What is the Relationship Between Google Search Console and Organic Traffic?
This content was updated on 18 November 2019 along with speed, video performance, and video enhancement reports. Updates in September and October 2019 include the breadcrumb, discover, products, sitelinks searchbox, and legacy tools and reports.
Google Search Console is a tool used by almost anyone who wants to review and improve the organic traffic of their website - in fact, it’s a must-use tool.
It's one of Google's most popular and free-of-charge services.
Any one of the following brands on the stickers, logs into Google Search Console at least once a day.
If You Haven't Used Google Search Console Yet...
If you haven't used Google Search Console before, the next stream of information is written especially for you. You can highlight important issues and when there are things you don’t understand, you can always get in touch with us.
- You don't need to sign up for Search Console to have your site appear on the search results, but I recommend you to register anyway. The tool makes it very easy to review your site’s performance on the Google search results, as you can examine many performances and technical criteria - plus it is completely free.
- Likewise, when you sign up for Google Search Console, the site's ranking on the Google search results will not increase. Anyway that wouldn’t make sense - it was also not allowed into Hogwarts.
- Search Console delivers reports to you. These reports contain accurate information - unless there is an update from Google. However, after this step, you need your magic to analyze the data and take action.
- “They always say it's free, but then they want a premium membership to access better features.” You won't have to pay to make any upgrades for Google Search Console.
- You don't need to register for Search Console with different email addresses to track the performance of multiple sites. You can sign up with a single email address and add sites as separate properties.
- You can analyze the past 7, 30, 90 day periods, examine the annual performance of the site, and compare the date ranges you want.
- It is not enough to have a brand, service or an idea! In order to benefit from Google Search Console, your ideas need a website first.
- To sign up for Search Console, you must have a Google account with an e-mail extension such as @gmail.com or @googlemail.com.
If you wonder how to connect your site with Google Search Console (GSC), unfortunately you won’t find the answer in this blog post - but, you can click on the link to visit a different page where I’ll explain to you exactly how that goes.
In addition, don't forget to integrate other important search tools such as Google Analytics and AWR Cloud to your Google Search Console. The more correct the information is, the better the optimization will be.
How Can I Improve My Organic Traffic by Analyzing Google Search Console Data?
1. Analyze Performance Data
How to analyze Search Console performance data to increase organic traffic?
- Before you start examining your data, first select the “Search Type" and the date you want to review. While web searches provide the site's overall performance report, the visual and video searches provide a performance report of the images and videos on the site.
Note: If you're wondering how to make your images accessible to users, I'd suggest you to take a look at the detailed content I've written about image alt text optimization.
- You can decide which steps to take to improve your organic traffic by looking at the number of clicks, impressions, average clicks, and average position in the performance report.
- With the intersection of user searches and the pages listed on the Google search results, users visit your website. These search terms are listed in the GSC under the "queries" section.
- Now you need to analyze these queries by looking at the performance report data. For example, you can start by sorting all queries by clicks. If you didn't include the URL of any specific page as a filter, you'll see the site's most popular user searches in the queries section. However, if you are optimizing your content, you need to provide a link of the page you want to analyze as a page filter, or by manually selecting it in the “page” results.
- Of course, you should consider the average position, but in your analysis I suggest you to pay more attention to the CTR; a ratio between the impressions and clicks.
- Scenarios expressing the update of the content:
Users may be doing relevant searches and see your page on the search results, but may not be clicking through because the content title or meta description is not answering their query. And also; the CTR (clickthrough rate) will be affected as other pages with similar content are listed along with your content in the search results (competitive environment). So you need to revise these contents. (Data scenario with a low number of clicks)
Users may have started searching for content with a different search query after a certain time. For example, everyone has learned that the correct discourse is “image alt text” instead of alt image alt tag, and users have started to search “image alt text" instead of “image alt tag”. So your content, that is focused on image alt tag, will drop in impressions and will no longer be clicked. Here you should optimize your content with the changing user searches. (Scenario with a gradual decrease in high impressions)
- With device comparison included in the performance report, you can see which devices are mostly used by users who visit your website. You can work on the website's mobile and desktop design by reviewing the report in this table. In the following 3-month data scenario, users receive the most clicks from desktop devices. However, when we look at the number of impressions and clicks on the mobile device, we can say that this data shouldn’t be underestimated.
