'The Big Bing' and small business search
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Understanding Google Search Console and the ‘experimental’ Google Page Speed data can be hard. In this webinar, Craig Martin walks through important screens and data points for people who manage their own website and are looking for ways to leverage that data into more growth and better businesses.
This transcript has been automatically generated (thanks Otter.ai) and lightly edited for grammar and accuracy. Please check the video if things don’t make sense!
Quite a few people are already joining us. Hi, everyone. Welcome to the second of a series of webinars we’ve been preparing. my name is Jeni, some of you might have met me already. I am the customer services director here at Performance Foundry. Our topic today is something that we found quite present in client concerns, which is Google PageSpeed scores, how they impact your website and what you can do to keep those scores positive or improve your current score. Before we get started, I wanted to explain how the webinar will work and how you can interact with us both during and after the presentation. So you are currently on mute, and we can’t see you, but we know that you’re there. Craig is going to give a brief presentation and after which we will host a question-answer period. And during the presentation, if you have a question or want to communicate with us, you can ask through the chat function by clicking on that little speech bubble at the bottom of your screen. And while Craig speaks, I can address any of your urgent questions or issues through chat.
And then, during the question and answer period, Craig will address any questions that are pertinent to today’s topic. So first off, thank you so much for being here. And without further ado, I would like to introduce Craig Martin, owner and founder of performance foundry.
Hi, everyone. So yes, today, we look at getting the most out of Google Search Console. There are a few different areas we’re going to touch on. And we’ll wrap up with those new page speed updates that have come out and kind of finish things off there. You know, this is a topic that you can go to multi-day training sessions on, and so we’re not going to get into that level of detail. But what we’re going to do is look at what’s important for site owners and site managers when we’re trying to drive business results and trying to drive more traffic and engagement.
So a little bit of high-level stuff, we’re not going to go into every feature. But what we are going to look at is the overview of what it is and does what it can tell you and what it can’t tell you. We’re going to look at three of the major areas that show up, which are performance coverage and enhancements. We’re going to take a brief look at security and manual actions. And then we’re going to dig into understanding performance data before we wrap up and go into the questions.
So this is me, I’m the co founder Managing Director at Koru Group Ltd.
Koru Group Ltd’s main product, is our main brand, Performance Foundry a web services company focused in on WordPress. And you can find us at performancefoundry.com. And while I am spread across a multitude of social channels, LinkedIn is the one that I spend the most time in. And you’ll find me there wearing this shirt and in that jacket with that photo linkedin.com/Craig Martin, no ego involved there at all.
But let’s take a look at Search Console. So Google Search Console is a tool that promises to help you improve your performance on Google search.
How it does that is variable, but it’s a great starting point for self-managing SEO issues, and self-managing some of the technical issues around the site that normally you just don’t see. So it does give us a little bit of X-ray vision into strengths and weaknesses.
Off the site, as is seen by an external crawler coming in. So that’s one of the things to be aware of. There are things that happen on your site and on your platform that Google Search Console can’t and won’t see, because of the nature of it. It’s coming from outside and then reading through information. Whereas server logs and APM application performance monitoring data, that gives us information from the other side of that curtain, and we get to see what’s happening behind the scenes.
Professional SEOs are somewhat sceptical about the transparency of data inside of search console. So it is important to take it with a grain of salt. I don’t want you to get caught up in the conspiracy theories around it, but I do want you to remember that Google feeds your site traffic, and they’re not your friend, they’re your competition. And in a way, sometimes they’re a master when it comes to traffic generation. You know, more than 50% of searches now are finishing with no click results. So that means Google through calculation, through surfacing knowledge, through all of the search engine features that they have, they’re answering the users’ query without actually encouraging them to click through to a site. And so with voice search that is going to keep on growing. So be aware that Google should not be your sole source of traffic. And that Google’s big goal is to make money. Their goal isn’t for you to make money necessarily. It’s a side effect of the search business model.
