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In this episode of In-Ear Insights, Katie and Chris dig into the most-overlooked digital analytics tool at most companies: Google Search Console. They dig into what it is, what analytics it offers, how to use the data, what conclusions to draw from it, and why Google Search Console should be on the bookmarks bar of every marketer’s browser. Tune in now!

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for listening to the episode.

Christopher Penn
This is In-Ear Insights, the Trust Insights podcast.

In this episode of In-Ear Insights today, we are talking about Google Search Console. It is the number one search marketing resource that marketers don’t use.

Understandably, the reason for it is, is I guess, understandable. It’s it’s not, especially in its old incarnation was not the friendliest piece of software to use. The documentation wasn’t great. But there are a lot of marketers who are relying on the basic search stuff within Google Analytics without connecting search console to it. And they’re all asking questions like, why am I not seeing any keywords? You know, why don’t I know what people are searching for my website and the answer of courses you should have connected to Google Search Console. So to kick things off, let’s talk about what, uh, what can you find in Search Console? What of what have we used search console for in the past?

Katie Robbert
Well, I think you’ve already started to say some of it. And, you know, the keywords is the big thing that marketers are looking for, I want to take a step back for a second. And, you know, I think that Google Search Console is often that forgotten component when setting up your Google Analytics account properly. You know, there’s this misunderstanding that, well, I put the Google Analytics tag on my website, I’m done. But there’s so many more things that if connected properly, your Google Analytics become more powerful. And Google Search Console is one of those things. And so what you can get from search console is what people are searching for within your website. And those are those keywords and phrases that you’re often looking for. You can see the pages that people are searching on, you can see what countries they’re coming from devices. So there’s a lot of overlap in terms of the type of data you can get from Search Console versus Google Analytics. But really, the two systems work best in conjunction with each other. You really don’t want to use one independent of the other, you would really like to work use them together.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, I totally agree. Now, let’s talk about so the data itself when you go into Search Console, yes, you see the pages that are getting search hits, but you’re the thing I think most marketers are interested in is, what am I getting searched for? Like, what when I What do I show up for when someone’s searching for me. And this is something that I am constantly amazed people don’t spend more time with. Because if you know what people are finding you for, then you can either you either know that your overall marketing strategy is, is wrong or right. So in our results, one of the top of forming term is trust insights. I would be a little worried if, if that wasn’t in the top. Like, if no one ever searched for our company by name, then that kind of tells me that we’re not doing our public relations, right. We’re not doing advertising, right? We’re not doing content marketing, right? No one’s searching for it. When you see something where the logical and obvious thing is not present. Like when you dig into companies analytics Search Console, Alex, you see, it’s totally wrong. What’s the first thing you tell people other than, hey, you’re completely wrong?

Katie Robbert
Well, it’s, it’s less telling and more asking it, you know, it’s what kind of content are you promoting? What, what keywords are you focusing on? Did you do your seo keyword research. And I think that that’s really where the data that you can get out of search console becomes more powerful. Because what we often see is that marketers focus so much on what they want to be known for, versus what they actually are known for. And I think that there’s that middle pieces missing of what’s really happening with their audience. And so, you know, if I see that let’s, you know, just say us, for example, that we are getting known for dry cleaning, for example, then my first question to you and myself would be where on our site have we talked about dry cleaning, you know, what’s happening, like, have we been spammed should we mentioned something that happened to go viral or take off basically, just trying to figure out what are we doing that is causing that type of keyword or phrase to become the thing that we’re known for? And is that Okay, do we actually, is it okay, that we’re known for dry cleaning? Or do we need to start to do some course correction? And that’s where I would start with that versus telling people you’re I mean, yes, it’s implied you’re doing it wrong, but really starting to understand like, what’s happening. So, you know, I think that us the Search Console data in conjunction with your seo keyword data is really going to help you pull all of that information together

Christopher Penn
with totally agree. And the other thing that I don’t see people using Search Console data for enough is measuring the impact of their brand again, if so, if no one’s ever searching for your brand name, you kind of have a brand awareness problem. I mean, it’s great if you’re getting all your traffic from your top unbranded terms. Like analytics consulting firm, or, you know, analytics for marketers, but if no one’s ever searching for your company name, you’ve got a brand problem. And one of the questions I know people used to love to ask us back in the old days was, how do I measure my PR, right? How do I measure my public relations? Well, simple if no one who knows who you are. So your public relations haven’t gone so well?

Katie Robbert
Well, and that’s a really good pro tip is, you know, you’re right. And we still get that question, how do I measure my PR? And this is exactly this is a tool that you would want to use to measure your PR, because right here is all the information about what people know you for? Yep. And so I so I guess one of my questions to you is tools such as sem, rush, and Rs. And how did those compare with a Google search console, because I think that Search Console, as we’ve been stating, is a mystery to people what to do with it.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, it’s really interesting, a lot of the big search company tools don’t necessarily disclose exactly where their data sources come from. So one of the challenges that marketers have is you have to use them if you want to do apples to apples comparisons with a competitor. So because you obviously can’t don’t have access to your competitors websites, but there will be a difference because what they’re doing is measuring click stream data, measuring estimation, using a bunch of different data sources to try and infer what is highly ranked Search Console pulls data directly from Google, it is Google’s own data. And therefore, in terms of truthfulness, it is the most accurate, most truthful representation of how people find you. So you have to use it for your own stuff. But if you’re comparing Search Console data with a professional SEO tool, you’re going to see some differences. You know, for example, Google has never been forthcoming about how things rank. So a lot of search tools have to use multiple search engines, they’ll pull in data from beings API and being is very open about, you know, hey, we want to use our data because we want you to stop using.

