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In this episode, John and Chris walk through the current incarnation of Google Search Console, explaining the different features and functions – and what marketing purposes they serve. Tune in to find out how Google Search Console can help you measure things like brand strength and public relations efforts, in addition to being a vital SEO tool.

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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 0:02

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

In this week’s in In-Ear Insights, Katie is off this week.

So we have special guest star John Wall on the show.

And I figured we should take some time to talk about and walk through Google Search Console.

Because I would guess that for a lot of folks, it’s been a hot minute, since you popped your head.

And in fact, John was last time you looked at Search Console for marketing over coffee.

John Wall 0:27

Yeah, I think it was 1960.

Something.

This is like one of our classic.

The No, no shoes, the shoe makers, kids have no shoes, you know, it’s gonna show like how horrible it is.

And they’re like stuff I should have turned on five years ago.

So we should have a good time.

Christopher Penn 0:46

So we’re gonna go through this, if you’re just listening to this episode, we’ll, we’ll do our best to narrate.

But, uh, definitely encourage you to pop on over to the Trust Insights YouTube channel, if you go to Trust insights.ai slash YouTube, you will be able to see the stuff that we’re showing on screen.

If not, that’s fine.

So Search Console, if you’re unfamiliar search console is Google’s way of telling you the website owner, what it thinks of your website.

So go go ahead and share my screen here.

And this is the first thing to see the overview.

We’re here we’re looking at marketing over coffee podcast website, we can see generally speaking, like what kind of performance a site has gotten, how many clicks from search, it’s earned on any given period of time, the coverage, which tells you how many pages that think Google thinks there are, and then the type of experience and enhancements and all that stuff.

So the purpose of search console, is to help us make our sites better for Google.

And the better that Google likes our sites, the more likely to rank well, and be able to, to get traffic out of Google.

So the first place from a maintenance perspective we want to look at is coverage.

So I’m gonna go to the left hand menu here, there’s three sections.

Index, which is the section is essentially Google saying, Hey, here’s what I think your site’s about.

So we’ll click on coverage.

And coverage tells us how many pages it has indexed.

Remember, there’s three sections to Google, to Google’s processing websites crawling, which is figuring out what the site is indexing, which is downloading the site and analyzing, and then ranking, which is the search results.

So this is sort of the middle section of that process.

And we see here, the primary crawlers, the smartphone, that’s interesting.

That’s Google’s way of saying, Hey, I’m giving I’m analyzing your site from a mobile first perspective, which, again, we think about it for a podcast, it’s probably a good thing.

John Wall 2:45

Yeah, that was one thing about three years ago, last time, we did a fresh coat of paint, I just went with a full mobile template, because I was, you know, I just figured, yeah, the majority people are on the phone.

And for some background, too, you know, the primary traffic of for the podcast is through iTunes and Stitcher and these other things, like there’s actually very little traffic to the website, given the you know, for a podcast that gets, you know, 15,000 downloads an episode, you can see here, there’s, you know, 800 pages, and only, you know, a good month for us is like 1000 2000 sessions, so, and I do have to also save fruit, especially for people that aren’t sharing the screen.

There are no huge red banners at the top saying, like, your site is going to get kicked out of Google in four days or any of that stuff.

So it’s just like, I’m already like, thrilled that things are not there’s nothing on fire.

So that’s cool.

Christopher Penn 3:36

Exactly.

So this section tells you pages that have errors page that are valid with warnings, pages that are valid, and then pages that have not been indexed.

And the one thing that we’d want to check here is what’s in the exclude box, which is, you know, the largest number, why are these pages excluded? A lot of them are either redirects or there’s an alternate page.

So with WordPress sites and blogs, in general, you get a lot of pages like yours slash author slash category slash tag, and you know, and stuff.

And obviously, those are pages that are duplicate content.

So this, you know, having this many exclude pages is not a bad thing, what we want to be on the lookout for errors, you know, things have just gone sideways.

We want to know, in this case, we have no errors to to look at here.

So with that, so things are good.

So that’s coverage.