So as we jump in here if you haven’t got it setup, you are going to search.google.com -Search Console. And that will push you to /about. And you can sign in there using any address you’ve got registered with Google; it doesn’t have to be a Gmail address. But you do need to sign up for a Google account. Once you’ve done that, you can register your properties. So even if you’ve just got one website, you’ve actually got four addresses to that website, at least, there’s the HTTP is the one with www. This is the same to that with s on the end for secure HTTP, HTTPS. So there are four different variants. They’re all different addresses, Google sees them all as different things. And in the past, you had to go and manually register each of them, and then tie them all together. But now in the last six months, you can now use DNS to verify all at one time. If you’re a Performance Foundry client, we probably manage your DNS for you. So you can just send in the information that Google gives you about how to register, spin that into support, we can update that DNS for you and push it out. Once it’s done, it normally takes two to three minutes to go live. And so you can verify pretty quickly and grab all of them.
After you’ve registered, I highly recommend you go to Google Analytics, and in the administration settings there, you can actually connect Google Analytics and Search Console. So you’re going to start getting some information about Search Console showing up in Google Analytics reports. And that’s really helpful, especially if you’re using a third-party tool like Tableau or Zoho analytics or a Google Data Studio. If you’re pulling information out of there to manipulate it further, it’s fantastic to be able to grab that data straight from there. So I’d really recommend you go and do that. And you get all the data in the same place.
So we’re going to look at a real site, I got permission to run one. This is a medium-sized travel blog that’s been running for around 10 years. But it hasn’t been updated much over the last year. And it’s kind of running on fumes. And so this is going to show us some areas for improvement. Because it hasn’t been kept up, it hasn’t really been maintained. We’re going to see some of the areas where it’s slid, and some benchmark data there.
So when you first sign up for, for search console, you’re going to get no data. But within about three days, you’re going to start getting information like this. And the default view after you’ve had traffic running through it is to get three-month view. So these slides were taken recently as we record this. And we can see basically all of the time periods or a three-month time period. So that’s what you can expect when it comes in, you can manipulate that will show you how soon, there’s a bunch of navigation options down the left. And we’re going to touch briefly on quite a few of them.
We’re actually going to drill into that data through the three main sections on the homepage. That’s performance, coverage and enhancements. And so we’re going to dive in there. But be aware, you can also dive into these specifically through the menus on the left-hand side. Let’s start at the top look at performance. And what performance is talking about. There are the number of clicks that come through to your website from search results. So you go and do a search for something in Google. You get a bunch of options that come up. And what this is telling us, this report is out of all of that, how many people are actually clicking on your search results. And going through onto your page, you might see some discrepancy here between Google Analytics and search console. They’re kind of separate things. And the tracking tools for both of them aren’t perfect. And so you can see a bit of discrepancy between those two reports. Don’t panic about that, that’s fine.
And we can see that this performance data is broken up into two areas in search results and discover. So search results are pretty self-explanatory. It’s the traditional Google that we all know. And, you know, you do a search, you click a result, and you get through there. Discover is a special feature and it’s commonly found in the Google app and also on some Google phones, I believe as part of the default set up, and it looks something like this. So it’s kind of a Google landing page with, with Ok Google ready to go there. Also the ability to click and search, and then a whole lot of information that is kind of set up based personally on Google’s algorithmic understanding of who you are or who this device is. And so it tries to set up areas of knowledge or interest that’s going to, you know, engage people and get people coming back to the Google app and get it get people to interact with the internet through this app. So it’s entirely algorithmically, based on the individual. How do you get your site on here? How do you know if you’re getting any clicks through here? Basically, Google can index and it’s
going to have the option of putting it up here. And if it meets Google News guidelines, then it’s part of the part of the options that Google can can pick from while grabbing things. So you want to go and have a look at Google News guidelines and have a think about your editorial, your content, and decide if it’s a good fit. You can boost it by writing interesting stuff.
Who would have thought? Interesting stuff that meets Google News guidelines. And there is a third thing you can do; you can opt into large image use. So you can see in this example image for drone photography, we’ve got a small image there for Childish Gambino. There’s video actually, but that larger image shape is what’s going to appear if you want to opt in to allow large images, and it might get you more coverage in Google discover.
Then inside of Search Console, you can click on the Help icon when you go into that discover report. And it will basically give you all of the links and give you the the information you need to boost that. So if you are running a blog, you’ve got new content that’s coming out all of the time. Meeting those Google News guidelines will get you here. And if there is a news aspect to your site, you can actually submit and go through a bit of rigmarole. It’s a manual process that takes two to three months to get into Google News. And that has had massive impacts on search for a few of our clients. So if you think you’re using, then that’s a great thing to do as well.
