How To Use Google’s Data on Your Site To Improve Your SEO Performance
Help Google help you. Google actually wants to rank your site. Their goal is to help everybody get exactly what they are looking for when they do a search. As such, they want to know if your site is the one that is going to best satisfy the searcher’s needs. So, they set up a lot of things to make sure that you can let them know.
The best ways for a website owner to help Google figure out their site is with the Google Search Console formerly known as Webmaster Tools, and Google Analytics.
It is these dashboards that will help you give Google access to your site so they can collect a lot of data. Then this data is given back to you to use to make improvements to your site and improve your SEO.
In this article, I will explain exactly how to use this data to improve your site’s rankings.
Use the Google Search Console Index Coverage report
Google crawls your site very often looking for new content and any updates to your site. It then uses the data it gathered and brings it back to the Search Console so that you can see exactly what Google has found on your site. The Google index coverage is a report that you can then take a look at and gain some valuable insight.
In fact, they give you a sport rating of how the indexing of your content has gone. In it they detail which URLs have had some problems and which are fine. The ratings range from Valid, to Valid with warnings, to Excluded to Error. In each of the sections, you can see if your site needs debugging.
Often, your site has some technical issues that will hold it back no matter how good your content is or your backlink profile. When you can take a look and see exactly where the problems lie, then you can set about fixing them without having to guess.
If you have some warnings then this is usually because there were some issues that Google had with your robots.txt directives. Something like a URL was indexed even though the robots directive told it not to but it followed an internal link to the page. In other words, nothing to really worry about.
When you see a lot of pages with errors or were excluded then you have to pay attention. Excluded pages are usually just ones that confused Google because of the robots.txt file or are poorly configured. Pages with errors could be from just about anything including a crawling error or duplicate content. You’ll have to pore over this section if you have a lot of pages with errors.
Improve underperforming keywords
Using the Search Console will give you a clear picture of which keywords are working and which are not. You can sort the results by Impressions and Clicks. It’s by seeing these stats side by side that you can determine which keywords are underperforming. When you see a lot of impressions but not many clicks then you have to pull up the URL and see where the problem lies. Sometimes the keyword is not being served well by the meta description that is not written in a way that entices a reader to click.
It could also be from the title of the article. You should start by changing the title and see if it improves your click-through rate. If nothing changes, then change the meta description to see if it improves.
By looking at what the other results are that come ahead of yours you may see something jump out at you that you are missing from your URL.
Find backlinking opportunities
Looking to the left of the dashboard you will see the Links section. This will show you where your backlinks are coming in from. Hopefully, you can differentiate organic backlinks from any that you may have paid for. This is because if you can find the content that is bringing in the most backlinks without any effort on your part you may be able to replicate that.
Make a note of the articles that are bringing in the most backlinks organically and see if you can spot any similarities in the content type or style. For instance, if you are getting a lot of links for instructional content then this is a sign that you should be doing more of that type of content.
Maybe the content types are all different, but one similarity is that you have a lot of stats in the articles that are linked to. People love to use stats to make a point so if your content contains pithy stats that are easier to link to than to come up with their own then this should be done more. If that is original research on your end then this is definitely the way to go.
Update pages losing traffic
There is a great section in the Google Search Console that allows you to see which pages are losing some of their rankings. It’s in the Performance section and you can see a comparison of the rankings over a specific period of time.
If you go back six months you can see the pages that have lost their ranking over that time. If this is the case then it could signify that the content is getting stale. You need to go back and do some updating. It could be that some of the content is out of date, or that other sites have the topic covered in greater depth and you should add some content to the post.
It’s important to take a hard look at the metadata for the URL as well. Once again, it could be your title or description causing a low CTR which Google is taking as a distrust signal and dropping the ranking. Also, if your site speed loading times are long then you are likely losing ranking due to that and you should find a way to speed it up.