How to Use Google Search Console To Improve Your SEO

Google Search Console, previously known as Google Webmaster Tools is one of the best free SEO tools out there. But most people use it for pure vanity metrics like checking if impressions or clicks increased. Others use it to look at the average ranking position. But these things as standalone metrics provide very little value.

So today, I’m going to show you how to use Google Search Console to actually improve SEO for your website.

What’s Up SEOs?

The SEO tool that helps you grow your search traffic, research your competitors and dominate your niche. So before we dig into the tutorial, I’m going to assume that you’ve already handled the basics like verifying your site and submitting your sitemap to Google. If you haven’t done that yet, do it first because you’ll get a lot more value from this video.

Let’s get to it.

Underperforming Keywords

So the first tip is to improve click-through rate for underperforming keywords. So let’s define an underperforming keyword as any page where you don’t rank in positions 1 and 2 for that keyword. And the reason why I’m defining it this way is that if you look at this graph of the CTR curve, you’ll notice that anything not in positions 1 or 2 gets significantly less search traffic. For example, if your page is ranking in position 7, your CTR will be around 2.16%.

Now, if you were able to bump that keyword ranking to position 2, your click-through rate would be around 15.5%.

Now, to put this into perspective, if the keyword your page ranked for had a search volume of 1,000, then being in position 7 would get you around 21 search visits per month. Whereas in position 2, you’d get 155 monthly search visits, which is more than 7x the search traffic.

To find these underperforming keywords, go to the “Search results” report under Performance and make sure that you’ve clicked on the average CTR and average position boxes so they show up in the table below.

Next, scroll down to the table and set positions filters to show pages that have an average ranking position of less than 8.1. Reason being, it’s easier to move from position 8 to the top 2 since you’ll get more exposure than the absolute bottom of page 1.

Now, one limitation to Search Console is that they don’t let you set a positions range. So we’ll just sort the table by position in descending order and start skimming through the keywords for queries we may want to optimize our pages for. We’ll also want to look at the number of impressions too because there’s likely no point in optimizing for a query with 20 impressions.

One that stands out to me is this one, “how to create backlinks.” So I’ll click on that keyword, then I’ll go to the Pages tab. From here, you’d want to do an individual analysis of this page, and see if you can Further optimize for the keyword since it’s virtually on the same topic.

So whether that be on-page work, adding internal links, or something else, you’d have to assess the best course of action and experiment. But be sure to use some common sense.

For example, you’ll see that we rank for “301 redirect SEO.” This keyword doesn’t make sense grammatically, so we wouldn’t throw in typos for the sake of, quote-unquote, “optimizing.”

Click-Through Rate

Since we’re on the topic of clickthrough rates, the next tip is to find and analyze pages with high keyword rankings, but low CTR. That CTR curve that I showed you before just shows averages.

So that means not every single keyword that ranks in position 1 is going to get a 30 percent click-through rate. So what we need to do is find out which keywords have subpar CTRs, analyze the cause, and see if there’s a way to get more clicks and traffic to our pages.

So while we’re still in the Search Results report, let’s change the position filter to show pages that have a ranking position of less than 3, meaning better than a top 3 ranking.

Next, I’ll sort the table by CTR from lowest to highest.

Here’s an interesting one. We’ve gotten around 7,000 impressions for the keyword “DIY SEO,” with a CTR of only 2% while ranking in the Top 3. CTR should be somewhere in the ballpark range of 9-15% since I know we’re definitely matching search intent here.

So let’s go to Google and search for this keyword. Makes sense now. The featured snippet takes up a ton of real estate, then it’s followed by videos, the people also ask box, and then our page, which is actually the number one organic ranking.

So in this case, we could definitely work on trying to own that featured snippet and we could also create a video tutorial around the topic to try and claim a spot in the video carousel. And if we were able to successfully execute, we’d own the entire “fold” of the SERP.

Now, our page on “white hat link building” also gets around a 2% CTR even though on average, we’ve been ranking in the Top 2 for the past 3 months for this keyword.

Looking at the SERP, you’ll see that the entire top section is plastered with ads, then a featured snippet, a people also ask box, and then the organic results, where ours is actually the first blue link result.

In this case, it would come down to your priorities. The ads tell me that there’s commercial intent to this keyword. And if we were to optimize and try and own the featured snippet, it may be worth the effort. But on the other hand, since there are a ton of ads for white-hat link building services, which we don’t sell, owning the featured snippet may not result in a crazy boost in clicks.

So, you’ll have some tough decisions to make, but that’s SEO. Tough decisions, some which will be super-profitable, and others that may not have been worth the time.