So jumping on from Discover back into that performance chart, and what I’ve done is clicked on the search results one, so you can see the trend of search results. And immediately we get a lot more information. So I’ve got that same click action that we saw on the homepage. And we can see there are around 17. 9000 clicks over these three months, from the word that’s coming out of around a million impressions. So impressions are the amount of time it actually appears on a page. It doesn’t mean people have scrolled to see your content. It just means that it’s being generated on the page. And Google normally has ten search results per page or ten organic search results per page. So if it’s anywhere in that ten it’s going to show up here as an impression.
So really basic math, you’re putting the total clicks, and total impressions together to get click-through rate, which is a percentage, that’s the Ctr – click-through rate. And that pops up here as 1.7. I really liked how clean the mess that was here made it really easy to demo the average position. So this shows us out of those impressions are the times people have added, the times that things have appeared in search results. This site has got rankings that average 29.3. So if you imagine across all of that million impressions, they’ll be some of them that are in the top one or two results. Some of them that are in the five to 10 rank, unlikely to get clicked. Some of them are on page two, so that’s like 11 to 20 at 29 as average that’s actually averaging at the bottom of page three. So people aren’t finding what they’re wanting if they’re getting through into significant search results that are that far down. So, you know, a goal would be to try and boost that average position.
But if you boost the average position, while at the same time dropping your number of impressions, you’re into some funny math, right? So I’d rather have a 1.7% click-through rate out of a million impressions, then have a 5% click-through rate out of 1000 impressions. So you’ve really got to play the ratios, and that’s where percentage and year on year changes can be really important. And that’s one reason I don’t like looking at small amounts of data here. Because in this case, especially around travel, there are high periods and low periods. There’s seasonality around the areas that the site is talking about, and around summits, most popular content comes up around festivals that happen at certain times of year.
So rather than looking at the last three months, it’s much more valuable to look at year on year changes, or to look at the month of September 2019, versus the month of September 2018. And compare those. However, we are seeing a sad downward trend here. And I that would make me curious, I’d wonder does this happen every year? Is it happening at a faster or slower rate than it did in the previous year? Or is this something different now what’s going on? So I started to get curious, I wasn’t able to get permission to show what the actual search queries and landing pages were. So I don’t have a slide on it. But it’s really valuable to dig into the information underneath here and that is going to show you the search queries and click-through rates, it’s also going to show you the popular landing pages.
And the most valuable thing to do with this data is actually to suck it all out of here and put it into a spreadsheet through exporting to CSV or pulling it into something like Power BI tableau, Zoho analytics Google Data Studio and actually manipulate it pivoted. And check out the data in interesting ways. And just follow your curiosity as you go through there. Or get a professional SEO, and when we are doing analysis, yep, we start in here we start looking at this, but we actually extract a whole lot of data and start compiling it in different ways to try and see patterns and try and spot trends and opportunities.
So yeah, so but lots of good data below here to dig into, to go exploring. Let’s go back to the homepage. We are looking here at coverage. And really you want your coverage to have zero pages with errors. If errors are occurring or showing up here, these are things to fix pretty quickly. And normally they’re really cheap and easy to fix. And so it’s good, low hanging fruit to know these areas. Coverage is going to show issues with internal links as Google crawls through your sites and hits 404s or soft 404s and also any issues with links in your sitemap. So I know most people on WordPress use a plugin to generate Sitemaps. Yoast SEO has one built-in, which is fine, and there’s a couple of other sitemap tools that allow you to fine-tune things a little bit more. So generally, all of that is done automatically. You’re not going to have any problems. And so the kinds of problems that are going to show up with here are broken internal links that Google keeps running into.
But one thing to check is the total number of pages that have coverage. And if they’re significantly more pages or significantly fewer pages than you would expect, I start looking into why. Sometimes people will have all of their image pages indexed. And so they might have, say, 500 blog posts, but they might have four images per page. And they’ve got 2000 additional pages in the coverage. So Google is kind of wasting its crawl budget, going through and finding all of these duplicate pages where the only thing that’s different is the title and the image that’s not valuable to end-users and therefore not valuable to Google, and you’re therefore wasting its time and wasting its money. And it doesn’t like that. So you want to check and make sure that the number of pages having coverage is more or less what you’d expect. Now, there are some tricky things, right? You’ve got your, your pages and your blog posts, but you’ve also got Tags and Categories, and you may have both of those indexed. So every time you generate those, they’re generating pages that go into the sitemap. And there are some decisions to be made around what you want to keep in there and what you don’t want to and that comes back to editorial, it comes back to the vision of your product, and then technical SEO and architecture, and to how those are named and how you use those. But whatever happens, be sure you’ve submitted your sitemap to search console, because that’s going to make sure that Google’s got a picture of, of what you want to be seeing coming through and you can do that easily using the sitemap button on the left-hand side of the main menu that’s going to feed into coverage.
