What is the Google Search Console?
The Google Search Console, or Console, is a set of tools for webmasters, marketers, and SEO experts to monitor and evaluate a website’s performance in Google search results. It’s a free service offered by Google.
The Console is a valuable tool for determining the success of your marketing strategy in the sense of, “is my website/advertising doing what I intended it to do?”
By using the Search Console, the owner can see if Google is able to recognize and list your site (indexing status) and to see how well it is performing.
Among the key features are reports allowing you to see how many times your advertisement has appeared on search result pages (called impressions), how many times searchers have clicked on your link/page, and the clickthrough rate (CTR): CTR is the ratio of the total number of viewers who click on a specific link to the total number of viewers of that page or ad.
The scope of this article is not to be a lesson on the use of the Search Console. If you are new to the Google Search Console, consult with your developer or webmaster on its features and use.
This article is intended to cover the recent updates to the Google Search Console and how they will impact your website in 2018. By addressing the changes recently implemented, some of the principles and applications of the Console will be explained.
What are the Primary Changes?
First of all, the version of Google Search Console that was released in January of this year is a Beta software program, which means it’s not the final version…there’s more to come. The software will be continually updated throughout the year and Google will provide support for both the new version and the older version.
The two primary changes to the Console, thus far, are the amount of historical data available, and the ability to verify corrections to errors in less time than before.
In the new Console, up to 16-months of historical data is now available. In the previous version, the max data available was only three months’ worth. This will obviously give a much broader picture of how your website is performing over a longer timeframe.
The other big change is that when Google identifies errors with your site, the owner can fix those errors and then request Google to update its index—rather than waiting until Google recrawls the site and “sees the fix”.
What are the benefits of the new Console?
First, along with a larger data field available for analysis (90-days vs up to 16-months’ worth of historical data), many of the new features in the Console allow more manipulation of the data.
The revised features in the new Search Performance Report (formally the Search Analytics section) enable you to overlay the charted results of clicks, impressions, and average CTR on top of each other and filter them by multiple variables such as search type, country, and device (mobile or desktop) at the same time. Previously the variables had to be selected one at a time. This allows your SEO expert to assimilate specific performance data for the site.
The second improvement is the Index Coverage Report. It’s a combination of the previous Index Status and Crawl Errors reports.
First, this report lets you see that your website is being indexed by Google. This has nothing to do with ranking, yet. It’s just a list of sites compiled by the search engine.
If your site is not being indexed, then there’s a problem somewhere. Installing Google Analytics may help you determine why you’re not indexed. But, your web developer can help with this issue.
For indexed sites, the Console tool will inform you of problems that are affecting, not only your ranking but also how Google is interpreting your site. Everything from a weak or confusing URL to technical and syntax errors will cause an error report to be generated.
The beauty of the new version is that you can fix these errors and then ask Google to update their index now instead of waiting for the next crawl. This gets you re-indexed and back in the game quickly.
Yet to Come!
According to one report, the current improvements and those to be released will be the biggest updates in 12 years. Formerly called Google Webmaster Tools, Google Search Console is being rebuilt to enhance data analysis and SEO efforts.
Google is placing emphasis on structured data and markup, along with featured snippets, rich results, and other such enhancements. These terms are probably meaningless to the beginner. But, your SEO professional has a keen interest in them and will be pleased if Google rolls out new reports for analyzing these features later this year.
One other thing to look forward to on the new Console is a report allowing the owner to evaluate internal links and backlinks. It’s important to monitor the status of your link building efforts and to see which links are working and which need some help.
SEO for 2018
No one really knows with certainty how to Rank #1 on Google. But, there are a couple of points most experts agree on: First, the reputation of your website, and then the relevancy and user-friendliness of your pages.
Your reputation comes with time. But how relevant and user-friendly your site is, is in your hands. Below are some tips to help you with creating these two attributes.
3 Tips for SEO in 2018…
The #1 Tip for Digital Marketing in 2018 is to remember that Content Is King! Google still values quality content and ranks accordingly.
What are some of the ingredients in quality content?
Make your content original: Don’t copy and paste from another source. Obviously, you’re going to research your topic, but take those research results and put them into your own words.
Keep your content on point: Short sentences and short paragraphs.
Use compelling headlines and sub-headlines: Most readers scan an article. If your headline catches their attention, then they are likely to read further into the paragraph.
Show action in your content—It will move them to act and apply the information. Don’t tell them what to do, show them how to do it.
Write in the active voice, not the passive.
Give the reader solutions. Don’t just explain a problem—tell them how to solve it.
Tell the reader what’s in it for them—What they will gain from your product or service.
Engage the reader: Let your writing be thought-provoking—Ask questions and encourage them to learn all they can about your product.
And, be accurate and truthful—everything you write must be verifiable. Don’t deceive your readers.
Next…stay on top of your Keywords—Become an authority on keywords.
Keyword research is still an important function of an SEO’s job and in spite of what one might read on the internet, Google still ranks for keywords. The algorithms are changing, and keyword usage is evolving, but it remains an important aspect of getting your site to the top of the results page.
Research your targeted keyword or phrase and then create your content around it. Quality content built around well-researched keywords is still a win-win factor with Google.
Learn how to use keyword tools, such as the Google Keyword Planner. Then use the Search Console to monitor how the world is responding to your keywords.
Remember that keyword saturation is out. Be aware of the keyword ratios that search engines are looking for.
And finally, get a Thesaurus. Carefully placed synonyms are essential.
And finally, the third tip is straightforward: Design your website and pages for your customers…not for the Search Engines.
Ask yourself if what you have created is beneficial to your user? Would you do things the same if there were no search engines?
Think Mobile! 2018 may be the year that Google creates an index for mobile first. This will be in line with the growing trend of mobile device use. Desktops are no longer the number one user of the internet and assigning priority to mobile search results will be a key issue in the world of SEO.
Featured Snippets are vacillating in the wings right now, but many see them as a thing of the near future in some format. A featured snippet is a search result that appears as a block, a graph, or an image on the result page. It appears at the top of the page before the organic search results. Getting your site to be displayed as a snippet at the top of the page is not impossible. But if you were to ask five different SEO experts, you’d get five different answers on how to do it.
Emphasis on Structured Data and Markup is rapidly growing. Structured data is organizing your site’s data into a readable format so that it is easily accessible to the search engine. Markup is the use of a preferred language that is easily translated.
These two features, Featured Snippets and Structured Data are topics for your SEO wizard to deal with, but it’s still good information to know. The point is— experts feel Google is looking long and hard at these. It’s possible that the Search Console will provide reports for monitoring these elements of your site in the coming year.
All the strategies above are tools you can use to help your website rank higher on the internet. If your product or service deals with red and yellow gadgets…then, when someone googles “red and yellow gadgets”, you want your website to appear on the first search result page—hopefully near the top of the page. That’s what you want to work toward, being at the top—#1…that’s where the action is!