Second thing we want to check is, is there a sitemap Do we have a site? You know,

John Wall 4:28

that’s a good question there, you know, like 10 years ago, there was definitely some XML up there, but in the, you know, in the five subsequent upgrades

Christopher Penn 4:38

I checked to see.

But typically, sites will have something that’s sitemap XML, so we do have a sitemap.

John Wall 4:45

Yeah.

All right.

There we go.

But Yoast for the big winner.

Yoast is

Christopher Penn 4:48

always watching out for us.

Exactly.

So now we need to put that sitemap URL in here.

John Wall 4:54

So they told Google about it that would be even better.

Exactly.

Christopher Penn 4:59

You That’s a really important point, because you may have pages on your site that are not easily accessible that may be buried pretty far down, you still want to have Google know about them.

So it’s gonna.

So we’ve submitted it, it says Google was successful in reading the sitemap.

And so far has not discovered any new pages.

One thing that used to be a thing we would do in the past, it’s no longer the case is, you used to be able to submit a sitemap to trigger Google to recall a page that no longer works.

If you want Google to route to relook at a page, you have to submit it for URL inspection instead.

So I’m gonna go ahead and pull up the most recent episode here, go back to search console, and on the top left hand corner, there’s a URL inspection, you can put that URL in and Google will try to retrieve it.

And then you know, test live well.

And if you if it’s changed, you can request to that page to be re indexed.

If you’ve done some major changes to it or something like that, you know, throw that in.

But this is a good test, you should always do at least once on a piece of content just to make sure that if you’ve got a template, like a blog template, that Google is seeing it correctly.

In this case, we’re seeing mobile usability is good.

amp is valid breadcrumbs of working sets, set links are working.

So the page is actually in really good condition.

So we’re two for two so far, John?

John Wall 6:15

Yeah, that’s great.

And I didn’t realize that I knew you could kick it to go see a page, but it actually gives you some real feedback on individual pages as far as what’s broken and not working.

So yeah, that’s very cool.

Christopher Penn 6:26

Exactly.

The third thing in index is removal.

Are there things that you want to urgently remove from Google search, that should not be there.

So like that time that the intern loaded, their, you know, adult comic books, PDFs to the website, by accident, to say to Google, get that out?

John Wall 6:44

Yeah, any of the junk stuff was, so we’re in pretty good shape.

And then we don’t we haven’t had the stuff that was horrible, was just straight out deleted.

So there’s nothing in there that we’ve had to fight over.

Christopher Penn 6:54

Exactly.

And there’s three things there’s temporary removals, just get something out.

This is made for news organizations to like to retract a story if there’s like something that obviously wrong, outdated content, and then safe search, filtering stuff to remove that that violates adult filters.

So again, 343, an indexing site is in good condition.

Now we get to the really interesting stuff.

Two months ago, Google said, we are changing how all these different page metrics work in terms of like the quality of the page.

And as of this month, June 2021, they will become part of your ranking factor.

So if your page if your website delivers a bad experience, Google will say Guess what, we’re going to demote you and the ranking so on the left hand side, under the experience menu, is the new page experience thing.

And what we see on screen here, let’s say we need a buzzer like your soundboard like the old different like applause.

John Wall 7:50

I know, I need like crowds cheering for the motley crew tearing it up for 100% good page experience.

Christopher Penn 7:56

Exactly what we got is 100%, good URLs, 29,000 impressions, and we see a chart here of you know, the number of URLs and then that deliver great experience, and then the impressions that they give.

So this is a really, really healthy website.

And what crisis page experience are five things core web vitals, which are very technical aspects of the site, the largest object on a page, how much a page moves around when it loads, things like that? mobile usability, which is how the site appears on mobile devices, security issues, like, hey, you’ve got malware on your site again.

And whether your site is secure or not, does it use HTTPS exclusively.

And the fifth one, if you’re running ads, and you misbehave with what you do in Google ads, that counts against you, too.

All of these things combined create this page experience signal.

And this is what goes into the ranking algorithm.

So if this page when you load it up for your website, is not 100%.

You got some work to do.

I’m gonna flip over here to my website, because I’ve got some bad pages so we can take a look at it looks like so for me.

mobile’s good security is good.

HTTPS good.