Google Search Console isn’t ‘just about’ how users interact with mobile and desktop devices. I would suggest you to also review the Google Analytics data. Looking at one tool and optimizing its data is no different than the story of the man who only read one book and shaped his life accordingly.
- In the country section, you can see from which countries users visit your site. To be more accurate, add a "new" filter (like in the following image), where you can filter your data by choosing the country you want to see. This will give you important information about the user trends and how they interact with your site, per country.
2. Explore and Get Tips On How User-Focused Content Performs in Discover Report
“Discover shows users a mix of content based on their interactions with Google products or content that they choose to follow directly.” - Search Console Help
You can see in the Discover report which of your content or product is featured on Google Discover for users.
After selecting the date ranges you want to check in the Discover report, you can also add page and country filters; you can see how many impressions and clicks these pages have received. Of course, in order to make your pages stand out to the users of Google Discover, the content must be written in accordance to the Google News Content Policy. It’s really important how useful and interesting the content you are writing for your target audience is, and the better the quality of the images you are using in the content. If you just consider these 2 important rules, it’s more likely that your pages are coming forward. It may seem very difficult to achieve at first, but it is not. Do not forget that the content and the target audience proceeds simultaneously with each internet search. What does this mean?
For example, let's consider that the user wants to get an X brand luxury car. Users will do research on many sites until they complete the process below. Each search or click on Google products gives Google a hint about their behavior. Google collects these tips and shows them the most relevant web pages.*
*It is a very technical topic, but we can describe it like this, briefly and simply.
Considering that there are both content and product sales pages where the user can learn more about the X brand car, as you should be able to touch their entire process. If you can answer these processes in the most beneficial and direct way on your web page, there is no reason why you should not come forward in the Discover section. Therefore, having user-oriented page content and analyzing data in the Google Search Console Discover report at a specific date range should be at the top of the list to be checked.
3. You Can Explore Many Important Factors Using "URL Inspection"
To increase the organic traffic of the website, you can make improvements in many different areas - from content optimization to visual optimization. However, you should also check how the URL shows on the Google search results. In technical language, you should check the indexed version of the page. This audit is not a test that analyzes if the page is ranked #1 in SERPs; it is a check that analyzes the relationship between Google bots and the page.
Now tell me: Is your page indexed or not?
Click “URL Inspection" in the left corner of the Google Search Console interface, and run the URL you want to review in the field indicated by the arrow below.
URL Inspection Report Highlights
After running the URL in the checkbox, you'll see a 4-factor report such as the one in the image. How exactly do you analyze this page?
URL is on Google
- The URL is on Google means that the page appears in Google Search results if Google didn’t take any manual action or you didn’t send a request for removing the URL.
- When a "URL is on Google", it doesn't mean that your page is appearing on the search results. Actual appearance in Search results requires that the page and its structured data conform to the quality and security guidelines..." Google’s Support Team says that in order for the page to be listed on the search results, the page needs to be accessible to users and be open for improvement of organic traffic. What does this mean? If the Google team decides that the page does not meet the quality guidelines, it performs a manual action against the site. If you don't have a legitimate site, Google takes your statement and intervenes manually. (I haven’t checked the manual actions report as soon as I write here.)
- Google bots will instantly see the changes you make on your page. Click the “Test Live URL” button to check when was the last time the bots visited the page. If the date of the visit took place before your updates, simply click "Request Indexing" to notify Google of the changes.
While they check your page manually, you can also click the following link: https://lmgtfy.com/
Disliked Report Sentences:
- URL is on Google, but has issues: Your page appears in the index, but some items need to be fixed. You don't have to be afraid because Google conveys the problem as well as the solution. For example, the pages that have reviews (user-rated pages) on the Google search results do not show up without doing nothing. You must add some code to the source of the page, so that the user ratings of these pages can appear on the Google search results. And when you add these codes incorrectly or incompletely, your page may not be able to show up in the search results in the way you hoped for. (Also note, there is no guarantee that after you added the code to the page source, user-ratings are shown in the results, but the “possibility” is always there.)
- URL is not on Google: Indexing errors: There is a critical issue that needs to be corrected here. Luckily, Google again brings you the solution. (You can review the following page for the answer.)
