4 Actionable Insights from Google Search Console Search Performance Reports

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SEO remains a critical channel for B2B marketers as they focus on digital marketing goals and objectives. As indicated in the recent report coverage of Ascend2’s “2020 Digital Marketing Plans Survey”, search engine optimization (SEO) is still considered the most effective tactic used for fulfilling digital marketing objectives.

Ascend2 Digital Marketing Survey

And as uncovered in Chief Marketer recently published “2020 B2B Marketing Outlook Survey”, search (optimization and marketing) was the second most influential channel producing B2B marketing leads with the highest ROI, only behind email marketing.

2020 B2B Marketing Outlook Survey,

So what tactics do B2B marketers use to execute a successful B2B SEO program?

For KoMarketing, content marketing provides the fuel for success. But this is done in coordination with a comprehensive keyword analysis that informs and benchmarks performance.

Enter Google Search Console’s Search Performance Report

Per Google’s help references, the search performance report “shows important metrics about how your site performs in Google Search results: how often it comes up; average position in search results; click through rate; and any special features (such as rich results) associated with your results.”

Google Search Console’s search performance report unlocks key insights into a website’s performance in Google search, identifying the visibility of keyword themes and opportunities for further improvements.

In this blog post, I will review four ways B2B marketers can use Google Search Console’s search performance report to uncover actionable insights for ongoing SEO and content marketing campaigns.

Branded versus Non-Branded Search

By default, this report shows top keywords, based on clicks to the website, over a three-month period. In every case, I recommend further filtering the default report to show clicks, impressions, click-thru rate (CTR), and average position.

Google Search Console’s Search Performance Report

The first aspect of keyword performance evaluation is comparing branded versus non-branded queries. To do this, simply filter the queries section of the report to include (“queries containing”) specific brand-based keywords.

I would recommend evaluating this for primary brand names as well as key product names and sub-brands.

Screenshot of Branded Keyword Performance

Screenshot Example of Branded Keyword Performance

Several questions can be answered when evaluating this performance. Examples include:

  • How much influence do branded keywords have on organic search traffic overall?
  • Is your organization receiving a significant enough percentage of traffic from brand-specific impressions in organic search results?
  • How do non-branded themes compare with branded keyword performance?
Screenshot of Non-Branded Keyword Performance

Screenshot Example of Comparable Non-Branded Keyword Performance

With this information in hand, B2B marketers can establish further benchmarks for SEO program performance, brand-specific, non-branded, and in general.

As I review the two screenshots above, a couple key insights immediately could be considered.

  • While it’s no surprise traffic volume is so low given an average position of 33.4, there must still be variations of non-branded keywords that perform strongly, given a 0.9% CTR on such a low average position.
  • +230K impressions would infer that there are opportunities to further expand content marketing efforts targeting more highly searched keyword phrases. This could require new content development but it may also lead to the optimization of existing website assets as well.

Keyword Theme Visibility

The same way we might filter for branded results, I recommend using the query filter to identify how an SEO program has impacted core themes and important key phrases overall.

The example below is meant to illustrate how a particular keyword theme has performed for the same organization used in the previous example, in the same timeframe as well.

Screenshot of Keyword Theme Visibility

Screenshot Example of Keyword Theme Visibility

The screenshot illustrates that in comparison to all non-branded results, there is work that still needs to be done. While this keyword theme has an average position that is slightly above average for non-branded keywords, the CTR is drastically lower.

Fortunately, search performance reporting provides further information on the individual key phrases that make up performance for this theme.

Examples of Key Phrase Opportunities within a Keyword Theme

Examples of Key Phrase Opportunities within a Keyword Theme

In the screenshot above, I am highlighting some of the low CTR key phrases that could be further evaluated for new content development opportunities.

Key Page Performance

Another area of search performance analysis that B2B marketers should assess is on whether the optimization of individual pages, website sections, and key landing pages, is having an impact.

Instead of filtering by queries we can filter by web pages (web addresses). This can be further refined to capture sub-directories or individual web address syntax.

In the screenshot below, we can see that a significant amount of work is still required for this particular web page.

Screenshot of Performance for a Segment of Key Page Types

Screenshot Example of Performance for a Segment of Key Page Types

By leaving this filter intact and switching to the query-specific report, we now have access to the individual key phrases that drove traffic and impressions for this particular web page. From this point we can further evaluate these phrases for new and refined optimization efforts.

Examples of Keyword Opportunities Specific to Performance for Key Page Types

Examples of Keyword Opportunities Specific to Performance for Key Page Types

Here are a couple other ways to use filtered page-specific search data for actionable performance reporting.

  • Filter and compare segment-by-segment section performance (for example: blog posts versus webinar landing pages perhaps).
  • Filter and compare optimized pages versus those still pending review by filtering specific web addresses.

Keyword Opportunity Development

A few years back I wrote a Search Engine Land column highlighting ways B2B marketers can further use Google Search Console’s search performance reports for content marketing ideas.

Those concepts can be refined by exporting keyword data, filtered or overall, to create more specific direction, SEO or content marketing marketing specific, based on further analysis.

Example One: Build on Existing Success

This example below filters keyword data by isolating a specific range of higher than average CTR percentages (at least double digit) and fairly good average position (bottom of first page) in organic search.

Example One: Build on Existing Success

Examples of Keywords with High CTR and Moderate Average Position

With this information in hand, B2B marketers can better identify patterns in keyword / content marketing relationships, in order to apply patterns to new content developed and existing content requiring further optimization efforts.

This particular filter yielded twelve potential key phrases. I’ve identified a first set of four to consider but we would want to review existing search engine results as well as potential applicability to further prioritize.

Example Two: Explore More Competitive Themes

As inferred previously, the example below focuses on key phrases that have relatively good positions in organic search (5 or better) with high impression numbers (+1,000) and low CTR (less than 5%).

Example Two: Explore More Competitive Themes

Examples of Keywords with Low CTR, High Impressions, and Moderate Average Position

In this example, the key is in looking for opportunities to improve CTR based on an already well positioned key phrase.

  • Perhaps titles and meta descriptions can be revamped to improve performance?
  • Another idea is to revamp landing page objectives based on the type of competitive listings present in existing organic results.

While ultimately new content may be required to satisfy search objectives, making small changes at the start could also lead to incremental gains in performance.

Example Three: Traffic Expansion

Finally, this example highlights higher impression opportunities (+1,000) that are positioned in the second page of organic search results with corresponding CTR’s unsurprisingly low.

Example Three: Traffic Expansion

Examples of Keywords with Low CTR, High Impressions, and Lower Average Position

The first step is to re-evaluate existing organic search results for content objectives and general applicability for new content marketing development.

Once that has been done, I would also recommend looking at “Searches related to [keyword]“, found at the bottom of a search results page, to uncover comparable opportunities and expand content marketing efforts.

Final Thoughts

While these insights should provide actionable opportunities for B2B marketers, they only scratch the surface when it pertains to the scope of filters that could be applied.

They also ignore performance by device type, or country-specific filtering. The latter being more important for global search marketing campaigns of course.

That said, these first steps should be more than enough to get started in uncovering actionable insights for ongoing SEO content marketing campaigns.

In what ways is your organization leveraging Google Search Console’s search performance reports for better SEO analysis? I would love to read your thoughts and perspective via comments below.

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