So I just want to quickly touch on one other thing, which is the security and manual actions section. It looks like this. And if you click on these, you should get a happy green tick. If you don’t get a happy green tick, you have problems, and they’re probably problems that are roadblocks. These issues are more important than almost anything else that’s going on. So if you don’t have a happy green tick for these, that’s your first priority, sorting it out.
At Performance Foundry, we very rarely see security issues coming up. We do see it with some of our clients that are on other hosts, but we’ve managed to lock down a lot of that in our environment. I’m not saying it’s impossible, because people are allowed to add their own plugins and their own third party code. So we can’t control that. But we’ve locked down a lot of the typical WordPress issues that come up, in terms of manual actions.
The most common issue we see is basically people selling links. That is, people that have received money or receive product in return for editorial. And in the editorial they’re putting in links, and Google goes, “Oh, look at look at this pattern. I think that is paid editorial. I don’t think it’s legitimate. It’s like natural linking”. And so they’ll put a manual action on your site, which is basically a wake up call to to not do that or do that in a more clever and tricky way, depending on your your business and the problem that you get is Google doesn’t tell you normally what pages and what links are out there, it may give you some examples.
So those examples that easy to tidy up, and then you ask them to revalidate that can take a few weeks or a few months. And then you might have to go through and iterate on that a couple of times. So but yeah, any issues here deal with them first, we don’t see it that often. But they are the key area.
So let’s jump on to the last thing that gets highlighted on the homepage. And that is the enhancements to enhancements, our special search features or special code on your site that helps Google to read the site, to understand the site. So basically, you want all of your enhancements to be green, and you want there to be as many enhancements as you can possibly fit onto your stuff.
Because what it’s doing is just feeding Google more information. And the more contextual information it has, the better choices it can make about where and how to rank you. It also shows Google that you’re interested in aligning with their business interests. And so I’m sure there are some algorithmic points in there as well. Because it is, you know, it’s in alignment with what they want to do, and you’re helping them. Once again, we go back to the is “Google, my friend, my competitor, my master” question, which is one for business strategy, not Google Search Console.
So you want as many of these as you can, and you want them all to be green when it comes to trying to get ranked. Typical problems that we see come up around mobile usability and bread crumbs. Normally, in both of these cases, it’s a false positive, and you can, if you do get read here, you can open up the report, it’ll show you the page, it’ll give you an option to manually test it, it’ll come back and say, Oh, it’s all good.
And then you can go through and re-verify it. If it is coming up with problems, those are really varied. And we can’t get into them today. But they can normally be fixed with development. Sometimes they can be fixed by changing plugins or something like that. But it’s a real kind of varied amount of work that goes into that.
And then we’ve got the new one and the one that is most concerning for people at the moment because it’s new, and it’s sending out a lot of alerts, and that is speed. So we all like to think our sites are okay. But what Google is showing some people is that this speed is a little bit different. And so what we’re trying to do is understand what Google’s talking about when it talks about speed. Because the goalposts are shifting, and they’re shifting in a way that’s more technical than easy to understand. I’ve had a lot of people say to me, hey, my site loads instantly on my phone, but Search Console saying slow, what’s up. And it’s to do with how things are measured in Search Console and what Google’s caring about. So we’re going to take a look at how to read this and how to understand it and how to leverage it.
But we’re going to do it reasonably quickly. So bear with me.
So what I’ve done here is taking that speed report that that was on the homepage and click-through into the speed issues, and it splits it up usefully into mobile and desktop, and we know that mobile phones
tend to have a lot this round, tend to have fewer processes. And that means on the device itself, it’s processing things more slowly than on a desktop.
For some people, it’s actually the opposite. We’re holding on to aging laptops more and more, but continuing to update our phone. So it’s interesting seeing that shift. But generally, desktop is going to process a web page much more quickly than a mobile site. And it’s really important to understand that a part of the processing of a web page happens on the server.