- URL is not on Google: The same explanation as above. However, the difference is that Google says that this time, you're doing it on purpose. For example, when you add noindex to the /thank-you page to accurate meter conversions, you let the bots know that you don't want this page to be included in the directory.
- URL is an alt version: When you see this warning, 9 out of 10 times you do not need to do anything.
"This URL is one of a set of alternate versions of the same page. Pages in this group include AMP/canonical pairs or desktop version/mobile version page pairs. You can see the indexed URL in the Google-selected canonical value under Index coverage.” Google Support Team
The answer to the question "Can my page be indexed by Google?", you’ll find in the usability report. You will see exactly when the bots crawl, whether the page is listed in the search results as a result of the crawl, and whether it fits in this report.
I should tell you that Google mentions: “... a positive result does not guarantee that the page will appear on the search results.” Because it has not been processed by manual actions, it has to fit the quality and safety regulations. You also shouldn’t have sent requests to remove this URL.
Is your image content visible on mobile searches to someone who is bored in the bus? Or to someone who is searching for something before going to sleep at night? 67% of the world’s population uses mobile. So you’d better read the statistics and listen to what Google has to say in this report.
Is the logo indexed and eligible to be shown on the search results? Is there any problem? The answer to your questions is in this report.
For other new features coming to the Google Search Console, you can check our blog content where we discuss the SEM and SEO developments in May.
4. Find, Review, Correct Technical Errors that Prevent Organic Traffic With The Index Coverage Report
In the index coverage report, you will see one of the following status values: "error", "warning", "excluded", and "valid". By following this report periodically, you can prevent organic traffic from falling due to technical errors.
Issues such as pages that give 404 error codes, which has been added by the developer to the noindex tag (for example, we experience this very often with our customers), are listed in the error report.
The warnings include pages that are blocked because they were added to the robot.txt folder, even though they were still being indexed. Google is forwarding this warning to you, thinking it may not be true. Maybe you would want to remove the page from the robot.txt folder? Or maybe you think that adding a noindex tag might make more sense? Anyhow, Google informs you about this issue by sending you the warning reports.
In short, Google suggests you to "take care of errors and warnings to prevent losing organic traffic". Organic traffic does not rise overnight. There's always a pre-study. Plan ahead, develop a strategy in advance and after a certain time, you can start following and noticing progress.
Excluded are pages that are blocked by “copy pages, redirected pages, manually removed pages, files added to the robot.txt folder, pages with noindex tag added".
In conclusion, you can prevent any danger that will possibly decrease your organic traffic by checking this report periodically.
For detailed information about the report, go here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7440203?hl=en
Sitemap (sitemap XML file) is the folder that transmits the scope of the site to Google bots. *There is no rule that Google will look at the sitemap with the rules you set.*
- Each page you want your users to access must be included in the sitemap XML file; except for the pages where you added noindex, nofollow tags.
- What is the importance of these pages? Depending on the level of significance, you should give priority values between 0 and 1 to each of them: “Yes, the importance of each page is different. I have to tell Google bots that. ”
- How often do you update the pages? Are these pages static or dynamic? Optionally, you can pass the update frequency to the bots. “I update it once a year, bots don't need to visit my site weekly”. *Frequency statements include hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and, never.
6. Mobile Usability
In this report, you can find errors and solutions that will cause the user to leave or never visit your page:
- The page contains plug-ins such as Flash that are not supported by the mobile browser
- The optimal size of the page is not adjusted
- The font size on mobile is too small to be read or too difficult to read
Do a test now: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
One of the new reports on Google Search Console is for logo. You can use this report when you want to see if there is a problem with the logo structured data added to the source code of the pages.
If you sell products through your website, the Google Search Console products report will be a very useful one for you. However, in order for this report to work properly, you must complete the following steps:
- The page must contain only one sale of a product. (It shouldn’t be a product listing page, it must be a specific product page.)
- All important structured data for the product page must be added to the page. Once you have made all the additions, you can check the products values of the page with the Structured Data Testing Tool. The important values that must be on the product pages of e-commerce sites are as follows:
Discontinued InStock InStoreOnly LimitedAvailability OnlineOnly OutOfStock PreOrder PreSale SoldOu
In the Google Search Console products report, you'll see a report based on the values I've specified above. It really matters whether you ignore or improve the warnings in the “Error” and “Valid with Warnings” reports giving the details of your products to users in Google search results.
