Although Google Search Console is not technically a keyword research tool, we want to show you how to use Google Search Console for keyword research.
This free tool from Google isn’t just a handy platform for monitoring and resolving website issues—it can also be a gold mine for keyword research. By using it correctly, you can discover relevant keywords that are already helping drive traffic to your site, and identify opportunities to optimize your content for even better results.
So, how exactly do you use Google Search Console for keyword research?
Before we get into our main strategies, let’s first understand what Google Search Console is and how it can be a neat tool for your keyword strategy.
What Is Google Search Console?
So, what exactly is Google Search Console?
Google Search Console (GSC) is a free SEO tool provided by Google that helps you monitor, maintain, and improve your website’s visibility in Google search results. Google Search Console features insights on search queries, click-through rates, and page indexing. These features can track your site’s search performance, discover optimization opportunities, and resolve technical issues.
The benefits of using Google Search Console are significant.
It’s a great way to measure your SEO efforts and ensure your website is well represented in Google’s search index.
Setting up Google Search Console is straightforward.
You simply add and verify your site, and then you can start benefiting from its features.
It’s an essential tool for anyone serious about SEO. Even if you won’t be doing the SEO directly, you can add users to your Google Search Console to allow them to view the insights provided by the tool.
Why Use Google Search Console for Keyword Research?
While Google Search Console might not be considered a traditional keyword research tool, it’s a fantastic resource you shouldn’t ignore for a number of reasons.
It’s free of charge, user-friendly, and integrates seamlessly with other more sophisticated keyword research tools.
Notably, Google Search Console is an effective tool for long-tail keywords research. These specific, less competitive search phrases often drive highly targeted traffic to your site. It also allows for competitor keyword analysis, giving you insights into the keywords your competitors rank for, and potentially uncovering new keyword opportunities for you.
GSC also assists with seasonal keyword research, identifying times of year when certain keywords spike in popularity for your website.
Using Google Search Console for keyword research provides a gateway into understanding not just your site’s performance, but also the behavior of your target audience, ultimately informing your SEO and content strategies.
Method 1: Identify High-Impression Keywords
Having understood the importance of Google Search Console for keyword research, let’s dive into the first method of keyword research: Identifying high-impression keywords. These are phrases that are already ranking on Google, but not high enough to attract clicks.
Here’s how to identify them:
Step 1: Review Your Performance Report
Open the ‘Performance’ tab on your Google Search Console. This contains data on clicks and impressions your website has received from organic search traffic.
Here you can view your clicks, impressions, average click-through rate (CTR), and average position by clicking on the appropriate box on the top. You can also filter the search type, date range, and more. We typically stick to 3 months of data for this method.
Step 2: Examine Queries
Right below the performance chart, you’ll find a set of tabs. Select the ‘Queries’ tab.
This list contains keywords used on Google that display your website in the search results. On the left side, you can see the query and on the right side you can see the impressions, clicks, CTR and average position for that query depending on which options you selected on the graph.
Step 3: Compare Impressions and Clicks
Look for keywords with high impressions but low clicks. These are your targets. In the example image above, one of the keywords we would want to target is “chart of accounts template” as the query is getting quite a few impressions but no clicks.
For now, you should not prioritize keywords that are getting a lot of impressions and clicks. It is better to focus on the queries with low clicks compared to the impressions as they can be optimized and will generate the best results.
Step 4: Identify the Page(s) Relating to the Keyword
Once you have found a keyword you want to optimize, you can click on the keyword and it will give you a performance report for that specific keyword.
If you scroll below the chart for the keyword, you can select the “Pages” tab to find the page(s) that relate to the query you are looking into. This can be help you identify which page you need to update and optimize to improve the click-through rate.
Start by analyzing user intent to understand what searchers want. Then, optimize your meta descriptions and title to match those needs. Utilize long tail keywords to narrow down competition and increase relevance. Keep tracking your keyword rankings to see improvements.
Method 2: Low-Hanging Fruit Keywords
Next, let’s discuss low-hanging fruit keywords – these are keywords your website pages are already ranking for, but haven’t been optimized, making them ripe for improvement.
