How To Use Keywords in Google Search Console?

Understanding Google Search Console and keyword optimization doesn’t have to be as complicated as you think.

Video transcript:

Tricia: It was kind of about keywords, finding what keywords people are using when they get to your page. And so, I was looking in Google Search Console. In my mind, I was thinking, well, why isn’t this in Google Analytics? So, am I looking in the right place first? Is it in Google Analytics, second? And what else do I need to know about all that?

David: So, Tim asked a question, and he got a long technical answer; you get a history lesson with your answer.

Tricia: Oh, I knew I was going to do that! I was like, I need to look into this more, and then I’m just like, well, no.

David: No, that’s fine. So, it used to be that Google would give you, hey, this is the page someone landed on, and here’s the keyword they used.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Google decided that is a privacy violation. And some people were using that information for spam. So, Google removed it from Google Analytics. That’s why there’s still a keyword field, but it says not provided.

Tricia: Okay. Alright. That is making sense now. Okay.

David: Google considers that a privacy violation, but if you’re doing Google AdWords, for some reason, if you pay, it’s not a privacy violation.

Tricia: Yeah. Okay. If you pay Google, then they’ll say it’s okay.

David: It’s totally okay if you pay them, and you can get which search queries they used. That’s acceptable, but from organic search, which doesn’t make Google any money, that’s a privacy violation, and they’re going to take a stand and protect user privacy.

Tricia: I see.  

David: Yeah. Yay, Google, your credibility is intact. Now, you can pair Google Search Console with Google Analytics.

Tricia: Yes. And I tried to do that, and I had a problem with it. It said it couldn’t connect. So, I did something not right. And I didn’t go back and try.

David: Right. Right. I don’t find it useful because you can’t combine the data. You can’t because it keeps it in separate silos. So, you can’t say, okay, I’m going to combine landing page information from Google Analytics and landing page information from Search Console and see all of that.

Tricia: Okay.

David: And then we get into an issue. I think Google would argue that it’s because they’re two different pieces of information. Once a click and one’s a visit, and those are really different.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Oh, the data is similar, but they’re very different metrics. So, lining up, and I think Google will say, well, we can’t really line up the data, so we’re not going to. That’s why the data in Search Console is so important because it’s our best way of seeing the keywords people are clicking through to get to our site. But if you notice, with the data in Google Search Console, you can do the graphs. Right? You have when you look at it… Actually, let me pull up search. I’ll just sacrifice my data. Hold on. Okay. So, we’re getting there. Okay. We’re going to share my screen. So, I’m sacrificing my data. You guys can all see my traffic. So, in your performance report, is what we’re looking at.

Tricia: Yes.

David: Let me go to the full report. And here we see the queries to my website, the clicks, and the impressions. Clicks are how many people click off Google Search exclusively, and impressions are how many times my website, a page on my website, was seen for this keyword. Right? And we get a graph of impressions and clicks. Now, where this is really cool is I can do the Average Position, and now I could see the rank. So, for instance, this phrase, Google Search Console excluded pages I rank 2.2, which is again good, but I rank 2.2. How do you rank .2? I’m number one a lot of times, and I’m number three sometimes, and it averages out to 2.2 because you never really rank for any position consistently. That’s why I hate when people start talking about, “well, I rank for this.” Yeah, no, you rank 2.2.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Okay.

Tricia: One thing before you move on. How did you get that? Because I have clicks and impressions here.

David: You just click on Average Position here.

Tricia: Let me see. I see. Okay. Yeah, that shows me.

David: Now, because this is just queries, I know that this query generated this many clicks, impressions, and this position, but I don’t know where on my website.  

Tricia: Yeah. What page?

David: Right. So, I can go here, and I can click on this word. And now, I’m limiting my data to this word. Oh, it looks like I dropped a little bit, 3.7. I was 1.0, oh my gosh, I’m sinking in the ranks. But now I can go to pages. So, the query is still Google Search Console exclude pages, but now I’m limited to this page. Right? So, now let’s just go a little deeper. Now, I’m limited to this query and that page. And if I take off the query, go to queries, now I see all keywords. There are a thousand of them, for which this page gets clicks and impressions from Google. So, this is like a treasure trove of information.