It goes and grabs information from the database. It compiles the PHP and WordPress, it runs all of the functions, and that outputs HTML, that HTML gets sent to the browser, and then the browser now does more and more of the work of building out that page. So modern development means the server is doing less and less work.
Mobile is kind of drifting between moderate and slow scores. And on desktop we’re stuck in the middle, we’re stuck in moderate. There’s nothing slow, nothing fast. So for me, that tells me that on mobile, where we’re at a boundary, you know, it’s it’s almost moderate, but it’s just touching into slow.
And it’s also telling me that, hey, if I fix my mobile problems, I’ll probably automatically fix my desktop problems as well. So that gives me the focus point, dig into mobile.
So clicking on that open report brings me here, and it shows me a timeline of information, and it breaks it down. In this case, you know, almost every page had the same issues, so there wasn’t a lot of variability. Your traffic lights might look a bit more colorful as you come in here.
I’ve got two types of issue. FCP issues and TTFB issues, and you know what. So if FCP is first content for paint, basically it means from when the user requests the page to when the site starts to load. So we’ve got time to first byte, which is, you know, we click on a link or hit enter. After you’ve inputted a URL. The browser spins for a bit, and you get a white page that’s waiting on the server to respond. But now because the browser is doing so much more work, and that there’s other processing work the browser needs to do before it can move on. And so if FCP first content for paint is how long does it take for the server and the browser to figure out what’s going on and start, start creating the page? start painting, so less than one second is green, orange and three plus is in the red.
What I do is first input delay. So that’s from when the user first interacts to when it responds. And that interaction could be trying to scroll, click, tap, input something with the keyboard, whatever. And you’re waiting, you’re waiting, you’re waiting. And I think we’ve all encountered that, you know, when you load a web page, and it loads up nice and fast, and then you go to scroll it on your phone, and it sticks, you know, it doesn’t do anything, or you click a button, and nothing happens that that first input delay, that’s what it’s talking about. So less than 100 milliseconds is green. 100 300 milliseconds is orange, and anything over that is in the red.
So that’s what that means. So when we come back here, and we see if FCP issues longer than three seconds, that’s how long it takes for a browser to not just be white. If the issue is that after I can see something in the first window, can I interact with it? And how slow is that? So I’m going to click on the FCP issue here and drill down into the reports the more, you know, this is not showing me the orange, it’s just showing me the red, the slow. And what it does is it tells me affected URLs. And then down on the bottom, it gives me example URLs to go through.
Generally, not always, but generally, there are just a couple of examples. And they might be different issues on different pages. But quite often with WordPress sites is all about the blog posts. And if we can fix the blog posts, we fix everything. The template is more or less the same between blog posts and pages. And so everything that’s happening is happening pretty much everywhere. So quite often, even though we’ll see this fan of ratio 404 issues, but just one example URL. So that’s not a problem. It’s the way it works.
So if I click on the example, which I’ve got blurred out at the bottom of the slide, if I clicked on that it pops up a bit of a menu and gives me the option to click through to an external link. And that external link opens up that example page in Page Speed insights.
So hopefully, what we see first up right up the top and those big bars that are in the center of the screen, it shows us that first content for paint and it shows us the first input delay. So that’s really, really helpful.
It’s it’s aligning those two things.
And here we start to see some discrepancies but between our test right now and what other people are seeing. So I can see under the lab data at the bottom of the screen. This is stuff that’s happened for us today as we ran this test. And I can see my first content for paint was 2.4 seconds that’s in the brain.
Good, good, good, good. But if I go up and look at the field data, this is combined from multiple different browsers, users real-life devices. And I can see that only 18% of users actually end up in the green 58% are in the orange marker, and 24% are in the red.
Our average at the moment is 2.9 seconds. So we’re actually just falling just in that you know, two to three section.
What between one second and three seconds, we’re just at the edge of our average being moderate or average being bad. So no matter what we look at in terms of these percentages are right at the edge of moderate and slow. And that’s exactly the data that we saw over time in Search Console. So what we want to do is pull that if FCP average 2.9 of all users on all devices from someone in Silicon Valley with a brand new phone and a gigabyte internet connection to someone in rural of, I don’t know, rural Kenya, who’s on an aging smartphone and just using the very fast but still the the mobile data that they have out there. This is the average, this is real-life usage.
