If you have a website, you’ll want to track how many people visit your site and how they interact with it. For this, there’s Google Analytics.
Google Search Console is a very different tool. It specifically tracks your presence and performance in Google Search, and the data it provides can help you improve the visibility and presence of your website in Google Search.
Why do I need Search Console?
If your website is indexable by Google, you’ll want Search Console to understand and improve how Google sees your site.
You do not need Search Console to show in Google Search results, but you do need Search Console to know how and to what extent you show in Google.
Here’s a video from Google explaining the product:
Because it is search-engine focussed and not user-session-focussed (to track user sessions and traffic sources you want Google Analytics) Search Console is the most powerful tool for SEO and understanding your relationship with search. For more help with your local SEO needs, why no ask for our free SEO report
What can Search Console tell me?
Search Console offers the following actions:
- View Google Search traffic data for your site
- Track keywords in search
- Track clicks, impressions and click-through rates of all keywords
- Track popular pages, countries and devices
- Monitors the coverage of your site (and pages) in Google
- Monitors your site health (and will flag for things like downtime)
- Checks for errors on pages (like 404)
- Lets you remove content from Google urgently
- Lets you request indexing for content and pages
- Shows you all your external links, top linking text and internal links
The most valuable feature for webmasters is the Performance tab, which lets you see what keywords people are using to see your results in search.
The Performance tab in Search Console tells you how many impressions you get for keywords, how many clicks, the average CTR (click-through-rate) and the average position of all the keywords that have been tracked by Google.
Here’s an example:
And here’s what the query list below looks like:
You can click on any query (ours are blanked for privacy) to get more data.
As you can see from these results, with this website, there is one query that accounts for around 90% of all impressions in Google Search.
If you click on those coloured boxes, you also get more data.
Here’s what happens when we click on the ‘Average CTR’ box:
As you can see, we now have data for clicks, impressions and CTR for all the queries that Google has picked up on.
This is a fantastic way to see how people are finding your website and to identify new opportunities in search that you haven’t thought of. We’re always surprised by what we and our customers show up for. You will be too.
Who should use search console?
Search console is for anyone who owns a website or manages a website that intends to show up in Google search. It takes no expertise whatsoever to use and the data collection is automated. You just have to install the tracker on your site.
There are often comparisons made with Google Analytics, but they are two completely different tools that serve different purposes. They also generate different data, so one is not a substitute for another.
Search Console is for tracking your performance and visibility in Google Search; Analytics is for tracking your user sessions (how people use your website).
You should install both tools on your site for the deepest data and insight into your website, and Google even lets you link the two tools together to share data and create a bigger dataset. You can find out more about that here.
I have been walking the talk with SEO for 18 years and have money-generating web businesses of my own. My background is real-world business and marketing. Search engine optimisation is not black art. If you want your website to do better, contact me.