9. Sitelinks Searchbox
Google has released structured data that makes the on-site search box stand out in Google searches - and then added the related report to Google Search Console.
Through this report, you can see if the code you added has any errors or missing values. By analyzing the errors presented, you will not be blocking traffic from the on-site search box in the search results.
Note: Before the relevant structured data was published, Google, on its own initiative, displayed the on-site search box in the search results. Right now, even though you don't add structured data to your site, Google can associate user searches with your site and the on-site search box to make it visible in the search results.
In a scenario where you want to avoid this situation, you can add the following meta tag to the site's home page:
<meta name="google" content="nositelinkssearchbox">
10. Manual Actions and Security Issues
In the manual actions and security issues report, as I mentioned above, you can check whether Google has any actions for you to take on your site. If you're seeing an action in this report, I suggest you start fixing the issues in accordance with the Google guidelines to avoid blocking organic traffic.
11. Legacy Tools and Reports
On September 9, 2019, Google said goodbye to the old interface of the Google Search Console and added the legacy tools and reports to the new Google Search Console interface.
International targeting, removals, crawl statistics, messages, URL parameters, and web tools are currently being used in the new Google Search Console.
International Targeting: You can access a report based on both language and country adjustments. While monitoring the usage and errors of the hreflang tag in the language report, you can also do a targeting country adjustment for the entire website. This report is especially useful for people who have multiple language options on the website.
Removals: You can use this tool for URLs you temporarily want to remove from the search results.
Crawl statistics: You can find the activity schedule of Google bots of the last 90 days under this report. While doing an organic traffic analysis, I strongly recommend that you review the last updated date of your report. Occasionally, there may be no crawl in the date ranges you’ve selected and the old information may not be updated with the new ones.
Messages: Here you can reach the suggestions or information that the Google Search Console shares with you about the property in private.
URL Parameters: When you go for the URL parameters report, you might see a message on the panel that says “Currently Googlebot isn't experiencing problems with coverage of your site, so you don't need to configure URL parameters. (Incorrectly configuring parameters can result in pages from your site being dropped from our index, so we don't recommend you use this tool unless necessary.)” So I suggest you trust what Google says, especially when you don’t know how parameters work. But if you know what you’re doing, you can click on the configure URL parameters link and reach the table of the parameters. For detailed information about the parameters, please visit Google Support.
Web Tools: Web tools is one of the reports added from the old Google Search Console interface to the new interface. Here you can access many helpful tools such as a structured data testing tool or page speed tests that are helpful to improve your website’s organic traffic.
The Links report is an important report that will follow up on external or internal links to improve your organic traffic.
In the report you will find different sites that link to the page on your website (external links), see which texts are used to link to your site, and you can also look for internal links.
Internal links are created by linking relevant words/phrases of the pages’ content to another page within the same website. You'll see it in almost all of my blog content or on other pages.
What's the point of me doing this? Well, (1) I have added relevant content that you may not know yet and/or would like to read more about. Clicking or not clicking is your choice. So I'm bringing other relevant content to the right audience and increasing traffic. (2) When Google bots come to crawl my page, they will begin to make sense of the phrases that were added to the page and link.
For external links I can see which site, on which page, and with which phrase links to my content. Therefore, getting a link from a quality site/content, again with the same logic as above, increases the traffic of my page and my site is reaching more users.
13. Breadcrumb Report
Google has announced that site owners are now able to see whether or not the breadcrumb markup has been implemented correctly, by checking Google Search Console.
When you’re analyzing your organic traffic performance, you should always focus on your user. Breadcrumbs are a kind of guide to your user - they help them to understand at which page in the site hierarchy they are. But helping them to see this info, you have to add breadcrumb structured data to your site first. By adding this, you will not only show the hierarchy to the user, but also to Google.
If you are willing to show helpful content to the user, than why keeping it as a secret to Google?
14. Speed (Experimental) Report
Thanks to the Google Search Console speed report, you'll now be able to see the speed performance of your site alongside other reports* without using an extra tool. Why is this report so important, and how is it used?