And so you’ll see differences

in terms of what do you do with that, if you are trying to fix up if you’re trying to measure your own brand strength internally and trying to fix up your own web site, you should be using Search Console. If you are comparing yourself to competitors, you should be using a third party SEO tool.

Katie Robbert
So let’s talk a little bit about what you were saying in terms of fixing up your website. So there are other things aside from keywords, which are incredibly important. There are other things that search console does that you can use to fix up your own website. So let’s talk a little bit about those. You know, let’s talk about mobile usability. Let’s talk about site maps. Let’s look okay, let’s talk about the importance of a site map. What is the site map for those who don’t know,

Christopher Penn
the site map is the table of contents are your website, it tells Google, you load this very specific file formats called XML

that your website may or may not automatically generate, depending on your content management system. You load this to, to your search console account, and it tells Google hey, here’s all the pages you should know about. Google will read the sitemap and it will compare it to its own results. And it will say, oh, yep, those pages or Nope, you’re sending me garbage. I’m going to ignore you now.

But it is essential for especially if you have content on more than one system that you want associated with the website. So a lot of marketers have, for example, a marketing automation system like par.or, HubSpot or something and they have their own CMS has their own landing page tools and stuff. And Google doesn’t necessarily know that what’s in your Savior, part of account is part of your website, search console is your opportunity to say to Google Yes, all of this is one website. So links that you’ve gotten to yet that special promotional landing page belong to our overall top level domain are, you know, trust insights, Ai, for example,

this is especially important when you have the potential for multiple domain names, or the potential for multiple websites. So we used to have an old.com address, and we set up trust insights.ai. So any have content that was to that old site, we want to tell Google, hey, this is part of our go. Any, any links to that old website are part of our trust inside of AI domain. So treat them accordingly, as opposed to saying, think of it like a separate website, but we don’t want them doing which kind of goes back to our favorite topic of all, which is a search console is a fantastic tool. But only after you’ve done your planning. If you don’t have an SEO plan, none of this matters. So why don’t people plan more on their Seo? Do they just assume this is the magic is going to happen behind the scenes and all the software? I’ll do it for them?

Katie Robbert
Well, you know, it’s funny that you say that because I was going to say the exact same thing of So what you’re saying is, Google doesn’t automatically just know there’s actual work that has to go into it. So I think that that’s exactly it. I think that there’s a misunderstanding that you actually have to tell Google what pages you have, what work you’ve done for them to be able able to start to serve them up in their search results. It’s not just I’ve posted a blog, the blog automatically shows up in the search results. There’s actual work that has to happen behind the scenes that you need to let Google know, hey, this is a thing and this is associated with me. So please show this in the search results when somebody’s looking for this topic. And so I think that that right there, the sitemap is so overlooked is the is the one thing that people often forget to do, or don’t know that they have to do, and they get so frustrated with when they’re trying to work on and fix their SEO of, well, I’ve done all this work, why isn’t it showing up? Because Google still doesn’t know about it?

Christopher Penn
Exactly. Google is a machine learning system, machine learning is required data to learn from your site map is your way of telling Google learn from this data, if you don’t provide that you’re leaving it up to the algorithm. And it may or may not decide things.

Katie Robbert
So How often would you say what’s what’s sort of the best practice for how often you should update your sitemap or doesn’t do it for you.

Christopher Penn
Ah, so it depends on your content management system. If you’re using a system like WordPress, for example, and you’ve installed a really good SEO plugin, like all in one or Yost or any of these, the the major plugins, they will automatically update the site map for you, it’s actually done in real time, because it just it draws from the WordPress database. So every time you put up a new blog post on trust and says.ai, that page, it’s added to the site map. And then Google recalls that site map relatively regularly. So it was averaging about every three days, it’s now averaging close to every day, it just shows you how scary there is. But one of the things I think is so important to do is auto maybe a monthly or quarterly basis, manually refresh the site map, and you just you just go into search console and say, Hey, recheck this site map, or anytime you’ve launched something new, like a new landing page for a campaign that you want to make sure that the world’s knows about, it’s time to log in a search console, and just say, hey, make sure you’re checking us out,

which again, goes back to planning. If your campaigns don’t have this Incorporated, hey, like, update sitemap, then you’re missing a key ingredient

Katie Robbert
well, and, you know, we could talk about why that does or doesn’t happen, you know, ad nauseum. And part of that, which is a topic for a different day is getting different teams to work together. So you might have your SEO team, you might have your ad team, you might have your content team. And all of those teams need to work together towards the same goal versus independently in siloed, which is where a lot of these issues start to happen. Because, you know, well, I’m just creating the content, someone else is taking care of the hosting and technical side of it, well, I’m just creating the campaign, someone else is going to create the landing page and make sure that Google knows about it. So that, you know, I don’t want to go too far down a rabbit hole. But that is a big part of why these plans don’t come together the way that they should, in a very coherent 360 way.