I got 19 pages that are failing on core web vitals.

So I’m gonna go ahead and click through this and see where my falling down when I failing on I am failing on this core webinar called LCP large, largest contentful.

Paint means something big is on pages, that is causing delays, something that there’s something on that page that is taking too long to load, just a big piece of content.

And when we look at it, there’s like all these different pages.

These are all for the most part, template pages, the actual pages on the site.

So this is telling me I got something embedded on on this page that is not helping.

So click on this PageSpeed Insights and see if Google can tell me more detail about what on my page is taking so long.

That it’s that Causing errors.

Because if this was like, you know, one post Barry, like 14 levels down on my site and like, no big deal, this is the homepage.

And the homepage gets a fair amount of traffic queued converting traffic.

So I want to know what’s going on here.

John Wall 10:15

Yeah, and so it’s at four seconds.

So that’s, that’s like serious delay.

Oh, okay, here we go, we’ve got some insight.

Christopher Penn 10:25

Let’s see, if we got good layout shift.

First contentful paints a little on the slow side, large contentful.

Paint is on the really on the slow side.

So it does not pass.

Let’s see if we can dig in here it is the video.

It’s the homepage video.

So that big slider is is a major thing.

And then we got a bunch of unused JavaScript.

So looks like some of the template, some bits, some tracking stuff, and things.

So I’ve got a fair amount of stuff here that that needs to be cleaned up.

So you can see here through this diagnostic, and we’re looking at PageSpeed Insights, which is a mass of red marks.

It’s like a you know, when you fail, a test at school is pages marked up with red everywhere.

But this does a really nice job of outlining.

Here’s all the things that are causing issues so that Ironically, the blocker is the YouTube video.

John Wall 11:24

Yeah, isn’t that ridiculous, though? You would expect that to be healthy and robust script? What is that just not the case? or?

Christopher Penn 11:32

Yeah, it’s the YouTube base code, the, the part of their JavaScript player, so I have a couple of choices there.

I could not have the video there.

Or I could find some way to play that video that didn’t involve YouTube.

If I if I wanted to make that particular error goes away.

And then we have a bunch of other stuff that shows the office all the things that are running JavaScript execution time again, that’s that YouTube code that’s running really, really slowly.

The other thing that we could do, potentially is log into a CDN, a content delivery network, like CloudFlare, for example, and see, could I force it to cache YouTube scripts and serve them up faster than YouTube itself? Does? That’s a possibility as well.

So what we’ve seen here is, we’ve seen something that Google thinks is bad in our core web files.

And as we walk through this, it becomes pretty clear what it is that we need to fix.

So this is the thing that I’m really happy about in in Search Console, is that Google doesn’t make it difficult for you to know oh, this is what screwed up.

John Wall 12:39

Yeah, that’s great that you can dig down, it’s just still it just blows my mind that YouTube would be the I would I was totally expecting, especially since it was your website to have like JavaScript from like 20 marketing automation solutions that you tested and gave up on you know, and some of them would be like totally dead to where they’d be like timeout after 90 seconds.

But

Christopher Penn 12:59

nope, it’s YouTube.

So it’s interesting.

It’s one thing I could think about doing if i if i absolute positively had to make the homepage faster would be maybe have thumbnails or stills of the video on the page and like a gallery, and you click through and go to a video player page where it’s it’s off the homepage.

That might be a solution.

I could look out there if I cared which I don’t.

Okay, let’s look at mobile usability, which is the third part of the experience here.

And again, this is looking at how many pages are mobile friendly on your site.

And this is one of those things where if you’ve got pages that are not mobile friendly, you got to fix them.

Particularly if you are as we saw at the beginning on that smartphone crawler first, where your mobile first site, you got to get your mobile usability in good condition there.

Now, there’s a couple other things in here that may will vary based on your site.

So one of them is amp.

So if you’re using amp, the AMP accelerated mobile pages, Google will tell you what things it notices that you could be doing better with amp itself.

So in my case, I’ve got some smaller images that aren’t great.

And obviously, then it will tell you that the pages that are doing well, amp is really good if you are if you’re serving up stuff if you’re like a mobile site.