Tricia: Yes, and I know that it is. And I know that I need to use it more. I’ve been using it, just not as much as I should—question for you. I know in Google Analytics we can set up our monthly reports. Would I have to use Google Data Studio, and can I pull this, or is there no way to do that?

David: You could do this in Data Studio. You cannot do this like a Google Analytics report.

Tricia: In in Google Search Console. Okay. I looked there, and I didn’t see it.

David: I’m going to warn you really quick. I don’t like clients obsessing on keywords.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Right, because it can really be a very confusing mess. And so, you’ll notice that, okay, this is the number one query for which people find my website. Right? It’s a ton, but there are a thousand possible keywords someone could use to get this page.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: You know which is the best one? I don’t know. If we obsess on one, we might lose from the others. This is normal. Normally there’s not one keyword that brings in all the traffic. There’s one keyword that brings a significant portion of the traffic, but, like, search console of pages, that’s a legitimate keyword. Right? Excluded pages in Google Search Console, a legitimate way to describe it. Which one’s better? I don’t know. Like, this one has more impressions than this one. This one has more clicks than this one. This one ranks better. We could, like, get ourselves into a dizzy thing. So, let’s not bring clients into this.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: This is how I would use it, and I find this to be very effective. I’m going to show you, this is maybe giving away too much information, but we’re going to talk about this. So, I’m going to go to Page Report. I’m going to go to a page that I really want to do well. Let’s just go to my home page. I mean, you can really see what a terrible job I do. Now, I’m limiting my data to my home homepage, but I wanted those queries. So, one thing to note, the blue line means clicks, the purple line means impressions, the orange line means rank. So, you’re seeing the clicks I’m getting from Google Search, but you’ll notice it doesn’t give me any clicks in the table. So, it’s not reporting everything.

Tricia: Okay.

David: Right? Another really important thing to remember is this is a sample. So, you really could hurt yourself with this data if you’re not careful. One of the things that is really a good way to do that is: this is my page, right? The query in Google that brings the most eyeballs, six hundred thirty-two within the last three months, because that’s what this time scale is set to, is “why should I learn SEO?” That’s a great word. Right? Number two, “Is SEO hard to learn?” Good, great. “Guided SEO,” oh, there we go. That is a good one. I really want to show up for “guided SEO.” However, a lot fewer people are seeing me, and I rank around the 69th position. So, what I would use this for is, theoretically, I’ve already done my keyword research, and I know the ideas, the keywords for which I’d like my page to show up. I can use this to double-check because this is real data, not theoretical data. If I decide that “guided SEO” is what I really want to show up for, I know that there are definitely people looking for it, 317 impressions from my website alone, even though I rank 69.3. So, if I could improve this page in its ability to rank for “guided SEO,” we’d see my position increase, my impressions increase, and hopefully, my clicks increase. But, most importantly, I got customers from it, which this does not show, right? Because this is not Google Analytics.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: So, what I’d like to do is, every couple of months, go into this report and look to see where a page that I have previously optimized for a particular phrase shows up now? Is it really getting impressions, and am I getting any clicks? Or do I need to do a little bit more work on that page? Or maybe there’s a better word that’s shown up here that I should focus on instead. So, then I reoptimize the page for the new words that I’ve identified, right?

Tricia: Yeah.

David: So, that is assuming I’ve gone through the keyword research process, identified keywords, broken that down using the SEO Blueprint to say here are the pages that I’m trying to focus on for these topics. Then, I’ve optimized the page for a word that I think most people are searching for; then I come back here, and I could go in, just hit page, I can paste the exact URL in here, hit apply, and it’ll only show me queries to that page, and how well I’m doing? So, if I want to rank for guided SEO, I’ve got to do a lot more work on that page. Now we know that’s not only on-page stuff. That’s off-page stuff too. I could probably use some more internal links. But I should check the on-page optimization and make sure the keyword is on the page, in the title tag, mentioned a couple of times. These are really great. Like, I think I’ve asked and answered these questions on the home page, and that’s why it’s even showing up.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Like, is it a surprise that the site search of Curious Ants is number one? What surprises me is that there are 72 different people looking at that.

