3. Setting up and using Google Search Console

Setting up Google Search Console

If you are new to all of this, there are many online guides to setting up your site with Google Search Console (HubspotGoogle Webmasters Help.) During the setup, you have to prove that you are the owner of the website.

Why ask Google Search Console for information about visitors to your site? Google is the most commonly used search engine. As an artist or arts organization, you want to know how people find your site, which search terms they used, and where they are searching from.

Imagine being on a (non-WordPress) web hosting plan that will cost you more per month to learn about your own site’s traffic. By signing up for Google Search Console, you as the site owner can track the traffic yourself. It is not too hard to set up. First you have to establish that you are the site’s owner. My site is already registered for Google Search Console – three easy steps to verify this are shown below. Click on the images below to enlarge.

Google Search Console

Google Search Console sends me a report every month about Digital Stories Canada site visitors. At a glance, I see that in September 2020, there were 63 clicks through to the site out of 4 thousand opportunities.

By following the links in the monthly email to Google Search Console, I’ve also got a visual representation of monthly clicks through to the site. I can access this information at any time after confirming ownership of the site.

Click through to the October report above. I have not added content this  month, so the increased traffic may be related to the SEO changes I’ve made to the site.

Using Google Search Console, I can customize a report going back to the time I set up the account. The report below shows the most popular search terms or keywords over the past 6 months.

Top organic searches for keywords at Digital Stories Canada (6 months to October 2020)
Top organic searches for keywords at Digital Stories Canada (6 months to October 2020)

And the search terms? Digital stories. Mount Pleasant history. There are several digital stories about Mount Pleasant history on the site. People are interested in that topic. Should we do a feature in the future?

How to clean up a scanned photo? The challenges associated with scanning historic printed photos comes up a lot in community workshops. Since this tutorial is one of the most popular on Digital Stories Canada (and I’ll tell you how in future lessons), I should update that tutorial.

Caveman Café – topic of one of the videos on the site. There is another one about cleaning up old photos. Clearly a topic that brings people to the site. And then, there are searches for the names of people who created digital stories during our workshops.

So I’m going to add Mount Pleasant history and those search terms for cleaning up scanned photos in Photoshop.

Most popular pages by url (Google Search Console September 2020)
Most popular pages by URL (Google Search Console September 2020)

Which pages were popular in September 2020? Cleaning up scans in Photoshop. The home page. And several blog posts we wrote about Community Digital Storytelling in British Columbia. The Caveman Café. And Mount Pleasant history.

What I’m doing is gathering information about who is visiting the site and what they view when they visit. Using this knowledge, I can optimize those pages so that search engines will suggest them more frequently to potential visitors.

Why delay? Set up your own Google Search Console today!

Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest provides a slightly different interface. Their focus is on keywords and offering suggestions to rank for suitable keywords, phrases and queries. We’ll take a look at Ubersuggest in Lesson 6.