So if you’ve got a strong content marketing program where you’re functioning like a news outlet, almost, you really want to make sure that you have amp installed and working correctly.

We also have the sitelinks search box if you have searches, you have search available on your site.

This will tell you whether your site your site search is working correctly, which is always a nice thing.

And then in performance.

So performance is where we go to look for results.

Now I’ll switch back to marketing over coffee real quick here for a second.

Let’s let’s look at our performance.

So for marketing over coffee, we see clicks impressions, click through rate and position as sort of the the top metrics you can look at to see how Know what kinds of stuff you’re doing.

So the one here that’s a little concerned is average positions, kind of on the low side, we’d obviously like that number to be closer to position one.

With this report, you can do a lot of filtering.

So like if I wanted to filter this report just on name marketing over coffee, I could filter out a lot of other search queries looking just essentially branded search queries, right.

So now starting to see what some of the search terms are I can, let’s change that to marketing over coffee.

John Wall 15:35

Yeah, we’re just hardcore branded site.

And that’s the majority of the traffic is people already know they’re looking for us.

Christopher Penn 15:41

Exactly, exactly.

Now, if you are trying to build a dashboard for like public relations, or media buying or anything that’s brand related, you just got the easiest way to do that.

You put in the brand, here filter.

And now you’ve got essentially a branded search report that tells you what kind of branded search performance you’re getting.

And you can see here that the average search position went to one, right, because we’re filtering, I’m just saying, we’re number one for our name, if you put your name in here, and you’re not number one for your name,

John Wall 16:11

you got some work to do.

Exactly.

Christopher Penn 16:15

So let’s go ahead and clear that for a second.

So in performance, you obviously can see a lot of different details, you can see what queries, what terms you getting clicks for.

And again, these are the things that if you these are terms that you don’t want to be ranked for, you know, you’ve got some issues.

On the other hand, if you’ve got strong brand strength, and you’ve got some really good content, you’re gonna see some, you’ll see what’s happening there, you can see the pages that attract those clicks.

The homepage is first, the most popular episodes page was as good the first time visitors page, which is good, we’d like to see those introductory pages.

If this was a traditional marketing site met, these would be essentially the top of the funnel, you know, nurture pages to get people to land on them and go places.

You also see things like countries devices, search experience, what kind of page you so amp results, etc.

See how how often you’re showing up in amp, if you’re showing up in video results.

So if you’ve got YouTube videos on your site, you might want to see those appear there.

And then, as I say the one thing that’s really powerful with this is that you can then hit export and dump all this data into spreadsheets you get is a big archive.

And you can do data processing on it, match it up with to see on data from your SEO keyword tools, and see where the gaps so what things do you see about your site that you think should be in there that aren’t Okay, go fight and go figure out why.

So that’s more or less a tour of search console and what you can do with these days.

So the performance sections really useful.

indexing tells you what Google sees your site looking like, experience tells you what Google thinks your site is about.

And then performance tells you, you know, this is what how Google is rewarding or not rewarding you.

The one thing I will add is that if you are a really strong content site, and you are publishing a lot, you may be eligible to enter yourself into two additional types of things.

One is Google discover, which is what Google says you might also be interested in or, you know, sites related to this and what you will show up there.

So for my site here, click on discover.

And you can see how, what kind of traffic I’m getting from discovery itself, you know, where my appearing, what countries my appearing and things like that.

So that’s really useful for me to tell, okay, is Google intentionally sharing my website with other people that are not searching for me? It’s almost like, like broad match search and pay per click advertising.

Okay, well, this looks like you might be interested in.

And then, again, if you are a strong publisher, you can you can enter yourself into Google News as a credible news source.

And then you can see like, if you are showing up in Google News for things, news stories people care about, you would show up, it would see the state in here.

In this case, apparently, I’m not writing about anything that is newsworthy enough to show up.

But at least my site is an accredited news.

So

John Wall 19:13

now, would you get hits on that for amp? Because I, you know, so there’s obviously the AMP that we all work with.

And it’s basically optimizations because you’re making it fast.

But I was under the impression that the other thing with amp was that it would allow Google and some other engines to basically scrape your stuff.

