The Google search console (GSC) is by far the best and most accurate tool with which you can monitor and analyze your sites’ performance on Google SERPs.
In addition, it can help you:
- index your site,
- provide insight into core web vitals,
- submit a sitemap to Google,
- see if you have any manual penalties
- …and much more
If you’re aiming to grow your site or business, you should definitely link it to the GSC. That way you will get insight into the existing issues and other relevant data important for optimization.
There’s also a possibility to link GSC with Google Analytics and read reports on organic performance there as well, but you will have the most extensive data in GSC itself.
Performance line chart in the Overview tab
Once you log in, you will be in the overview tab. The first thing you will notice is the performance line chart that shows total web search clicks during a certain period of time.
By looking at it, you can quickly get an insight into the general state of the web in terms of organic clicks.
This brief performance report will help you answer these questions:
- How many organic clicks did you get on a certain day?
- Is the number of organic clicks increasing or decreasing?
- Are there any anomalies or irregularities?
But that’s all this graph can do for us. We need more information in order to find the exact reasons for our sites’ performance. Especially if there’s a negative trend of clicks.
A detailed insight into the information that we seek includes dimensions, metrics, and various filters which can be found in the Performance tab on the left.
Basics of performance report in GSC
Line chart and definition of metrics
The first thing you will notice after accessing the performance tab is the line chart.
Here you can specify the type of search and time period for which you want to see data.
Now you can see all the other metrics and their performances by clicking on the rectangle in which they are located:
- Total clicks
- Total impressions
- Average CTR
- Average position
Total clicks will add a blue line to the chart that represents how many times someone clicked on your site in search results.
Total impressions will add a purple line to the chart that shows the number of page impressions for all search queries over a period of time.
Average CTR will add a green line to the chart that represents the average click-through rate of your page in search results. It’s the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click.
Average position will add an orange line to the chart that shows the average position of your site in search results (for all search queries) over a period of time.
Table and different dimensions
In the table below you will see all the search queries and pages for which your site ranks, sorted by the quality of performance. Other dimensions you have access to are: countries, devices, search appearance, and dates.
This way, you can see all the metrics that we talked about, but now in more detail.
Finding the keywords with great potential
Sorting and filtering the data
If you sort the data by clicks and impressions you will get what you are looking for. However, if you sort by CTR or position you will notice that queries that have very few clicks will also be displayed. In most cases, we do not need to see such information because it is not relevant.
Let’s say we want to remove all search queries that have less than 100 clicks so that the table contains only search queries that have over 100 clicks.
The definition of this low cap as I’d like to call it depends on your site and traffic. For this example, we will take a minimum of 100 clicks.
To filter the data you need to:
- Click on the Filter icon above Position,
- Select Clicks,
- Select Greater than in the drop-down menu,
- Type 100,
- Click Done
Relevant data and decision-making
If we put a filter in the same way to filter average positions smaller than 10 and over 100 clicks, we will get a list of keywords with potential for improvement.
First, we need to make sure that the listed keywords are the primary ones for that particular page. If they are, we are free to further optimize/work on improvement. If they are not, we can also optimize, but with that in mind.
After filtering them as specified, sort the data by impressions and start optimizing the one with the most impressions.
You can also sort them by CTR, starting with the lowest, and then watch out for those with high impressions. Whatever suits you better.
It would be best to first optimize for keywords with an average position of 6-10 because those are the ones with plenty of room for improvement.
Here’s our example and the order of queries that should be fairly easy to optimize for:
Of course, even if you optimize your pages for certain queries, no one can guarantee that you will immediately reach the average 2nd or 3rd position after a week. There are other factors that affect your position like backlinks and technical SEO.
But still, this is a very good start.
Pages with potential and secondary keywords
To find pages with great potential for improvement, you need to do the same steps as for Queries, but in the Pages tab.
You can check the potential of each page in the same way as for queries. But here you can get a list of all queries for which the page ranks after clicking on the page itself and then on the tab queries.
Here you will see a list of various queries for which your page is displayed.
In this table, you can get an idea for secondary keywords and even optimize meta titles and descriptions, with the goal of getting more clicks for more queries.
Comparing the data to the previous period
From time to time it is necessary to compare the performance of the site with the previous period, in order to know what your current situation is and how your website is doing. It’s best to set aside one day a month to compare the data with the previous period and make a specific plan.
To compare the data with the previous period, you need to click on Date and then on the Compare tab. Here, select a time period (eg Compare the last 28 days to the previous period) and click Apply.
Reading the line chart
You will get a line chart like this where you can instantly compare clicks, impressions, CTR, and position:
Just looking at this chart gives you important general information about the performance of your site compared to the previous period. We can see that everything has decreased – the average position, CTR, the number of impressions, and clicks.
Click difference and position difference
The table, in addition to the already known metrics for each individual period, also contains Difference metrics. The difference shows the numerical difference of a particular metric between the current and a previous period.
One way to get the most important data is to select only the clicks and the average position, filter them by clicks (greater than 100) and sort them in ascending order according to the click difference.
Pay attention to Click Difference and Position Difference:
If there is a difference between clicks and no difference between positions (or if it’s negative, which tells us that it improved), it means that this query was simply not searched as much compared to the previous period (green rows). But if there is a difference, it is best to check it out (white rows).
Furthermore, you can click on a certain query and see additional information about the performance, i.e. a line chart comparison for the query itself.
In the same way, you can analyze pages by clicking on Pages instead of Queries, and view individual statistics for each page.
Here are some of the scenarios that explain the difference in average rankings and, consequently, fewer clicks:
- Your competitor has updated a page that Google likes more now,
- You have some technical issues with the page,
- You need to optimize a little more for that particular keyword
- Changes in Google algorithm
But, that is a topic for another blog post.
As you can see, the GSC is a powerful tool that provides detailed information about your website, and the more you know how to use it and make data-based decisions, the more successful your site will be.