By leveraging Google Search Console for keyword research, you’ll be able to identify these keywords and apply keyword optimization techniques to give them a lift.
Step 1: View the Performance of your Pages
Head to the ‘Performance’ tab in Google Search Console. Instead of focusing on ‘Queries’, click ‘Pages’. This tab is similar to the queries tab, but instead it will give you a list of your site pages and their corresponding performance.
Step 2: Select the Page to Optimize
Select the page you wish to optimize, then click on the ‘Queries’ which is below the chart for the selected page. This list represents the keywords your page is ranking for and their performance.
Step 3: Identify low-hanging fruit keywords
Look for the keyword that receives the most impressions for that page. You’ll want to optimize your page to focus on that specific keyword.
The reason these are low-hanging fruit keywords is because they are already receiving the most impressions for your page. Google has recognized these keywords as being relevant to the content on the page, all you need to do is optimize the page a bit more to give it an extra boost.
Step 4: Optimize the Page
Maximizing on-page SEO for better search rankings involves focusing on the keyword that generates the highest number of impressions. Use this as your primary keyword for on-page optimization. The impact of this keyword research on website performance can be significant.
After Google registers your updates, you’ll notice a boost in website traffic. These low-hanging fruit keywords, once properly optimized, can provide an incredible increase in your site’s visibility and traffic.
Method 3: Use Average Position in Existing Content
Building on the concept of optimizing low-hanging fruit keywords, there’s another effective method to boost your SEO using Google Search Console: leveraging the Average Position metric in your existing content. This SEO strategy will help you identify content gaps in your articles and improve your ranking analysis.
Here’s a quick three-step approach:
Step 1: Filter your Reports
Navigate to Performance > Search results and scroll down to the Queries tab. Filter queries by position greater than 20. You can also do this in the Pages tab to find your pages that are ranking in a position greater than 20.
Step 2: Sort and Identify Low-Ranking Keywords
Identify keywords for which your pages rank, but aren’t the top results. You can do this by sorting the average position column in ascending order. To do that, you simply need to click on the title of the column where it says “average position”. These are potential keyword optimization opportunities.
Step 3: Add the Keywords to your Content Strategy
Depending on the context, either add these keywords to existing sections or extend your articles with new sections. You can also create new content around these keywords to help build topical authority and rank higher for them.
You can repeat this as many time as you’d like. We like to reanalyze for positions greater than 10 and greater than 5 to get more detailed reports of future optimizations we can make.
This method is especially effective in cases where your page hasn’t fully exhausted a topic. By filling these content gaps through article extension, you’ll increase your content’s visibility and improve your SEO.
But remember, always use your common SEO sense and focus on keywords that align with your content and audience.
Method 4: Identify Question Keywords
To better meet the needs of your target audience, it’s important to identify and answer the question keywords your site is ranking for.
This involves finding common question queries using Google Search Console’s regex feature. You can achieve this by typing “what|when|why|how|where” in the custom query box to reveal these keywords.
Once you’ve uncovered these queries, it’s time to optimize your landing pages. Analyze which pages rank for these question keywords and whether they provide the answers your audience is seeking. If not, updates are needed.
Keep an eye on featured snippets for these question keywords. If you’re ranking highly but missing out on the snippet, it’s time to adjust your content. This might involve updating existing articles with specific answers to these queries.
Sometimes, the best strategy involves finding broader articles that can answer specific questions. For instance, if you’re ranking for a query about removing a verified owner from Google Search Console, but your broader article doesn’t address this, add a paragraph or two targeting this question. This approach can help you rank more effectively for these keywords, improving your site’s visibility and relevance.
Combining Google Search Console and External Keyword Research Tools
While understanding question keywords through Google Search Console significantly enhances your SEO strategy, you can take it a step further by integrating it with powerful external keyword research tools like Semrush and Ahrefs. Combining these tools can unlock more detailed data and insights, giving you a competitive edge in your SEO efforts.
We personally prefer to use Semrush for keyword research, but each SEO has their own unique preferences and each tool has its strengths and weaknesses.
By combining these tools, or at least using them together, you can get all of the information you need to create a strong optimization and content strategy. This will help you rank higher for more keywords in your content plan, therefore driving more traffic to your website.