And it would automatically be formatted for these amp boxes that show up in all kinds of places.

So would that be showing up over there?

Christopher Penn 19:38

Now, that depends, so it might be show up and discover and might show up in Google News is specific to Google News itself.

So if you are an accredited news source with Google News, it’ll show up here as opposed to in discover.

John Wall 19:49

Okay, so yeah, you so you could, if you’re doing top end news, like this could be a huge page for you.

Christopher Penn 19:55

Exactly, exactly.

Yeah.

If you are the new york times you want to see This, they’ll be popping, if you’re the New York Times.

And this page, which is full of zeros, for those who are listening, is what you see, you’re in trouble.

John Wall 20:09

Yeah, that’s you’re missing a pay day, if that’s the case.

Christopher Penn 20:12

Exactly.

So that’s sort of the walkthrough of Google Search Console.

And what you use these different things for.

A lot of this data is also available in Google Data Studio.

So you don’t necessarily have to be in Search Console.

And more importantly, you don’t have to give access to search console to people in your organization, if you don’t want them tinkering around here, because as you saw with like Sitemaps, and removals, if you’re not careful, you can really screw up your site.

John Wall 20:37

Yeah, right, you removed the homepage, and you’re gonna be off the grid completely until somebody figures that out.

Christopher Penn 20:42

Exactly.

Whereas if you use something like Google Data Studio, you can build the reporting of taking Search Console data out of search console and show it you know, give to stakeholders and stuff.

And, again, I would so strongly emphasize, if you are in PR, if you’re in media buying going at things, and you don’t have that branded search, reporting from the performance section, as part of your monthly reports, you are missing the boat on being able to show your stakeholders here is exactly what we bring to the table.

We are getting people to search for this company by name, and do a great job at it, you know, and it’s not our fault that once the traffic gets to your site, people hate you.

So that’s what to do with this.

Take the data, make use of it.

If you say if you know there are certain pages like landing pages for campaigns, by the way, I would so strongly emphasize you put in your top landing pages in the URL inspector.

And like here, my newsletter page Hmm.

It’s not in the index.

better fix that.

John Wall 21:53

That’s the Bizarro one?

Christopher Penn 21:57

Well, again, Google only knows what we give it.

And like what we do the recent show on UTM tracking codes, you know, which we jokingly say stands for you tell me, Google’s the same with Search Console stuff, too.

If you don’t tell Google the high value pages.

It might not know to index them, right? Because this is the concept in search called crawl budget where Google crawls a certain amount of time on any given site, and then moves on and goes to the next thing.

Now, if the next thing isn’t, you know, isn’t your site, there were pages that didn’t get indexed.

So this here that says This was antra priority crawl queue, please don’t do this over and over again.

It’ll only works once.

But now I’ve I’ve been able to say this is an important page.

So if you’ve got a big campaign, you know, a big landing page coming up for a multimillion dollar campaign, run through inspector make sure it’s indexed.

Because if it’s not indexed, then you’re missing potentially on some some big organic search traffic.

John Wall 22:59

Yeah, right.

And so and then there’s, if it’s not part of the nav, that’s totally hidden, right.

There’s no other way for it to get in there unless you tip them off to that

Christopher Penn 23:06

day.

Exactly.

Exactly.

So you want to make sure that it’s an looks like Sitemaps might be having issues, you know, all my Sitemaps are there and they last met.

Okay, good.

So my sitemap.

So it’s weird that my newsletters page wasn’t pulled up that way.

But you know what? We found it, we flagged it, and here we go.

So, key takeaways, use search console, right? Use the sections based on what it is that you’re trying to get done.

Use the data for reporting.

And then for those high value pages, make sure that the most valuable pages on your site are in here and included.

If you if you have not gotten a copy of the Trust Insights, most valuable pages report for your website, that’s something that we do for clients.

Drop us a line.

If go to Trust insights.ai slash contact.

We can talk through what that would involve.

But then you again, take those most valuable pages that move people towards conversion, put them through the URL Inspector, make sure they’re indexed.

If you have comments or questions about anything we’ve talked about in today’s episode, please head on over to Trust insights.ai slash analysts for markers.

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