17 August 2020
Google Search Console With Your SEO Expert – Part 3
Seek Social are back with another great blog for you this week – and just like we did for Google Analytics a few weeks ago, this week our SEO expert team are turning our beginner’s guide to Google Search Console into a trilogy. Given what we’ve covered in part 1 and part 2 (initial setup, and understanding basic reports and metrics) it seems to our SEO expert team that there’s only one thing missing that you need to know before you can use Google Search Console effectively – how to improve the ‘Clicks’, ‘Impressions’ and ‘Average CTR’ metrics that our SEO expert team told you about last week.
However, our SEO expert team are a generous bunch, so we’ll also show you a couple of extra tips that will help you get the most out of your GSC setup, help you climb the rankings and as a result, help your website succeed! Without further ado then, let’s get into it!
We’ll start at the beginning though, with what is probably the raison d’etre of any SEO expert out there… Finding and fixing SEO errors, improving those ‘Click’, ‘Impression’ and ‘CTR’ values, and with them a site’s ranking. Your SEO expert should know that in order to do this, the ‘Enhancements’ tab is the place to go…
Point One: What Are Enhancements?
The SEO expert team at Seek Social want to stress that ‘enhancements’ here refers to your site, and simply means ‘things you could improve to make your site rank better’. There are a number of different enhancement types that you can work on, and a good SEO expert should know that Google do add to this list as times and website functionalities (and Google’s algorithm) change.
We’re writing this in August 2020, and as things stand right now the list of possible enhancements is as follows:
- ‘How To’s’
- Sitelink Searchboxes
If you’ve followed through the other guides produced by Seek Social’s SEO expert team then it should come as no surprise that each of these enhancement types can be found under the ‘Enhancements’ tab, found in the left-hand navigation menu that any SEO expert using Google’s tools should be familiar with. Finally, don’t worry if you don’t see all of the enhancements listed above, under the ‘Enhancements’ tab for your site – as our SEO expert team will tell you, Enhancements can be turned on (or off) as they become more (or less) relevant to your site’s performance.
Point Two: Page Statuses Explained by Our SEO Expert Team
So, now that you know where to look, what next? Have a click through your enhancements and as you do so data should be displayed in response to your clicks. This data comes in the form of a bar chart at the top of the screen, and underneath that, a data table. Overall it’s a setup very similar to the one our SEO expert team dealt with last time, while describing the ‘Performance’ report.
There are three basic page statuses shown for each enhancement – as follows:
These pages have an error which is preventing them from being indexed by Google. And as our SEO expert team mentioned last week – if a page has not been indexed by Google it will not appear in any search results. You don’t want to see any pages with this categorisation – and if you do, you should get your SEO expert to fix whatever issues GSC says the pages have as a high-priority task.
‘Valid with warnings’:
These pages have been crawled and indexed by Google. They will appear in Google search results, but there are still issues present that are holding them back from ranking as well as they otherwise might. After dealing with any ‘Error’ pages (as described above), these pages should be next on the to-do list for your SEO expert. You want as few of these as you can have, but GSC seeing a page as ‘valid with warnings’ isn’t the end of the world, and our SEO expert team know that realistically speaking it is normal for any working website to have some pages with this status – especially if it’s being worked on, or has new pages / content added regularly.
In contrast with the other two classifications, you want as many of these pages as you can get – quite simply, a valid page has no technical issues that are holding it back. Our SEO expert team know that this doesn’t necessarily mean the page is ranking as well as it can, but it does rule out any technical / fundamental errors with how the page has been built. The rest is up to the quality of your SEO expert and the on-page and off-page SEO work they perform.
Point Three: Creating a Sitemap
Creating a sitemap should be one of the first things an SEO expert does within Google Search Console when taking on the SEO work for any website, but especially so when the site is brand new. To be clear, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should be working on a sitemap while a site is In development (as things can still be very fluid as far as site layout goes at this stage), but it should be done before the site goes live and before the ‘ongoing’ phase of SEO work begins.
Crucially, your SEO expert should also know that they’ll need to perform periodic updates on your sitemap so that it actually reflects the layout of your site. Why? Because the sitemap guides Google’s bots – informing them as to which pages on your site are new, and therefore need to be crawled and indexed so they can appear in search results. Because of this, if you don’t keep your sitemap up to date, you’re going to be severely hampering your own SEO efforts.
For example, let’s say you’ve just posted some great new content that would rank really well for an awesome keyword. That’s a big part of good SEO, but it won’t do you any good until Google’s finished crawling and indexing the page that content is on. The page can’t be included in search results until this happens. Google is good, but it isn’t telepathic. So, in order for Google to crawl and index a given page, it first needs to be told that the page exists. One of the ways that you or your SEO expert can let Google know that you have new pages waiting to be indexed, is by updating your sitemap to reflect that.
There’s more to sitemaps than that though, so keep an eye out for more on this topic from our team of SEO experts in the coming weeks!
Point Four: Unlisting Pages
Its important for every page on your site to be as SEO friendly as possible, right? Well… yes and no. It’s important for every page that you want Google to index, for sure – but our SEO expert team knows that it can be advantageous to keep some pages out of the Google rankings altogether.
Another reason why you might want to un-list a page is to influence a customer journey. Let’s say you give away an e-book as a reward for people who sign up to your newsletter. If the ebook download page is listed by Google, then it’s possible for people to access that download page without signing up to your newsletter – not what you want at all.
However, as our SEO expert team said earlier, it is possible to de-list pages so they don’t show up in search results, and thankfully it’s a pretty easy process. To unlist a site, just navigate to ‘Removals’ on the left-hand navigation tower, then click ‘New Request’, and fill out the box that pops up. However, be careful when you do this to make sure that you select the correct radio button at the bottom. Yes, removing a single page is easy with this tool, but if you select ‘Remove all URL’s with this Prefix’, so is unlisting an entire group of pages.
This too can be useful, but imagine the impact if you accidentally unlisted, say, your entire blog archive or webstore using this feature. Yeah – ouch. So, the advice from our SEO expert team is to tread carefully when you’re unlisting pages, and to double-check your inputs before you finalise anything.
Point Five: The Final Word
And there you have it… Armed with this knowledge from our SEO expert team you should be all set to take your first steps with Google Search Console. However, if there’s anything specific that you’d like to ask us about GSC, Search Engine Optimisation, or any of the other digital marketing services that we provide – don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Call 0161 761 1800, or email us at ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ to get in touch with the team at Seek Social today!