-friendly meta tags, including the target keywords.
  • Use a content tool like HubSpot or SEMRush to guide your writing process by suggesting practical terms for your content.
  • Build your site's authority to help it rank in the SERPs. This requires time and valuable backlinking.

2. Confirm if Google is properly crawling and indexing web pages

Search engine “spiders” must crawl and index your pages correctly before ranking for relevant search queries. GSC provides the best way to check the indexed pages, when Google last crawled them, and any possible enhancements.

This information is vital if you want to improve your overall SEO performance because:

  • Google algorithms do not weigh the improvements or on-page optimizations you make on your pages until the next crawl. Don't try to measure the impact of optimization until Google sees it.
  • If you have hundreds of landing pages on your website, you could potentially max out your crawl budget. You need to make sure that Google only analyzes the pages you deem most important. Adding "noindex, nofollow" rules to pages you consider low-value will prevent Google from crawling them.
  • Enrichments encourage viewers to interact with your website. For example, rich media and featured snippets increase the likelihood of visitors clicking on your pages when they appear on SERPs. You can also include a schema.org markup to your website to boost its chances of appearing in specific rich results while certifying that the code works and the pages appear in the SERPs.
  • Use GSC to have a sitemap listed. A site map helps search engines determine the pages to crawl and promote to searchers. They come across as the most critical pages to Google, making it crawl them more often.
  • Create a Robots.txt File. It tells search engine crawlers which pages they can or can't request from your site. Less relevant pages of your site don't show up on Google results.
  • Ensure Google can index your site. It frequently happens that Google cannot index a website. This occurs when developers unintentionally leave "noindex" tags when moving codes to a live environment. The SEMRush site audit tool can help you check if your site is crawled and indexed.

3. Identify technical and page performance issues

Ranking high on Google results from a combination of factors, one of them being the technical performance of your website. It significantly influences the level of trust Google and your site visitors place in your website, as well as their perception of your business.

Google crawlers are interested in responsive, fast-loading pages that provide a high-quality page experience for the users.

Troubleshooting your site for issues can be an intimidating task if you don't have the relevant knowledge. GSC simplifies the process to help you identify problems that could affect your keyword rankings and rectify them quickly.

Some signals the platform weighs to understand the quality of your page's overall experience include:

  • Mobile usability - how well your pages respond to mobile devices
  • Core web vitals - the load times, site speed, visual stability, and interactivity of your site
  • Security - web pages should be secure for users and promote safe browsing
  • HTTPS - URLs with HTTP instead of HTTPS protocol could result in poor SEO performance because they are less secure and lack encryption.
A graphic showing a cell phone, an internet symbol, a website security symbol, and HHTTPS

The GSC platform will point out any of these issues and will alert you to any problems. You can check this out in the “Experience” feature of your account.

4. Run SEO A/B testing

Once you ensure that your web pages rank for relevant keywords and that their security, performance, and mobile usability are up to par, you can conduct A/B testing. GSC helps you test specific optimizations to improve average positions across all the keywords. The keyword tracking feature on the platform can quickly confirm the success of the optimizations.

To run a split test in GSC:

  1. Choose the page you want to test and the specific variant. Avoid testing more than one variant at a time as it will be challenging to determine improved organic traffic, impressions, and rankings for each.
  2. Carry out the relevant page optimization.
  3. Wait 7-10 days.
  4. Use GSC to check if the page has improved impressions, clicks, average position, or click-through rate.

GSC provides the best way to narrow in on the most valuable optimizations in your SEO testing for better rankings and impressions. You can borrow from these optimizations to improve the other web pages.

Final Thoughts

If you're not already actively using GSC and Google Analytics, you're not getting in-depth insights into your website's standing. You are also missing out on an opportunity to optimize your site for a better ranking on SERPs.

If GSC sounds like more work than you have time for, an expert can lend a helping hand. At Steel Croissant, we help brands grow by discovering who they are and where they want to go. This includes SEO and website heavy lifting. Contact us today for a consultation or with any questions you have about GSC and Google Analytics.

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