Websites for Photographers: Introducing Google Search Console
Published on 2021-05-04
When it comes to websites, the dream is to throw a bunch of your favorite photos up, then sit back as the Google Analytics numbers go up and millions come to your website 🚀 - unfortunately, there is a lot involved in getting that number to climb - SEO, blogging, social media content, more SEO, more blogging, etc... And even once you start to have traffic, how do you know how people are getting to your site?
This is a basic intro to Google Search Console - for a more detailed breakdown check out this post by databox
Photographers talk a lot about Google Analytics, but did you know about Google Analytics' underappreciated sibling - Google Search Console?
While Analytics gives you data about users which are on your site, Search Console gives you a detailed breakdown of what the citizens of the internet are searching on Google to see links to your site - and what percentage of them are clicking through to your site.
It's important to note that the data in Google Search Console will lag a few days behind - but this is actually a benefit!
Once you have your site set up with Search Console (instructions that way 👇) Google will start to record what searches are serving your site to users and what percentage of users are clicking through to your site from those results, as well as showing your average result ranking for search queries. It's important to note that the data in Google Search Console will lag a few days behind - but this is actually a benefit! Because Google processes this all behind the scenes after the fact, we get to see all this information without impacting the performance of our website (something Google Analytics is known for).
So now that we know what it is - how do we get it set up?!
- Navigate to https://search.google.com/search-console/about
- Click "Start Now" (Or whatever Google has in the primary call to action button this week)
- Log in to your Google Account
- There might be a few walkthrough steps here - it's been a while since I've set myself up in here
Now for the slightly complicated part - Domain vs URL Prefix
- Domain - Using google.com as an example, this will catch the results for images.google.com, photos.google.com, and www.google.com all in one.
- URL prefix - This will let you specify a specific subdomain (the part before .google.com) and separate the data for that specific URL prefix.
- That's it! (For now)
In just 6 easy(ish) steps, you've got Google Search Console set up for your site! Now you'll be able to see what people are searching to find your site!
As an added benefit, if Google detects any usability issues with your site, you'll be alerted to it, which is basically free feedback on how to improve your website!
So like.... what do you do with the information that Search Console gives you?
Well, I think that answer is specific to your situation. For example, if you're ranking highly for "Wedding photographers in Washington DC" but you're a dog photographer in Washington (the state), you probably need to look into updating your SEO - or relocating 😉!
For myself, I've been looking under the Performance Tab, turning on the Position data, and looking at the search queries to determine if my blog posts are actually helpful for those queries. If they aren't, then I look at either writing an article to address that issue and/or updating the existing article to do so!
Recently, I used this information to update the titles and descriptions of a few blog posts - I'm still observing the impact these changes have on my traffic, but without Search Console I never would have been able to make the adjustments to (hopefully) improve my SEO for those posts!