A good search engine optimization (SEO) strategy leads to a higher ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs), increased traffic to your website, more eyeballs on your online content, and ultimately, more paying customers. SEO is the application of various content-creation principles defined by Google. These principles are designed to build readership trust and authority with search engines, which in turn builds credibility for your content.
But it takes time and involves keyword research, review and listings management, and content marketing. The more pages where content from a business shows up, the better. You want your content to appear on listing sites, maps like Google, Bing, and Apple, and any other niche directories like Yelp for example. Everything from social media to blog writing and even the wording on your website matters if you seek the Number 1 ranking on Google search.
Small business owners have turned to technology and SEO experts for help because they can’t do it all themselves. They need to know that the money and effort they spend on SEO will pay off. This is exactly the purpose of analytics tools and platforms like Google Search Console (GSC). Joshua Baker, product manager at Vendasta, says he relies on analytics tools to prove that his work delivers positive results.
“When working with small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) without the right tools and data, you and your clients can feel blind as to the impact you're actually having on their business. The goal with all SEO strategies like blog writing, social media, review management, and listings management, is really just to show up where people are searching. In order to see the impact it’s having on a business, you need some way to measure how the business appears in search results.”
SEO reporting tools
Data reporting can be tedious at best. It’s a matter of deciding which metrics matter, and then figuring out how to uncover and manage those numbers. The information available is endless once you start digging, and the effort can be overwhelming for many small business owners. However, metric numbers are proof that SEO work is delivering results. SEO needs to be monitored closely and measured on a regular basis in order to determine if what you’re doing works.
Google Search Console is a free platform that helps ecommerce businesses monitor and optimize their search performance. Baker says, “search console is the best tool currently available for getting as close to that truth as possible.” It includes an index coverage report that provides a list of all the website pages Google tried to index on your site. Indexing is how Search organizes information. Google crawls the internet looking for links called backlinks that tie back to your website. More links generally mean higher authority with Google resulting in a higher ranking on SERPs.
The Mobile Usability Report in GSC shows errors that Google has determined will affect user experience on a smartphone. Errors hurt your authority with search engines (as well as humans), so it’s essential to remove any that exist. This is another example of an extremely helpful tool within GSC. It provides countless reports for marketers, SEO experts, web designers, and small business owners who wear multiple hats.
The GSC platform tracks SEO performance and provides measurements of SEO activities. Google has provided the following list of actions that contribute to good SEO in their explanation about Search Console.
- Confirm that Google can find and crawl your site.
- Fix indexing problems and request re-indexing of new or updated content.
- View Google Search traffic data for your site: how often your site appears in Google Search, which search queries show your site, how often searchers click through for those queries, and more.
- Receive alerts when Google encounters indexing, spam, or other issues on your site.
- Show you which sites link to your website.
- Troubleshoot issues for AMP, mobile usability, and other Search features.
According to Baker, the majority of business owners don’t know about the analytics tools and platforms available to them. Furthermore, if they are aware of platforms like Google Search Console, they probably don’t know how to use them effectively. Anyone with a website will undoubtedly have data to analyze. Erica Chessal, product marketing manager at Vendasta says small business owners should be asking ‘am I being found online easier because of my reviews, listings, and social marketing?’ This knowledge helps to understand the power of analytics.
Simplify the SEO story
The SEO big picture is generally a complicated mess. Imagine having all necessary metrics reported on a single dashboard. No more weeding through information to decide what matters. No more wasting countless hours on analyzing data. The Vendasta Executive Report is automated and provides a simple to read, first-hand look at those metrics. The Vendasta team eliminated confusion by narrowing down the reports to just those most important to SMBs.
Key search metrics
“SEO is so complicated it can be difficult to decipher which measurements matter,” Chessal says. “We wanted to make Google Search Console simpler by showing the analytics behind five key metrics.”
Below, Chessall outlined the metrics that appear in the executive report that lives in the Vendasta Business App. The following metrics measure the payoff of SEO:
- The number of queries for which your business appears on the first page of Google search results
- The number of clicks a website receives
- The number of impressions a website receives
- The queries that receive the most clicks
- The top pages on a website that receive the most clicks and impressions
These metrics allow businesses to track website ranking on Google, as well as the number of visits and page impressions received over a given period of time. It’s a way to quantify the value of investments made in SEO and other online search improvements.
“We took Google Search Console and simplified it for small businesses. We even attempted to give businesses a single number with a single trend line to show whether that business is winning or losing in showing up on the first page of Google. It's pretty great because our partners can now prove that they’re helping a business win on Google search with a single metric. They're putting the business in front of more people and they're getting more eyes on their site.”
The bottom line
With a platform like Google Search Console, business owners can measure exactly how their SEO work pays off. Focusing on the five metrics outlined by Chessal will cut back the vast number of reports that are available. You can always dig further into the metrics and analytics from this starting point.
“A platform like Google Search Console is an absolute must,” says Baker. “You can’t have a gap in SEO reporting, so if you haven’t already hooked it (GSC) up, you need to do that.”