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Webmaster Tools Shape SEO Strategy and Tactics

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Webmaster tools

Small site publishers can use webmaster tools from Google and Bing to manage all of their efforts with search engine optimization.

Many sites simply aren’t large enough to have a dedicated SEO expert on staff. They also don’t have enough money to hire an outside expert as a consultant.

Publishers, editors and writers for these sites are left working on search engine optimization on their own time. They face the daunting challenge of finding the tools and advice to implement their tactics. Even more, they have to keep on top of the constantly changing environment.

Certain ways of using webmaster tools, also called search consoles, can make the work much easier, maintain sharp focus and keep up with the latest trends.

The follow tips assume the site already has webmaster accounts with Google and Bing.

Google Search Console

Although both Bing and Google have the right products, the tips below use Google Search Console because it is the most widely used.

In Google Search Console, click on Search Traffic and Search Analytics. Check the boxes for Impressions, CTR and Position at the top in addition to the already-checked Queries.

The total number of clicks, impressions, click through rate and average position appear just below the boxes. Those numbers represent the last 28 days of recorded activity.

Click on the dropdown under Dates, then Set Date Range and Custom. Change the date range to the previous calendar week or month. Plug the resulting number into a tracking spreadsheet and maintain tracking of those weekly and monthly averages.

Website managers can now focus on increasing that number over the course of time. It forces them to look at the average position for each query and take steps to increase the position and clicks for that query.

Total Clicks

The number of clicks will rise over time if the tactics are effective. Clicks don’t always rise each month because some factors such as time of year may bring them down.

What matters most is the number of clicks during the current month or week versus the same period a year ago.

Google Search Console doesn’t give year over year comparisons because the data goes back only three months. For that reason, it’s important to enter the numbers on a tracking spreadsheet.

So don’t fret the uncontrollable factors. Fret the controllable ones, which are the next three numbers on the Search Console report.

Total Impressions

Total impressions is the number of URLs that appear in a search result, although the searcher doesn’t always scroll down far enough to see the URL.

A high number of impressions is good. But effective SEO requires both quantity and quality.

The quantity of impressions is the result of the number of pages on a site, the number of synonym queries relevant to those pages and the number of times people search using those queries.

A page with a rank of 1 may have only 10 impressions a month while a page with a rank of 20 may have 100 a month. More people simply may search using the queries relevant to the second page.

So concentrate on producing more content, more synonyms and more focus on pages and queries that have a higher number of searches. Consistent updates also help.

Click Through Rate

The average click through rate or CTR is just to the right of total impressions. It is simply the total clicks divided by the total impressions.

CTRs give a slightly different insight about article performance than the queries. For example, an article with a rank of 2 has a 20 percent CTR while another article with the same rank has a 5 percent CTR. What causes the difference?

One possible answer is the title of the article or the meta description that Google and Bing show in their search results. A few thoughtful changes may increase the results.

A page with a fairly low position, such as 10, might have a CTR of 30 percent of higher. That’s because a few queries might have higher positions, CTRs and impression volume that drives up the average. So it pays to look at both queries and pages for two different points of view.

Over time, the average click through rate seems to rise and fall with the average position. It’s only logical because a higher position has more visibility and therefore gets clicked on more often.

Average Position

Next, look at the average position in the fourth box on the right.

Clearly, the average position is critical to getting more impressions and clicks because of greater visibility in search results.

The default Search Console report orders the results according to the queries that are getting the most clicks. Better SEO starts with improving the results for those queries simply because strong performers have the potential to improve the most.

But increasing the average position for queries is only one way to attack the problem. The other way is the average position for Pages.

Go back to the top of the page and clicks on the Pages radio button. The average position for site pages should be similar to the average position for queries. It’s just another way of identifying what part of the site needs the most help.

Tactics for increasing the position include more content for the article — words, images or both. They also include more internal and external links to the article as well as more keyword synonyms.

Again, consistent updating seems to increase average position as well as total impressions, click through rate and total clicks.

Focus first on queries that have both the highest position and the largest number of impressions. The higher the average position, the higher the click through rate.

 

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