Christopher Penn
Yeah, there’s actually a new term for that, because, of course consulting agencies need to do to sell, but the term these days is called marketing orchestration. And the reason for that is that more and more, it’s not just the teams internally, it is also coordinating your different agencies, because a lot of companies have five, or six or seven or 10 or 20 different agencies, there’s an SEO agency and a marketing agency, and an ad agency and a PR agency, and so on, and so forth. And no one is helping them connect the dots. And, and a lot of cases, because of the trend in the agency world of, you know, trying to always branch out to new revenue, they compete with each other. So like, your PR agency, may also trying to be a content marketing agency. But then your SEO agency is like, Hey, you guys do it over there. And so marketing orchestration, perhaps that that should indeed be a second episode. But one of the other critical things and this goes to our other favorite topic, which is governance is that search console can’t just live with one person in the organization, it has to be something that all the relevant parties at least have some visibility into. Now, you may not want to give administrative access to everyone. So what’s another option for that would would Data Studio be a good choice, their

Katie Robbert
Data Studio is always a really good choice, especially when it comes I’m such a Data Studio fan, when it comes to the Google properties, you know, that they’re all going to work very well together, because that’s the way that Google has set them up. So using Data Studio is an excellent option for those that you want to give visibility to, but not necessarily admin rights, you so that at the very least the different teams and the different stakeholders around your organization, or even, you know, the different agencies and third parties that you’re working with, can see, okay, here’s what’s happening, or, hey, here’s an error. You know, Google Search Console has told me that my usability isn’t working great. So let me go tell the team who can actually fix that, because I don’t know if they’re aware of it. I’m so grateful that this is a podcast and not a video because my face when you set marketing orchestration,

I mean, back in my day, that was called a project manager, you know,

Christopher Penn
IT consulting firms need something new to sell. I know, I know,

Katie Robbert
it’s, you know, I yeah, that’s it. I’m going to table that for now. Because that’s a topic for a different day that we for sure, should tackle over many, many hours, because it’s ridiculous. But anyway, yeah,

man, it is Monday morning, isn’t it? No, Google Data Studio is an excellent, excellent option for setting up visibility into your analytics for other people, when you don’t necessarily want to give them admin access. But you want to give them some visibility into what’s going on.

Christopher Penn
I would also add to that, that it is fantastic for telling the story of your marketing, because you can have here’s our search console search terms, and then you can right next set in the same window, you can have your Google Analytics organic search traffic, and they can have your conversions from search traffic. And it tells a data story, it’s data storytelling from beginning to end up, here’s what’s happened in search. And if you if you want to improve your your search, marketing, reporting, your SEO reporting, this is the probably one of the best ways to do is to tell that story however you’d like. But Data Studio is the place to do it.

Katie Robbert
Mm hmm. I agree. And not to hop off of search console on to Data Studio. But one of the things that I also think people don’t necessarily know is that Data Studio has so many third party integrations now. And they keep just adding more and more that you can use your SEO search data, your software of choice to continue to tell that story all within the same dashboard without having to have multiple reports. So I think that that’s such a smart recommendation, Chris is, you know, tell the story of your search data in Data Studio using Google Search Console, because Search Console really tells you here’s what people are actually doing on our own site. This is our own data.

Christopher Penn
Here’s an interesting idea, then, could you use predictive analytics and have a side by side of here’s what i is likely to happen. Here’s what has happened. And use that to as sort of an all in one one stop shopping for for your, all your search marketing with Data Studio and a spreadsheet?

Katie Robbert
Absolutely. I think that that is such a great idea. Because what that does is that gives anyone, marketer or anyone, team or stakeholder, the full picture, here’s what here’s what the market is going to want. Here’s what we’re planning to do. Here’s what we did. Here’s what happened. And then you kind of continue to go through that cycle of figuring out what’s working, what’s not working like that, right? There is the full picture of your search data. I mean, that’s so smart. I don’t know why more people aren’t thinking about it that way.

Christopher Penn
Well, I mean, to your point earlier, it’s a Google search console, one of Google’s Best Kept Marketing Secrets that really shouldn’t be, it’s like you shouldn’t do it. So to just summarizing, a wrap up Search Console tells you how your website’s doing from a technical perspective, from a search perspective, from a mobile perspective, and is the most important way to tell Google Hey, you missed something, or, hey, we got something new. Please pay attention to it. And if you want to make the most of it, integrate with Google Analytics and integrate it with your Google Data Studio. And if you have questions about how to do any of this, please feel free to hit us up. We’re happy to answer your questions. You can go to trust insights.ai. And if you’d like to just ask some simple questions, join our free Facebook group. But trust insights.ai slash analytics for marketers, we’re happy to chat with you there. As always, please subscribe to the YouTube channel and the newsletter will talk to you soon.

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