How to use Google Search Console’s Performance Feature

Randy Holland Written by
Randy Holland
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There are a variety of SEO tools for analyzing and tracking keyword rankings for a given website. These tools are dependent on meeting clients’ goals, expectations, and more-often-than-not cost. 

In a perfect world, I think it’s safe to say we SEOs would love access to ALL OF THEM. There are so many robust and dynamic SEO tools to choose from. One of the most valuable SEO tools our marketing team uses is free. Free! Yes, free and the metrics and information come straight from the most coveted of search sources:  Google.

Google Search Console Basics

Google Search Console (GSC) provides an abundance of information regarding technical SEO, backlinks, and more. The most widely used SEO tool plugin is designed by Yoast, which recently produced, “The Beginner’s guide to Google Search Console.” This will help you get started if you’re a newbie to GSC.

Google Search Console Performance

GSC’s Performance feature supplies you with crucial data about a website, including:  

  • What’s your site ranking for.
  • How often are users clicking on specific search queries.
  • Specific pages the site is ranking for.
  • Keyword rankings for specific URLs/website pages.

Keyword Rankings

The Performance report has several pieces of data you can examine. In GSC select your property (the website you’re reporting on) and click on Performance (see screenshot below) and by default, you’ll see Total Clicks, Total Impressions, and Queries.

Total Clicks are how many times a user clicked through to your site. This is the total of all clicks for all search queries your website appears for in Google search.

Total Impressions are how many times a user saw a link to your site in search results. This is the total of all impressions your website appears for in Google search. 

Queries are a list of EVERY keyword your website is showing up in search results. The fact that you’re getting this information from the coveted source of search, Google, means this information has tremendous value. Click the Export Data arrow (see screenshot above) and you can instantly export all keyword data.

Layering on more data

There are two additional layers of data you can view in GSC Performance: Average CTR (click-through rate) and Average Position (see screenshot below).

Google Search Console Performance Features in detail

Average CTR is the percentage of impressions that resulted in a click to your website. Maybe there’s a reason this tab is green – it could lead to a conversion! A high CTR means users are interested in the content on the website, engaging with it, and ultimately converting. 

Average CTR depends on the goals of the website. It’s also based largely on ranking position. In the example below, the search query “how to get a car towed” has a CTR of 12.7%. It ranks on average position #3 in search with a monthly search volume of 480.

Google Search Console Average CTR and Position in detail

This means that 60 website visitors per month are seeing the search term “how to get a car towed” and are clicking to the website. There’s a lot you can do with this data:

In this case, if you work on improving the Average CTR for the term “how to get a car towed” to 25%, traffic will double to 120 visits per month.

Get granular with the data and dissect search queries on your site. Start by improving the search queries that provide the most value–conversions. And then work your way down to the long-tailed keywords that are often low competition and create high rates of conversion.

Pages – What page is the search query actually ranking for?

Recently, I examined all the top-level pages and search queries of a website. We’ve worked diligently with on-page SEO for the past six months along with comprehensive keyword research.  

Using GSC Performance, we found room for improvement. What we discovered is that the blog, which produces thousands of visits a day to the site, is competing for the keywords we used on the top-level pages of the website. 

What we discovered (see screenshot below) is that some keywords we optimized for are competing with multiple blog posts and other pages on the site. This is creating keyword cannibalization on the website.

Google Search Console Search Query

This tells me our team needs to revisit keyword research. We must find different search terms that aren’t competing with the blog content or other pages. And we’ll look at all other on-page SEO factors and examine the current content on the pages. 

Conclusion

There are many tools available for SEO’s out there. Choose which ones work best for you, your marketing team, and most importantly use ones that provide the most value to your clients. 

Google Search Console provides an abundance of value and it’s free. Leverage the Performance feature and get granular with search queries. Use the data to make improvements on your websites such as increasing CTR and conversions, and improving on-page SEO.

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