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 (Search Console Help and Intro, Hubspot, Google Webmasters Help.) During the initial setup (and sometimes on request later), you have to prove that you are the owner of the website you’re monitoring.

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.

Sometimes groups on a (non-WordPress) web hosting plan are charged 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. Originally, I uploaded the file provided by Google using an FTP app. As Digital Stories Canada moved toward more online security with a new hosting company, it was simpler to ask the service provider to upload the file as instructed by Google Search Console. Either way, go to Search Console Help to walk through the steps.

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.

Google Search Console report from September 2020.
Google Search Console report from September 2020.
GSC visual report - September 2020

Two years later, the numbers coming to the site have increased a little but the reports look similar. I admit that I am not a great user of social media and that is likely a factor.

The report also includes the most popular queries that led visitors to the site. Knowing that the CTR (click through rate) has increased from 1.4% to 3.2% is a good sign because it means that more visitors are willing to find out if Digital Stories Canada is what they were looking for.

My goal was to rank higher for the search words “digital stories” and “digital storytelling.” In Canada, we are in the top ten for digital stories.

In the two next tutorials, I’ll introduce Moz and Ubersuggest. They are two of the many tools that SEO professionals use. As artists or arts organization, we may not have enough visitors to get a lot out of them, beyond a few interesting scans. One is finding pages that are flawed in some way from the perspective of a search engine. Let’s have a look. 

Google Search Console stats for Digital Stories Canada Sept 2022
Google Search Console stats for Digital Stories Canada Sept 2022
A year of queries from Google Search Console about Digital Stories Canada
A year of queries from Google Search Console about Digital Stories Canada
We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts

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