Tricia: Yeah.

David: Right. But I can go through. Even for “Curious Ant,” I rank 8.3, which is one of the things I’ve discovered about my brand.

Tricia: “Ants website.”

David: “Ants website.” I ranked 25 for “ants website.”  “SEO learn.” Oh boy, I’d love that one. Right? 94. Right. “Get curious.” Totally irrelevant. “Learn SEO step by step.” Oh, yes, please. 95. Right?

Tricia: Yeah.

David: So, this can help me. Once I’ve done the initial optimization, I go through this process and see where I need to go. And what you’ll find is that page will get more traffic, and if you’re getting in front of relevant people, you’re going to get sign-ups. So actually, let’s go back to “Why should I learn SEO?” Okay. That’s the most impressions, but I don’t think that’s a keyword that’s going to bring more sign-ups. They want to know if they should learn. They’re not ready to learn.

Tricia: Similar, yeah.

David: Right? I want them to be ready to learn. That’s who I want. I don’t really want to have to try to convince you – at least not on the home page. Right? So don’t just obsess on this is the word with the most impressions. This is probably the better one, “guided SEO.” Okay. Well, we’ve got some work to do, and I can kind of click on that, and I can see, look, it’s starting to get a little bit more. I’ll bet this is where I started trying for that phrase. I was getting nothing. Starting to get some traction here. There we go. We’ll start to get a little more traction. And that’s why it’s good to do this every couple of months. Because it takes Google a little time to catch up, and if I’d given up a month or week afterward, well, we wouldn’t have made it to this point. But I’m consistently showing, and here there are times I do not even show up. Right?

Tim: I have kind of a double question? If you don’t mind. How does this work into the Game Plan? Like, which step is this really with. Do you want to answer that one first?

David: So, there is a step called optimize page. This what I described here is when you go back to this page two months after you initially optimize it, this is what you do. So, this isn’t the first optimization step. Because when you first optimized the page, as you can see here, it’s about when I added the phrase to the page. It still took a couple of months for Google to kind of register it. So, I could have given up and been very frustrated here. But now we’re consistently showing up, I haven’t gotten any clicks for this phrase, yeah. Well, that’s because I’m on the seventh page of the search results. Right. Okay, I just have some more work to do. And I can look at this and say, well, are there page opportunities? Do we need to build links with the phrase “guided SEO” to this page? Will that help? But that’s where it fits into the Game Plan. Was there a second part?

Tim: There was. But I think I lost it. But it’s okay.

David: Okay. This is what I’ve been doing for all my clients, and boy, it’s great. Because it really helps you focus and not get distracted. Like what about this word? Or what about this one? No. Come back to this every two or three months. Look and see what you’ve got, and then pivot if you have to. And it’s so funny, I’ve noticed trends change. You know I got a client that does some training, and sometimes the phrase is “certification training,” and sometimes it’s “certification course.” So, I’ll optimize for the word course. I’ll come back in three months. And I’ll notice that course improved but training went up significantly. Because remember, Google likes topics, not keywords. It knows that a course is training. We don’t want two pages for that same idea. It’s a topic. It’s the same idea. So, what I noticed is when I optimize for one phrase, the other one will grow too. But also, the number of possible keywords to get to that page grows too, right? Because there are so many ways someone could find the page. We don’t want to limit ourselves to one or two phrases. We want to open it up and talk about our topic in a broad way so that all the different ways someone might search can find, and we could zone in on one. And once you’re in the top five, boy, you’re doing well. You’re consistently getting people on page, and then you’re converting those people, hopefully. You know, that’s great.

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