Repeat after me: “Data is my friend.”
Why is data my friend? Because it helps me make decisions. The good kind of decisions, fuelled by goals and metrics.
Yes, there’s a time and a place for shooting from the gut. But data gives meaning in the midst of chaos. It says do this because of this.
There. Rant over.
The only problem with data is that sometimes there’s just so damn much of it. Dive straight into Google Analytics and you won’t be able to touch the bottom—so you’d better know how to swim.
If you’re trying to understand the next step to take with your Search Engine Optimization, there are about a hundred zillion different sources you could reference. One that can easily be overlooked is Google Search Console (née: Webmaster Tools).
Now is an especially good time to get familiar with the platform, since Google started rolling out some fancy new features on January 8 to correct some bothersome limitations.
So, without further ado, let’s talk about four insanely useful ones that are quick and easy to find in Google Search Console.
Search Performance Analytics
Where do your pages show up in the search rankings and how often? What percentage of those impressions result in a click?
Search Console makes quantifying your keyword positioning easier than ever before by giving you in-depth search performance analytics. Previously you could only see 90 days worth of data, but the new update now gives you up to 16 months of historical data.
You can quickly get a sense of impressions (how often your website appeared in a search) versus clicks to determine if your title tags and meta descriptions are enticing readers.
Anyone interested in digging deeper has some segmentation options, such as filtering by country and device.
A sitemap is a file that gives search engine crawlers a quick overview of the pages of your website. This helps ensure that nothing important is missed in their scan and that all your pages will be indexed and visible to organic traffic.
In Search Console, you can submit and test your sitemap, which then can help you find and resolve any errors on the site.
Indexing & Crawl Errors
Shocking as it may be to believe, there’s a better way to find out whether or not your web pages are showing up in search than by punching in your keywords and scrolling through the results to find your listings.
Search Console gives a quick summary of how many pages from your site are indexed, along with warnings about why certain pages may not currently be listed.
The Crawl Errors report can help you quickly identify broken links and other errors that hurt your site’s user experience that may have been caused by subtle changes to your website over time.
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) can be used to speed up and improve your website’s performance on mobile devices. This is nothing to sneeze at in the post-Mobilegeddon world we live in.
With Google Search Console you can now run checks on these pages to make sure they are running properly. If a problem is detected, you will be notified of what the issue is and then use Search Console to validate that it is resolved afterwards.
Data with purpose
While checking these 4 features should become part of your regular routine, they really only scratch the surface of what is possible with Search Console. Taking the time to get familiar with Search Console and the gobs of data contained within will help you better position your SEO campaign for success.