So some of this has to do with the audience if you speak to a more technical audience, more likely to have faster devices, makes it a lot easier to score. Well, if you speak to a lot of people that have older devices, then you can struggle because you have to do more work to get your site working well. So as I said, this is real-life data, real-life devices. So what we need to do is pull that first content for paint down from 2.9, closer to one second. And that would be good. We want more people to be in the green have fewer people to be in the orange, we want to adjust that. So even though it’s fine for me, and that lab data that average needs to change.
With our first input delay, we can actually see that 85% of users receive information within 100 milliseconds, which is fantastic. That’s a great ratio 12% are between 103 hundred milliseconds and 2% is greater than that.
You know, our average is 210. So 85% of getting it in less than 100 seconds. What that tells me is that 2% really blows it out. Right? If it goes bad, it goes really bad. And that is the problem. Most people fantastic for a few people. It’s terrible. And that’s pushing our average to the right. So that is, you know, that’s how I read this. I go “Okay, so there’s one or two things that stick occasionally, if I can knock those out, I’m good”. With FCP. There’s a lot of work to be done. Our averages are pretty much bang in the middle. And yeah, we need to pull that back. Down the bottom of the screen. We can see information from our test today. We see FCP is good. Our next potential first input delay is 520 milliseconds. So that’s what it’s talking about, I want to dig in to add to grab that overall load time or time to interactive is 29.5 seconds. And that’s really, really high. But our, the traditional way that you would count, like page load would be 2.4 seconds, which is great. And so this is what I’m saying with the way that we measure Page Speed changing over time. And so hopefully, this hasn’t been too confusing. And thinking about this has been helpful. And we don’t have time today to dig into what does it you know, what do I do to adjust it? What I’ve been trying to do today is given an idea of how to read the data, and so you can make good decisions about what to prioritize and what to look into.
If this was my site, or I got budget to work on the site, I’d be, you know, making that decision between mobile and desktop going, Hey, we need to focus on mobile. If we fix that up, that’s going to improve our desktop data.
And then, I want to focus in on that first content paint, because I want to pull that further to the left only get a higher percentage of people in the green. And that might set my remaining first input delay issues as a knock on effect. But what I think is one or two scripts that are causing a lot of problems, and they’re the ones that need to be addressed.
Preferably, The other thing I do before running this test again, as I’ve done, I would turn off any advertising on the page. So turn off my advertising plugins, I would make sure the pages back in mediation, and then I would run this test again. And that’s going to show me one change the field data won’t change the averages up the top, but it’s going to change the lab data. And it’s going to change it in such a way that all of a sudden, I can interact with it, I can work on it. Because I can’t, the only thing I can do with advertising and advertising networks is turn it on or turn it off. It’s really binary. I can push some results back to my contact and say, Hey, this is my site with it off, and this is my site with it on can we work on this? But the answer is going to be No.
Not really. That’s it. So you can’t do anything about advertising. And it’s going to fill up as it’s going to cause a lot of the issues here and you want to get that out of your data so you can prioritize what to work on. So yeah, that’s as we’re coming into the end of time, so hopefully that’s been useful looking at overview, looking at what it means to drill into performance coverage, enhancements, security manual actions, and beginning to look at understanding performance data a little bit better to help you make good decisions about where to prioritize time and energy in chasing better results.
So get to a q&a. Now, I believe Jeni’s probably got a bunch of questions for me, before we jump into that we are working on a surface-based product to help fix these. Still, it is not proving to be easy, because every site is so unique. And even when we’re getting similar information coming up in Search Console, because of the nature of WordPress because people are using different combinations of themes and plugins. It’s not that easy. So our speed report product is not designed to interact with Google Page Speed very much. We pull about 15 to 20% of indicators from Page Speed, that it’s not been our priority. So what we’re looking at doing is building something that will improve or enhance Google Page Speed results and specifically tie in to search console results. If you’d like to be part of that beta at performancefoundry com/speedbeta. And if you’re watching this on video later, if the beta is closed, that will redirect to the product. And yeah, if you want, you can sign up express interest there. And we’ll do a discounted Early Access Program. In return for feedback. We’re looking at either doing a one off product, so kind of a report and fix or we’re looking at doing an ongoing retainer-based subscription model, where we keep on monitoring week after week and keep on making a number of changes to keep improving things. So that’s all still up in the air. We’re trying to figure out how to do it best and get good ongoing results. So if you’re interested performance foundry, com slash speed beta. And, Jeni, do you want to pop up and hit me with questions?
