Google search console: A snapshot guide
Published 8th January 2020
Google Search Console will be (at least faintly) familiar to most digital marketers and website owners. It’s a completely free platform that provides a lot of data about your site’s performance, ranging from where traffic is coming from and mobile competitiveness, through to the top-performing pages and how the site is being ranked in search. All vital stuff, which is why operators and affiliates should avail themselves of it too and apply Search Console insight to their online player acquisition strategies.
Crucially, Search Console gives you data that isn’t available in third party tools such as SEMrush or Ahrefs – this is data that you have about your site that competitors can’t obtain (at least not easily).
In this short guide I’ll give specific instructions on how to use Google Search Console to carry out tasks and gain those insights that are of most interest to igaming marketers. We’ll learn how to:
- Pinpoint profitable international markets and monetisation opportunities.
- Identify the site pages with the greatest potential to earn rankings, traffic and revenue.
- Provide a way to measure and manage activity over time, to succeed even in the most competitive igaming markets.
MEASURING VISIBILITY AND INTERNATIONAL OPPORTUNITIES
This wouldn’t be the typical starting point for most marketers outside of gaming but given the potential for operators and affiliates to monetise traffic from a wide variety of global markets, this is one of the most intriguing parts of Search Console.
As some markets open up, others mature and the rest become more competitive or constrained due to regulation, it’s vital to apply data to assess the opportunity. Put simply, if you don’t have a clear view of where your traffic is coming from and of your performance in different countries, you may be leaving opportunities to monetise on the table.
To compare the SEO performance of your site across different countries, follow these steps within Search Console:
- Select ‘performance’ on the Search Console home page.
- Navigate to the ‘countries’ tab and select the metrics that gives the clearest view of potential – ensure that ‘total clicks’, ‘average CTR’, and ‘average position’ are chosen for starters.
- Evaluate your international performance – the markets where you’ve unwittingly been ranking might come as a surprise!
IDENTIFYING HIGH-POTENTIAL PAGES FOR RANKINGS, TRAFFIC AND REVENUE
To a large extent, the igaming landscape is fuelled by content. Every sportsbook is competing for the attention of fans with tips and previews, while casino and traditional gaming brands are ramping up their game reviews and guides.
However, with so much content – and with the need to keep up with the relentless pace of production – it’s easy to lose track of which pages have the greatest potential for attracting revenue.
Our starting point at ICS is always to identify the pages with the greatest traffic. Here’s how:
- Select the ‘page’ tab on the ‘performance’ window.
- Set a significant date range – anything from six months and above.
- Select ‘total clicks’ as your metric.
- Sort pages from highest to lowest traffic by clicking the down arrow next to ‘clicks’.
Understanding the highest-trafficked pages gives affiliate brands clear guidance about the pages that have the most immediate potential to generate revenue.
For operators, the main advantage may actually be to focus more on using these pages to build the brand, and to direct traffic towards inner pages for certain games or betting offers.
Another metric that can be applied to identify priority pages, is to sort pages by their ranking performance. To do this:
- Select the ‘page’ tab on the ‘performance’ window.
- Select a short date range to give recent ranking data.
- Choose ‘average position’ and sort from lowest number (i.e. the highest ranking) to highest number (the lowest).
The average position is calculated based on all the rankings a page has. So if a ‘free bets’ page ranks first for one keyword and eighth for a second keyword, the average position cited will be four. This must be factored into your understanding of the pages with the greatest impact and future potential.
Nevertheless, a page that attracts traffic and has a proven capacity to rank is a good sign for how it can be used to generate revenue in future – perhaps by carrying out conversion rate optimisation.
More than this, smart marketers will look at the format and content of these top-performing pages and treat them as best practice examples to guide how other pages are created and how other types of content are written.
For time-challenged igaming marketers, this type of insight can make a serious difference when it comes to building a profitable SEO and content campaign.
MEASURE/MANAGE PLAYER ACTIVITY AND SITE PERFORMANCE OVER TIME
For some betting brands, there are major blind spots in data. They may know rankings and traffic, and they may know their player numbers and FTDs, but the actions in between are not always understood in detail.
Search Console can, of course, help. For ongoing performance management, it makes it straightforward to see where you’re winning and losing over time.
Furthermore, by investigating data based on total impressions, total clicks, average position and average click-through rate, you can assemble financially significant insight around engagement, visibility and action.
To assess increases and decreases in rankings, you just need to:
- Select ‘performance’ and navigate to the ‘query’ section.
- Select ‘compare’ in the ‘date range’ tab to review the current time period against a window of time in the past.
Users can also monitor backlinks over time and track the impact of their off-site SEO strategies to make decisions about the next week, month and year.
Search Console gives igaming marketers increased understanding of how their site content is understood and displayed by Google – and how this insight is applied over time is what will give your gaming brand a competitive edge.
It’s worth bearing in mind that Google is giving all this functionality away for free in order to improve its own performance, and to serve up the most relevant results to users. It should be an obvious decision to take advantage of Search Console, then, to make sure that Google always has the most up-to-date information about your site and isn’t experiencing any barriers that might prevent your brand from achieving game-changing rankings.
Even the best SEO audit is only a snapshot in time – keeping on top of Search Console and using data to measure and manage progress is key to future success.