Sitemap Errors, Warnings, And Exclusions

Alright, the next tip is to check for sitemap Errors, warnings, and exclusions. Sitemaps are files that tell search engines which pages are important on your site. They also help crawlers crawl your site more efficiently.

Now, if you have issues with your sitemap, then you might have a problem since you could be confusing crawlers, leading to wasted time and resources on their end.

To see if you have any issues, go to the Sitemaps report. Then click on the icon beside the sitemap you want to investigate. You’ll see a few tabs showing the number of errors, warnings, valid URLs and excluded ones.

Since we don’t have any errors for our blog, let’s look at the one issue under “Excluded.” And you can see that one page has been excluded because of a duplicate submitted URL, which is not canonicalized.

If you click on the error, then you’ll see this URL, on guest blogging. Looking at the HTTP status code for this URL, you’ll see that there’s a 301 redirect to our newer post on guest blogging.

The reason why this happened is that the old article is still set as “Published” in WordPress, which means that Yoast, which is the plugin we’re using is adding it in our sitemap. So I’ll delete this post and the issue should resolve itself the next time Google checks our sitemap for issues.

Find Pages

Next up is to find pages that need internal links or those that need to be pruned.

Let’s say that you’re publishing a new post on the best dog treats. If you already have relevant pages on let’s say, dog food and another one on puppy nutrition, it would make sense to add internal links from these pages, pointing at your new post.

And assuming that you’ve built some link authority to these pages, there’s a chance that your new page will get indexed faster and rank higher.

Now, if certain posts don’t have many or any internal links, then there’s a good chance that it’s a forgotten post; meaning it probably doesn’t get much search traffic or provide much value to your site.

So let’s go to the Links report in Google Search Console, where you’ll see a summary of various categories for both external links and your top linked pages via. internal links. And I’ll click on the “More” link under internal links.

Now let’s sort the table by the number of internal links pointing at our target pages to find “the forgotten.” One of the pages that pop up is this one with the slug “hire-me-page,” which only has one internal link. And you’ll see that it was published back in October 2015.

Now, this page isn’t exactly in-line with what we publish today. So I’m sure we’ll be deleting or redirecting it to another relevant page soon.

Now, if you find pages that are worth keeping, then it’d be advantageous to either

  1. a) add more internal links pointing at them;
  2. b) update the content and add more internal links where appropriate.


For example, if we had an old post on keyword research that was out of date, we’d first update our content to make it relevant to today. Then we can go to Google and search for something like Site:yourdomain and then I’ll add “keyword research” to the query. This will show you all pages on your site that include your target keyword there. Just visit the pages and add internal links where it makes sense.


Now, the main downside to Search Console’s internal links report is that they don’t show you pages that have zero internal links. These are called orphan pages.

Orphan Pages

Now, assuming there are no external backlinks pointing at these orphan pages, this poses a problem because they can’t be “crawled” by Google, meaning it won’t be indexed and never discovered through search.

Search Console

Now, Search Console is a super-powerful tool, And when it comes to accuracy for your own site, I strongly recommend using it. But there are three huge limiting factors to your SEO success.


First is that it’s extremely limiting when it comes to discovering deeper technical issues on your site. And even if you’re a wiz with Google Sheets, they only allow you to export up to 1,000 rows of data in places like their links reports.


The second one is that there’s no keyword volume data.


Yes, Google has a Keyword Planner, but that’s only somewhat useful if you’re paying for ads. Otherwise, you end up with ranged values like this. And even if you do have search volume numbers, they’re rounded annual averages, which gives you super-broad estimations.


The third and final downside is the biggest when it comes to doing SEO. And it’s that you only have data for your site. SEO isn’t a one-person game. You’re competing against other websites and pages for the top spot. And it’s extremely difficult to do anything meaningful without understanding the competitive landscape for the keywords you’re targeting.


So here’s my advice to you.


If you’re new to SEO, the Search Console is going to be the best place to start. You’ll get a ton of insights on your website for free. But if you want to get any kind of competitive analytics on your competitors, then you’ll need third-party tools like Ahrefs to help you achieve that.


For example, if we enter into Site Explorer, which isn’t our domain, and go to the organic keywords report, we’ll see that he’s ranking for “youtube tags” and around 44,000 other keywords.


Now, I know we don’t rank for this keyword and since Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer provides YouTube keyword data, this might be a topic we could potentially target in the future.


Now, I’d love to hear how you’re using the Search Console to improve your SEO. Let me know in the comments and if you enjoyed this video, make sure to like share and subscribe for more actionable SEO and marketing tutorials.


So keep grinding away, always be improving your SEO and I’ll see you in the next tutorial.

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