Hi, I’m back. Thank you, Craig. That was incredibly informative. And we have one question about discovery specifically. And the client wanted to know, what they were unsure about, is if they’re doing it correctly, or if they’re working correctly, and if you had a few more tips.
Yeah, sure. Okay. Just pop back. To discover, so are you doing it correctly? Correct question. There isn’t a lot of things that you can do to manipulate this directly. So better search results correlate with better discover rankings.
It seems to me there might be a correlation between using amp or not using amp. But that is maybe softer than it was a while ago.
Are you waving at me?
I am because She’s written back and said that she’s not talking about that specific discovery she’s talking about in the console that deals with search terms.
That deals with sections, okay. So in on this panel, Ah, jumping into the stuff below that I haven’t been able to put on the slide here with different search terms and pages. Yeah. Perfect. Is there a more precise question?
I don’t think so. I think they were really just concerned about how to do things, correct them, how to leverage that information. Yeah. Cool.
Yeah, so there’s a lot of information there that you can drill through. And so it can be a bit overwhelming. I think what a lot of people do is they come in and they look and I do this as well. Look at that top 10 or top 25 results for search queries. And that’s what people are seeing me for. It’s got information about the number of impressions the average position and the click. Right. So what you’re trying to do there is for a given search query, if you choose to target it, if it has value to you, what you want to do is be, you know, have an average position of kind of 123. That’s what you’re after. How you go about getting that is complex, right? It’s what SEO gets paid for. The part of the thing is figuring out who is ranking above you for that search term. So literally going into Google putting in the search term and a private window and seeing what comes up. Using a private window is going to take away some of the personalization. The results are still going to be personalized based on your location device and things like that, but not your previous browsing history more or less.
And especially if you’re using Safari on a Mac, and you’ve turned on some of those options to get better security around the device information. It’s stopping companies like Google being able to trace you because of my nanometers of difference in people’s screens and exact hardware configuration and things like that. So still personalized, but bit less personalized. That’s what we’re after. And looking at the people who are above you for that search term. What features do they have that I don’t have? Is it something about their navigation that makes them better say something about their content? If there are three people above you and all three of them have a table of contents and you don’t have a table of contents? Hey, here we go. A pattern. If they all have bread crumbs and you don’t have bread crumbs, there we go, we’ve got something. If two out of three of them have a comparison chart and you don’t have a comparison chart, then we’ve got something. If they can filter data in a certain way, and you can’t, then we’ve got something.
So we’re looking for areas in which for the keywords that you want to excel, and part of the puzzle is, what are they doing better than you? And this is maybe a really important add on to that question about Page Speed insights and the speed data that’s coming up. In some cases, you are so far ahead of your competition right now that maybe you’re better off investing in more editorial or better off investing in other areas of the site or other areas of your marketing.
And so it’s about comparing where you’re at with other people that are competing for similar search terms. I’ve got some people will looking at they are almost always in the red with Page Speed with their advertising network turned on. But they’re about 10 points higher than the competition. And so they’re quite happy that this site loads really well without advertising on that even with advertising on even though it’s in the red, they’re still really competitive. They’re beating the people that they want to beat and they’re winning search results. So yeah, don’t don’t aim for 100% in Google Page Speed just because 100% you know, it’s not an exam. You don’t get marks for it. it’s only useful to the point in which you’re winning more impressions and winning more clicks throughout the site as we looked at today. Yeah.
Definitely be working on it. So what else can we do with this data, we can, looking at it in the tabulated way that we see here. That’s kind of one of the basic things we can do. But what you might want to do, what’s really interesting is to suck it out into Excel or into a data visualization suite, and then start to start to filter it. So you might take out anything that mentions your brand, because that’s not useful. So you pull out anything with your brand name in it. And then you can start to try and to pivot the data to tabulate the data in such a way that you get kind of clumps of things. So trying to think of a nice easy example.
To do so say in a blog, you have a bunch of information about phones and then you have information about Apple phones versus Android phones versus other phones, I know, Microsoft Store on the phone, I have no idea.
