4 Actionable Insights from Google Search Console Search Analytics Reports

SEO remains a critical channel for B2B marketers as they shift their focus on a new year’s worth of goals and objectives.

As indicated in the recent “2016 State of Pipeline Marketing” report from Bizible, Heinz Marketing, Radius, ReachForce, and Uberflip, SEO ranked 4th amongst tactics used to acquire new customers.

2016 State of Pipeline Marketing

And in a recent study from Adestra, in partnership with Ascend2, respondents indicated that both SEO and social media are some of the most effective, but also most difficult digital marketing tactics to execute.

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

According to survey data from Ascend2, relevant content creation, keyword / phrase research and external / internal linking top the list.

SEO Tactics

Of course, content creation and the identification of website opportunities for external link building are often defined by keyword research and effective search analysis.

Enter Google Search Console’s Search Analytics Report

Per Google webmaster’s help references, the Search Analytics Report shows how often a website appears in Google search results, which can be filtered and grouped by categories such as query, page, date, or device.

By default, the Search Analytics Report shows top keywords, based on clicks to the website, over a four-week period. I recommend further filtering the default report to show impressions, CTR, and average position, as well as clicks to the website.

Google Search Console Search Analytics Report

While this report will not match 100% to Google Analytics data, Search Console has come much closer in accuracy. All in all, the search analytics report can become an essential resource for B2B marketing program analysis.

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

Branded versus Non-Branded Search

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

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

branded keyword performance report

Screenshot 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 (as illustrated in the screenshot below) compare with branded keyword performance?
non-branded keyword performance report

Screenshot of 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 action items immediately could be considered.

  • Why is the average position for branded traffic so low (11.3)? What other competing organizations or themes are having an impact in these search results?
  • In similar fashion, how is the CTR so high for non-branded results overall? 3.53% CTR would seem fairly significant, particular when the average position is 24.4. What specific keywords are having such a positive impact?

Keyword Theme Visibility

The same way we might filter for branded results, I recommend using the Query filter in search analytics 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.

keyword theme visibility

Screenshot of Keyword Theme Visibility

The screenshot illustrates that in comparison to all non-branded results, there is still work 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 analytics reporting provides further information on the individual key phrases that make up performance for this theme.

individual keyword examples

Examples of Key Phrases within one Keyword Theme

In the screenshot above, I am highlighting some of the high CTR key phrases that should be further evaluated. Understanding their success could help to refine content marketing tactics used in related keyword targets, with significantly lower CTR’s or average positions.

Key Page Performance

Another area of search analytics 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.

key page performance

Screenshot of Performance for a Segment of Key Page Types

But 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 / refined optimization efforts.

Here are a couple other ways to use filtered page-specific search analytics 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

Last year I wrote a Search Engine Land column highlighting ways B2B marketers can further use Google Search Console’s search analytics 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.

Examples of Keywords with High CTR and Moderate Avg Position

Examples of Keywords with High CTR and Moderate Avg Position

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 (subjective) applicability to further prioritize.

Example Two: Explore More Competitive Themes

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%).

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

Examples of Keywords with Low CTR, High Impressions, and Moderate Avg 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.

I’ve highlighted higher percentage keywords to consider first, but it is always tempting to tackle opportunities with a more significant impression history as well.

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.

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

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

The obvious first step is to once again evaluate existing search results for content types and general applicability.

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 to consider in new 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, the more recently launched AMP designation, or country-specific filtering. The latter being more important for global SEO 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 analytics reports for better SEO analysis? I would love to read your thoughts and perspective via comments below.

“The team @ KoMarketing Associates clearly understands how to effectively utilize all methodologies of search engine marketing and builds powerful programs to achieve outstanding results. The team they have constructed is not only professional but fantastic to work with.”

— Chad Beasley, Vice President at Delivery Agent

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