Google Search Console speed report is important because,
- The worse the site speed, the higher the bounce rate of the users. Put aside all the client and project parts of your work, and consider yourself as an example. Don't you also leave a site or page when you see that pages do not open or aren’t downloading the images on mobile? That's why the site's speed performance is important, as you want to hold the target audience on your site.
- Your ranking in the Google search results may decrease, as a result.
I’m so sure that after doing SEO for months, you don't want all of this to be wasted because of the speed of your site.
*Google Search Console reports
How to use Google Search Console speed report?
The speed report is on the left side under the enhancements section of Google Search Console. When opening, you can find both the mobile and desktop-specific speed report of the site. In this report, URLs are classified as “slow, moderate, or fast” by Google.
For example, the following details belong to pages identified as "moderate" for mobile pages. “FCP (First Contentful Paint) shows the time from when the user requests the URL all the way until the browser renders the first visible element in the URL.” If the performance here is called “slow", users may not see the page loaded after they click on the URL. Of course, as I said above, the bounce rate increases.
FID (First Input Delay) shows the time from when a user clicks a link or taps on a button and interacts with the page until the time the browser responds to that interaction. Let's say the page that the user visits, is a page where they can fill out a form. In this case, the fast loading of the form page (the browser running this action quickly) becomes an important issue that will affect form-filling action as well as bounce rates.
Consequently, the fact that the FCP and/or FID metrics listed under the Google Search Console speed report are within the time intervals defined as slow, may be issues that can adversely affect organic traffic. Here are a few steps you can take to prevent organic traffic from being affected by speed performance, and I suggest you visit the Search Console Help page for more information.
- Run the PageSpeed Insight report to see the problems with the URLs that are considered “slow" by the FCP and/or FID metrics.
- If you are an expert in this area and know the meaning of the actions that the test results give, fine. But if you've never heard of them before, I suggest you to get SEO consultation to prevent a further impact on your organic traffic. To summarize, the maximum size of the page must be max. 500 KB, and the number of page resources should be limited to 50. I also recommend using AMP which guarantees page-speed loading.
If you want to know more about this topic, you can read the Google Developers web.dev fast loading instructions and the performance article based on the web.
15. Video Enhancement and Video Performance Report
The video enhancement report provides technical information about videos in the Google search results for site administrators who have added video-structured data on the page. With this report, you can see errors or warnings that may cause your videos not to appear in Google search results.
The video performance report shows how much impressions or clicks the videos got or what the avg. position and CTR of the videos is. To see the exact pages that include the videos which are shown in the SERPs, you should add a "Search Appearance: Video” filter, and then browse the “Pages” field of the report.
For analyzing the customized performance report for your videos, (1) you need to add VideoObject data on the page source at least, or (2) you can rely on Google's signals to see if there is a video on the page without any markup. It is your choice.
Bonus: Useful Extensions - Search Analytics For Sheets
There is a limit to exporting reports in the Google Search Console. Therefore, the data you export is incomplete. You can use the Search Analytics for Sheets plugin to complete the entire transfer process.
Now let's go back to the title of this content: "What is the relationship between Google Search Console and organic traffic?"
After deciding on the subject of a post, I think about which topics I want, should and need to talk about. After I got my subject and topics, I begin to think of a title for the piece. But, if I can't come up with a good title yet, I let myself finish the content writing first, and then decide.
Before I started this blog post, I thought of mixing the H1 with Aşk-ı Memnu (a very popular Turkish series), Google Search Console, and Organic Traffic. Despite the fact that the final episode was aired in 2010, Aşk-ı Memnu continues to be rewatched each summer over and over again. So, I thought I could use the name of this show somehow in the title. Then I thought it wouldn't make much sense, and I gave up. (What is the point, right?)
5 seconds later, I also gave up on the title: "A Perfect Tinder Match: Search Console and Organic Traffic". Although I know what Tinder is, I could have made the wrong metaphors because I haven't used Tinder before. Besides, it would be hard to advance all the content with this analogy.
What does Irem like? Peanut butter, coffee, peanut butter, Justin Timberlake, coffee. Well, if I wrote an H1 with any of these, I could have kept the whole content with the most original metaphors, I wouldn't be forced at all - but you could get bored.
So you decide:
What is the relationship between Google Search Console and organic traffic?
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