And then underneath that you might have different models or for Android, you’ve got different vendors and different models. And you will be grabbing some search results for those different things. So it can be really useful to start to group them and parent-child relationships and see how many searches do I get? Or how many impressions or how many clicks do I get for Apple versus Android? And if I drill down, am I getting more for one particular topic than another? And you can’t do that just by looking at the data here. You need to pull it into something else to begin manipulating it. But once you see that, you might see areas where you have a lot of content that you’re getting very few clicks.
Your editorial isn’t hitting what people are looking for, or that you have higher competition in that area, then you’ve got a business decision to make. Do you invest more in understanding what those searches are looking for and change your editorial for it? Or do you do the opposite and go up, there’s too much competition, or what I want to write about this topic isn’t something that’s interesting. Therefore, I’m going to devalue it from a business point of view, I might keep it up for my interest. But from business point of view, or it could be good for positioning, even if it’s not search worthy. A lot of stuff around environmental causes and things like that charity causes, they’re not going to get a lot of search traffic, but it’s still an important part of your brand. So yeah, you’ve got to start thinking through all of those things. Sorry, I’m blabbering. Can we have another question?
There’s such a rabbit hole.
There really is. You have another question. You mentioned how to opt into images for discover and the client couldn’t figure out how to, where to do that.
Okay. So when you’re on this page here, and you’ve got discover and you’ve got open report, click on Open report there and it will show you something a lot like this, but for discover instead, and the last updated information is just up above that, there’ll be a question mark, like a little Help icon. And if you click on that, it’ll pop up a detailed description of what discover is and how to improve ranking for it. This links there to some of the things I mentioned. Like the Google News guidelines, and also the form to opt into that. So yeah, so go from performance here on the overview page, clicking to open report. And then hopefully, up on the top, near the top right, there’s a question mark, which gives you all of that, as of the time of this recording. It may change in the future.
Cool. And we had a follow-up question from the first question, which was, she wondered if there was more in the console that she wasn’t seeing. And she’s using sem rush to gain all of the info that you’re talking about. So is that enough?
They do really different things. So there’s a little bit of shared data between them from what I understand. But they’re designed to do really different things. So search console is Google’s own tool. And they’re giving you a lot of information for free about historical data around what has been happening on your site. That’s something really important to remember. It’s not forecasting future market trends. That’s down to your business intelligence and your own business strategy to figure that one out. But it does show past information and shows what’s changing around that in the past. And of course, it’s only talking about content that’s already on the site. So the Search Console cannot predict for you the potential search volume of another keyword, it is not what it’s designed to do.
Sem rush is good software. And it’s, it’s certainly not bad, but it’s designed to, not to do what Search Console does so much. It’s designed to track particular words against keyword phrases, and to give some advice around how that individual page might rank better. It also has tools to allow you to kind of try and forecast market value around traffic. And so Google Search Console results are going to be true for your past information. Sem rush does some of that. But then it’s got a bunch of other tools that are designed to help you forecast future information as well as to track individual key pages, keywords and the mistake I see people making is not being strategic around what they want to track.
So they might be like, I’ve got my average position up to three. But one of the keywords that they’re tracking in sem rush is something completely unimportant. You know, there’s just something that the algorithm magically threw up because they were getting search traffic for it. But it might not have any strategic value or tactical value. So my big takeaway there is actually thinking about what keywords you want to target, and put those in, like seeing what the algorithm throws up as part of discovery is really fun.
But, you know, not all search terms are created equal, and depends on your business model as well for publishers where it’s all about, not all about but there’s a lot of value in just having more traffic for me, impressions and click through. And that’s really different to how someone would approach it if they are selling product or trying to convey important bits of information. So there’s different approaches depending on the business model.
But yeah, different tools, different things. And at the end of the day, if we’ve got someone that skilled and reading the tea leaves and reading the information, they’re going to be able to pull it together and tell a bit of story about what’s happening. And that can really help you make decisions around editorial around product lines, and around where to invest technically in the site.
Great. Well, that brings us to the end of our hour.
Thank you so much for being here. Thanks, Craig, for all of your worldly advice.
Thanks, everyone. It’s been a lot of fun preparing this and I hope it’s been helpful.
we have another one coming up – an AMA in December which I will send out in our newsletter.
Thanks, everybody. So thanks all. Bye now.